Today's Top Picks: Fading Duke and Zion Williamson, another ACC shootout and an underdog parlay I love

Got a lot to live up to in this column looking at the night's best picks. Both Chip Patterson on Wednesday and Tom Fornelli on Tuesday came out strong and delivered. The only way to beat them is to be prudent with some easy selections and free winners.

OR -- and hear me out here -- OR we go up top and try and take down Chip and Tom out of the gate. It is March, my friends, and there are underdogs lurking out there. 

There is no shortage of action in college basketball starting with the 7 p.m. ET slate, but I'm going to veer Southern and local for my first two picks, targeting a pair of ACC matchups that involve Tobacco Road teams and then getting very greedy with a pair of underdogs from the B1G.

Let's go get some winners.

1. Syracuse vs. Duke: Syracuse +7 1H

ACC Tournament in Charlotte, NC: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Riding Syracuse is not going to be a popular pick I would imagine, especially with Duke's best player -- Zion Williamson -- returning after a long absence from injury and Syracuse's best player -- Tyus Battle -- missing for the second straight night. (At least of this writing I'm assuming he's out, since that's what Jim Boeheim told ESPN's Sean McDonough, and which McDonough relayed during the broadcast of an earlier ACC Tournament game. Presumably Beoheim wouldn't lie to one friend, McDonough, just to play head games with another friend, Coach K, in a postseason tournament.)

Syracuse is mostly dead in the water and looked bad in the first half on Wednesday against Pittsburgh. But the return of Zion shouldn't be some freebie layup here -- the Blue Devils will need to adjust to his return to the lineup after playing without him for several weeks and I expect him to be cautious. Additionally, I think you see the zone defense of Syracuse bother Duke's outside shooters the way it has all season long, allowing the Orange to keep it close enough until the break. 

Which side of Syracuse-Duke should you be on? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread is cashing in 55 percent of our simulations, plus a strong over pick that's hitting in 60 percent of simulations.

2. Louisville vs. UNC: Over 150

ACC Tournament in Charlotte, NC: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN

Sticking in Charlotte with my conference of preference, I'm gonna take the Cardinals and Tar Heels to light up the scoreboard tonight. Or at least each get to 75. Both teams are top 15 in adjusted defense, and Louisville is not exactly up there in terms of adjusted tempo. But I've seen the Cardinals go through stretches where they get nuclear from beyond the arc, and they're willing to run with a team that will push the pace like Carolina.

Last time the two teams met, in Chapel Hill, Carolina got embarrassed by the Cards, losing 83 to 62. I expect Roy Williams remembers that and I don't think the Heels will be a problem when it comes to scoring this time between the two teams. 

What do the computer simulations say about Louisville-UNC? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the spread you should be all over in this big matchup.

3. Moneyline parlay: Illinois (+170) and Minnesota (+135)

B1G Tournament in Chicago

These teams are terrible! Welcome to the middle of the B1G where many teams like that reside. I don't trust Illinois, and I don't trust Minnesota. But I trust Iowa and Penn State even less, so I'm willing to gamble here on parlaying the two of these underdogs for a big 5-plus unit return on a single wager.

Iowa is a lucky team that's been the beneficiary of many different buzzer beaters throughout their season. They're 123rd in adjusted defense according to KenPom, which means if Illinois starts rolling in some shots, they can get Fran McCaffrey's squad on its heels and stun the Hawkeyes. Penn State might have more motivation to try and get on the bubble, but Minnesota and Richard Pitino need this too. I expect an inspired effort by both underdogs, and I like to see that big number pop when they both win.

How about some NBA DFS picks? Visit SportsLine now to see the lineups a DFS pro is locking in for Fanduel and DraftKings competition play.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio


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