Today's Top Picks: Three college hoops best plays, including the blue blood program you should expect to fall
Also, watch SportsLine on CBS Sports HQ live at 6 p.m. ET for all today's best bets
The NBA All-Star Game was on Sunday night, and it was legitimately entertaining. At least, the final minutes of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter were. That's when I began watching.
The big story surrounding the game was the use of "the Elam Ending," which added 24 points to the score of the leading team after three quarters to set a target score. The fourth quarter was then untimed as both sides played until somebody reached the target score (which was 157 points).
That, combined with the money for charity, as well as the competitive drive of some of the greatest athletes in sports, led to a fantastic quarter that saw Toronto's Kyle Lowry drawing multiple charges in an All-Star Game. As for the concept, it was great for the All-Star Game, but I've been interested in seeing the Elam ending in practice in regular-season games since I first heard about it a few years ago.
In essence, it eliminates games becoming free throw shooting festivals in the final minutes as the losing team tries to extend the game. One of the major problems is that, with no time limit, the fourth quarter could last a long time. Still, considering how the NBA is the league that always seems the most open to change, don't be surprised if using the format for the All-Star Game wasn't just a test for the All-Star Game.
If they're using it there, they're considering it for other games as well.
Anyway, there's no NBA action tonight, and there's barely any college basketball, but that didn't stop me from finding three plays for you. All odds are via William Hill.
1. Xavier at St. John's: St. John's +2
These two met earlier this season at Xavier with the Musketeers winning 75-67. In that game, Xavier shot 33 percent from downtown in that game while St. John's was so bad from three (1-for-16) that it was almost impressive. Well, with the return game at St. John's tonight, I expect that to balance out a bit better for the Red Storm. Plus, St. John's is 10-5-1 ATS at home this season, including a 3-1 mark when it's a home dog. Xavier, meanwhile, is 9-15-1 ATS on the season, including a mark of 5-11-1 when it's favored. Back the home team.
2. North Carolina at Notre Dame: Notre Dame -3.5
I've spent a lot of time this year trying to convince myself that North Carolina isn't as bad as it has played, but it is. I've accepted it, and now it's time to profit off it. The Irish enter this game on a two-game losing streak, but both losses came on the road. In fact, Notre Dame's last three games have been on the road, and the Virginia loss came in overtime. This isn't a great matchup for North Carolina on the road, as Notre Dame's offense isn't explosive, but it's efficient and takes care of the basketball. The Irish are also 8-5-1 ATS in ACC games this season, while the Heels are 9-16 ATS overall.
Who wins UNC-Notre Dame? And which side covers nearly 70 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to get the top-rated spread pick, all from an advanced computer model on a 54-30 run.
3. Iowa State at Kansas: Kansas -16
This pick makes me nauseous. I don't have anything against Kansas, but nothing about my typical approach to betting involves taking highly-ranked teams at home as double-digit favorites in a conference game. But I'm making an exception for this matchup. The Jayhawks beat Iowa State by 26 in Ames earlier this season, and that's nothing new for them in the Big 12 this year. Kansas' 11 conference wins have come by an average of 13.3 points per game. Against Big 12 opponents currently ranked outside the top 50 by KenPom (Iowa State is No. 71), the Jayhawks have won by an average of 16 points per game. I have some concern about Kansas looking ahead to Baylor this weekend, but not enough to scare me off. It doesn't hurt to know that Iowa State is 2-10 ATS as an underdog this season, either.
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