CBB Picks: Trust Providence, Marquette in Big East clashes

The Big East regular-season title race comes into focus on Sunday.

Providence sits on top of the conference with a 5-1 record in league play. The Friars lead a handful of two-loss teams on the superior winning percentage they own from playing fewer games.

Ed Cooley's team can keep some distance between itself and its biggest rivals with a win over Butler, who has struggled to be competitive over the last two weeks.

Providence can receive some help in the title race from Marquette, who is the hottest team in the conference right now. The Golden Eagles knocked off Seton Hall and Villanova and could submit Xavier to the same fate on Sunday afternoon.

A Marquette win sends a bit more chaos into the Big East title race. Providence still has to play Villanova and Xavier twice, so there is plenty of room for upward movement for any of the teams chasing the Friars.

The Big East is where I start Sunday afternoon's picks. Most of the games tip off before the NFL gets going this afternoon.

Sunday CBB Picks

Overall Record: 113-145-1 (7-7 Saturday)

Butler at Providence (-9) (Noon ET, FS1)

Providence sits in a nice spot atop the Big East standings on winning percentage.

The Friars had little trouble dealing with the worst teams in the conference over the last few weeks. They beat DePaul and St. John's by double figures and took down Georgetown by eight points after a two-week layoff.

Butler lost by double figures to Villanova and then twice in a row to UConn. The Bulldogs did not score over 60 points in any of those three games.

The Bulldogs do not have an efficient offense and they face a Providence team with the No. 17 two-point defense on KenPom. It could be another tough day on the hardwood for Butler.

Northwestern at Purdue (Over 149) (1 p.m. ET, BTN)

Purdue has not been a great team to bet on the spread, but it has been strong when it comes to the over.

The Boilermakers are 5-1 to the over in their last six games and they face a Northwestern squad that carries the same record toward the total over the last six contests.

Northwestern scored 76 points in a loss to Wisconsin and it had over 75 points in three of its last four trips to the hardwood. That should help the point total get to 150 to hit the over.

Xavier at Marquette (+104) (2 p.m. ET, FS1)

Marquette has been one of the most impressive teams over the last month.

Shaka Smart's team is on a five-game winning streak with wins over Seton Hall and Villanova in its last two contests.

The Golden Eagles have a revenge angle in play against a Xavier side they lost to by nine points earlier in Big East play.

Marquette needs a win over Xavier to keep its slim Big East regular-season title hopes alive. It can't afford to fall to four losses in conference play with Providence, Villanova and UConn looking strong.

Fairfield at Marist (-3.5) (2 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Marist beat Fairfield by nine points in their first regular-season meeting.

The Red Foxes are coming off a fantastic road win over Monmouth in which the Hawks managed just 48 points.

Fairfield comes into Sunday on a seven-game losing streak and it has covered once during that stretch. Fairfield's average margin of defeat in that span is 6.6 points and it failed to score 60 points in three of those games, one of which was the loss to Marist.

Michigan at Indiana (-4) (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Indiana pick plays into my Big Ten home teams obsession.

The Hoosiers beat Purdue, Minnesota and Ohio State at home in Big Ten play and they covered in all of those victories.

Michigan lost by 15 points on its trip to Illinois and fell by eight points against Rutgers at the start of the month. The Wolverines did not cover as an underdog in either game.

Indiana is the better team at the moment and it could still make some noise in the Big Ten regular-season title race if it keeps winning and gets some help around the conference.

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