CBB Picks: Take Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Virginia against the spread

The opening rounds of power conference tournaments can be difficult to navigate.

Some teams are playing with clear motivation to advance and help out their NCAA tournament status, others are trying to play spoiler and then there's the group of programs that want the season to end as fast as possible.

All of those factors come into play on Wednesday as all of the power conference tournaments are in action.

The higher-seeded teams in the ACC have clear motivations to win since they reside on the NCAA tournament bubble.

I'm also riding with a few hot teams in the Pac-12 and Big Ten to pull off opening victories and get some shine in the spotlight before the top teams enter the fray on Thursday.

Wednesday CBB Picks

Overall Record: 271-292-4

Boston College vs. Wake Forest (-10) (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

ACC Tournament Second Round

Wake Forest needs to leave no doubt about its NCAA tournament status during its time in Brooklyn.

The Demon Deacons need to play a clean game against a Boston College team that it should handle with ease.

Wake averages 13 more points per game than the Eagles and it shoots six percent better from the field.

The Demon Deacons should put the contest away before the final 10 minutes and they should head into the next round with a double-digit win in hand.

Stanford vs. Arizona State (-4.5) (3 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

Pac-12 Tournament First Round

Arizona State is playing some of the best basketball in the Pac-12.

The Sun Devils won seven of their last eight games and they have not allowed more than 66 points to an opponent during that stretch.

Bobby Hurley's team just held Stanford to 56 points on Saturday and its defense should produce a similar performance on Wednesday to open the Pac-12 tournament.

Butler vs. Xavier (-6.5) (4:30 p.m. ET, FS1)

Big East Tournament First Round

Xavier is playing for its NCAA tournament life in New York.

The Musketeers can't afford a loss to Butler. A defeat at Madison Square Garden puts its bubble fate in serious danger.

Xavier got right with a 23-point win over Georgetown on Saturday and I think we see that same motivated Xavier team take care of business against a Butler squad that scored 60 points or fewer in four of its last five games.

Oregon State vs. Oregon (Under 142) (5:30 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)

Pac-12 Tournament First Round

Oregon will be without leading scorer Will Richardson for the Pac-12 tournament.

That is a huge blow to the Ducks' chances of doing any damage in Las Vegas over the next few days.

Oregon should beat Oregon State, but the contest could be a slog. The Beavers failed to reach the 70-point mark in four of their last six games and rank 270th in two-point offense. Oregon could struggle to find a rhythm without Richardson, who averages 14.1 points per game.

Nebraska (+5) vs. Northwestern (6 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network)

Big Ten Tournament First Round

Nebraska just reeled off three straight road wins over Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

The Huskers have not lost since Fred Hoiberg's return as head coach was confirmed.

Nebraska may have one more game of magic left in it to play a second day in Indianapolis. I'm going with the hotter team and I just don't trust anything about Northwestern.

Rider vs. Iona (-11.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

MAAC Tournament Quarterfinal

Iona is the best team in the MAAC by a wide margin.

The Gaels beat Rider twice in the regular season. The first of those two wins was by 26 points.

Iona's key is its defense. The Gaels rank 22nd in three-point defense and 54th in two-point defense. They earned their seven wins by holding teams under 65 points.

Clemson vs. Virginia Tech (-5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

ACC Tournament Second Round

Virginia Tech should be able to avenge its Saturday loss to Clemson.

The Hokies are playing with more motivation in Brooklyn as they try to get on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble.

To do that, Virginia Tech needs to set up a quarterfinal clash with Notre Dame by beating Clemson.

Keeping with the defense theme. The Hokies earn five of their six wins by holding teams under 60 points. They could do the same against a Clemson team that barely scores 70 points on a regular basis.

Georgia vs. Vanderbilt (-9) (8 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

SEC Tournament First Round

Vanderbilt beat Georgia by eight points in both of their regular-season meetings.

The Commodores could win by double digits against a potentially unmotivated UGA squad. Tom Crean is reportedly being fired at the end of the season.

Georgia has been awful all season long and I can't imagine the Bulldogs will be very motivated to play multiple games in Tampa.

The Bulldogs lost six of their last seven games by double figures and the same fate should await them on Wednesday night.

Prairie View vs. Alcorn State (-118) (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals

I'll take the bait here.

Alcorn State is the No. 1 seed in the SWAC, but it is only a one-point favorite.

The Braves have a single loss since February began, including a three-point victory over No. 8 seed Prairie View.

Louisville vs. Virginia (-6) (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

ACC Tournament Second Round

Virginia's defense could feast on an inconsistent Louisville team.

The Cavaliers limited the Cardinals to 61 and 52 points in their two regular-season meetings.

Louisville's inconsistencies showed in the first round, as it almost blew a 17-point halftime lead against Georgia Tech.

I don't trust Louisville and Virginia is playing for an outside chance at the NCAA tournament. I think that drive the Cavaliers to a large victory.

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