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Thursday Random Thoughts and Picks

- As Rodger and I have been tweeting about (and follow us on Twitter please), NIT auto-bids are being scooped up left and right. For those unfamiliar with the NIT selection process, teams that win their regular season conference title are guaranteed a spot in the NIT if they don't win their conference tournament, and last night regular season champions Quinnipiac, Jackson State, and Weber State all lost. Weber State's loss to Montana was at least entertaining, as Montana's Anthony Johnson led his team back from a 20 point halftime deficit by scoring 34 second half points. He has to be the best Big Sky conference player since the legendary Harold "The Show" Arceneaux  led Weber State past North Carolina in the 1999 NCAA tournament . However, this is terrible news for Northwestern, as the 'Cats will probably need at least 2 Big Ten tournament wins in order to qualify for the NIT.

- I finished the regular season one game under .500 picking against the spread, but l'm now going to flip the switch and start taking over in crunch time.

#9 Iowa vs #8 Michigan (-8), 1:30 PM central, ESPN2

I was expecting this line to be double digits, as Iowa has just gotten destroyed their last 2 games and got swept during the regular season by Michigan. Todd Lickliter's first 2 seasons at Iowa saw them get smoked by Michigan in the 1st round of the conference tournament, and today will be no different.

Pick: Michigan

#11 Penn State vs #6 Minnesota (-6), approx. 6:30 PM, BTN

Everyone and their mother thinks Penn State is the sleeper team in this tournament and has a great chance to win today. Unfortunately for Penn State, in the words of the legendary Bill Parcells, you are what you are, and the bottom line is that Penn State is a 3-15 team in the Big Ten. Yes, they have had a lot of close losses, but most of those have been because of their inability to execute down the stretch. Picking Minnesota is always dangerous because they are such a Jekyll & Hyde team, but the bottom line is they are a much better team than Penn State and should win this game.

Pick: Minnesota

Overall Record: 44-45-2
Northwestern games: 15-6