Wednesday night college hoops betting preview - discussing Xavier-St. John's, LSU-Arkansas and more
Our March betting article didn’t get off to the best of starts. We went 2-3 and USC lost to Arizona by a million. Not great, but we bounce back today. It brought the column's overall record to 48-47-1 on the year. We have one of our last big regular season slates with matchups in the SEC, and BiG East. We stretch to cover the mid-major games in the A-10, MW, and the WAC. Pretty loaded slate, so let’s get right to it.
Here are the picks - with the odds provided by our partners at DraftKings Sportsbook.
Xavier at St. John’s
Spread: St. Johns (-1.5)
Things haven’t gone well for Xavier recently. They have lost six out of their last seven and are trending towards the bubble day by day. The last four losses have come without guard Nate Johnson. Johnson was a full participant in practice and is listed as a game time decision. But news has been swirling that he is likely to play.
St. John’s beat them by 13 in Cincinnati just a few weeks ago, but I think Xavier gets revenge here.
St. John’s doesn’t really have a post defender that can match up with Zach Freemantle or Jack Nunge down low. St. John’s fouls at the highest rate in the conference and Xavier ranks 55th nationally in free throw makes per game. If Xavier can get to the line and slow the game down, I think they will have the advantage here. St. John’s ranks 318th in defensive rebounding percentage and 332nd from the free throw line. You can beat the Storm when you take good shots and slow their transition game down. Physicality travels, and I think the desperate Xavier team uses that to their advantage here.
The pick: Xavier +1.5
George Mason at Davidson
Spread: Davidson (-7)
The Wildcats have a chance to clinch the A-10 regular season championship on Senior Night. They will have the perfect matchup to do against a George Mason team that has struggled. The Patriots have lost six out of their last nine and have losses to conference cellar dwellers, Fordham and La Salle in that span. George Mason allows teams to shoot 35% from behind the arc. That doesn’t bode favorably against a Davidson squad that shoots 38% from three -top 9 nationally.
Davidson has quietly won 23 out of their last 25 games. The Wildcats are projected to win by 9 in Ken Pom and 8 on Haslam Metrics, so we are getting at least a point of value here. Davidson puts up a big number and covers this number fairly easily.
The pick: Davidson (-7)
Arkansas at LSU
Spread: Arkansas (-5.5)
Nobody really wants to step in front of the Razorbacks train at Bud Walton arena. Eric Musselman’s squad has won their last eight home games and are coming off a win against Kentucky. With the team coming off that huge performance and a road game at Tennessee looming, I think this is a scary sandwich spot for the Razorbacks. LSU is a tough matchup for them. LSU has a top five defense nationally and we know Arkansas can have cold shooting stretches. I have confidence in LSU’s defense and I think they have more variety of shot makers with Xavier Pinson, Darius Days, and Tari Eason on the floor. This game should be close throughout and I see this thing going down to the final possession. I’ll take LSU and the points here.
The pick: LSU +5.5
Stephen F Austin at New Mexico State
Spread: New Mexico State (-6)
Let’s head back to the Mid-Major ranks to talk about another team who has a chance to clinch the regular season championship at home. New Mexico State is coming off one of the most stunning results of the season where they lost to Chicago State on the road. The Aggies came in as a 17-point favorite, and again, lost outright. It was the first time ever that Chicago State beat a top three team in the conference.
The Aggies had a lot of things going against them that included travel issues and their best big man Johnny McCants was not able to suit up last minute. I think this is a good opportunity to bounce back since they need to win to clinch the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
Stephen F Austin has won eight straight but only one of those wins have come against a top five team in the conference. The Lumberjacks lack size, which is a problem for a NMSU team that is the tallest in the league. I expect NMSU to get to the rim with ease. They just need to avoid turning the ball over to a pesky Lumberjacks team that ranks 8th nationally in defensive turnover percentage. New Mexico State has not lost a conference home game since 2017, and I expect them to keep that streak alive today.
The pick: New Mexico State (-6)
Wyoming at UNLV
Spread: Wyoming (-1.5)
This is a game I have pondered about. Wyoming is playing their third game in seven days, and they are coming off a battle against San Diego State. The Cowboys are the better team here, they rank 45th in the NET and 52nd in Ken Pom. UNLV has improved a lot defensively. They rebound at a high rate. Their scoring really only goes through Bryce Hamilton and Donavon Williams. Wyoming does a great job defending the perimeter ranking 34th in three point percentage defense. I’m not sure if UNLV has an answer for Graham Ike inside. Wyoming needs to win this game to secure the two seed in the Mountain West Tournament and add a road win to their resume. I trust Jeff Linder and Wyoming here. Give me the Cowboys to come through on the road.
The pick: Wyoming +1.5