We have an absolutely stacked basketball slate. We are going to cover the five biggest games of the day. We will do our best to give you winning picks while we do it. As always we are bloggers so take the advice with a grain of salt. If you do wager on these picks, please do so responsibly. Without further to do here is a breakdown of the biggest games of the slate.
As always, the lines are presented by DraftKings Sportsbook
Buffalo at North Texas
Spread: North Texas (-1.5)
This was actually a game I was suppose to be at, before testing positive for Covid. It’s a one of the most underrated mid-major conference matchups on the season. North Texas is coming off a season where they got a win in the NCAA tournament against Purdue, and Buffalo is the favorite to win the MAC.
Every part of me wants to take Buffalo in this game, but I think this particular matchup favors North Texas. Buffalo is a team that loves to play on the run and they do a great job at finishing at the rim. The Mean Green excel at slowing the tempo and held opponents to the 31st lowest rim rate nationally last season. North Texas lost Javion Hamlet who was the heart and soul of the offense, but replaced him with JUCO National Player of the Year and NJCAA tournament MVP Tylor Perry who shot 56 percent from the floor and 46 percent from three last season. Pairing Perry with returning guard Mardrez McBride form a solid backcourt duo.
Then there's Buffalo, which struggled defending the pick and roll against Michigan last week and shot a woeful 17 percent from three. Buffalo is the more talented team. But coach Grant McCasland puts together a savvy game plan to take away the lane and they do enough the grind out a win in the Super Pit. Give me the Mean Green to be Mean host at home.
The pick: North Texas -1.5
Liberty at LSU
Spread: LSU (-7.5)
Liberty has been a constant power in the ASUN, they always seem to get a big wins in the non-conference slate. In fact over the last four years, Liberty has beaten a power conference opponent and three of those times have been in a true road game environment. The line has sharply moved all the way from 10.5 to 7.5. I think the Flames may be live in this one. Liberty returns ASUN player of the year Darius McGee. The Flames pack line defense will give LSU fits, preventing them from penetrating. LSU has a size advantage with Efton Reid and Darius Days. But Liberty’s physicality in the interior should neutralize that.
We also get an extreme coaching advantage with Richie McKay going against Will Wade. We see the Flames pull off an upset against an SEC foe. I’m buying the 7.5 up to eight and expecting Liberty to keep this one close.
The pick: Liberty +8 (-120)
Furman at Belmont
Spread: Belmont (-7)
These are two of the best mid-major teams in the country, plain and simple. Furman handed Louisville their first November loss since 1973, and Belmont got rampaged on the road against a good Ohio team. Is this a let down spot for Furman and how do the Bruins respond?
Mike Bothwell scorched Louisville’s defense with a 30 point defense thanks to Bob Richey’s spread offense. The Furman offense is dangerous with Alex Hunter and Garrett Hein they are able to give space for Bothwell to work. Belmont’s guards are vulnerable defensively.
Because of it, Belmont will be able to score, per usual in this one. Nick Muszyniski will be able to score in the post, since Furman lacks an elite rim protector to stop them. Louisville was able to score in transition.
Overall, two of the best offenses in country battle it out. While I’m interested in the over, the number seems on point. I don’t believe seven points is a direct reflection of the difference between these two teams. Southern Conference teams have thrived as underdogs during the non-conference season so far. Going to continue to ride with the Paladins in this one.
The pick: Furman (+7)
San Diego at California
Spread: California -3.5
Cal is an abomination. It’s that simple. Mark Fox is 23-40 in two seasons at Cal. He already dropped games to UC San Diego and UNLV. The Golden Bears lack a true point guard. It’s a reason why they are only scoring 59 points per game. USD pressure bothered a highly potent Nevada offense lead by one of the best point guards in the country.
San Diego already got a resume boosting win at Nevada. The line is fallen a half a point, but I don’t think we need it here. Jase Townsend and St. John’s transfer Marcellus Earlington lead the Toreros. Pittsburgh transfer Terrell Brown should feast against Cal’s interior defense that ranked among the worst in college basketball last season.
Give me San Diego to pull off the minor upset.
The pick: San Diego +3.5
UC Santa Barbara at Washington State
Spread: Washington State -7.5
We got a late night West Coast game on the slate on Pac-12 Network. If you can find the game, it’s going to be a great one to watch.
Former San Francisco head coach Kyle Smith has the Cougars headed in the right direction for the first time in a while. The Cougars were picked to finish sixth in the conference and are a borderline tournament team. They are lead by 6’5 junior Noah Williams. We know the Cougars do a good job of spreading teams out and shooting a lot of threes.
Joe Pasternak is familiar with this since UC Santa Barbara runs a version of these offense in the Big West. The Gauchos have an advantage on the interior returning all conference big man Amadou Sow and Miles Norris. With Jacquori McLaughlin gone, Georgia Southern transfer Calvin Wishart will handle the rock along with Josh Pierre-Louis who is a nifty ball handler. He’s a better slasher than shooter, but his quickness is what makes him really shine.
Pasternak will shift the UCSB to a more post motion centric attack, running through Sow. This may be a problem for a Washington State front court that is very young. I admire Washington State for scheduling top mid-major schools. I think the Gauchos give them a scare. I’ll take UCSB and the points.
The pick: UCSB (+7.5)
Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive
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