NCAA Men’s Top 25 Basketball Picks February 25th

by Cameron Dorrett
on February 25, 2017

Another busy Saturday in college hoops as always in the NCAA and it’s the final Saturday of February and you know what that means… March is right around the corner and the tournament will be here in no time!

There’s 17 games involving the Top 25 today so there’s plenty of chances for ranked clubs to jockey for position in the big dance or an upset that could propel a bubble team into the tourney. Whatever side you chose to take favorite or underdog we are in for a crazy day of basketball so let’s get to it!

#19 Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers

Spread

  • Florida State -1

The ACC has been a hotly contested conference all year. Heading into Saturday’s action four teams sit at 10-5 – second in the ACC behind UNC – and one of those teams are the Seminoles. That means seeding for the ACC tourney are in play for FSU while Clemson at 14-13 are just trying to play spoiler down the stretch.

The Seminoles ran out of the gate at 16-1 a historic start for the school. That run included big wins over ranked at the time Virginia Tech and Duke who are 10th in the nation right now and a road win against then number 12 Virginia. Since then the ACC has proven very tough going 4-5 but the wins banked early have kept FSU in the Top-25. Four of the losses have come on the road where they’ve struggled this season but it’s where they find themselves again Saturday. The offense has driven the Seminoles all year, at 84.4 points per game they are 15th in the nation and 2nd in the ACC.

Clemson has struggled to finds it’s footing in the conference this year. At 4-11 they are 12th in the conference. Most have that has to do with their poor performance on offense averaging just 74.7 points per game. They almost got the job done against a good Virginia Tech team last time out but for a last minute three by Seth Allen. If they want to win this one and have a chance at a berth in the ACC tournament they will need to keep FSU under 49 percent shooting. The Tigers are 1-7 in the ACC when they fail to do that.

Key Matchup

FSU Dwayne Bacon v. CLEM Siddy Djitte

Sophomore Dwayne Bacon has been leaned on by the Seminoles this year. After a solid freshman season the guard has held his own in the tough ACC. His 16.8 points per game leads FSU.

The man who will clog the lane against Bacon will be Siddy Djitte. He’s averaging almost a block a game and at 6-10 should influence Bacon on penetration. He also leads the Tigers with 7.1 per game. He’ll need to be active again for a Clemson team that’s 278th in rebounds per game.

Advice

The Tigers have been a tough out at home and need a win Saturday. FSU seems to have hit a bit of a wall this season but still are tied for most AP Top-25 wins in the country.

Pick

Florida State
78
Clemson
71

#8 North Carolina Tar Heels at Pittsburgh Panthers

Spread

  • North Carolina -8

The Tar Heels are on top of the ACC with a 2-game lead but there’s four teams on their heels. They need a win to have control of their destiny. Pittsburgh looked like a tournament early this year but have struggled in conference play.

UNC has been spectacular as of that defeating NC State, and ranked Virginia and Louisville, all of those victories coming rather easily. The Tar Heels have far bigger things in mind come March trying to get back to the Final Four but win against Pitt will go a long way to an ACC league title and a Number 1 seed in the NCAA tourney. They are 1st in rebounds, 6th in points at 86.5 per game and 4th in assists this year a formidable opponent on any day.

Pittsburgh started great this year including a win over then 11th ranked Virginia in early January. They backed that up with 8-straight losses and the year got away from them. At 4-11 they are at risk of missing even the ACC tourney and need to finish strong. They have been better of ate win 3 of 5 including beating ranked FSU but will need to improve on their 256th ranked defense to stop the high-octane Tar Heels.

Key Matchup

UNC Justin Jackson v. PITT Michael Young.

Both offenses run through the two forwards. Michael Young has had a great senior campaign averaging 20.4 points per game. He’ll need another big night if the Panthers want a victory. Justin Jackson is averaging 6 points more in his junior year to last season. He’s been very active as well seeing more than 33 minutes a game.

Advice

Neither side has been great against the spread this year, but at 2-9 ATS on the road for UNC it’s tough to back them with too many points. They win but Pittsburgh hangs tough.

Pick

North Carolina
82
Pittsburgh
74

#18 Virginia Cavaliers at NC State Wolf Pack

Spread

  • Virginia -7.5

Virginia has struggled mightily in the ACC this year. At 8-7 they are 8th in the conference but still are well located to be a higher seed in the NCAA tournament. NC State’s up and down season has led to their coach announcing he would be gone at season’s end, they sit 13th in the ACC.

At first glance Virginia’s last month has been terrible. They have dropped four straight and 6 of 8 but when you look deeper there’s a reason for it. The losses have come to Nova, Duke, Louisville, UNC – all top-10 teams- Virginia Tech and Miami – both of those teams have spent time in the top-25 this year and are likely NCAA tournament bound and Syracuse a bubble team for sure. Even so, the Cavaliers offense has been dreadful at 67 points per game 3004th in the nation. Their top scorer London Perrantes has a meagre 12.3 per game. But they are the nation’s best defense at 55 points per game so they are seemingly always in the game.

NC State has dropped 7 of 8 the win coming in their last game on the road against Georgia Tech. The ACC is probably the best conference in the country so there’s that excuse for the Wolfpack but they’ve been blown in a lot of games, including a 107-56 loss to UNC that was the second worst in program history. Giving up over 80 points per game and getting crushed on the boards has been just too much for NC State to overcome.

Key Matchup

Virginia London Perrantes vs. NC State Dennis Smith Jr.

The rival guards may be the difference in this one. Smith Junior has averaged 18.9 points per game in a solid freshman season. He’ll be in tough against the stout defense from Perrantes and if Smith Jr. doesn’t find the basket enough it may be lights out for the Wolfpack

Advice

The Cavaliers have struggled but they need this win and I think they get it in a big way. I don’t see NC State being creative enough on offense to threaten the Cavaliers at any point in this one.

Pick

Virginia
64
NC State
48

#17 SMU Mustangs at Connecticut Huskies

Spread

  • SMU -5.5

The SMU Mustangs are tied with Cincinnati for tops in the American and likely need this game to keep pace for the league title. UCONN has never got it’s footing this year and are hovering just over .500 t 14-13 on the year.

The Mustangs have been great all year and if it weren’t for a 2-point loss at Cincinnati early this season they’d be undefeated in the conference. Since the loss, they’ve won 10 straight including seven by 10 or more points. Much of that can be attributed to their 3rd ranked defense. They destroyed the Huskies already this year 69-49 when guard Shake Milton went off for 22 points and 5 threes. They should be able to keep 298th offense in check again.

UCONN has been better of late they seem to always be down the stretch and into the playoffs in the NCAA. They’ve won 7 of 9 and one of those losses was to be expected against Cincinnati. One thing they don’t possess is a top-25 win and will be in tough again Saturday.

Key Matchup

SMU Ben Moore v. UCONN Jalen Adams

Forward Ben Moore has been a stalwart on the glass this season averaging 8.4 per game and to go with 11.6 points per game the senior has been huge for the Mustangs. Guard Jalen Adams will need to operate his offense efficiently to penetrate the SMU defense. He’s been great at the doing that all year with 6.6 assists per game.

Advice

The Huskies are always a tough out but SMU needs this win for a shot at the American Conference league title. Add the fact that they are a whopping 20-6-1 against the spread and they look good here.

Pick

SMU
72
Connecticut
54

#25 Wichita State Shockers at Missouri State Bears

Spread

  • Wichita State -13

Wichita State has been a regular in the big dance and after a bit of a slow start they are back in the top-25 looking to make a late season run. The wheels have fallen off for Missouri State as of late and look to turn things around against the vaunted Shockers.

Wichita State hasn’t run away with Mountain Valley Conference as they have in the past. In fact, they are tied at 16-1 with Illinois State who are having a great year. Their one loss in the conference came against Illinois State in January but the Shockers have been a different team since. They avenged that loss with 41-point win over those Redbirds reeling off 11 straight of ten by huge margins. They have a top-20 offense and top-15 defense this year, they are well rounded and deep as March approaches.

Missouri State got off to a great campaign but have now dropped 7 of 9 in the MVC to fall to 7-10. Their only game against a top-25 team was to then ranked USC at home and it was a 83-75. Without a true scorer, it will be tough for the Bears to score enough to keep up with a team that put up 109 points in their last outing.

Key Matchup

Wichita State Landry Shamet vs. Missouri State Obediah Church

With no one averaging more than 12 points per game for the Shockers, it really is a score-by-committee. Landry leads the team in minutes and assists and will need to disperse the ball as to keep the offense moving. Church, on the other hand, has been a bona fide rim-protector this year. His 2.5 blocks per game are 19th in the country and he’ll need to be active against the Shockers.

Advice

Hard to give the Bears much of a shot here especially with Illinois State breathing down the Shockers neck for the league title. As mentioned they dropped 109 last time out against Evansville and they may be in for a bunch more again.

Pick

Wichita State
90
Missouri State
62

#12 West Virginia Mountaineers at TCU Horned Frogs

Spread

  • West Virginia -5.5

The Mountaineers are in a 3-way tie for second in the Big 12 and need a strong finish to secure a high seed in the NCAA tournament. TCU is on the outside looking in for the big dance dropping four straight and sitting at 17-10 on the year.

West Virginia has been pretty consistent all year. They have won 7 of their last 9 one of those losses was understandable to Kansas but the home loss to Oklahoma stands out. It’s one of many losses the committee may find troublesome, they also have losses to Oklahoma, Kansas State and Temple all unranked teams. Nonetheless, they are deep and efficient on the offensive side of that ball at 11th in the country despite their leading scorer averaging just 12.6 points per game. They thrive on distribution their 17.6 assists per game is 14th in the nation.

TCU has dropped four straight but the losses to Baylor and Kansas on the road are justified. A win here could go a long way giving the committee a second thought about including the Horned Frogs. With an upset and taking care of Oklahoma and KSU would put them back at .500 in conference play but they made need a decent run in the Big 12 tourney to make a real case. They also lack a genuine scorer with Vladimir Brodziansky leading the way at 13.6 points per game so they will be in tough to keep up.

Key Matchup

West Virginia Nathan Adrian v. TCU Vladimir Brodziansky

Without a genuine big man 6’ 9 forward Nathan Adrian will need to play big for the Mountaineers. Brodziansky at 6’ 11 will have an advantage down low for the Horned Frogs and will need to exploit that if they stand a chance.

Advice

The Mountaineers are prone to bad losses and this would qualify if they don’t get the victory. On the other side TCU needs this win. In the end West Virginia gets it done but it will be close.

Pick

West Virginia
68
TCU
66

#13 Florida Gators at #11 Kentucky Wildcats

Spread

  • Kentucky -3.5

A huge matchup between two ranked in SEC Saturday. With both the Wildcats and Gators tied atop the conference at 13-2 a win here will go a long way to securing the league title. The Gators have an 9-game winning streak going while the Wildcats have 5-game run of their own on the line, something has to give.

The 4th ranked Kentucky offense has been consistent all year averaging 88.2 points per game. The leader of that offense is freshman and likely one-and-done guard Malik Monk. He’s averaged 21.1 points per game this year including an amazing 47 against UNC earlier this season. The defense, on the other hand, has been an issue for John Calipari’s team ranked T-196 in the country. They’ll need to be better against the 46th ranked Gators’ offense.

Florida has looked like a top-5 team as of late including an 88-66 destruction of the Wildcats February 4th during their 9-game run. Guard Kasey Hill went off for 21 points that night and will be leaned on again Saturday. They crushed opponents lately winning by double digits 7 of the 9 recent wins. They also won three straight by 30+ followed by that 22-point win over Kentucky. The difference may come on possessions in what should be a high scoring affair and with the Wildcats in the top-10 for rebounds per game, the Gators will need to be more effective on the glass.

Key Matchup

Florida KeVaughn Allen v. Malik Monk

This guard matchup is a classic scorer vs. defensive wizard. Allen will be tasked with keeping Monk in check. He was successful in their first matchup holding Monk to 4-of-14 shooting and just 11 points. It was Monk’s worst offensive out-put since his opening game when he played just 20 minutes. He did however, just 11 in his last game against Missouri on the 21st.

Advice

This should be a high scoring and tight game. The Gators may take this one outright but definitely take the points, they have been just too dominant as of late not to.

Pick

Florida
78
Kentucky
74

#23 Creighton Blue Jays at #2 Villanova Wildcats

Spread

  • Villanova -11

A pair of ranked Big East teams in Philadelphia. Villanova has a second chance lock up the Big East title again against a top-25 team. Creighton still has a shot at second in the conference but will be focused securing a high seed in the tournament with a high-profile win.

The Wildcats have been in the top-5 for weeks including a lengthy stint at tops in the country. Looking to secure a one-seed in the NCAA tourney they will need to keep the pedal down right to the finish. The defending national champs have been solid defensively all season at 20th in the nation and senior Josh Hart’s solid guard play has been able to get enough out of their offense. The Wildcats have only lost to one team not named Butler this season.

The Blue Jays have struggled of late dropping 3 of their last 5 and unless they can find an upset here, will likely be out of the top-25. One thing Creighton hasn’t had a trouble doing this year is scoring. Their 16th ranked offense is averaging 84.3 points per game. However, when they met up with Nova earlier this year they were held to just 60.

Key Matchup

Creighton Marcus Foster v. Villanova Josh Hart

Both guards have developed well over their collegiate careers, both averaging over 18 points for the first time with their schools. The difference may be in their ability to find their teammates. Neither guard has more than 3 assists per game and with the duo facing off against each other, other players may need to step up to find the basket.

Advice

This is a tough one, Villanova has the pedigree to win this easily, but they have struggled against ranked opponents this year. They have lost twice and all but one win was less than double digits which is what we have here. Add that to Creighton being 18-8-1 against the spread. Nova wins a close one.

Pick

Creighton
70
Villanova
76

#9 Baylor Bears at Iowa State Cyclones

Spread

  • Iowa State -2.5

Kansas has the Big 12 pretty well wrapped up but there’s a lot to play for after that. The Cyclones and Bears are tied at 10-5 along with West Virginia and you would have to think the loser here will likely drop out of the race for top-3 in the conference.

The Bears haven’t been at their best of late dropping 4 of their last 7. Two of those losses was to the aforementioned Jayhawks so we can let that go, but at Texas Tech and home to Kansas State are not great games to lose. Having said that Baylor spent time as the number one team in the country and rattled off 15 wins and that isn’t easy. Add that to Johnathan Motley’s development in his junior year averaging over 16 points they are a dynamic team to deal with.

The Cyclones are always a tough out with their high-flying offense that averages more than 80 points per game. They are also trending in the right direction winning 5 of their last 6 including a big road win at Kansas. And they were beaten on a shot with 8-seconds to go when they saw Baylor earlier in the year.

Key Matchup

Baylor Johnathan Motley v. ISU Monte Morris

Motley is taller than anyone that plays significant minutes for the Cyclones. He’s averaging almost a double-double 16.9 points per game and 9.7 rebounds so, he’s going to have a night. The question is can Monte Morris – ISU’s leading scorer and offensive leader- keep the Cyclones close.

Advice

I can see why Iowa State is the favorite with their recent performances and their need for a big win on the bubble for the tournament. However, you don’t get a ninth ranked team as a dog very often and I think the Bears win a close one outright.

Pick

Baylor
64
Iowa State
61

#14 Purdue Boilermakers at Michigan Wolverines

Spread

  • Purdue -1

Purdue has a one game lead over Wisconsin for tops in the Big 10 and a win here would go a long way to securing a conference title. The Wolverines on the other hand could use an upset to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Purdue has a well-rounded team this year with both their offense and defense ranked in the top-50. They are trending well too winning 9 of their last 10 with just a hiccup in Nebraska breaking up their streak. At 12-3 their dominance in a solid Big 10 conference has been impressive and their star sophomore Caleb Swanigan has led their offense to 81 points per game. They also have won all three matchups against ranked Big 10 teams.

Michigan was solid beating Wisconsin a week ago, 64-58 in Ann Arbor. Their defense was stout that day and has been all season ranked 43rd in the nation. One issue is they have no legit scorer as senior Derrick Walton Jr has just 14.3 points per game. The Wolverines have relied more on a balance attack but at 8-7 in the conference it has been a disappointing run in the Big 10.

Key Matchup

Purdue Caleb Swanigan v. Michigan D.J. Wilson

Swanigan has been one of the most prolific players in the conference this season. He’s averaging a double-double 18.6 points and 12.9 boards. It will be big man D.J. Wilson’s job to clog the key preventing Swanigan from getting easy buckets and stop him from being so active on the glass.

Advice

Michigan has shown up for big games this year as seen against Wisconsin. Having said that they looked past Minnesota and dropped that one after a big win. Purdue is trending in the right direction and their overall depth should be enough to beat Big Blue and hold onto to their conference lead.

Pick

Purdue
82
Michigan
70

#10 Duke Blue Devils at Miami Hurricanes

Spread

  • Duke -3

It’s been an odd season for Duke. They were expected to be a dominant force right through to the Final Four but surgery for Coach K, Grayson Allen tripping players and lack of health has led to a rather lack luster year. The Hurricanes are a bubble team and could really use a high profile win at home against the Blue Devils.

Duke has recovered since that mid-season blip where they dropped 3 of 4 with Coach K sidelined. They started to look again like one of the favorites for a national title over a seven-game stretch but then a tough loss at Syracuse derailed that a tad. Having said that Grayson Allen is back to playing great basketball and Luke Kennard looks like one of the top guards in the nation.

The only two losses for Miami in their last nine were to Louisville and FSU both nationally ranked teams. That run included a dominating 15-point win over North Carolina and their last victory against Virginia. The Hurricanes have been tough relying on a solid defensive scheme that’s led to just 63.7 points per game, 24th in the country.

Key Matchup

Duke Luke Kennard v. Miami Davon Reed

Reed was spectacular against Kennard in their first matchup, holding them in check to just 11 points. He added 19 of his own and if it weren’t for a terrible start to the second half the Hurricanes may have won. If Reed stops him again they have a shot.

Advice

Duke is back to playing well and even with their star payer having an off night the Blue Devils were too deep for Miami to handle. I doubt Luke Kennard is held in check again and if he’s not this may be a blow out.

Pick

Duke
82
Miami
64

#6 Oregon Ducks at Stanford Cardinal

Spread

  • Oregon -8

The top end of the Pac 12 is scary good this season with Arizona, UCLA and Oregon holding the 4,5 and 6 spots in the AP top-25. Oregon still has a shot at a league title just one game back of Arizona. Stanford is playing for pride at a game over .500.

When the Ducks are on they are almost unstoppable. They have blown out opponents on a regular occasion including an amazing 30-point victory over the aforementioned Arizona Wildcats. Dillon Brooks has been clutch all year for the Ducks including a game winning three at the horn last time out in Berkeley. Their depth of scoring is great with five players averaging more 10 points per game.

It hasn’t been a great year for Stanford as they’ve been outclassed on many nights. They have yet to beat a ranked team and have always hovered around .500. They have won their last three at home but it seems when the competition is superior they can’t find the talent to match it.

Key Matchup

Oregon Dillon Brooks v. Stanford Reid Travis

If there is one positive for the Cardinal, it has been the play of junior Reid Travis. He’s developed quite nicely averaging 17.3 points per game. The forward will likely be matched up with Canadian Dillon Brooks and he has the experience to perform at any level. If the Cardinal have a chance Reid has to outplay Brooks. Easy said than done.

Advice

I’m a little surprised by the spread at just 8 points. Yes, the Ducks are on the road but they have overwhelmed far better teams this season and I expect much of the same here.

Pick

Oregon
84
Stanford
60

#3 Kansas Jayhawks at Texas Longhorns

Spread

  • Kansas -8.5

The Jayhawks look primed for another Big 12 title this time an outright one. They’ve had a piece of the title in 13 consecutive years under Bill Self. They look way too much for the reeling Longhorns squad who are 4-11 in conference play.

Kansas has much bigger things on their mind like a national title as they head to Austin Saturday. The Jayhawks have won 7 of 8 but other than their romp of TCU four of their last five wins have come by 4 or less points. Frank Mason III is in the running for Big 12 player of the year as the senior is averaging over 20 points per game running the 18th ranked offense.

Texas started 3-3 this year and never got their footing. It only got worse when they started Big 12 conference play. Losers of 4 straight neither the offense or defense has been spectacular this season ranked 289th and 100th respectively. The Longhorns are just looking for the finish line as quickly as possible.

Key Matchup

Kansas Josh Jackson v. Texas Andrew Jones

Frank Mason III has been unstoppable all year and he will likely get his in this affair. However, Josh Jackson has been great all season as well and the freshman is almost a guaranteed top-5 pick in the 2017 NBA draft. Andrew Jones will have his hands full trying to stop that front court especially with Tevin Mack out with injury.

Advice

Yes, the Jayhawks have struggled to put away teams as of late and yes who could blame them if they look past the Longhorns. But you don’t win 13 straight conference titles by not being prepared each and every game, Bill Self will have his team ready.

Pick

Kansas
92
Texas
64

Iowa Hawkeyes at #24 Maryland Terrapins

Spread

  • Maryland -5.5

The Terps have lost two straight ending their conference hopes and likely seeing them out of the top-25 at week’s end. For Iowa, they have not had the season they’d hope after two-straight NCAA tournament appearances. Those hopes are all but gone barring a run in the Big 10 tournament that ends with the title and a guaranteed birth.

Just a few weeks ago, Maryland had won 13 of 14 and looked primed for a high seed in the tournament. That birth is not in question but losing 4 of the last 6 has put a big dent in where they will sit come selection day. In their last game, they were run over by a hot Minnesota team that had won 5 straight coming in. It was an okay loss to a possible tournament team and to be honest Maryland has avoided the bad losses for the most part and this would qualify. What they haven’t done is get too many high-profile wins.

As mentioned, Iowa has been a disappointment in 2016-17. There was a night when head coach Fran McCaffrey wouldn’t shake the opponents hand and three streaks of three more losses. They had a shot of being a bubble team with a strong finish but it didn’t come together. A bright spot as been senior Peter Jok who has averaged 21 points per game.

Key Matchup

Iowa Peter Jok v. Maryland Melo Trimble

The two guards are leading scorers on their respective clubs and both teams go as these to do. The difference may be which can penetrate the other team’s defensive scheme and that edge goes to Trimble. The Hawkeyes are 300th in the nation for team defense while the Terps are 65th.

Advice

Maryland hasn’t dropped three straight conference games since 2011-12 and would with a loss here. I don’t see this happening but it may be a close one. I can see Jok being the difference and with a big night he can keep Iowa close.

Pick

Iowa
60
Maryland
64

#5 UCLA Bruins at #4 Arizona Wildcats

Spread

  • Arizona -1.5

The premiere match of the day has to be this battle between these two top-5 teams. Boasting superstars on both teams and the conference title on the line this should be an exhilarating game. And we can’t forget the freshman sensation Lonzo Ball.

UCLA ran out to a 13-0 record and somewhat shocked the nation on their dominance. The Bruins haven’t looked back since losing only to Oregon, Arizona and a solid USC team that should be in the tournament. They have avenged the losses to the Ducks and Trojans and now have a chance to do the same here. Their offense is tops in the country averaging a whopping 92.7 points per game. They are also the best distributors of the ball with 21.9 assists per game.

Arizona also had an amazing run that lasted 15 games. They would drop one at Oregon and then reel off five more. Their defense is stifling and their scoring is deep. They give up just 64 points per game and they five players averaging more than 10 points. Their three defeats came to Butler, Oregon and Gonzaga all currently in the top-25. In beating UCLA the first time they had to go basket-for-basket with them putting up 96 in their 11 point win, tough to do twice in one year.

Key Matchup

UCLA Lonzo Ball v. Arizona Dusan Ristic

The breakout season of Lonzo Ball has been exciting to watch no matter who you cheer for. He’s averaging 15 points a game and has been fantastic since their matchup December 28th against Oregon. However, he did only have 4 points last time out a season low. In order to try and repeat that performance center Dusan Ristic will need to be a solid rim-protector.

Advice

No one has beaten UCLA twice this year but at just -1.5 for Arizona I like that price. Arizona can run with the Bruins as seen in their first matchup and being at home should be a big boost to secure the conference title.

Pick

UCLA
89
Arizona
95

Santa Clara Broncos at #20 St. Mary’s Gaels

Spread

  • St. Mary’s -15

St. Mary’s once again is having a great year and once again are looking up at conference rival and number 1 ranked team Gonzaga. They have been much the best on most nights but are destined for 2nd in the WCC again. Santa Clara had a rough start but at 10-7 have played well in conference play.

The Gaels defense has been phenomenal this season ranked 2nd in the nation and giving up just 56.1 points per game. WCC lacks a lot of depth and the Gaels swarm the ball as good as anyone in the nation. There only conferences losses came to Gonzaga but they were decisive. They lost by 23 on the road and 10 at home to the Bulldogs. Their other loss was a shocker to UT Arlington early in the year but I don’t see that happening here.

Santa Clara has been hit or miss all season but are tough matchup with their solid defense. Unfortunately, they have some bad losses if they wanted an at-large bid and are playing for pride right now. They were also outclassed at home against the Gaels last time they met up losing by 13.

Key Matchup

Santa Clara Jared Brownridge v. St. Mary’s Jock Landale

Brownridge has had a decent senior campaign dropping off just a bit in production at just over 17 points per game versus his junior year where he averaged 20. He’ll be in tough creating space with Landale clogging up the paint. The center has been a beast for the Gaels almost averaging a double-double at 16.8 points per game and 9.5 boards.

Advice

The Gaels would be a top-10 team if not for Gonzaga and are certainly the class of the WCC with the Bulldogs. The Broncos put up 106 a few games back but St. Mary’s defense won’t allow that sort of production.

Pick

Santa Clara
65
St. Mary’s
82

BYU Cougars at #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs

Spread

  • Gonzaga -20

What can you say about Gonzaga? They are undefeated, number 1 in the country and are primed for a historic 30-0 regular season. The Cougars have had a solid year and should find their way into the tournament but are quite obviously in tough.

The Bulldogs are so well rounded. They are 9th in offense, 4th in defense, 9th in rebounds and 20th in assists. No team can boast that sort of resume and although the WCC doesn’t always give them the test they don’t win by a bucket or two either. They have defeated opponents at a clip of 24.9 points per game and just beat a 12-win team on the road by 58!

BYU is easily third best in the conference and play fast and furious. Add that to the fact they have defeated the Bulldogs in their building the last two times out and you’d think they’d be better than a 20-point underdog. They can score, they put up 81.1 per game and are dominant on the glass ranked 2nd in the country.

Key Matchup

BYU Eric Mika v. Gonzaga Przemek Karnowski

Mika has been spectacular for the Cougars. The 6-10 forward leads the team in points and has 9.3 rebounds per game. In his way, however is the big man Karnowski. At 7-1 the center is major disruptor in the paint and will likely force Mika to a lot of outside shots.

Advice

Recent history says the Cougars have a shot and the Bulldogs definitely have a target on their back. BYU lost but just 10 at home earlier this year to Gonzaga and I think they can keep it within 3 touchdowns.

Pick

BYU
75
Gonzaga
92
MONEYLINE
DECIMAL
FRACTIONAL
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