Thursday’s college basketball slate has a pair of early tips, with the Providence Friars hosting the Rhode Island Rams and Vanderbilt Commodores visiting the Xavier Musketeers. Providence comes into its battle with four straight wins, while Vandy heads north on a 1-4 ATS slide.

Friars the play as home ‘chalk’

Image previewProvidence’s latest victory came in Saturday’s 73-63 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs, while falling just shy of collecting as a 12-point home favorite. Friars forward Kadeem Batts piled in a season-high 32 points, while adding nine rebounds and three of his squad’s eight blocks. 

Rhode Island also saw action Saturday, with a 76-66 triumph in a non-board affair with the Vermont Catamounts. The Rams cashed two straight tickets ATS prior to that matchup, collecting as underdogs against the George Mason Patriots and Auburn Tigers. opened Providence as a nine-point home favorite, with early betting ‘steam’ quickly driving the number south to 6 ½. The Friars won last December’s duel between these foes, 80-61, cashing as four-point road ‘chalk.’

For tonight's NCAA Basketball picks I am looking for Providence to come out on top again here, adding a ticket on Batts and Co. minus the points. 

Providence has gone 2-0 ATS in their sole pair of spots this year as single-digit favorites, holding the Fairfield Stags and UNC-Asheville Bulldogs to 57 PPG. Friars guard Bryce Cotton piled in 51 points over those two affairs and leads the Big East Conference in scoring (22.1 PPG). 

Look for Cotton to tear up URI here after being held to single digits in Saturday’s win, adding another cashed ticket to the Friars’ 3-0 spread mark in their last three meetings with the Rams.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Providence Friars -6 ½ (

Commodores to keep it close at Xavier

Xavier picked up a third straight win in Saturday’s 63-57 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers, pulling off the upset as a 6 ½-point road dog. Musketeers freshman Semaj Christon hit 8-of-8 free throws en route to 25 points in 40 minutes of action. 

Vanderbilt did not fare as well on the same day’s card, dropping a 62-52 battle with the Villanova Wildcats as a 1 ½-point home favorite. Commodores guard Kevin Bright finished with 12 points and a dozen boards, while he and his mates were held to 37 percent field shooting. 

The NCAA Basketball odds makers at opened Xavier as 10 ½-point home ‘chalk,’ with the early digits rising to 12 after initial wagers favored the Musketeers. The ‘total’ opened at 129 ½, remaining unchanged with mixed action.

I am backing the Commodores here, taking the big number in this road spot. Vandy held Xavier to 37.8 percent shooting in last year’s meeting between the foes, with the Musketeers needing overtime to pull out an 82-70 win.

The Commodores have held opponents to 53.7 PPG in their last three contests, while Xavier has broken the 70-point mark in just one of its last six games. Vanderbilt has cashed at 8-3 ATS in its last 11 spots that followed a defeat, while the NCAA Basketball betting lines have continued to overvalue Xavier, leadind to their 2-5-1 spread record in its last eight home dates. 

Look for Vandy to keep this low-octane battle tight enough to stay within cashing range.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Vanderbilt Commodores +12 points (