High/Low Picks For Thursday, February 16

evan-bradds-belmont

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 7:42 PM GMT

The biggest spread on the opening NCAA basketball board for Thursday was Belmont over Eastern Kentucky in Ohio Valley action, while the smallest number was a pick’em between struggling Drexel and Delaware in the CAA. Here are my picks.

Eastern Kentucky At Belmont (-17)

Actually, the biggest spread on Thursday's opening board was No. 1 Gonzaga at -22 against San Francisco in West Coast Conference action, but you can look for an in-depth preview of that game Thursday here at SBR Forum. So next on the list is Belmont (18-5, 12-1), which is the favorite to win Ohio Valley Conference again and leads the East Division by two games over Morehead State. The Bruins are often the class of that league, having made the NCAA Tournament four times this decade, last in 2015. Last year, Belmont was again the No. 1 seed entering the OVC Tournament but was upset by Austin Peay 97-96 in overtime in the conference tournament semifinals. Belmont landed in the NIT and lost its first-round game to Georgia. This year's Bruins played their final road game of the regular season on Saturday and lost at Tennessee Tech 83-70 to end a 14-game winning streak. Belmont shot just 38 percent from the floor. Leading scorer Evan Bradds (21.0 ppg), last year's OVC Player of the Year and a top candidate again, took only eight shots and finished with 16 points. Did you know that Belmont has more conference wins since 2003 (including tournament) than any team in the nation?

Eastern Kentucky (10-17, 3-9) is last in the OVC East Division. The Colonels played some Power 5 schools out of conference, losing by 21 at Auburn, 19 at Texas Tech and 31 at Louisville. EKU enters this one a three-game skid following a 67-62 home defeat to Morehead State on Saturday. Eastern missed on a three pointer with 37 seconds left that would have put the team up one. Morehead State then finished it off at the free-throw line. Freshman Asante Gist poured in a game-high 20 points in the loss and leads all freshmen in the OVC in scoring (15.4 ppg) and assists (3.8 apg).

Belmont leads the all-time series, 8-5, and beat EKU 72-59 on Jan. 14. However, last year Eastern handed Belmont its first-ever home OVC loss since joining the league in 2012. The Bruins had won 35 straight home conference games. The Colonels are still just 1-4 ATS on NCAA basketball picks in the past five meetings.

NCAAB Free Pick: Belmont -17

Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Drexel At Delaware (Pick'em)

This is the only game that opened at pick'em. It's not much of a matchup in the Colonial Athletic Association as Drexel (9-18, 3-11) is last and Delaware (11-16, 4-10) second-to-last. The Dragons are not good defensively in allowing 79.4 points per game (319th nationally), while the Blue Hens can't score much in averaging 64.4 ppg (331st). Something's got to give!

Drexel does have one of the CAA's better players in senior Rodney Williams, a preseason Honorable Mention All-CAA pick. He leads the team and is sixth in the conference in scoring at 16.6 points per game. His .524 shooting percentage is Top 5 in the conference. Williams also is No. 1 on the club in rebounding at 6.8 per, which is seventh in the CAA. Kurk Lee should earn some CAA freshman honors as he's averaging 14.7 points, 5.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds. Delaware also has a fine freshman in Ryan Daly, as he leads the team in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). He has been named CAA Freshman of the Week five times. Drexel beat visiting Delaware 76-60 on Jan. 14. Williams had 15 points and Sammy Mojica missed a triple-double by a point. Daly had 13 for the Hens but was 5-for-15 shooting. The schools combined to hit just 11-for-50 from 3-point range.

NCAAB Free Pick: Drexel At Pick'em

Best Line Offered: SportsBetting

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