Back Portland With Your NCAA Basketball Picks To Hang With St. Mary's In WCC Game

Charles Stark

Thursday, February 18, 2016 5:02 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 5:02 PM UTC

Tonight, St. Mary's travels to meet Portland. Odds have St. Mary's as a solid favorite to win easily, but will Portland  keep this game close enough to cash our NCAA basketball picks? 

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Portland Pilots +9½
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


NCAA Basketball Odds Overview
NCAA basketball odds have come out with Portland a +10 underdog like at BetOnline -110. Double digits is just a bit too much to back the Gaels in my opinion so for my NCAA basketball pick, I will back a Pilot team with a good offense at home. As well, Gonzaga is up next for SMC so they might be peeking ahead.


St. Mary's Gaels
St. Mary's is averaging 75.3 points per game while shooting 51.1% from the field, and allowing 60 points per game on 41% shooting from the field. On the season, they are 13-8 overall against the spread, and 4-3 on the road. They are in the race to win the WCC championship which will most likely come down to when they visit Gonzaga on Saturday. This puts them in a pretty tough situation, in my opinion, as Portland is a decent home team, and although I don't expect them to win, that should be able to stay within this number. Offensively, St. Mary's has been one of the best shooting teams in the country, and they rank first and second in the nation in overall shooting percentage and three point shooting percentage respectively. They also rank first and second in effective field-goal percentage and shooting efficiency respectively. This is arguably Randy Bennett's best team he has ever had, and they are very good from the inside out. Defensively, they are also good and rank 21st in the country in opponent shooting efficiency. They also rank fourth in the country in opponent points per game. I've a lot of respect for this program from such a small school, but this is a really tough spot for them tonight as Portland can be pretty scrappy at home.


Portland Pilots
Portland is averaging 77.3 points per game while shooting 43.2% from the field, and allowing 79 points per game on 44.9% shooting from the field. On the season, they are 11-13 overall against the spread, and 4-6 at home. The WCC has been a crazy conference this season and not easy to predict, any team can beat almost any team on any night. Portland has been less than stellar this season, but they naturally do play a lot better at home. They are in a great spot to give St. Mary's all they want for two main reasons: one, the Gaels might be peaking ahead to Gonzaga on Saturday, and two, they are coming off their worst loss of the season. Offensively is where they're going to have to lean to stay in this game as they like to push tempo averaging 63.5 field-goal attempts per game, and shoot the three averaging 36.8% from distance. Defensively, they rank as one of the worst in the league and their overall statistics are nothing to shout about. However, all of their defensive statistics go up at home and they should be very motivated tonight after giving up a ton of points to Gonzaga. A quick note on that game, it was just simply one of those days where everything the Bulldogs threw up went in the basket, it happens. I expect a maximum effort on both sides of the floor from Portland.

This is just too many points, in my opinion, against a home team that can score. For one of your NCAA picks today, I recommend backing the Portland Pilots plus the points. The Gaels should find a way to win, but I believe Portland will make it a little more difficult than people anticipate. St. Mary's better not look too far ahead to their game against Gonzaga.

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