Best College Basketball Spread Pick of the Day

Darin Zank

Saturday, December 20, 2014 2:35 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014 2:35 PM UTC

We scoured Saturday's college basketball betting board overnight, in search of one good pick on the spread. As it happens, our choice comes on the final game of the day, out in Vegas, where the 7-2 Rebs will take on 7-2 Utah.

Best NCAAB Spread Pick of the Day
The Utes and Rebels used to be Mountain West Conference rivals, but haven't met since March of 2011, when UNLV won up in Salt Lake City 78-58. Utah then bolted for the greener pastures of the Pac-12 Conference.

Most books we checked opened NCAA basketball odds for this game with Utah favored by right around eight points; in the early betting many of those shops then bumped the Utes to -8.5.

The Match-Up
Utah, 6-2-1 against the spread this season, already owns victories over Wichita State and BYU, and its two losses have come against two pretty good teams in San Diego State and Kansas. The Utes shot a respectable 46 percent from the floor against the Cougars 10 days ago, but were held to 39 percent shooting last Saturday against the Jayhawks.

Utah actually trailed Kansas by 21 points early in the second half, then rallied all the way back to take the lead with five minutes to go. But as often happens in college basketball games, the team that had to rally then runs out of gas, and the Utes got outscored 10-5 down deep stretch.

Odds are Utah will shoot a little better than 39 percent Saturday night, because for the season the Utes are shooting 50 percent from the floor. They're also holding foes to just 36 percent shooting.

UNLV, meanwhile, has won three in a row, after beating Portland Wednesday 75-73 in overtime. The Rebs shot 49 percent from the field against the Pilots, and made 13 of 15 free throws.

UNLV's best win so far is probably its 57-50 victory over Temple; the Rebs also own an 89-60 loss to Stanford and a 77-55 defeat against Arizona State.

UNLV is shooting a respectable 45 percent from the field this season, and holding opponents to 37 percent, but the Rebs are having serious troubles at the FT line, where they're shooting just 61 percent. And free throws can come in awfully handy when trying to cover college basketball pointspreads.

Final Analysis
UNLV is off to a nice start, with seven wins through nine games, but it's also a very young team. There's a chance the Rebs have been playing above their heads so far. On the other hand Utah is an experienced outfit, led by senior guard Delon Wright. We give the Utes, who haven't made the NCAA tournament since 2009, an excellent chance of ending that drought this season.

This isn't quite a UNLV home game, being played at the MGM Grand, but still, if this game were being played in Salt Lake City Utah would probably be favored by double-digits. So there might be some spread value with the Utes. We like Utah to win this game, and will take it as our NCAA basketball pick with room enough for the cover.

Best College Basketball Spread Pick of the Day: Utah -8.5 at Bookmaker

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