If you didn't know much about Saint Louis, you will soon enough. This team is for real and should have little trouble getting past New Mexico State in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The college basketball odds essentially speak for themselves here: the Billikens are favored by nine points, testament to how legit this SLU team really is this season.
With both teams performing well defensively, it's no shock to see an O/U of 122. The UNDER has hit in four straight contests involving Saint Louis.
Saint Louis Billikens
The road wasn't easy. Saint Louis had to beat Charlotte, Butler, and VCU to get the job done. The Atlantic 10 was a force this season and the Billikens were the cream of the crop.After wrapping up first place in the Atlantic 10 regular season race, the Billikens kept things going by winning the conference tournament this past week.
Dwayne Evans stood out with team-high averages of 13.7 PPG and 7.7 RPG, while shooting 53.5 perent from the floor. But it's Saint Louis' depth that carried them this season, with eight different players averaging at least 15 minutes of action this season.
This is a team on a mission, with emotion also on their side following the passing of head coach Rick Majerus in December. You can't credit Jim Crews enough for the job he's done in keeping these guys focused on the task at hand
Each and every player has bought in and that's been bad news for all of Saint Louis' opponents. Are the Aggies about to find out the hard way? We think so.
New Mexico State Aggies
If it wasn't for an outstanding run in the WAC tournament, culminating in a championship win over Texas-Arlington, the Aggies would have found themselves on the outside looking in.
As it so happened, New Mexico State saved their best basketball for when it mattered most. Though, to be fair, they certainly benefitted from early exits for Louisiana Tech and Denver, the top two seeds in the tournament which both lost in the quarter-finals.
The Aggies will take a five-game winning streak into the Big Dance, which is expected to be ended by the well-balanced Billikens.
There's one area where New Mexico State will have the advantage and that's on the glass. They've got a 7'5” giant in Sim Bhullar patrolling inside and two more big bodies in Bandja Sy and Tshilidzi Nephawe.
However, the Aggies could very well be without Tyrone Watson, one of their best playmakers, after he suffered an ankle injury in the WAC tournament. When facing a team like SLU, you need all the weapons you can possibly get, so Watson's absence would hurt tremendously.
Let SBR be your 2013 NCAA Tournament betting headquarters.
College Basketball Pick
Truth be told, the Aggies are going to need to execute perfectly if they're to have any shot of keeping this first-round matchup close.
Able to beat up on WAC, New Mexico State could be in for a rude awakening now that the level of competition has been raised significantly. The Billikens play great team ball and are terrific on the defensive end, and we simply don't think the Aggies will have an answer for that kind of balance.
With our free sports picks for Thursday, we are backing Saint Louis to cover as near double-digit favorites.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Saint Louis Billikens -9