Thursday in the NCAA Basketball offers the bettor a large slate of games to choose from. Fortunately, this skilled handicapper has found the edge in two specific games.
CS Nothridge (2-6) vs. Pepperdine (3-1)
Pepperdine is coming off of a legitimate test against Iowa in which they played really poor and still managed to only lose by 11 points. The Waves shot just 37.3% from the field, turned the basketball over 19 times, had only 6 points off of their bench, and still managed to stay competitive on the road.
Now, they take a major drop in class facing a CS Northridge team who has lost 4 games in a row and are winless on the road. However, the Matadors started off the season playing two top 25 ranked teams in San Diego State and Arizona. The Matadors lost by 18 points to Arizona and 21 points to the Aztecs. The fact that they didn't get blown out by 35 or 40 to the 2nd ranked team in the nation at the time, speaks volumes. Pepperdine is placed as a 9.5 point betting favorite by the odds makers, but are they worthy of our NCAA Basketball picks is the question?
Pepperdine fares well in controlling the glass and most of this work is done by their top 3 players. Each of these players are 6 foot 7 or less. Leading scorer, Stacy Davis, is as hefty 245 pounds at 6 foot 6 while 5 foot 10 guard, Jeremy Major, is grabbing 5 rebounds per game. Size hasn't been a factor and against the Matadors, I also don't expect it to be an issue.
Davis leads the way at 16.5 points and 8 rebounds per game, but this is not an especially good 3-point shooting team. Jeremy Major is the only player shooting above 30% from 3-point range and this is a blue-collar team that works hard to get their points.
Freshman, Shawn Olden, is coming off of a 17 point effort against Iowa after a poor start to the season and it will be interesting to see if he can build upon his most recent performance.
For the Matadors, leading scorer, Stephen Hicks, is coming off of a monster performance in a loss against South Dakota. Hicks is an oversized guard with major offensive skills. He's scored 27 points and grabbed 9 rebounds on 9 of 13 shooting from the field. He and forward Stephen Maxwell (15.5 ppg. 7 rpg.) bring experience to this squad. That said, Maxwell has been missing the mark lately, shooting just 5 of 20 from the field. In order for Northridge to have a chance to win this game, Maxwell will have to put forth a better effort.
I expect, the Matadors to at least keep this game close.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: CS Northridge +9.5 at 5 Dimes
Baylor (6-1) vs. Vanderbilt (5-1)
The Bears will have a tough matchup against the Commodores, who are undefeated at home, in what's expected to be a defensive battle. Baylor really hasn't been tested yet this season except for a 62-54 loss to Illinois. Vanderbilt also has had an easy schedule with their only loss coming against Rutgers in a 3 point nail-biter. Vanderbilt also shoots 50% from the field and can light the scoreboard up. This game is your typical offensive team vs. defensive team battle; who will prevail?
4 out of the top 5 Vanderbilt players shoot 55% or better, led by center Damian Jones. Jones uses his size to dominate inside the paint and for the most part, has been quite effective. On the season, Jones is averaging 17.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Look for Jones to have another solid effort in this game.
Sophomore Luke Kornet will also be a force to be reckoned with. This is a 7-footer that likes to hang around the perimeter. On the season, Kornet is 13 for 23 from beyond the arc.
Clash of the Titans
With 280 pounder, Rico Gathers, leading the way for Baylor, tonight's game will be a battle on the inside. Gathers doesn't have the length that Jones and Kornet have but he has this width. Gathers is also coming off of a huge 23 point, 13 rebound performance in a 75-49 blowout over Texas Southern. Gathers can draw fouls and has double-digit rebounds in every game this season. Something will have to give as Vanderbilt is a far superior opponent to that of Texas Southern.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Baylor -4 at 5 Dimes