Don't Sleep on Dogs: Murray State, South Dakota Sound Alarm to Big Boys

Charles Stark

Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:47 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017 3:47 PM UTC

Although this is the NCAA football bowl season there are also some good matchups in NCAA hoops. Let's look at two underdogs as Murray State hosts Auburn, and South Dakota visits UCLA. Have oddsmakers made each of the two big conference favorites too big of a favorite?

Auburn vs. Murray State

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Murray State +4Best Line Offered: Heritage

Murray State has always been one of the better mid-majors in the country, and tonight they get to show it against much-improved Auburn. Although I really like Bruce Pearl for my NCAA pick, I will take Murray State at home plus the points. Auburn has shown they are going to be a contender in the SEC and I was impressed with their last win versus Middle Tennessee State. However, this Murray State team is no joke and I believe they have a legitimate chance to pull off the upset. Both teams are well-coached and Auburn is shooting 46.5 percent from the floor and allowing opponents to shoot just 40.4 percent. However, those numbers change to 44 percent and 42 percent, respectively, on the road. Murray State is shooting more than 48 percent overall and allowing opponents to shoot just 40.9 percent. Defensively they rank in the top 100 teams in most categories, and they should be primed to play their best game of the season against a bigger conference foe. Head coach Matt McMahon believes this is the best team he has had in the last few years, so don’t be surprised if they pull the upset.

South Dakota vs. UCLA

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: South Dakota +7.5Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

UCLA looks to get back on track after consecutive losses to two good teams in Michigan and Cincinnati. Tonight against South Dakota oddsmakers have made them a decent 7.5 favorite, but for my NCAA pick I will fade the Bruins. South Dakota is no longer off the radar and has a very good team, so I look for them to stay within the number against a UCLA team that can struggle defensively at times. UCLA is allowing opponents to shoot 36.8 percent from beyond the arc, which could mean trouble against a South Dakota team that can light it up from distance at 38 percent. South Dakota can flat-out put up points; they are shooting 48 percent overall and rank 50th in shooting efficiency. They also have been good defensively, especially defending from beyond the arc by allowing opponents to shoot just more than 31 percent. UCLA has some good offensive numbers across the board, but I believe South Dakota will be able to keep up.

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