Free College Basketball Picks: California vs. UNLV

Jeff Grant

Monday, March 18, 2013 4:23 PM GMT

Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 4:23 PM GMT

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels and California Golden Bears will play each other for the third time in a span of 15 months Thursday. Where can bettors find the best value for their NCAA Basketball picks?


Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA basketball odds for this matchup between the Mountain West Conference and Pac-12 Conference, with the opening tip scheduled for 7:27 p.m. ET at the HP Pavilion.

Let SBR be your 2013 NCAA Tournament betting headquarters.

How strong is the Mountain West?

Nobody really knows for sure, but many college basketball experts feel that the Mountain West was the second-best conference nationally—trailing on the Big Ten in terms of relative strength.

UNLV suffered a 63-56 setback to the New Mexico Lobos as 2.5-point home favorites in the tournament final, but it did manage to win seven of its last 10 games, while the UNDER cashed in seven of those opportunities.

A virtual home game

California was bounced out of the Pac-12 Tournament in the quarterfinals by dropping a 79-69 overtime decision to Utah as eight-point neutral-site favorites last Thursday, but may have landed in the best spot possible for any team in the Big Dance.

The Golden Bears will only have to travel 47 miles from Berkeley to San Jose, which can’t be ignored when making your college basketball picks in the second round Thursday.

Success against the Pac-12

I don’t think many college basketball handicappers will be surprised to find the Runnin’ Rebels favored in this spot, especially since they’ve won five of six all-time meetings against the Golden Bears.

UNLV has also compiled a 58-49 overall record when facing current members of the Pac-12, including a losing 3-4 mark when meeting up in the NCAA Tournament.

Bennett and Crabbe are the players to watch

All signs point to Anthony Bennett leaving Sin City at the end of the season, as the freshman forward leads UNLV in averaging 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.  He scored a game-high 25 points in the team’s 76-75 win over California as 1.5-point road underdogs on Dec. 9.

California’s junior guard duo of Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs were the highest scoring pair in the Pac-12, which could make them a dangerous underdog due to the importance of backcourt play in this format.  Crabbe was named the conference’s Player of the Year.

[gameodds]14/225008/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Golden Bears as one of their NCAA basketball picks, as I established the Runnin’ Rebels as 2.5-point neutral-site favorites. 

In my opinion—this game offers very little value for your sports picks, but I will have to lean on the Golden Bears.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  California Golden Bears +3 at BetOnline

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