High/Low Picks For Thursday, February 23

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 7:46 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 7:46 PM UTC

The biggest spread on the opening NCAA basketball board for Thursday was, to no surprise, No. 1 Gonzaga over San Diego, while the smallest number was between UTEP and Florida Atlantic in Conference USA. Here are my picks.

No. 1 Gonzaga at San Diego (+23.5)

The Zags are making this High/Low story a futile exercise just about every Thursday because they are pretty much the biggest favorite that night without fail. This is the Bulldogs’ final true road game as they look to complete a perfect away schedule. GU has won 10 straight games on the road, which is the longest streak in the nation. The Bulldogs then close the regular season on Saturday vs. BYU. Gonzaga is the sixth team to start a season 28-0 since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers won the national championship as an unbeaten club. Not a single one of those previous 28-0 clubs won it all, although four did reach the Final Four. The Zags have yet to reach the national semifinals in school history, but they are essentially a lock to be the West’s No. 1 seed. A win here clinches the outright West Coast Conference regular-season title.

Gonzaga has won a crazy 21 straight games by double-digits. It is beating teams this season by an average of 23.7 points and WCC foes by a whopping 26.3 points. The Bulldogs are the first team in the last 20 seasons to win 16 consecutive conference games in one season by double-digits. San Diego has faced the nation’s No. 1 team once: a 101-71 home loss to Kansas in the 1995-96 season. The Toreros are 1-6 in home conference games this season.  GU has won five straight vs. San Diego and 16 of the past 17. It was a 79-43 decision on Jan. 26 in Spokane. Gonzaga shot 53.1 percent from the field and had just five turnovers, while USD hit 32.1 percent. The Bulldogs have covered the past five meetings.

NCAAB Free Pick: Gonzaga -23.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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UTEP At Florida Atlantic (Pick’em)

The Miners of Conference USA are a good story considering they were 2-10 out of conference and started 0-3 in conference but are now 9-5 in C-USA and tied for third place. UTEP’s only non-conference wins were against something called Louisiana College and then Western Michigan.  UTEP’s .167 non-conference win percentage was the second-worst of any team in the nation currently above .500 in a conference.  Mount St. Mary’s was 2-11 (.154) and is 13-3 and leading in the Northeast Conference. UTEP is coached by former Iowa State and Chicago Bulls coach Tim Floyd. Miners sophomore forward Paul Thomas is the reigning C-USA Player of the Week. He averaged 20.0 points and 12.5 rebounds, shooting 68 percent (17-for-25) from the field in wins at North Texas and Rice last week.

Florida Atlantic is 9-16 overall and 5-9 in the conference, tied for 10th with Charlotte. The Owls ended a three-game losing streak last time out, winning 94-82 at Southern Miss. FAU tied its season high with 15 made 3-pointers and the 94 points were the school’s most against a Division I opponent this year. Florida Atlantic has lost four of its past five meetings vs. UTEP. The Miners won 66-65 in overtime on Jan. 14 in El Paso. The Owls’ Gerdarius Troutman hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left in regulation to tie it at 55 and force overtime. Troutman also hit a 3 to make it 66-65 in OT with 3.2 seconds left, but the Owls couldn’t commit a foul before UTEP ran out the clock.

UTEP is 9-0 ATS in its past nine games so keep riding that train.

NCAAB Free Pick: UTEP At Pick’emBest Line Offered: Heritage

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