Late NCAA Basketball Picks For Saturday: Mid-Major Title Games

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, March 12, 2016 7:15 PM GMT

Hard to believe it's the final college basketball Saturday before the NCAA Tournament. A bunch of automatic bids will be handed out around the nation. Here are my top three NCAAB picks.

Fresno State vs. San Diego State 
Every Power 5 conference team on the NCAA Tournament bubble has to be rooting for San Diego State (25-8) here in the Mountain West Tournament title game in Las Vegas. The Aztecs were regular-season champions in the Mountain West and would assure that league gets only one bid for the Big Dance by beating second-seeded Fresno State (24-9). But an FSU win, especially if it's very close or a buzzer-beater, could see San Diego State get an at-large bid, thus stealing one from the likes of a Michigan or Florida or whomever. “We want the guaranteed route. We don’t want to leave it in someone else’s hands,” Coach Steve Fisher said to the local media following a 67-55 semifinal win over Nevada. SDSU has made the Big Dance every year since 2010. It's the third straight year and seventh time in the past eight that the Aztecs have reached the Mountain West championship. Fresno State is looking for its first NCAA bid since 2001. It carries an eight-game winning streak into this game. San Diego State and Fresno State split two regular-season meetings. On Jan. 19 in San Diego, the Aztecs won 73-67 in overtime. FSU's Cezar Guerrero hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send it to OT. On Feb. 10 in Fresno, the Bulldogs won 58-57. Mountain West Player of the Year Marvelle Harris had 20 points, five assists and four steals for FSU. The Aztecs are 5-2 against the NCAA basketball odds in their past seven games. Fresno has covered only eight of its past 35 neutral-site games.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: San Diego State -4.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Montana vs. Weber State 
This is the Big Sky Tournament final in Reno. Weber State (25-8) was the regular season champion and Montana (21-10) finished second. Weber State, alma mater of Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, was last in the NCAA Tournament in 2014. The Wildcats have won three straight games but all were very close. They advanced with an 83-78 overtime win over North Dakota. Jeremy Senglin scored nine of his 31 points in OT. His 3-pointer with 12 seconds left tied it at 64 in regulation. Montana was last in the NCAA Tournament in 2013. It beat Idaho 81-72 to advance. The Grizzlies shot a season-high 65.1 percent from the field, including 71.4 percent in the second half. Montana has a potential future NBA player in  senior German forward Martin Breunig, who averages 18.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. He has scored 584 points this season, the sixth-best single season in Montana history. Montana and Weber State played once during the regular season, with the Wildcats winning 60-54 in Ogden.  And Weber did that without star center Joel Bolomboy, who averages 17.6 points and 12.8 rebounds. He's healthy now. Montana is 2-5 ATS in its past seven following an ATS win. Weber State is 5-2 ATS in its past seven neutral-site games.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Weber State +2
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

Long Beach State vs. Hawaii 
It's the Big West Tournament final from Anaheim. Hawaii (26-5) was the co-regular-season champion and looks for its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002. And if the Warriors don't win this game, they will have to wait until at least 2018 for another try at the Big Dance because they already are ineligible in 2017 because of NCAA violations under their former head coach. UH hasn't been much challenged in two Big West tourney games, beating Cal State Fullerton by 31 and UC Santa Barbara by 12. Long Beach State (20-13) finished third in the regular-season standings. The 49ers upset co-regular-season champion UC Irvine 77-72 on Friday and have won 11 of their past 12 games. Long Beach State swept Hawaii this season. On Jan. 31 in Honolulu it was 78-64 behind 28 points and 14 rebounds from Nick Faust. On March 5 in Long Beach, it was 74-72. Travis Hammonds made two free throws with 10 seconds left. Faust had 19 points and six rebounds. Hawaii would have won the outright Big West title if it had won that game. The 49ers are 4-0 ATS in their past four Saturday games. UH is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 Saturday games. Add Long Beach State as the NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Long Beach State +4
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle