Looking Forward To A Little Afternoon Delight on Auburn, Boise State

Jay Pryce

Thursday, November 16, 2017 1:38 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 1:38 PM UTC

A pair of rare afternoon tip-offs feature in our free college basketball picks on Thursday. Get those bets in early. Here’s our prediction for the Indiana State-Auburn and Boise State-UTEP clashes.

Indiana State vs. Auburn (-7.5)

Site: TD Arena (Charleston, SC)

Indiana State is beaming with confidence after a 90-69 win at Indiana in the season opener. The Sycamores tipped off 13.5-point underdogs, their first double-digit shocker since topping Illinois State (-11) 63-61 in December 2014. Head coach Greg Lansing’s squad dominated the Hoosiers in nearly all aspects, including shooting 59.2 percent from the floor. The victory did come with a few blemishes, however, like 19 team turnovers and poor defense near the rim. Indiana State will not stun many more favorites if it doesn't shore up these vital areas.

Auburn is in shambles, one of the major players in the FBI’s investigation into corruption and illegal recruiting practices. The school dismissed assistant coach Chuck Person and two other staff members as a result, and head coach Bruce Pearl is on the hot seat for half-heartedly participating in an internal investigation. Player-wise, center Austin Wiley and forward Daniel Purifoy, combining for more than 20 points per game last season, are suspended indefinitely.

Pearl does return his two top scorers from last season: guards Mustapha Heron and Jared Harper. The duo will run opponents out of the gym. The high-flying Tigers put up 80.4 points per game last year. They will likely play smaller and faster Thursday with some of their frontcourt out.

The Sycamores will have trouble keeping up. They average 62.2 points per game as neutral-court road underdogs under Lansing, scoring 3.9 points per game below market projections. Auburn scores 83.1 points per game as chalk with Pearl in charge. The Tigers play at the eighth quickest pace in the country and should give Indiana State plenty of opportunities.  But can the Sycamores execute? Seven times under Lansing they have squared off against opponents allowing greater than 60 field goal tries per game when catching points. Indiana State averages 67.1 points and has score mored than 71 one time. Carrying over its hot shooting from the Hoosiers victory is the only way it stays close, but we’re not counting on it.

Free NCAAB Pick: Auburn -7.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Boise State (-4) vs. UTEP

Site: HTC Center (Conway, SC)

Boise State made mincemeat of its first two opponents, winning by more than 20 versus Eastern Oregon (104-65) and Southern Utah (90-69). The team is led by Mountain West preseason Player of the Year Chandler Hutchison. The 6-foot-7 senior guard averaged 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds per game last year and tallied 9 double-doubles. Hutchison leads a versatile offense that can score from anywhere. The 3-point area has proven the spot through the first two games with the Broncos hitting 29 combined from the area.

UTEP returns its core from last year, minus a pair of trees down low: 6-foot-11 Kevin Jones and 6-foot-10 Joey St. Pierre. Seven-footer Matt Willms still occupies the paint and is the focal point in post-up halfcourt sets. The team’s strength is its backcourt, comprised of Omega Harris and former McDonald’s All-American transfer Keith Frazier. The media voted the Miners to finish fifth in the race for the C-USA title.

Broncos head coach Leon Rice knows his X’s and O’s and will have his squad playing stout defense. An overmatched Louisiana College allowed plenty of easy transition baskets in UTEP’s 100-50 win in the opener. They won’t get close to that number here. The Miners have played seven neutral-court contests against an opponent with a winning record the prior season under Lansing. They’ve eclipsed their team total once in regulation time, staying 5.0 points below projections. UTEP owned C-USA’s fourth best scoring defense last season, allowing 68.8 points per game. Their 34.0 percent opponent 3-point rate proved better than average. A more athletic backcourt could improve on this number this season. Look for it to cancel out Boise State’s deep threat. Broncos win 75-69 in a sluggish afternoon affair. 

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 149.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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