NCAA Basketball: Friday Picks of the Day

Joe Catalano

Friday, December 20, 2013 3:03 PM GMT

We’re going small school on this NCAA Basketball Friday as most of the top teams are not in action while awaiting this weekend. Pick your poison; shall it be Ivy League or Missouri Valley Conference? This is still a nice opportunity to fill the pockets with our picks.

Portland (6-4) vs. Bradley (5-5)

Los Vegas Holiday Hoops Tournament

Thus far the Portland Pilots have been the more predictable and reliable team. They played one huge game against Michigan State in which they were very competitive for most of the 2nd half in an 82-67 loss and the Pilots have been basically winning the games that they should be winning, winning 3 out of their last 4 games, and come into this neutral site game as a 4 point betting favorite in NCAA basketball odds.

3 Game Losing Skid

When I think of Bradley, I think of former NBA player Hersey Hawkins, but his days are long gone where suiting up in a Braves uniform is concerned. Bradley has had somewhat of a disappointing season. They played Illinois and got crushed by 26 points and have lost their last 3 games. It’s easy to see why they’re a slight dog here; this team is a weak. 500 squad.

“The Big 2”

Portland has a prolific offense which features the combination of Kevin Bailey and Ryan Nicholas. Bailey leads the team in scoring at 17.6 points per game and has been playing very well as of late.

In his last 2 games, he’s averaging 24.5 points per game and has played well on the defensive side of the ball. Expect a big effort out of Bailey against Bradley. Double-double man, Ryan Nicholas is coming fresh off of a 15 point, 15 rebound game against Montana State in a tough loss. I expect him to dominate the boards and be a key figure in preventing the Braves from getting 2nd opportunities on the offensive end.

Although Bradley can’t compete with Portland’s offense game, they counter with senior Walt Lemon Jr. Lemon Jr. hasn’t seen a shot that he doesn’t like; this is a player that will get his points but up a lot of unnecessary shots. We’ll see how it works against Portland.

Portland has the far superior club. They rank in the top 50 in points, rebounds, and assists. Lay the points and side with the Pilots in your NCAA basketball picks.

Pick- Portland -4 at Bet 365

[gameodds]14/252639/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Nicholls State (3-5) at Indiana (8-3)

Kill Or Be Killed

This is the motto of the Nicholls State Colonels as they’ve been beaten up by teams such as Memphis and San Francisco, but have won 3 out of their last 4 games and seem to be headed in the right direction. That said, sportsbooks have them as a 27.5 point betting underdog and the proposition of the Colonels winning this game is next to nothing.

This game is about Indiana and if they have enough gas in the tank to cover the large betting spread. This is a Hoosiers team that has a high powered offense and is dominant on the boards, but haven’t looked impressive in losses to Syracuse and Connecticut. 27.5 points are a lot to lay and if this game gets out of control. The Hoosiers bench could see a lot of playing time against a lousy team that has won a few games lately.

Players To Focus On

Indiana’s leading scorer, Yogi Ferrell, hasn’t been sharp offensively as of late, but is coming off of an impressive 5 steals in a loss to Notre Dame. I’m expecting a better performance out of Ferrell tonight for as long as he plays. Senior Will Sheehey finally got that game that might have given him some confidence. Sheehey has been a non-factor before facing Notre Dame as he averaged 4.5 points per game in his previous 4 games, but he busted out with a 22 point performance against a good Fighting Irish team. Will Sheehey sustain the momentum or was the game against Notre Dame a fluke is the question?

Nicholls State has very little to offer offensively; Dantrell Thomas (14.1 ppg.) and Jeremy Smith (12.8 ppg.) are about it. This is a team that substitutes many players who would be the last man on the bench if they played for Indiana. I’m trying to find a reason to take Nicholls State because Indiana is a shaky 27.5 point favorite against most teams, but I don’t see the Colonels doing anything here. Expect a massacre at Assembly Hall in favor of the home team.

Pick- Indiana -27.5 at Bet 365

[gameodds]14/252631/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]