NCAA Basketball Odds: High/Low Picks For Thursday, January 19

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 8:13 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 8:13 PM UTC

Your highest opening spread on the NCAA basketball board Thursday is when No. 23 Saint Mary's hosts Pepperdine in a late start, while the low spread is a matchup between North Texas and Southern Miss from Conference USA. Here are my picks.

Pacific At No. 23 Saint Mary's (-20.5)

Last year, Saint Mary's was 27-5 after losing to Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game. Just about everyone thought the Gaels would get an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, but they were relegated to the NIT again. SMC is a very good mid-major program but not many good teams will play the Gaels out of conference, and they almost never can beat Gonzaga. Saint Mary's had a nine-game winning streak end Saturday in a 79-56 blowout loss at the Zags. SMC star Jock Landale was held to 10 points and was in foul trouble much of the game, playing only six first-half minutes. Saint Mary's was only down 52-47 in the second half but then went ice cold in going  scoreless for a six-minute stretch and hitting just two of its final 11 shots overall. It's quite possible Saint Mary's doesn't lose again until it hosts Gonzaga on Feb. 11. That might be the Zags' only shot at a regular-season loss.

Pacific, coached by former NBA All-Star guard Damon Stoudamire, is only better than Pepperdine in the WCC. The Tigers were blown out at San Francisco 72-51 on Saturday. It was 43-18 at halftime, and Pacific never got closer than 15 after that. Pacific is a 7-0 this season when allowing 69 points or fewer. This is the Tigers' third game against a ranked foe this year. They opened the season with a 39-point loss at UCLA and also lost by 20 at home to Gonzaga. Pacific only scores 69.3 ppg and goes against the No. 1 scoring defense in the WCC as Saint Mary's allows 57.9 points. SMC has won the past seven meetings.

Pacific has failed to cover its past eight games vs. teams with a winning record.

NCAAB Free Pick: SMC -20.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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North Texas At Southern Miss (pick'em)

I absolutely love pick'em games because if  you can't pick a winning team without a spread most of the time, then you shouldn't be handicapping. The Mean Green join Florida International as the only teams without a Conference USA victory yet. North Texas enters on a six-game skid following a 101-79 blowout loss at Rice on Saturday. North Texas held a seven-point lead, but a 23-3 run in the second half doomed the Mean Green. Rice scored 64 points after intermission and hit 12 3-pointers. The Mean Green struggled at the free-throw line in the second half in going 10-for-26 and missed 19 for the game. Junior forward Jeremy Combs leads the team in scoring at 10.8 points per game and in rebounding at 6.5 per contest. Two guards, Deckie Johnson and Keith Frazier, are questionable for this game due to injury. Both have missed the past three.

Southern Miss has dropped back-to-back games, both on the road. It was 82-66 at Charlotte on Saturday. The Golden Eagles made just 20 of 62 shots (32.3 percent), including 6-for-21 from 3-point range. The previous weekend saw Southern Miss produce its second and third-most points of the season in wins over UTSA and UTEP that came in senior point guard Khari Price's return from preseason surgery. Last year, he averaged 9.6 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds. In four games thus far, he's at 9.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds but is shooting only 31.6 percent from the field.  The Golden Eagles lead C-USA in field-goal defense (40.2 percent). Southern Miss is 5-3 at home this season and is 2-1 there in conference. It has won the past four at home vs. North Texas.

The Mean Green have covered just five of their past 21 road games. USM is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 at home vs. teams with a losing road record.

NCAAB Free Pick: Southern Miss At Pick'emBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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