NCAA Basketball Picks: Davidson vs. Marquette

Jeff Grant

Monday, March 18, 2013 2:29 PM GMT

Monday, Mar. 18, 2013 2:29 PM GMT

The Marquette Golden Eagles have reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, but they’ll be on upset alert against the Davidson Wildcats Thursday.


Let’s take a closer look at the NCAA basketball odds for this matchup between the Big East Conference and Southern Conference, with the opening tip scheduled for 3:10 ET at Rupp Arena.

Big East may be a bit overrated

Marquette claimed a share of its first-ever Big East regular-season championship, but I believe the conference is a bit overrated this year.  The Golden Eagles were unable to take advantage of their double bye in the league’s tournament at Madison Square Garden, as they suffered a 73-65 setback to Notre Dame as three-point favorites last Thursday.

Southern Conference was down this year

Davidson had a pretty easy path to earn the Southern Conference’s automatic bid to the Big Dance, as it enters with the nation’s longest winning streak at 17 games.  The Wildcats have compiled a 10-7 against-the-spread (ATS) record during their current run.

The program didn’t have much competition during league play, with only the Elon Phoenix and College of Charleston finishing with 20 or more wins.

Bench play

College basketball handicappers need to keep an eye on the Golden Eagles in the Round of 32 and Elite 8 if they make a run, considering head coach Buzz Williams has nine players that averaged 13.3 minutes or more per game.

Marquette’s bench accounted for 44 percent of the team’s scoring in 31 games to this point, which happens to be the second-highest figure of its kind nationally.

Giving to Charity

One of the key factors that many sports bettors forget to handicap is free throw shooting—a category that gains incredible importance with the season on the line.  Davidson is a dangerous team in the 2013 NCAA Tournament because of this category.

The Wildcats led the nation in shooting 80.1 percent from the charity stripe, while the Golden Eagles hit just 67 percent of their tries over the last five games.

Nation’s longest winning streak

The national media will put Marquette on upset alert, considering Davidson enters with the nation’s longest winning streak of 17 games.  

As mentioned earlier, the Wildcats had a really easy go of it in their conference, which could be detrimental when facing better competition.  The program is 4-1 ATS in its last five NCAA Tournament games.

[gameodds]14/225003/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Wildcats as one of their Tournament NCAAB picks Thursday, as the Golden Eagles are 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 non-conference games.

Marquette hasn’t been nearly as dominant this year on a neutral/road floor than at home, which will lead to a possible early exit in facing an experienced team that can knock down shots from the perimeter.

College Basketball Pick: Davidson Wildcats +4 at BetOnline

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