NCAA Basketball Picks: Road Dog Lafayette To Cover Big Spread vs. Bucknell

Matthew Jordan

Monday, January 25, 2016 11:36 AM UTC

Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 11:36 AM UTC

We preview the matchup between the Lafayette Leopards and the Bucknell Bison. Don't miss this preview and find out our NCAA basketball picks for the night.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Lafayette +15½
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Leopards Look To Bounce Back
The only thing keeping Lafayette (5-13, 2-5) out of the basement of the Patriot League right now is American University, which is one of the worst Division I programs in the country this season. And the Leopards lost to American at home 81-73 last Wednesday, which is the Eagles' only conference win. They had gone 46 days without a victory of any kind. American never trailed after a half-court 3-pointer was good at the end of the first half. It scored the first 10 points of the second half and hit all 12 free throws in the final 72 seconds.

One of Lafayette's best players is senior guard Bryce Scott, the team's third-leading scorer, and he had 17 points in that loss. It was only his second game back from injury. Most time a team will win any game when shooting 59.5 percent from the field (25-for-42) and 53.3 percent from long range (8-for-15) as Lafayette did. But it allowed American to hit on 54 percent (27-for-50) of its shots.

Lafayette was to host rival Lehigh on Saturday afternoon, but the massive winter storm that clobbered the northeastern United States forced that to be postponed and moved to Feb. 8. The Leopards were the Patriot League Tournament champions last season for the first time since 2000, beating American 65-63 in the title game. Lafayette was then pummeled in its NCAA Tournament opener, 93-52 by No. 1 seed Villanova. Three key players were lost from that team: seniors Dan Trist, Seth Hinrichs and Joey Ptasinski combined to average nearly 40 points per game. The top returnee is Nick Linder, who was a member of the preseason All-Patriot League team. He's averaging 16.3 points and 4.4 assists per game.

The Leopards are 0-1 against the spread on NCAA basketball odds this season. Their only game with a spread was a 100-64 loss at USC.


Bison Atop Standings
Bucknell (10-9, 7-1 Patriot) looks like the team to beat in the Patriot League again; last year's club was the regular-season champion and played in the NIT after losing in the conference tournament, and five of the top six scorers are back. This year's club is atop the league standings again, just ahead of Navy.

The Bison have won two straight since an upset home loss to Colgate. Bucknell was able to play through the storm on Saturday, winning 74-71 at Boston University. Stephen Brown scored a career-high 21 points to lead a Bucknell rally from 17 points behind (26-9). Brown was 8-for-10 from the field and now 28-for-39 in his past six games. He only averages 9.2 points on the season but has four straight double-digit games. Zach Thomas added 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The Bison played without first-team All-Patriot League member and leading scorer Chris Hass due to a foot injury. He's questionable for Monday so that line could shift depending on whether or not Hass plays. He had played in 64 straight games before Saturday. Hass averages 18.7 points (second in Patriot League) and 4.0 rebounds in 30.4 minutes a night and had a 40-point game against Army on Jan. 2, including a school-record 32 in the first half.

Expect to see plenty of orange for this game as an “Orange Out” has been declared for it. Bucknell will be wearing 1970s-era throwback uniforms. The Bison are 1-1 ATS on NCAA basketball picks this season.


Last Season
Bucknell and Lafayette split during the regular season, each game decided by 10 points. In the Patriot League Tournament semifinals, Lindner had 22 points to lead the fourth-seeded Leopards to an 80-74 upset of the No. 1 Bison. The Leopards won at Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pa., for the first time in a tournament game and their second all-time win there. Hass had 19 for Bucknell. The Bison are 16-2 against Lafayette in Sojka Pavilion and 25-5 against the Leopards in Lewisburg dating to the first season of the Patriot League.


NCAAB Free Pick
Most reports have Hass likely to return, and obviously that's important. But will he be 100 percent? Lafayette is being outscored by an average of 10.2 point this season. I could see another 10-point home win here for Bucknell in this series, but 15 is too many points to give. For your Monday's college basketball picks, go Lafayette, which is also well-rested now. 

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