Coast to coast we go with a trio of Saturday college basketball picks, starting with a Mountain West clash of ranked teams in San Diego where the Aztecs host New Mexico, who can boost their NCAA Tournament resume with a victory in a tough road venue.
College basketball bettors have an opportunity to catch a couple of eventual tourney teams in action against one another when NBC Sports Network televises the 4 PM (ET) tip at Viejas Arena. The Aztecs and Lobos each come into the contest ranked, New Mexico No. 15/17 according to the writers and coaches, respectively, with SDSU 25th in the coaches poll.
Overnight listings on the SBR betting odds had the Aztecs -4.5 with 129.5 for the total.
San Diego State has won 25 of its last 28 at home, 8-1 this season. But the Aztecs have been burning money on their own court with a 2-4 ATS mark this season, and one of those three recent defeats at Viejas Arena came to these Lobos a year ago when the clubs exchanged road wins with each other. New Mexico eventually won the rubber match in Las Vegas for the MWC Tournament Championship.
The Aztecs have already dropped a pair of conference games, including on this floor a little more than a week ago to UNLV. A loss Saturday means SDSU would have to try and level the seasons series with both the Rebels and Lobos in road battles.
It's tough to bet against Fisher's kids at home, especially with Chase Tapley finding the net so well on this court, but that's what I'm going to do. New Mexico +4.5.
Pepperdine a Big Dog at Saint Mary's
Another team tough to beat on its own floor is Saint Mary's. In fact, Randy Bennett and the Gaels are a perfect 11-0 at McKeon Pavilion this slate, and were 16-1 at home last season, missing out on a perfect home record in the regular season's final game. The odds don't suggest that home record will be marred by this outcome with Saint Mary's opening as 20-point chalk. It's the sixth straight time the schools have met in Moraga with the Gaels laying 20 or more, and SMC has won the last 11 in the series.
Pepperdine covered the last two times on this floor, and there's a strong UNDER trend both in the series (six of the last eight meetings) and at McKeon Pavilion (five of the last six). The Waves have a pretty decent defense as well this season, holding opponents to 64.7 PPG which is right there with Saint Mary's 64.8 PPG.
But Pepperdine has seen that mark go up in conference play (67.2 ppg, 6th in WCC); the Gaels are allowing a league-best 61.8 PPG on the West Coast schedule, and are far superior to the Waves on the offensive end.
Matthew Dellavedova has been in a rut since a New Year's Eve squeaker over Harvard, hitting just 34% of his shots (29-for-85). He was connecting on nearly 50% up to that contest. The senior from Down Under could break out at any time, but until he does, I'm wary of laying this many points on the Gaels. Pepperdine +20 will be my play.
Explorers in Letdown Spot at VCU
ESPN reported it was "the biggest win for La Salle in 33 years," and we can't argue that since it was the first time the Explorers had beaten a top-10 team since Jimmy Carter sat in the Oval Office. But Wednesday's buzzer-beating, 54-53 win over Butler was hardly the upset that many called it. In fact, La Salle failed to cover as 2.5 point chalk at the closing bell.
A win Saturday night in Richmond against Virginia Commonwealth, now that will be an upset. As improved as John Giannini's Explorers are this year, they're still 11 point underdogs to the Rams. The A-10 tilt is at 140 for totals bettors.
As Giannini brings his Explorers in on a high, Shaka Smart and the Rams are coming off an upset loss in overtime Thursday at the Richmond Spiders in a war between crosstown rivals. Favored by 8.5, VCU let a 4-point lead slip away in the final 19 seconds, then laid an egg in OT.
Neither team has been making money recently, VCU dropping the cash three of the last four trips to the floor while La Salle is 1-6 ATS since January arrived. Instead of trying my luck on the spread, my play will be focused on the scoreboard with the UNDER 140.
My NCCB picks: New Mexico +4.5 / Pepperdine +20 / La Salle-VCU Under 140 at Bookmaker
[gameodds]14/218741/43/us[/gameodds]Check out SBR's Saturday Value Plays as well, right here~