#3 Ohio State (11-0) vs. Notre Dame (8-3)
Blackrock Gotham Classic
The setting is New York City for this neutral site matchup between two of the better teams in college basketball. Ohio State has won every one of their 11 games by double figures and had demolished Marquette earlier in the season while Notre Dame is coming off of a very strong victory against Indiana. Will the Fighting Irish be the first team this season to give the Buckeyes some competition?
After a miserable 0 for 5 from the field against North Dakota State, Fighting Irish leading scorer, Jerian Grant, came back with a strong performance against Indiana. Grant has had performances of 20 point or more in 3 out of his last 4 games. This is a player that gets other players involved, is a good defender, and can draw fouls at will. Expect a huge game from the senior as this is his biggest test of the season.
While Grant runs the offense, Pat Connaughton and Garrick Sherman give the Irish that much needed presence on the boards. The Irish have a decisive advantage in scoring and on the boards, but this game will come down to can the Notre Dame offense be effective against one of the best defenses in the country in Ohio State?
LaQuinton Ross has had a nice run for the Buckeyes. Sometimes Aaron Craft gets a lot of the credit, but Ross consistently produces on the offensive end. He’s had 18 or more points in 4 out of his last 5 games. When Ohio State needs a bucket, they look for Ross or Lenzelle Smith Jr. This is definitely one of their stiffer tests of the season.
Look for Notre Dame to keep this game close as they match up well against OSU.
Pick- Notre Dame +7 at Bet 365
Xavier (8-3) at Alabama (5-5)
5 point Underdog?
My favorite type of plays are ones in which the better team is a slight betting favorite in the NCAA basketball odds while on the road. In this case, Xavier, who is the better team, is a 5 point underdog to a .500 Alabama squad. The reason being is that Bama has home court advantage and the Musketeers haven’t won on the road. Regardless, 5 points is a lot for Xavier in this spot.
Xavier had ran threw a rough patch of 3 straight losses in early December against some legitimate competition in the form of Tennessee, USC, and Iowa, but now the Musketeers are back on track after a convincing 17 point win over Cincinnati at home.
Xavier will definitely carry some confidence over to this game as they shot 11 of 16 from 3-point range and 56.4 % from the field as they dominated their cross town rivals. Leading scorer, Semaj Christian, fouled out with a subpar performance, but role player, Justin Martin, picked up the slack as he the led the way with 17 points on 3 of 5 from 3-point territory. The Musketeers are a team that goes 10 players deep and can stay fresh. This is a major reason why they’ve been so successful this season.
Although Alabama is a mere 5-5, much of their lack of success can be attributed to having a rough schedule. They’re coming off of a very solid performance against Wichita State in a 72-67 loss which went down to the wire. A performance like that here, could give a team like Xavier, a team that hasn’t won on the road this season, big problems.
Alabama is led by guard Travis Releford and he’s coming off of a huge 22 point performance against the Shockers. Don’t expect Xavier to contain him at home.
This is a fairly even matchup and the points are the difference. Take Xavier and the points for your NCAA basketball pick.
Pick- Xavier +5 at Bet 365