NCAA Basketball Picks For Saturday: Three Evening Plays To Choose From

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, March 5, 2016 4:26 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 5, 2016 4:26 PM UTC

If Virginia Commonwealth wins Saturday, it takes the Atlantic 10 regular-season conference title. But if the Rams lose, we could have a four-way tie. See my top NCAA basketball picks for Saturday.

Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs. Dayton Flyers (-2 On NCAA Basketball Odds)
The Rams (22-8, 14-3) can make things simple on everyone by winning this game and they are sole champions and the top seed in next week's Atlantic 10 Tournament. Dayton (23-6, 13-4) would force at least a two-way tie if it wins. But Saint Joseph's and St. Bonaventure are also just a game back of VCU. Both of those schools are likely to win Saturday, with the Hawks hosting Duquesne and the Bonnies at struggling Saint Louis.

If there is a four-way tie, VCU would get the top seed. VCU clinched at least a share of the title with a 70-60 home win over Davidson on Wednesday and a 98-90 St. Bonaventure win over Saint Joseph's also Wednesday. It’s VCU's first Atlantic 10 regular-season title since joining the conference in 2012. VCU is the defending Atlantic 10 Tournament champion but isn't even a lock NCAA Tournament team yet.

A loss here and then early in the A-10 Tournament could be deadly. Dayton won at Richmond 85-84 on Tuesday. Scoochie Smith scored 24 of his career-high 26 points in the second half for the Flyers, who were down 11 at one point after intermission. The Flyers will be the No. 4 seed in next week's tournament if they lose this game. If there’s a four-way tie for first, Dayton will receive the No. 3 seed. This is the only meeting of the season between the schools. Dayton won 59-55 at VCU last season and then lost 71-65 to the Rams in the A-10 title game. Dayton, even though it has dropped two straight home games. It hasn’t lost three straight there since January 2014.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Dayton -2
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


Oregon State Beavers vs. UCLA Bruins (-4.5 In NCAA Betting)
Could this be the final home game for UCLA coach Steve Alford? There are certainly a large chunk of Bruins fans who want him gone and an online petition has been started that calls for his firing. But Alford's buyout likely would be too prohibitive for the school to dump him this year. UCLA was lucky to sneak into the NCAA Tournament last season -- and actually made it to the Sweet 16 -- but  is having one of its worst seasons in decades at 15-15 overall and 6-11 in the Pac-12, which is 10th in the standings.

The Bruins lost their third straight game Wednesday, 76-68 at home to No. 9 Oregon. UCLA led by five at halftime, holding Oregon to 35.7 percent shooting. But after intermission, the Ducks hit 54.8 percent from the field. A loss here would obviously make UCLA 6-12 in the Pac-12, which would equal the school's worst conference record since a guy named John Wooden was hired there. In 2002-03, the Bruins also finished 6-12 in the conference. Coach Steve Lavin was then fired. Oregon State needs a win here and probably at least a run to the Pac-12 Tournament final (or better yet win it) for any shot at the Big Dance.

The Beavers lost 81-70 at USC on Wednesday, trailing 56-33 at halftime. OSU is 1-7 in Pac-12 road games. Oregon State played Wednesday without Tres Tinkle, the team's second-leading scorer and rebounder, due to a foot injury suffered in Tuesday's practice. He won't play in this game, either, and his status going forward  is unclear. Tinkle, the son of OSU's head coach, is averaging 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.UCLA. The Beavers are 8-20 ATS in their past 28 road games. UCLA is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 Saturday games.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: UCLA -6.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


Florida Gators vs. Missouri Tigers (+5.5 For NCAA Basketball Picks)
Could be the home finale for embattled Missouri coach Kim Anderson as the Tigers (10-20, 3-14) are last in the SEC. They were just 9-23 last year in Anderson's first season, also finishing at the bottom of the SEC. This was a very good program just a few years ago. All three of Mizzou's SEC wins have been at home: vs. Auburn, Tennessee and South Carolina.

A win here won't get NCAA bubble team Florida (17-13, 8-9) into the Big Dance but a loss 100 percent ends any chances of it short of winning the SEC Tournament. The Gators have no one to blame but themselves as they have dropped four in a row. On Tuesday, they fell 88-79 at home to No. 22 Kentucky. This is the only meeting of the season between the schools.

Last year, Billy Donovan brought his favored Gators to Columbia against the last-place Tigers with a chance to win his 500th career game, but Missouri won 64-52. That ended Mizzou's school-record 13-game losing streak. The Tigers have dropped four in a row entering this one. Missouri. The Gators are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a losing record. Missouri is 7-1-1 ATS in its past nine games. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Missouri +7.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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