NCAA Basketball Picks: St. Mary's +6 Looks for Revenge Against Favored BYU

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, February 12, 2015 6:38 PM GMT

Our expert handicapper explores the game between St. Mary's and BYU, while also sharing some insight regarding his college basketball pick and reasoning for it. 

St. Mary’s vs. BYU (-6) 9:00 ET ESPN2
At 9:00 pm this evening, St. Mary’s will visit BYU in a battle of teams who in recent seasons have battled it out for 2nd place behind Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference. This year, once again, St. Mary’s stands at 18-5 SU for the season, 10-2 SU in league play. With that record, they hold a 3-game advantage over BYU, who is 18-8 SU for the season, 8-5 SU in the league. These 2 teams played in Moraga earlier this season with St. Mary’s recording an 82-77 victory on January 17th.  In that contest, the Gaels had a +13 rebound margin with inside stars, Waldow and Jackson, doing Yeoman’s work in the scoring column and on the glass. Let us examine if BYU will get their revenge or if St. Mary’s is capable of getting the sweep.  

BYU has had one of the strongest home courts in America. In the last 4 years, the Cougars are 53-9 SU at the Marriott Center, including 10-3 SU this season.  Entering this year, BYU was a long term 117-72 ATS as home favorite on the NCAA basketball odds. But, all of that has changed this season, as the Cougars are just 2-10 ATS on their home floor, including 0-5 ATS when not favored by more than 12 points. Main reason for BYU’s lack of success in this role is a defense that allows 73 PPG. Cannot deny the BYU offensive prowess! BYU averages 85 PPG on 47% shooting and 38% from the arc with 9 triples per game.  It is a clear concern that should they have the lead in the late game, their 77% foul shooting could break through this price.

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Very quietly, 14th year St. Mary’s HC Randy Bennett has crafted another winning team. In the previous 5 years, St. Mary’s has averaged 26 wins per year. Already this season, the Gaels are 18-5 SU, 14-6 ATS along with 10-2 SU, 9-2 ATS in league play. Credit a strong defense and good board work for their success. St. Mary’s allows just 63 PPG on 42% shooting and 33% from the arc. With a +7.9 rebound margin and 16.2 to 12.0 assist/TO ratio, the Gaels are the real deal! Stanford transfer Aaron Bright figures to be a key piece to that defensive puzzle as he slows down BYU lead scorer, Haws.

The bottom line here is that St. Mary’s is a quality underdog to add to your college basketball picks, who is 3 games better than BYU at this point in the conference season, has the superior defensive team and is solid on the boards. They are also 6-1 ATS on the road, a number far superior to BYU’s record on their home floor this season.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  St. Mary’s +6 at 5Dimes

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