NCAA Basketball Picks: Take Syracuse To Win Down The Stretch & Cover Over Notre Dame

Charles Stark

Thursday, January 28, 2016 1:20 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 1:20 PM GMT

With a key player out for Notre Dame, it makes sense for Syracuse to be the favorite tonight in this ACC matchup. Join us in this preview and get the top NCAA basketball picks for the game.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse -2
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

NCAA Basketball Odds Overview
NCAA basketball odds boards have Syracuse as a -2.5 favorite like at BetOnline -110. Even if Notre Dame came in healthy, I would be surprised for them to be favored at Syracuse, so not only does this line make sense, I think there is value on the Orange. For one of my NCAA basketball picks, I will back them minus the points to win this game by more than five.

 

Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame is averaging 79.2 points per game while shooting 49.9% from the field, and allowing 69.2 points per game on 42.4% shooting from the field. On the season, they are 7-9-1 overall against the spread and an even 4-4 on the road. Unfortunately, leading scorer Demetrius Jackson is out, and although they are pretty deep, I think they will struggle tonight without their best guard battling the zone defense. The Irish have never been a short on scoring with Mike Brey as their head coach, but against Syracuse, it has been another story. In the last three seasons, Notre Dame against the Orange have only scored 47, 55, and 60 points respectively, so I don't expect them to light up the scoreboard tonight. Overall this season, they have some really solid statistics ranking in the top 10 in the country in overall shooting percentage, effective field-goal percentage, and shooting efficiency. They also rank 26th in the country averaging 28.8 field goals made per game. Tonight, though, on this end of the floor, they will face a completely different monster against one of the hardest defenses to crack in NCAA basketball, the Syracuse 2-3 zone. Defensively, Notre Dame has just been subpar and rank in the middle the country in most statistics. However, they rank in the very bottom part of NCAA college basketball allowing opponents to shoot 39.1% from beyond the arc, and they have one of the worst opponent assists to turnover ratios in the country. Defense has never been Notre Dame's wheelhouse, and tonight Syracuse should take advantage and be able to put up enough to cover the spread.

 

Syracuse Orange
The Orange are averaging 70.4 points per game while shooting 41.7% from the field, and allowing 64.7 points per game on 40.5% shooting from the field. On the season, they are right at 50% going 10-10 against the spread overall, and 5-5 at home. They are coming off a tough loss at Virginia which snapped their three game winning streak after losing four in a row. They have been less than consistent, but they have some talent and should have the home crowd fired up to face the ranked Irish. Offensively, they have four players averaging double figures, but they have not shot the ball particularly well this season ranking in the bottom half of NCAA basketball in most offensive categories. However, they do rank in the top part of the country averaging just under nine three pointers made per game. On the defensive side of the ball, even though everyone knows what's coming, the Syracuse 2-3 zone is still tough to score against. On the season, they rank in the better part of the country in scoring defense, opponent shooting efficiency, and overall opponent shooting percentage. Furthermore, they allow opponents to shoot only 29.4% from beyond the arc which ranks 11th in the country. As mentioned, the Irish have struggled against the zone defense the last three years, and I expect more of that today.

It makes sense for Syracuse to be favored against their ranked opponent in this spot. Without one of their best players, Notre Dame is going to have their hands full putting the ball in the basket. For one of my NCAA picks today,  I will back Syracuse minus the small number to win this game down the stretch and cover the spread.

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