NCAA Basketball Picks of the Day: Crash the Boards With Saturday's Bets

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, December 19, 2015 1:19 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015 1:19 PM UTC

It's the last huge day of non-conference action this Saturday with a ton of great matchups. Here are my top picks against NCAA basketball odds. 

#9 Purdue vs. #17 Butler 
This is part of the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It's also the first matchup between ranked teams in the 57-game series. The best team in the country? If you believe ESPN's Basketball Power Index, it's Purdue. The Boilers try for their fifth start in school history of 12-0. They are the only team in the country to be undefeated and win all of its games by double-digits. Purdue leads the nation in field goal percentage defense (.333) and is seventh in scoring defense (57.5) and rebound margin (+13.2). This is a deep team with 10 players getting at least 14.9 minutes. Center A.J. Hammons is a beast in the middle, averaging 12.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in just 20.6 minutes per game. Big  man Caleb Swanigan is one of the Big Ten's best freshmen, averaging 9.9 points and 9.2 rebounds. Purdue hasn't played a ranked team yet but has solid wins over Florida, Pittsburgh and New Mexico. Butler (8-1) has only lost to a good Miami (Fla.) tam and has solid wins over Temple, Cincinnati and Tennessee. Butler is second nationally in scoring at 91.7 points per game. The Bulldogs trail only The Citadel, which averages 93.6 ppg. Butler blasted The Citadel 144-71 to open the season. Butler has won four straight in the series; the teams last played in 2013. The Bulldogs are 2-5 ATS in their past seven games. The Boilers are 7-1 ATS in their past eight.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Purdue -4.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Mercer vs. Arkansas
This is technically a neutral-site game in North Little Rock. Mercer (8-2) has played a few solid teams thus far, losing by six at Davidson and by seven on Tuesday at Auburn. The Bears trailed by just one point with under a minute left before the Tigers hit a 3-pointer to put the game away with 29 seconds left. Mercer outrebounded Auburn 46-38. Mercer, which leads the Southern Conference in rebounding, is 39-8 after a loss over the last five seasons. The Bears beat Tulane 71-61 earlier this season after losing at Davidson. Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Mercer is tied for the 16th most road wins in the country (35). The Razorbacks are coming off a blowout over Tennessee Tech on Dec. 12, 83-57. And the Hogs welcome back a key player here. That's point guard Anton Beard, a member of the SEC all-freshman team last season who was suspended the first nine games for an offseason arrest. Beard averaged 5.8 points in 18.9 minutes per game last season for the Razorbacks and started the season's final 16 games. He's not going to start right now as one of Arkansas' best player is point guard Jabril Durham. The senior is averaging 8.1 assists (No. 2 in country), 6.8 points and 4.3 rebounds. But the Hogs could use them in a two-guard set and this certainly makes them deeper.  Arkansas is 4-0 all-time vs. Mercer but the teams haven't played since the 1999-2000 season.  Mercer has covered only five of its past 17 games. The Hogs are 7-3 against the NCAA basketball odds in their past 10 following an ATS win.

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NCAA Basketball Pick:  Arkansas -5.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


#16 Baylor vs. #24 Texas A&M
If you told me I was previewing a game between ranked Baylor and Texas A&M teams, then I would have assumed it was in football. But instead it's a very nice matchup between former Big 12 rivals in College Station. That campus could use some good news right now with the football team's top two quarterbacks,  highly-touted Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, both announcing they were transferring. Maybe A&M becomes a basketball school? Yeah, probably not. Baylor (8-1), whose football team has its own QB problems for its bowl game, routed Hardin-Simmons 104-59 on Wednesday. Baylor has now gone 54 consecutive games without allowing 75+ points, the nation’s longest active streak. Still not sure how good the Bears are because other than playing Oregon (the one loss) and Vanderbilt (two-point win), they have played a joke of a non-conference schedule. Sound familiar? Texas A&M (8-2) beat Kansas State 78-68 on Dec. 12 in its last game. The Aggies have good wins over Texas and Gonzaga (both in the Bahamas) and have lost to Syracuse and Arizona State. A&M is 6-0 at Reed Arena this season and 132-13 (.910) all-time there against non-conference competition. Saturday's Battle of the Brazos is the first home matchup between ranked teams for a non-conference game in A&M program history as well as the first overall meeting between ranked teams at Reed Arena since Jan. 31, 2011, when the Aggies hosted No. 3 Texas. Baylor beat visiting A&M 77-63 last year. The Bears are 0-5 ATS in their past five games. A&M is 11-5 ATS in its past 16 after a win. The Aggies have covered seven of the past 10 meetings. Play A&M as the NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas A&M -3
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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