NCAA Basketball Picks Of The Day: Saturday's Top Evening Plays

Matthew Jordan

Friday, February 12, 2016 11:44 PM GMT

Again this week with so many games to choose from, I'm breaking down picks into early games and those starting at 5 p.m. ET or later. And it's a big night for Wisconsin. Here my top three recommendations with BetOnline's NCAA Basketball odds.

Wisconsin vs. No. 2 Maryland (-9.5)
The Badgers, last year's national runners-up, are not an NCAA Tournament team right now at 15-9 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten. But UW would likely jump into the field with an upset of the Terrapins on Saturday evening. The NCAA Tournament selection committee takes into account how teams played late in the year and Wisconsin brings a six-game winning streak into this one. That includes victories over ranked Michigan State and Indiana. But those games were both in  Madison. UW hasn't looked good in its past three road games, losing at Northwestern and winning barely at Penn State and Illinois, two of the Big Ten's worst team. Badgers interim coach Greg Gard probably won't get the full-time job if his team misses the Big Dance. Maryland (22-3, 10-2) is tied with Indiana and Iowa for the Big Ten lead and the Terps control their destiny for a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They have won five straight since a loss at ranked Michigan State. For some reason, Maryland went out of conference on Tuesday and beat up little Division II Bowie State 93-62 in what amounted to a scrimmage. That was the Terps' school-record 27th straight home win, not that there was ever any doubt. The reason for that scheduling was Maryland didn't want to go a week in between games. The Terps won at Wisconsin 63-60 on Jan. 9. Star Maryland sophomore guard Melo Trimble hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds remaining. Maryland had blown an eight-point lead with 6:50 left. Take Maryland at -9 NCAA Basketball odds. The Terps are 4-1 ATS in their past five at home. They have covered 13 of their past 18 Big Ten games.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Maryland -9 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Saint Louis vs. VCU  (-18.5)
Could VCU miss the NCAA Tournament? A week ago, the Rams (17-7, 9-2) looked like a Final Four threat, were unbeaten in the Atlantic 10 Conference and on a 12-game winning streak. But VCU was stunned at home by George Washington last Saturday. At least the Colonials are pretty good. There's no explanation for VCU's 69-63 loss at a bad UMass team on Thursday. The Minutemen, who had lost eight of  their past nine games, went 10-for-19 from 3-point range against a great defense. After a Melvin Johnson layup pulled VCU to within 65-63 with 1:07 left, the Rams were held scoreless on their final three possessions. This was no fluke as VCU was down 15 at one point in the second half. VCU doesn't have any quality non-conference wins so it can't afford to mess around with another bad loss. Saint Louis (8-15, 3-8) shouldn't put up much of a fight, having lost four straight. Three of those were by double digits, including a 73-37 crushing at Dayton. The Billilkens are one of the nation's worst offensive (65.4 ppg) and rebounding (32.6 rpg) teams in the country. On Jan. 10, VCU won 72-56 in Saint Louis. SLU was only down four at the half despite going 2-for-13 from the field before intermission. VCU used a 16-0 run early in the second to pull away. The Rams have won four straight in the series. Bet VCU. Saint Louis is 7-19 ATS in its past 26 road games.  VCU is 7-0 ATS in its past seven at home vs. teams with a losing record.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: VCU -19
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Gonzaga vs. No. 16 SMU (-5.5)
Interesting that these two teams would meet out of conference this late in the season. It would be a potential NCAA Tournament matchup but SMU is ineligible for the postseason. All they have to play for now is winning the American Athletic Conference regular season title, but the Mustangs (20-3) have fallen into a first-place tie there by losing three of their past five. SMU had been unbeaten at home this season until being upset 82-77 there by Tulsa on Wednesday. Perhaps Coach Larry Brown's players are simply going through the motions at this point with nothing at the end of the rainbow, so to speak. Gonzaga (20-5) is in the NCAA Tournament right now but not by a lot with a fairly weak non-conference resume in terms of wins. So this would help immensely. The Zags of course could win the West Coast Conference Tournament too. They have won six straight games, five by double digits. Gonzaga is 1-2 vs. ranked teams this season, with the win coming over SMU's conference foe UConn on November. The Huskies haven't played SMU yet this season. SMU went to Gonzaga early last season and the Zags won 72-56. The Mustangs shot just 31 percent from the field. Add Gonzaga +6 to your NCAA Basketball picks. The Mustangs are 1-6 ATS in their past seven at home and the same record in their past seven vs. teams with a winning record. 

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Gonzaga +6
Best Line Offered: at Heritage