NCAA Basketball Picks Of The Day: Win Big With Friday's Top Plays

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, February 11, 2016 9:12 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 9:12 PM UTC

Could UCLA coach Steve Alford be in some trouble? His storied program looks likely to miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012 and should lose Friday night in Pac-12 action. Here are my top three Friday picks on BetOnline's NCAA Basketball odds.

UCLA vs. No. 17 Arizona (-11.5)
The Bruins finished 28-9 in Alford's first season, 2013-14, and lost to Florida in the NCAA Tournament's regional semifinal. Last year's team barely snuck into the NCAA Tournament but won two games before falling to Gonzaga in the regional semifinal and finishing 22-14. This year's club is just 13-10 overall and 4-6 in the Pac-12. So it's going to take probably either a 7-1 finish to the regular season or an unlikely run to the Pac-12 Tournament title for the Bruins to get back to the Big Dance. They have lost three of their past four thanks to shoddy defense, allowing at least 80 points in each loss. Still, I don't know how a team with Bryce Alford (fourth in Pac-12 in scoring, third in assists), Tony Parker (third in Pac-12 in rebounding) and Thomas Welsh (fifth in conference in rebounding and third in field-goal percentage) can be this mediocre. Arizona (19-5, 7-4 Pac-12) has no worries about an NCAA bid and still has designs on the Pac-12 regular-season title, although the Wildcats are two games behind leader Oregon entering Thursday.

What do the Wildcat do well? They rebound 78 percent of their opponents' missed shots, the second-best defensive rebounding percentage in the nation. In Saturday's 77-72 win at Washington, UA's third straight victory,  the Cats welcomed back freshman guard Allonzo Trier (14.3 ppg). He hadn't played since Jan. 9 due to injury. Trier played 16 minutes off the bench against the Huskies and had seven points. UCLA has won five of the past eight vs. Arizona, including 87-84 in Los Angeles on Jan. 7. Alford hit the winning 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left. Take Arizona at -11.5 NCAA Basketball odds. UCLA is 1-4 ATS in its past five road games. Arizona is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 at home. The Cats are 10-4 ATS in their past 14 vs. teams with a winning record.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Arizona -11.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


No. 23 USC vs. Arizona State (Pick'em)
While UCLA is struggling, crosstown USC is on the rise and having its best season in years. Southern Cal (18-5, 7-3) entered play Thursday in sole possession of second place in the Pac-12, two games behind Oregon. The Trojans are one of two major conference teams with six players averaging at least 10 points along with Iowa State. USC is on a three-game winning streak, all at home, following a two-game skid in the state of Oregon. The Trojans finished off a rare season sweep of UCLA with an 80-61 thumping last Thursday for their 14th straight home win. It was Southern Cal's first sweep of UCLA with both wins by double digits since 1938. USC leads the Pac-12 in assists, 3-pointers made and 3-point defense. Arizona State (13-11, 3-8) is being kept out of the conference cellar only by Washington State. The Sun Devils come off a 67-55 win Saturday at Wazzu. ASU lost at USC 75-65 on Jan. 7, but the Sun Devils have won seven of the past eight meetings in Tempe. Arizona State is 9-4 at home this season. USC on the road worries me, but this spread shocks me. Go Trojans. ASU is 1-5 ATS in its past six following a win. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: USC -1
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Monmouth vs. Rider (+6)
Monmouth (20-5, 12-2) leads the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference by a game over Iona. Could the Hawks get an at-large bid if they don't win the conference tournament? Not impossible. They have wins over UCLA, USC, Notre Dame and Georgetown. Monmouth already has beaten Iona once and they play again next Friday. The Hawks enter this on a six-game winning streak -- first time since 2005 -- following an 87-61 victory at Marist on Tuesday. Monmouth shot 50.8 percent from the field and led by as many as 32, its biggest lead of any game this season. A victory here would tie the school's season record. Rider (10-15, 6-8) is off a 67-61  loss at Canisius on Sunday. Canisius took control with a 14-0 run to take a 50-37 lead with 12:15 left in the game. Monmouth leads the league in scoring at 80.8 points per game and Rider leads the league scoring defense at 63.7 ppg. The Broncs have won 12 of the past 14 meetings vs. Monmouth.

Back Rider with your NCAA Basketball picks. It's the game of the year there and nationally televised (ESPNU) so the sold-out crowd will be fired up. The Broncs are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games vs. a team with a winning record. Monmouth has covered only one of the past five meetings. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Rider +5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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