NCAA Basketball Picks: A Trio Of Live Underdog Plays For Tonight

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, February 13, 2016 4:58 PM GMT

Our college basketball expert Ross Benjamin has gone 21-14-1 ATS (60%) the last fifteen betting days with his underdog NCAA basketball picks, and that includes 17 outright winners. 

Texas vs. Iowa State 8:30 PM ET
Iowa State has shown a bit of vulnerability in recent contests. The Cyclones have gone 1-3 SU&ATS in their previous four games. The Cyclones have been hindered by a -5.8 rebound per game differential over their last five contests.

They say that teams take on the personality of their head coach. Well that’s certainly been the case with Texas and first year head coach Shaka Smart. The Longhorns are playing with a blend of poise, intensity, and passion. They’re coming off a tough 3 point loss at #3 Oklahoma in a game they easily covered as a 9.0 point underdog. They held one of the best shooting teams (Oklahoma) in the nation to a paltry 40% shooting from the floor. Despite that defeat, Texas is 7-2 in its last nine games, and has covered in seven straight. Their only other loss during that sequence came at #6 Kansas in a game that was much closer than the 9 point final margin would indicate. The Longhorns have been outstanding defensively of late, holding opponents 58.6 points per game, and just 38.1% shooting during its previous five contests.

I’m going to ride the momentum of Texas for one of my Saturday NCAA basketball picks.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas +5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

Gonzaga vs. SMU 10:00 PM ET
I question the mental state of SMU at this juncture. Granted they’re an outstanding 20-3 on the season, and ranked #16 in the AP Poll. However, it’s been a tumultuous season nonetheless. The Mustangs won’t participate in any postseason tournament due to a NCAA ban for rules violations. They’ve had two players leave the program during the season, and had to endure the suspension of veteran head coach Larry Brown for a period of time. Despite all the outside distractions, SMU won its first 17 games. It appeared at that point they had taken on a us against the world mentality. Unfortunately, their potential undefeated season came to a halt during a 2 point road loss at Temple, and that began a 2-3 stretch over their previous five games. They also had another milestone go by the wayside in an 82-77 home loss to Tulsa during its last outing. That was their first loss at home this season. For a team with no postseason aspirations, they’re running out of motivational goals.

Despite their stellar 20-5 record, Gonzaga is in need of a signature non-conference win. They’re certainly not a lock to win the Big West Tournament in March with St. Mary’s looming as a huge deterrent. They need to have a Plan B, and that’s an at-large bid to “The Big Dance”. The Bulldogs five losses this season have come by a combined 15 points. Their largest margin of defeat this season came by just 5 points. That in itself lends itself to underdog value.

Current NCAA basketball odds provide me with the best number for this wager.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Gonzaga +6
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

 

Colorado State vs. UNLV 10:00 ET
It’s been a tough year for UNLV considering they were expected to be a serious contender in the Mountain West Conference. Currently they’re 7th in the MWC with a 5-7 record, and have a disappointing overall mark of 14-10. Following a 59-57 loss at Wyoming on 1/9, head coach Dave Rice resigned which added to the complexity of an already tough situation. They responded by winning three in a row, and seemed to be a rejuvenated team. But since that time, they’ve regressed again by going 2-4 in its last six games. On a somewhat positive note, they’re coming off a narrow 3 point home win as a large 14.5 point favorite against MWC cellar dweller San Jose State. Although that result certainly wasn’t a confidence builder with all considered, and may have even served as quite the contrary.

Colorado State enters Saturday’s contest riding a bit of momentum by having played three strong games in a row. They suffered a narrow 2 point loss at MWC leader San Diego State, but easily covered as an 11.5 point underdog. The Rams have gone 2-0 SU&ATS in their previous two games, posting victories over Nevada in addition to an upset of Boise State. Colorado State has a huge +8 rebound per game differential over its last five contests. They should have their way on the glass against an opponent (UNLV) on Saturday that’s -5 per contest in that category over their last five outings.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Colorado State +7
Best Line Offered: at Heritage