NCAA Basketball Picks: Western Kentucky vs. Wichita State

Joe Freda

Monday, November 11, 2013 5:59 PM GMT

Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 5:59 PM GMT

The Wichita State Shockers play host to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers tonight at the Charles Koch Arena. What is the best way to make our college basketball picks against these particular betting odds? Watch and learn!

The Wichita State Shockers opened this season’s campaign with Saturday’s 93-50 victory over the Emporia State Hornets. Monday’s NCAAB betting has Gregg Marshall’s crew remaining home against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Check out SBRs Monday's NCAAB Value Plays

Shockers, Early thrash Hornets

Wichita State shot 51.7 percent from the field in its victory over Emporia State, including an 8-for-22 mark from three-point land. Shockers forward Cleanthony Early piled in a team-high 21 points in 25 minutes of action, sinking 7-of-8 free throws.

Wichita State’s Fred Van Vleet and Ron Baker logged six assists each, while combining for 29 points. VanVleet added six boards and four steals, leading his side’s charge in outrebounding the Hornets, 32-18.

Baker knocked down 2-of-3 shots beyond the arc, while uniting with mate Darius Carter for two blocks each. The Shockers held Emporia State 

to 36.5 percent field shooting, running it up after the break with a 44-24 margin in the second half.

Hilltoppers return as Sun Belt champs

Western Kentucky heads west for its opener, following last season’s run to the Sun Belt Championship. The Hilltoppers reeled off four straight wins to capture the crown, followed by giving the Kansas Jayhawks a close call in the “Big Dance” with a 64-57 defeat as a 20 ½-point underdog.

Ray Harper’s squad returns four of its five starters, including top scorer T. J. Price (15.2 PPG). Hilltoppers forward George Fant comes back for his junior year after leading in boards (6.6 RPG), while center Aleksej Rosto should see more action after big numbers in field shooting (56 percent) and free throws (83.3 percent)

Price finished last year among the Sun Belt’s top 15 in connecting from three-point land (36.2 percent), while mate Brandon Harris hit 4-of-7 beyond the arc in the Hilltoppers’ 65-63 win over FIU in the Sun Belt’s title game. WKU finished in the middle of the conference’s pack for scoring (67.2 PPG) and rebounding (36.2 RPG), ranking sixth in the group’s 11 teams.

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Back the Hilltoppers as road dogs

Bet365 opened the NCAA Basketball odds for Wichita State as a 13 ½-point home favorite, with early wagers on the Shockers lifting the number a ‘hook’ to 14. Wichita State remains home for Thursday’s matchup with William & Mary, while WKU is idle until Saturday’s “Roundball Showcase” opener against East Tennessee State.

I am taking the points with Western Kentucky for my NCAA Basketball pick here, looking for Price and Co. to stay in cashing range.

WKU jumped out to a 5-1 spread record in last year’s first six ‘board’ battles, including a 3-1 ATS mark in contests played away from home. The Hilltoppers held foes to 63.3 PPG in that stretch, while rallying to take the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles to overtime in a season-opening 67-64 defeat as a 5 ½-point dog.

Wichita State staged a surprising “Final Four” run last year, but went 2-4 ATS in its year’s first six duels as a double-digit favorite. The Shockers ranked in the bottom half of the Missouri Valley Conference for three-point shooting (32.4 percent), while losing starters Carl Hall and Malcolm Armstead.

The late tip of 1 a.m. ET should have both sides logging a few extra turnovers, leaving Wichita State’s margin of victory a bit less than expected on paper. Look for the Shockers to fall short of covering the number, with WKU connecting enough buckets for a ‘back door’ cover.

NCAA Basketball Pick:  Western Kentucky Hilltoppers +14 at Bet365

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