Willie’s NCAAB season picks record: 27-23-2 (+2.80 units)
Friday, 9 p.m. ET
Free NCAAB Pick: Bulls ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
Having gotten the first loss of the season out of their system a couple of weeks back at Marquette, Nate Oats and the Buffalo Bulls can now turn their full attention to the MAC schedule that gets underway Friday night in Ypsilanti against the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
CBS Sports Network will carry the contest from Convocation Center where the Eagles have won six of eight this season. Getting a seventh win on their home floor is going to require something of a big upset with Buffalo decided chalk in the battle, the total sitting in the mid-140s.
Eagles On 6-Game ATS Skid
The Bulls are certainly road tested entering the MAC slate, winning as underdogs at West Virginia and Syracuse as well as San Francisco before finally dropping that December 21 game at Marquette. Oats & Company haven’t been in front of the home crowd for three weeks, something that will change next week in the friendly confines of Alumni Arena against Toledo and Miami (OH). Buffalo is coming off an 87-72 win at Canisius last Saturday, having just enough to cover a 14½-point closing spread at Bookmaker.
Rob Murphy’s men fell a point short of pushing a 23-point spread on the NCAA basketball odds board that same day at Kansas in an 87-63 final. The Jayhawks were the second team ranked No. 1 at some point this season to beat EMU, the first coming at Duke in mid-November, an 84-46 trouncing. The Eagles haven’t covered a lined game since November 27 against Boston, dropping the last six to make the board and ranking near the bottom of the country sinking just 40% of their field goal tries.
Bulls 3-0 SU & ATS Last 3 Meetings
Buffalo has won and covered the last three to build a 15-10 advantage in the rivalry, and also came out on top the last two trips to Ypsilanti. The lone meeting a season ago took place in Buffalo where the Bulls posted an 83-69 decision to cover a -11½ spread in a contest that just skipped past a 149½-point total. Buffalo also covered as an underdog the last time the schools got together at Convocation Center, that contest staying ‘under’ a 154-point scoreboard target. Three of the last four matchups failed to reach the totals.
The key to this game will be Eagles center James Thompson IV; the senior is currently just shy of his fourth consecutive season averaging a double-double, and if he can avoid getting into foul trouble, as well as not leave points at the charity stripe, Eastern Michigan has a shot at the cover. Those are big ifs, however, and I’ll run with the Bulls with my free NCAA basketball pick.