Willie’s NCAAB season picks record: 27-24-2 (+1.75 units)
Saturday, 11:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Free NCAAB Pick: Gaels ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
An inability to win and cover the close ones has dogged Saint Mary’s and its backers in recent weeks, leaving the Gaels in something of an early must-win Saturday night when they welcome the BYU Cougars to Moraga.
One of the final games on the NCAA basketball odds, ESPN2 will televise the West Coast coash from McKeon Pavilion, and the good news for Randy Bennett and the Gaels is they are favored to avoid an 0-2 start in conference play. Saturday’s scoreboard target is set in the mid-150s.
BYU 7-2 ‘Over’ Last 9
Dave Rose takes his Cougars on the road off a 90-87 triumph at Pacific on Thursday to get their league slate off on a winning note. The victory did stop a 3-game skid for BYU, but fell just short of the cover to leave the Cougs in a 4-game slump at the window. Led by TJ Haws’ 24 points, BYU had more than enough offense to send the game past a 156-point total, the fourth consecutive ‘over’ and seventh in the last nine contests. The Cougars are 11th in the nation averaging nearly 85 PPG, and have connected on better than 40% their last three matches.
Saint Mary’s wasn’t as lucky Thursday night against a solid San Francisco squad, falling to the Dons on the road by a 76-72 count as a 3-point underdog at Bookmaker. It was the third loss in five games for the Gaels, each time falling a point or less from the cover. Saint Mary’s overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half to tie the contest with eight minutes remaining, but had a couple of shots blocked in the final minute to seal defeat. In a season that was already tabbed a rebuilding year for Bennett’s bunch, the Gaels are still playing without 7-foot transfer Aaron Menzies who remains out following hand surgery.
Gaels 5-1 ATS Last 6 Vs. Cougars
After meeting three times a season ago, this rivalry stands level at 13 wins apiece. Saint Mary’s won and covered both regular season clashes before BYU ripped the nets for an 85-72 win in the semifinals of the WCC Tournament. That win by the Cougars halted a 5-game run by the Gaels both straight up and against the spread in the series, and the final easily got past a 137-point total to stop a 4-game streak for ‘under’ bettors. Saint Mary’s has covered the last five encounters at McKeon Pavilion.
Just 3-9 over my last dozen free NCAA basketball picks, maybe this one should be for fade purposes only. With BYU yet to cover a true road game this season, I’ll side with the Gaels on their home floor.