Ohio State-Butler & Riverside-Michigan Top our College Basketball Picks of the Day

Jay Pryce

Sunday, November 26, 2017 1:21 PM UTC

Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017 1:21 PM UTC

Our top-value college basketball picks for Sunday feature a pair of mid-afternoon tips: Butler vs. Ohio State in the PK80 at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston Salem, NC (3:30 p.m. ET), and UC Riverside at Michigan (4 p.m. ET). Predictions and previews for each here.

Butler (-1.5) vs. Ohio State

First-year Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann squares off against his former team Butler in the fifth-place game of the PK80’s Motion bracket on Sunday at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Holtmann left the Bulldogs in June to replace longtime Buckeyes leader Thad Matta. It proved an emotional departure and today’s clash should stir up strong affections again for coach and much of the staff he brought to Columbus. Here’s a clip of Holtmann struggling to find words to express his displeasure with having to face the Bulldogs:

[/]{"component":"video", "type":"sbr", "url":"https://www.youtube.com/embed/n3piMsSb6jg", "videoSize":"Large" }[/]

Butler is 4-2 SU and 2-3 ATS with defeats coming to Texas (61-48) and Maryland (79-65). Forward Kelan Martin is the go-to. The 6-foot-7 senior is posting 14.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Two other players average double figures: sophomore guard Kamar Baldwin (12.7) and senior forward Tyler Wideman (11.2).

The Bulldogs have faced D-I opponents in all but one contest (Kennesaw St. in the season opener). They are struggling in three key areas: rebounding, getting to the charity stripe and defending the arc. Butler ranks 241st in rebounding percentage, 326th in free throw attempts (14.3 per game) and an abysmal 337th in opponent 3-pointer rate. It allows 44.1 percent of opponent treys to go in.

Ohio State (5-1 SU, 2-2 ATS), meanwhile, has faced an easier schedule with its lone defeat a 86-59 rout by No. 17 Gonzaga. The team is owning the boards, collecting 41.2 rebounds per game versus D-I foes, 31st best nationally. Like Butler, an upperclassman forward is the anchor. Junior Keita Bates-Diop averages 17.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. The Buckeyes are finding it difficult to protect the ball, however, turning it over on 15.9 percent of possessions.

Many expect the Buckeyes to finish in the bottom third of the Big Ten. Holtmann will need to time to gather the right pieces to craft the team to his desire. Butler, meanwhile, is more experienced and is growing into head coach LaVall Jordan’s system daily. The wins haven’t always been pretty, including a nailbiting 71-69 victory over a sneaky-good Portland State team on Friday, but they’re counting.

The Bulldogs play at a snail’s pace (#290 in tempo) and will force Ohio State into their game. Fewer possessions will minimize many of the Buckeyes’ strengths, including rebounding. Since 2006, Butler is 17-6 SU and 14-8-1 ATS versus the Big Ten, taking care of business in all but one of 11 matchups as chalk. Expect another close victory here. Lay the points 1.5 points with Butler for your NCAAB picks.

Free Basketball Picks: Butler
Best Lines Available (-105) at Heritage

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3371643, "sportsbooksIds":[169,19,227,180], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

UC Riverside at Michigan (-19)

Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews is living up to the hype at Michigan. The junior guard, who saw limited action for John Calipari in three years, was a top-60 recruit coming out of high school and is now the highest-rated on the Wolverines roster. Matthews is leading the team in scoring, posting 16.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game. Head coach John Beilein believes his best assets are on the defensive side of the ball.

Matthews will be matched by UC Riverside prized recruit Dikymbe Martin (13.8 ppg). The do-everything point guard is arguably the best freshman the Highlanders have recruited since joining the Big West in 2001. Whichever newcomer stands out in this contest will likely determine the outcome against the spread.

There is little chance UC Riverside wins outright. The Wolverines are 46-1 SU (23-23-1 ATS) when spotting visitors 15 points or more at Crisler Center since 2006. We like the Highlanders to stay within 19 points here, however. Michigan is still searching for a first team with freshman Eli Brooks making his third strait start at the point. He’s in competition with Zavier Simpson and grad transfer Jaaron Simmons. Beilein is clearly in evaluation mode as he gears up for conference play and an upcoming trip to Chapel Hill to take on defending national champion North Carolina on Wednesday. Not a situation you want to see when asked to lay nearly 20 points as a sports investor.

The Highlanders slumped to a 7-21 record last year, but look much improved after a season-opening 74-66 takedown of Cal as 13.5-point underdogs. Six-foot-10 senior forward Alex Lasson is a force down low, as UC Riverside is holding opponents to 37.5 percent from the floor. A strong defensive effort here keeps the West Coast visitors within the number. Take the points.

Free NCAAB Picks: UC Riverside
Best Lines Available at 5Dimes +20.5

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3337013, "sportsbooksIds":[19, 169,227,180], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

comment here