Premium NCAA Basketball Picks On Small Slate Friday December 9

minnesota gophers basketball

Joe Catalano

Friday, December 9, 2016 7:15 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 7:15 PM UTC

"Thank god it's Friday," but in the world of NCAA basketball, we have a very abbreviated slate of games. That said, there's a decisive edge in which we can lay down the hammer and deliver a couple of profitable picks for the betting public. 

Georgia Southern Eagles (4-4) At Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-1)

Although not attaining their goal of reaching the AP Top 25, the Golden Gophers have to feel pretty good about themselves as they've defeated 8 of their first 9 opponents. In tonight's matchup with the Eagles, the Gophers are a double-digit betting favorite and this looks like another easy game on their schedule.

Georgia Southern is finally starting to get into gear as it  has won 3 straight games, and in the last one dropped a very competitive matchup against a Florida Gulf Coast team that the Eagles should have beaten. The one and only thing that concerns me when backing Minnesota in this matchup is that the Gophers will have to deal with Eagles star sophomore guard Ike Smith. Whenever a superior team plays a team of lesser talent with a superstar, we usually proceed with caution and that's the case here.

Smith is player who is not going to force the issue and shoot free throws, but someone who will take in excess of 14 shots per game and connect on 54.8% of them. In Smith's last 2 games, he's averaging 26 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists on 21 of 34 shooting from the field. That's quite impressive, and although Minnesota is in a good spot in this matchup, it must contain Smith to a degree as he is a game-changer.

Although the Gophers have handled mostly every team that's been put in front of them on their schedule, they've had some close games against teams they should've beaten handily. With no standout stars, the Golden Gophers must rely on someone to step up each game, and for the most part they've been able to rely on freshman guard Amir Coffey (13.8 points, 3.7 rebounds) and junior guard Nate Mason (12.8 ppg, 4.8 apg).

While Coffey can be inconsistent at times, as some freshmen are, Mason provides Minnesota with an all-around performance each game. Mason is coming off of an 18-point performance in a 74-68 victory over NJIT in which he shot 4 for 5 from beyond the arc. Look for Minny's top two players to lead the way against Georgia Southern.

I'm going to side with the Eagles in this matchup as Minnesota hasn't been as good as its record indicates and I expect Ike Smith to have a big game.

NCAAB Free Pick: Georgia Southern +13.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Longwood Lancers (2-4) At No. 10 Creighton Bluejays (9-0)

In the most lopsided matchup of the night, the Bluejays, who provide a ton of offensive efficiency, square off against a Lancers squad that doesn't have the talent to match up. The Bluejays look to make it 10 wins in a row and hold their ranking steady.

Although Longwood has only played 6 games, it has been very inconsistent against low-level talent. While Darrion Allen (15.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 41.3%-3 point field goals), Khris Lane (15.5 points, 8.3 rebounds) and Isaiah Watson (13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) have been Longwood's version of "The Big 3," each players is counted on to shoulder the load as they each play 30 plus minutes per game due to the lack of overall talent on this club. Longwood is a team that averages just 32 rebounds per game and turns the ball over quite often.

The Bluejays have beaten 7 out of their 9 opponents by double digits and own a huge 79-67 victory over Wisconsin. This team is for real and we could see them late in March if it maintains this kind of dominance. Four of the Bluejays' top 5 scorers shoot 50% or more from 3-point range. Yes, folks. That's no typo.

The only player who converts on less than half of his 3-pointers is leading scorer Marcus Foster, and he's having a great season. Foster leads Creighton at 18 points per game on 40.4% shooting from 3-point range. I expect Foster to redeem himself in this matchup as he's coming off of a disappointing 7-point effort in his last game.

Creighton is a team that can light up the scoreboard as it is averaging 89 points per game on 53.8% from the field and 43.7% from 3-point range. Another player to watch is point guard Maurice Watson Jr. He is averaging nearly 9 assists per game and coming of a huge performance against Nebraska in which he finished with 25 points, 8 assists, and 3 rebounds. This game could get out of hand early.

NCAAB Free Pick: Creighton -35Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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