Providence and UConn Top List for College Hoops Picks This Saturday

Jay Pryce

Saturday, January 6, 2018 1:20 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 1:20 PM UTC

A frigid New England is the site of our two top value picks in college basketball Saturday. Check out are predictions against the spread picks in No. 5 Xavier at Providence and East Carolina at Connecticut here.

No. 5 Xavier (-4) at Providence

No. 5 Xavier (15-1 SU, 12-4 ATS) are winners of 10 straight, and the first program to record 15 wins nationally. Its 15-1 start is the best in school history; the lone loss a 102-86 neutral-court defeat versus then-No. 6 Arizona State. You can bet the hot start does not intimidate Providence (10-6 SU, 3-11 ATS). The Friars are 4-1 SU all-time hosting the Musketeers at Dunkin’ Donuts Center, splitting the last two with the visitors ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll.

Providence will have to play tough defense in order to upset the high-scoring Musketeers. Xavier enters with the 10th most efficient offense in the country according to KenPom. Senior guard Trevon Bluiett leads the team with 19.8 points per game, ranking third in the Big East. The squad shoots 51 percent from the floor (14th nationally) and is rock solid from the charity stripe, sinking 78.9 percent of free-throw attempts (7th nationally). Xavier averages 86.5 points per game. When scoring more than this, the team is 7-0 ATS as opposed to 5-4 ATS when held under the mark.

The Friars are slowly getting healthier. Head coach Ed Cooley had five different players hurt in the last calendar month, forced to roll out eight different starting lineups this season. It’s the most different first-team looks used in any of Cooley’s seven years in charge. Leading scorer Rodney Bullock (16.9 ppg) is the one player fans hope is ready. The senior forward has put up 20 points or more in three of his last four games, but missed last time out at Marquette (Jan. 3) with the flu. His status is day-to-day. Kyron Cartwrigtht suited up for the first time in three weeks in the game and rewarded Cooley immensely. The senior guard served up a career-high 29 points.

Final stats from tonight's game delivered by @whitecrossrx #GoFriars

— PC Men's Basketball (@PCFriarsmbb) January 4, 2018

If Bullock suits up, take the 4 points with the Friars. The team is 9-9 SU and 12-6 ATS hosting ranked Big East opponents under Cooley, covering a 1.2 average line by 1.1 points overall. The defense should slow Xavier down. It has held opponents averaging greater than 75 points per game in this situation to 67.8 in regulation time. That’s good enough to challenge for an upset, but only if Cooley has his top points-getter on the court.

Free NCAAB Picks: Providence +4.5
Best Lines Available at Heritage

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East Carolina at Connecticut (-16.5)

ECU (7-7 SU, 2-5 ATS) and UConn (7-7 SU, 4-7 ATS) are each .500 on the season. Why the double-digit (-16.5) point spread? It’s a strength of schedule mismatch. The Pirates enter playing the second easiest nationally (350th) as opposed to the 19th hardest for the Huskies. Nor has ECU impressed against stiffer competition. It’s lost four of seven contests listed on the college basketball oddsboard by 14 or more, going 2-5 ATS overall. The offense averages 60.1 points per game on 40.1 percent shooting when offered in the betting market.

The concern here is if the Huskies have enough firepower to cover the huge spread? The offense only ranks 183rd in adjusted efficiency and is shooting 40.2 percent from the floor as betting favorites this season. UConn is going off 16.2-point chalk on average in this spot, posting 74.7 points per game against much leakier defenses.

The Huskies have beaten one team by more than 15 points since the start of last season when listed in the market: South Florida twice. The number here is too high for this inconsistent and poor shooting team. East Carolina covers. Gobble up the 16.5 points.

Free NCAAB Picks: ECU +16.5
Best Lines Available at Heritage

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