Providence, Saint Louis Collide for Season’s First Tourney Title

Willie Bee

Friday, November 17, 2017 3:24 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 3:24 PM UTC

The surprising Saint Louis Billikens overcame the NCAA basketball odds to advance to Friday  night's 2K Classic Finals against the Providence Friars at Madison Square Garden.

NCAAB Season Record: 1-3 (-2.15)

Providence vs. Saint Louis

Unless you followed Utah Valley last weekend, tonight is your first chance to see how teams perform in back-to-back scheduling. It didn’t work out too well for the Wolverines in their initial test of endurance, hanging with Kentucky one evening before getting blown out by Duke the next. But then facing a couple of bluebloods like that is a lot to ask from any team.

The matchup in the finals of the 2K Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project should be much closer than the Duke-Utah Valley clash. Squaring off for the season’s first hardware will be the Providence Friars and Saint Louis Billikens. SBR’s top sportsbooks have the Friars at -9 with a total of 136 for the 7 PM (ET) tip at Madison Square Garden. It’s the seventh meeting between the two schools, but none of those have taken place recently to give us anything to go by in the form of betting trends. Providence has won five of the previous six contests, the average margin between the teams a mere 4.3 points per game.

 Billikens Continue Solid Glass Work To Start Season

Travis Ford’s troops pulled off a sizeable upset in the opening game of the tournament on Thursday, a 77-71 decision vs. Virginia Tech. The Billikens used an 11-0 run about midway through the first half to break away in what was a close encounter up to that point, and the Hokies never could make up for their 3+ minute scoring drought. Virginia Tech also left 13 points at the free-throw line.

Javon Bess led the way for Saint Louis with 22 points while grabbing nine boards. Freshman center Jordan Goodwin contributed a double-double (19 pts, 10 reb) and added four steals. It was the third game to begin the season in which the Billikens outrebounded their opponents by at least 10.

 Opponents Hitting Just 27% From Long Range Vs. Friars

Providence pulled away from Washington in the second half to win the nightcap by nearly an identical score, 77-70. The Friars were helped by a 3+ minute Huskies drought in the first half to take a 37-30 lead into the locker room, and Rodney Bullock’s 3-pointer broke a 43-all knot in the second after Washington battled back. Favored by 8 on the NCAA basketball odds, Providence was led by Bullock’s 17 points as five Friars scored at least 10.

Both games just went over similar totals on Thursday, and I’m liking the same outcome this evening for my free college basketball pick.

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 136Best Line Offered: 5Dimes
comment here