Thursday's college basketball betting card begins early with a Big East matinee, and carries on through the late evening as our handicapper searches for winning picks against the spread.
DePaul vs. Providence
If there was one good thing to come out of the hype and hysteria over the recent winter storm, it's that we have afternoon basketball to enjoy on Thursday. Not only that, but the game is a big one as far as the Big East standings go as two of the five teams packed within a half-game of each at the top of the ranks other are the combatants.
Originally scheduled for Tuesday night, the DePaul Blue Demons and Providence Friars will quickly make up the contest in a rare weekday afternoon clash, FOX Sports 1 rolling at 2 PM (ET) with the tip to follow shortly. The matchup began with a unanimous -10 on the Friars. Keep your eyes on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds throughout the morning to catch the total for this game and all the others.
Xavier's upset at Georgetown on Tuesday really turned the Big East race on its ears, the Blue Demons and Friars among the half-dozen teams separated by just a game. DePaul (11-10 straight up, 12-8 against the spread) would appear to be the least likely contender of them all having been lined as the underdog in all eight conference tilts...and beating the spread each time.
Providence (15-5 SU, 11-5-1 ATS) is hitting the floor for the first time in a week, the Friars making it two consecutive wins and covers with a 69-66 victory over Xavier last Thursday. LaDontae Henton, 6th in the nation averaging more than 21 points per game, had 24 in the win over the Musketeers to extend his double-digit scoring streak to 12.
The Friars swept the Blue Demons a year ago to move to 24-8 in the series overall, 9-3 in games as Big East foes. DePaul's last win at Providence came just about two years ago, the last three at Dunkin' Donuts Center each skipping past the totals. I love the idea of a scrappy DePaul team staying inside 10, but like the idea of an 'under' 140 better.
NCAA Basketball Pick: DePaul-Providence Under 140.5 at The Greek
Portland vs. Gonzaga
Complacency might be the biggest threat to Mark Few and the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Zags have run off 13 consecutive wins since their only loss -- average margin of victory more than 18 points -- as they wrap up a 2-week homestand the next couple of days. First up for the Bulldogs are the Portland Pilots, a rematch of an earlier West Coast Conference clash that Gonzaga won by a dozen.
Tip-off at McCarthey Athletic Center is a little past 9 PM (ET), Gonzaga starting the betting proceedings at -22.
Portland (12-9 SU, 11-7-1 ATS) won its conference opener to move to 10-3 on the season at that point, but the Pilots have since won just two of eight, an inefficient offense (37.8% FG shooting the last four) much to blame. Gonzaga (20-1 SU, 10-6-2 ATS) has been blistering the nets recently with a 7-game run hitting at least 50% of field goal attempts beginning with that 87-75 win at Portland on January 3. The Bulldogs have proven they can beat any WCC team by 22 already, but on Friday, I think giving up 22 is too much.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Portland +22 at BetOnline
Loyola Marymount vs. Saint Mary's
Just as we've seen with the other two matchups, our last stop on Thursday features a couple of teams that have done a good job getting college basketball bettors paid. It's also a matchup of teams with entirely different perspectives in the WCC race as the Loyola Marymount Lions are tied for last while the Saint Mary's Gaels sit a game out of first.
Yet another rematch from January 3, the Lions and Gaels get underway at McKeon Pavilion a little past 10:30 PM (ET), Saint Mary's starting -14 before SBR's live college basketball odds quickly picked up a move down a half on that spread.
Loyola Marymount (6-15 SU, 11-8-1 ATS) has covered its last six contests, each as the underdog, since dropping a 72-63 decision at home to Saint Mary's (16-4 SU, 12-4-2 ATS) about four weeks ago. The Lions almost kept that one within the closing 8 point spread, and would've had they kept SMC off the offensive glass.
That was the 5th-straight win in the series for Saint Mary's, and third consecutive cover, yet here again I'm going with the WCC road 'dog for my NCAA Basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Loyola Marymount +13.5 at 5Dimes
Season: 31-31 (-3.1)