Top Thanksgiving Day College Basketball Picks

Jay Pryce

Thursday, November 23, 2017 1:13 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017 1:13 PM UTC

Our top college basketball picks for Thanksgiving Day feature a pair of SEC programs. Check out or predictions in the Vanderbilt-Virginia and Florida-Stanford matchups here.

Vanderbilt vs. Virginia

Vanderbilt is 2-2 SU and 0-3 ATS on the season, losing to Belmont (69-60) as 3.5-point chalk and No. 10 USC (93-89) catching as many. Similar to UVA, former Valparaiso and second-year head coach Bryce Drew employs a slow, methodical, defense-oriented game. Teams must protect the ball with this philosophy and cherish each possession, or their toast. The Commodores have committed 60 turnovers and forced just 47 this season.

Vanderbilt ranks seventh in the SEC preseason media poll, selected to be the last program to make it into the NCAA Tournament for a second year in a a row. A pair of senior guards, second-team All-SEC Matthew Fisher-David and Riley LaChance, lead the team in scoring with 18.0 and 14.8 points per game. Senior forward Jeff Roberson is proving a force on the glass, pulling down 10.0 boards a night. Drew’s squad has excelled in this area, outrebounding opponents 34 to 28.3 on the season.

UVA came up one spot shy in the AP Top 25 poll this week, but expect to see them crack the standings after convincing wins over VCU (76-67) and Monmouth (73-53) this week. The Cavaliers are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS, excelling in Tony Bennett’s defensive system. The team is allowing just 54.2 points on 37.5 percent shooting. Sophomore guard Kyle Guy (18.0) and senior backcourt member Devon Hall (11.5) are the only two players scoring in double figures. Bennett’s intense defensive rotations require a lot of manpower to stay fresh and effective. Ten players average over 13 minutes per game.

Drew has done a good job motivating his bunch when expected to lose. Vandy is 13-6 ATS when spotted points in his tenure, beating a 4.9 average line by 3.9 points per game. On paper, this matchup looks like a race to 60 points will determine the winner. The Commodores will prove competitive and a flurry of fouls and stoppages late will see this game squeak ‘over’ a low 124.5 total. Bennett has led the Cavs as a single-digit favorite on a neutral court seven times in his career. The average combined score is 137.9, surpassing a 130.0 total by 7.9 points per game. All but one reached 124 points. 

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 124.5Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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 No. 7 Florida vs. Stanford

No. 7 Florida faces its first “real” challenge of the season versus Stanford in the PK80 tournament after three opening wins against mid-major programs (Gardner Webb, N. Florida, and New Hampshire). The Gators rank 10th nationally in scoring with 98 points per game following the soft start. Egor Koulechov (20.3) and Jalen Hudson (18.0) lead a team shooting 40.3 percent from beyond the arc. Take notice: this isn’t the Billy Donovan-led, defensive-oriented Gators of old. Third-year head coach Mike White preaches high-flying energy on the offensive side. Florida averaged 74.4 points per game his first season and 77.9 last year. Florida knows the Phil Knight Invitational is a litmus test to measure where this team truly stands. It’s readying intensely for the challenge:

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Tomorrow #Chomptown 🐊🏀

— Gators Men’s Basketball (@GatorsMBK) November 23, 2017

Reid Travis is the name to know on the Stanford roster. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward is essentially a football tight end playing basketball. The super athletic junior can square up against anyone, posting 21.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. With Travis as the anchor, the frontcourt is the Cardinal’s strength. Senior Michael Humphrey has a pair of double-doubles on the season, but struggles to get up and down the court in transition. Stanford, picked fifth in the preseason Pac-12 media poll, is a disappointing 3-2 SU and 1-4 ATS to begin the year. It is falling to the number (-11) by 9.2 points per game, most of that a result of a 67-61 home defeat to Eastern Washington as 16.5-point chalk.

In limited time under second-year head coach Jerod Haase, Stanford has proven to attempt to slow the game against tougher and smaller lineups. It has to if it wishes to remain competitive with a frontcourt-heavy squad. UNC exploited the Cardinal’s weakness in transition in the second game of the year, running away 96-72 as a 7.5-point favorite. In fact, in eight games versus ranked opponents behind Haase, the Cardinal allow 81.1 points per game. They are 0-8 SU and 4-4 ATS, losing by 16.6 points per game. The blueprint to beat Stanford is obvious. Look for Florida to follow the script.

The 12.5-point spread is right on the money. Value looks to be with the 151.5 total. Florida will push the pace, but will find its first test against a Power-5 defense daunting. Stanford knows what’s coming and will adjust accordingly. The ‘under’ is 7-3 when White leads the Gators versus a non-ranked opponent on neutral hardwood, the combined score of 136.7 points staying 7.7 points south of a 144.2 average total. Florida works hard to hit 80, while the Cardinal fail to reach 70 points. ‘Under’ 151.5 is the NCAAB pick.

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 151.5Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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