6 Expert Picks
The Battle of the Boulevard resumes at Belmont. ...
Saint Mary's is playing a methodical brand of basketball with an offense ranked 100 and a defense ranked 41st. I expect both the offense and defense to improve but I think the defense will be very good. The Gaels have been top 15 the past three years. The Vikings are 4-1-1 under their last six.
The Golden Lions are giving it a go no matter the opposition, with HC Solomon Bozeman instructing his troops to aim and fire as often as possible. So, no surprise that UAPB is "over" in all six of its games vs. D-I opposition, having allowed 100 or more three times. The Golden Lions rank among the nation’s leaders, firing off nearly 30 triples pg, connecting on nearly 39% of those bombs, with top scorers Gs Kylen Milton (former WKU; 21.2 ppg) and Rashad Williams (former Oakland & Saint Louis; 18.3 ppg) both hitting better than 40% from downtown, while portal add Joe French (via Bethune Cookman; 15.4 ppg) is another gunner who had canned 42% of his three-balls entering this season. . Play UAPB-Zags "Over"
A comfy home win over last year’s Big Dance finalist San Diego State plus an impressive run in the tourney at Michelob Ultra Arena in Vegas over Thanksgiving week (whipping Arizona State and NC State) have opened plenty of eyes re: BYU, with Mark Pope’s offense ticking the stat sheet at an eye-opening 91.3 ppg. Former Arkansas transfer 6-7 Jaxson Robinson (16.6 ppg) is looking more and more like a star after blistering Fresno for 24 points in last Friday’s 85-56 romp up the road in Salt Lake City. A caution on Tuesday, however, as Evansville has already blown past last year’s win total of 5. These teams are combining for almost 177 ppg, so "over" is the first call. Play Evansville-BYU "Over"
Utah probably could name the score if it wanted under normal circumstances but has the Holy War with BYU up next and star big man Branden Carlsen is out.
Any thoughts that UConn had become invincible were put to the sword last week at Kansas in a loss to the Jayhawks, confirming this isn't yet the same team that stormed the Dance for Dan Hurley last spring (and was the first non-Big East loss since the previous 2021-22 campaign!). UNC not faring badly vs. tough non-ACC competition, losing only in OT to Villanova in the Bahamas before knocking off ranked Arkansas, ranked Tennessee, and Florida State in succession. Vet portal adds Harrison Ingram (Stanford) and Cormac Ryan (Notre Dame) have added needed sharp edges to a lineup still featuring 2022 Final Four vets PG R.J. Davis (20.2 ppg) and 6-11 PF Armando Bacot (16.3 ppg & 11.8 rpg). Play UNC
Boise State comes off their big win against the Gaels. The Mean Green's defenses is toughest that the Broncos have faced yet. The line has moved in Boise State's favor, probably because it’s North Texas’ first true road game. The Mean Green live and die by the three but they have experience players downlow to clean up the boards.
The Cowboys strength has been their defense. Southern Illinois plays extremely slow, is average on offense but plays above average defense. My model has this total at 123.5.
San Diego State still has one of the top defenses in country. This is a battle tested, veteran team. However, the Antelopes have one of the most electric home courts in the country. They’re also a veteran team with plenty of experience and have yet to lose a home game this season. Grand Canyon shoots 55% from the floor and crashes the offensive glass, but the home court advantage could be the difference maker.
This is Oklahoma State’s first true road game. The Salukis are 4-0 at home to start the year. Oklahoma State continues to struggle on offense, especially from the free throw line, 61.9% on the season. However, they must deal with Xavier Johnson, averaging 23.1 points per game. If the Salukis can control the boards, on both ends of the court, Oklahoma State will have to match their offensive efficiency, which may be tough on the road.