Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Don Haskins Center, El Paso, TX
Streaming: CBS SportsNetwork (CBSSN)
UC Santa Barbara +135 over UTEP
9:00 PM EST. UTEP is 2-0 but they are 0-0 Against the Spread because they played two obscure Division III teams that should be considered as glorified practices and not real games. However, the media and market put a brick load of emphasis on results and in that regard, UTEP has put up 123 and 120 points respectively in its first two games. Wanna know who they put those video game numbers up against? McMurray and Oklahoma Science & Arts. Hell, if we were spotting points with UTEP today, we’d be a lot more concerned about the 72 points they gave up to Science & Arts and the 71 points that McMurray scored.
UTEP’s shooting numbers were an atrocity in 2022-23, ranking in the bottom 10 nationally in both 3P% and FT%. The free throw shooting drove HC Joe Golding mad, especially considering how many close games the Miners lost and thus, we have to wonder if Golding's goal in the first two games was to score like mad and get these shooters some confidence. Infused with multiple new offensive pieces plus the same tenacious mindset, UTEP will seek a major climb up the standings. With Golding at the helm, the Miners will always bring their hard hats and their lunchpails – and the wins could quickly follow but their stock is a bit too high. Furthermore, this is more a play on the underdog than it is a fade on UTEP.
The Gauchos have made two of the past three NCAA Tournaments using a foolproof formula: Let an elite point guard run the show. First, it was JaQuori McLaughin. Now, it’s 6-4 smooth lefty Ajay Mitchell, who ranks No. 25 on several lists of the top 25 mid-major players in the country. Bringing back Mitchell along with defensive stopper Josh Pierre-Louis while adding former five-star recruit Yohan Traore (Auburn) puts the Gauchos in position to contend for another Big West title.
We absolutely love that the Gauchos dropped its season opener to Portland State (82-76) but they ran into a hot shooting team that night. As roster turnover and transfer numbers continue to thwart the rise of many mid-major programs, UC Santa Barbara has established itself as one of the most consistent teams in college basketball and this year should be no different with an elite backcourt running the show. Gauchos outright.
UC Santa Barbara +135 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.70)