Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:00 PM EST. Odds subject to change.
UTEP -10 over Austin Peay
9:00 PM EST. There are a lot of games on the board but you would be hard pressed to find a more underpriced team than the Miners of Texas El Paso. UTEP should probably be closer to a -20 point favorite than than -10 and it’s for that reason that this will be our only NCAAB wager on the board today.
UTEP is 3-0 but two wins came against Division III teams in which there was no betting line posted. The Miners only game vs a Division I team came earlier this week when they beat UC Santa Barbara, a very good Big West team that is projected to be one of the Top-30 mid-major programs in the country this year. Although UTEP is 3-0, they are not getting the respect they deserve because they’re not well known and they haven’t beaten anyone of significance yet. For sure, this game will be overlooked among the boatful of games available today.
Mining is a grueling profession. The work is dangerous and exhausting, and it requires a work ethic and toughness far beyond most other jobs. At UTEP, Joe Golding has created a culture that embodies these characteristics on the basketball court. His teams are gritty and fierce, attacking the basket relentlessly and defending with zeal. Last year’s Miners may have lacked in other areas, but make no mistake: they were not fun to play against. Unsurprisingly, UTEP played a ton of close games. In late December/early January, the Miners lost five out of six games – by margins of 1, 1, 2 plus two in overtime. Flip some of these outcomes, and UTEP’s season looks a lot better overall. Many of the flaws that cost UTEP in these contests are fixable. They will have more depth across the board, and more efficient shooting. No matter what, these Miners will be as tough as shoe leather. The Miners had a championship-caliber defense last season, but the cavalcade of turnovers and frigid shooting doomed them to a disappointing finish. Infused with multiple new offensive pieces plus the same tenacious mindset, UTEP is a C-USA force and so is their coach.
Whereas most coaches like to get down into the dirty details of Xs and Os, new Austin Peay head coach Corey Gipson talks about the bigger picture and building a cohesive locker room. Translation: "We have a long journey ahead". Even though it’s a new journey for Gipson — at a new school with just one player returning — he’s not afraid of the moment. It helps that he has a bit of familiarity with Austin Peay (he played two seasons for the Governors before returning as an assistant coach for three more). Problem is that Gipson inherits a blank canvas. To be fair though, Austin Peay only has one “returner” in the literal sense but Gipson has five. Demarcus Sharp, Ja’Monta Black, Isaac Haney, Jordan Wilmore and Hansel Enmanuel all followed Gipson to Peay for another go around the sun. Still Sharp, the team’s best player has only scored 10, 13 and 10 points respectively in the Governors first three games with two of those games coming against Division III teams.
Austin Peay lost to Geroge Mason 67-45 in its only road game against a Division I school this year. Peay is miles behind UTEP in terms of everything and they will hit the road once again against a vastly superior opponent but this line does not reflect that. The Miners are a steal.
UTEP -10 (Risking 2.16 units - To Win: 2.00)