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St. Mary’s vs. Dayton Pick NCAA Hoops – November 19th

Today belongs to college football, especially with so many top ranked teams in action and the chaos that is the Playoff after Louisville’s resounding loss and last weekend’s carnage.  But there are still a lot of really interesting college basketball games throughout the day.  Fair warning – the schedule is a little front-loaded with the best games occurring earlier, so be sure to check times for any action you are interested in today.

For example, Duke and Penn State (better game than one might assume) is at 12:30 EST.  The best game of the day, Rhode Island at Cincinnati is at 3pm, and the OTHER best game of the day, St. Mary’s at Dayton, is at 2pm.

Most of the tourney finals from the action that was building the last two days will happen tomorrow, with Xavier and Northern Iowa and Villanova and UCF (and 7’6’’ Tacko Fall) tomorrow night at 7pm and 9pm respectively.

We took our third loss of the year, and all have been on disappointing efforts from mid-majors with high aspirations; Mercer, Valpo and Monmouth all fell short as double digit dogs.  We are still a nice 62.5% on the season, but need to get things back on track today after two straight L’s.

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Today’s Free Pick:

St. Mary’s Gaels at Dayton Flyers -1

This line opened at Dayton -3 and has quickly moved to anywhere between Dayton -1 to Dayton +1.  The reason for the move is that Josh Cunningham has been ruled out for the game, leaving the Flyers without their third leading scorer and a valuable inside component of their team.  They still have their excellent backcourt of Scootchie Smith and Charles Cook, but with Cunningham joining the injured Kendall Pollard.  That leaves the Flyers HEAVILY dependent on their backcourt today.

Meanwhile, YES, St. Mary’s made a long trip to play a road game in a rowdy arena against a good, well-coached NCAA Tourney likely team.  But St. Mary’s is really good.  Probably as good as they have been, and that is saying something considering the decade of excellence this program has enjoyed.  For all their success, this is the highest they have ever been ranked preseason, and a win like today is vital for their overall profile.  The Gaels don’t get many chances to show their record is more than just a bunch of WCC fluff and a split (seemingly most years) with Gonzaga.  They really NEED this win if they have dreams of a top four seed.

And I think they’ll get it.  Healthy, I pick Dayton today.  Without their frontcourt?  It is hard to go against Emmett Maar and the Aussie-laden Gaels.  Look for St. Mary’s to play well and to get a huge road win for their overall profile.

Free Pick:  St. Mary’s Gaels  +1