NCAAM Basketball Pick for December 17th

Vanderbilt University Commodores (3-6) at Arizona State University Sun Devils (9-0)

The betting line information for this article was taken from at 7:00 AM PST. Some odds may have changed.

Yesterday was a great day of college basketball action. After a slow week with all the students taking their semester finals, this weekend turned the volume back up to ten.

Most all of the nation’s top twenty-five teams were in action at some point this weekend, and today I will be focusing on one of the best teams in the country, the Arizona State Sun Devils.

The Vanderbilt Commodores will head out west to play the most surprising team in the country so far, this season, the Arizona State Sun Devils. Arizona State is -10.5-point favorites at home.

Tipoff is scheduled for 11:00 AM PST from Wells-Fargo Arena in Tempe, Arizona. The game total over-under is set at 155 points.

To call that Arizona State Sun Devils the most surprising team in the country would be an understatement. Nobody, and I mean nobody, not even the Sun Devil faithful, envisioned an undefeated and top five ranked squad this season.

Yet here we are. Bobby Hurley has his team running and gunning, and they can play with any team in the country and have shown it already this season.

Wins over Kansas State, San Diego State, and Xavier put the Sun Devils on the college basketball map this year. And winning at Fog Allen Field House against a number two ranked Kansas team last week? That put Hurley’s squad in the Final Four conversation.

The Sun Devils are winding up their non-conference schedule before they will head into Pac-12 play where they must be considered the prohibitive favorite. Most thought Arizona would run away with the Pac-12 this year, but the Wildcats have stumbled out of the blocks, and on the eve of conference play, the Sun Devils are in the driver’s seat.

Arizona State is led by one of the best scorers in the country, Tra Holder. The senior guard has exploded into the national player of the year conversation and is scoring over 21 points a game.

Holder is shooting a borderline absurd 47% from behind the arc and is also chipping in 6 boards and 5 dimes a game. Holder is the real deal, and if he stays healthy, the Sun Devils must be considered a legit Final Four threat.

Vanderbilt is a team that at 3-6, hasn’t done a lot of winning so far, this season. They have some bad losses on their resume, including dropping games to Middle Tennessee State and Belmont.

But they have remained mostly competitive in all of their games this season. They lost to USC by only four points, lost to Kansas State by only five points, and lost on the road at Seton Hall, by just thirteen.

But at some point, the Commodores are going to have to start winning some games. The moral victories of keeping a game close against a good team are only going to get you so far. Entering play today the Commodores are in last place in the SEC, coming out of non-conference play.

The SEC looks to be a much better top to bottom league this year, as they currently have eight teams ranked in the top forty in the nation. If Vanderbilt doesn’t step its game way up, they won’t be able to compete in league play.

Two things scare me a little about his game. One, the Commodores, despite the terrible record, really aren’t a terrible team. They have remained competitive with most teams this season. And second would be the threat of a letdown game for Arizona State.

They have sat back all week and listened to the media talk about how great they are after winning at Kansas, I hope it hasn’t gone to their heads. I suspect that head coach Bobby Hurley, who spent the majority of his college career winning big games and being in the spotlight at Duke, will keep the Sun Devils focused.

In the end, I like Arizona State too much to pass up on backing them today. They are led by a senior guard, something that is always a recipe for NCAA basketball success, and they can really score the ball.

The Commodores have only scored more than 80 points in a game once this season, and have never hit 90 in a game. The Sun Devils? They are averaging 92 points a game. I just don’t think Vanderbilt has the firepower to hang with the high scoring Sun Devils, and even though they might keep it close early, I think the pace will catch up with them eventually, and Arizona State will pull away for the win and cover.

Give me the Arizona State Sun Devils in what should be yet another high scoring game in the desert, laying the -10.5-points at home.

Pick: Arizona State Sun Devils -10.5 points

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