NCAAM Pick December 5, 2020 – Montana Grizzlies at Southern Utah Thunderbirds

Yesterday we picked up another winner when we backed the Mississippi State Bulldogs at home, against the Mean Green of North Texas. Despite the Bulldogs struggling to start out their season, and likely finishing near the basement of the SEC this year, I still felt that they were going to be the more talented and athletic team on the floor when matched up with Conference USA’s best team, North Texas.

The line was a tight one, and the public was on the other side, but at the end of the day, I just felt that winning on the road in Starkville was just going to be too much for the Mean Green. So, I backed the Bulldogs and expected a competitive game that would eventually turn into an easy cover for Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead 7-0 lead and extended the lead to as many as 13-points, eventually hitting the half up nine. Despite this game being fairly close most of the evening, the Mean Green never once held the lead, trailing for all 40-minutes of action. The final score might lead you to believe that this game was likely a little closer than it actually was, but Mississippi State held a double-digit lead for much of the second half and coasted in for the win and the cover, with little sweat.

When you are betting early-season non-conference college basketball, you need to make sure that you are rating the conference as much as the team. The public became enamored with North Texas as they are considered one of the favorites to win the Conference USA this year, while the Bulldogs were picked to finish dead last in the SEC coach’s poll.

In my pick yesterday, I stated that in most years, the worst team from the SEC will still be better than the best team from Conference USA, and last night that was proven accurate. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will head to Cedar City, Utah, for a Big Sky Conference game between the Southern Utah Thunderbirds and the Montana Grizzlies.

Today’s Game

  • Montana Grizzlies (0-2) at Southern Utah Thunderbirds (2-1)
  • America First Arena, Cedar City
  • 11:00 AM PST
  • TV: N/A

The Southern Utah Thunderbirds host the Montana Grizzlies today in a Big Sky Conference game, looking for back to back wins over the conference kingpins. This will be the second time these two teams have matched up in the last three days, as the T-Birds knocked off Montana on Thursday night. The Big Sky is scheduling their league games a lot different this year, and we are going to see a lot of these back to back games. Another win over Montana would go a long way into keeping the T-Birds in the competitive conference title race in the Big Sky this season.

For Montana, the Grizzlies are looking for their first win of the season tonight, as they dropped the game to the T-Birds on Thursday night and got roughed up by USC last week in their season opener. The Grizz came into this season as one of the favorites in the Big Sky but need to stop the bleeding and get a win on the board today in Cedar City.

Spread:

  • Montana Grizzlies (-3)
  • Southern Utah Thunderbirds (+3)
Money line:

  • Montana Grizzlies (-143)
  • Southern Utah Thunderbirds (+120)
Total Points:

  • Over 136 (-110)
  • Under 136 (-110)

Montana Grizzlies (0-2)

It hasn’t been the start to the season that Travis DeCuire had hoped for so far this season, but all is not lost for this Montana Grizzlies team. The loss to USC was expected. They were big underdogs, and they lost big. And the loss to Southern Utah was a tough one, as road games in league play are never easy, and the T-Birds are going to be one of the most improved teams in the Big Sky this season. It just so happens that with how the Big Sky is doing their scheduling, that Montana is going to get the short end of the stick.

Montana has to play both of their games against Southern Utah on the road this season. They catch a little bit of a break as they host fellow contenders Northern Colorado for two games, but with the T-Birds looking like potential league champions, it is rough that they have to play in their house for both games. If the Grizzlies lose both of these games this week against Southern Utah, their path to the Big Sky title gets a lot tougher.

Southern Utah Thunderbirds (2-1)

A win today over Montana would put Southern Utah is a great spot to start the season. They will still have to deal with Eastern Washington later this year, but a two-game lead over Montana would be a huge advantage as they look to get to the NCAA tournament for the first time under head coach Todd Simon. Most people had the T-Birds finishing third in the league behind Eastern Washington and Montana, but I feel that this team isn’t getting nearly as much love as they deserve right now.

When these two teams matched up on Thursday, the Grizzlies led early, only to see the T-Birds come back in the second half and win the game late, by just a point. It was a very close game and could have gone either way. The T-Birds were underdogs in that game, and surprisingly enough, despite just beating this team two days ago, they are underdogs on their home floor again today.

Who Do I Like?

This line opened up at even money, which made a lot of sense as these teams are clearly about as evenly matched as can be. But the public has decided that a lot must have changed since Thursday night, as they are hammering on Montana, moving this line three full points towards the Grizzlies. If you remember, the same thing happened in the first game, as the number opened with Southern Utah laying a point and closed at Montana laying -1.5.

In that game, I wrote up the T-Birds and cashed a ticket. And today, I am going to do the same thing. It is always very tough to beat a team twice. But the reason why it is generally so tough to beat a team two times in a row is that the losing team gets time to learn from the first game and strategize better for the rematch. The Grizzlies won’t get that advantage today, as they just played this game and never had time to adjust. That tells me we are going to see a carbon copy of the first game, at least in terms of strategy.

The Bet

To be able to get a full possession’s worth of points in this game is shocking. We just saw how evenly matched these two teams were a little over a day ago, and to see Montana as such big favorites in what is just as tough of a spot as they were in on Thursday night and came up short, just doesn’t make any sense at all.

I’ll be honest here, when I saw these two games on the schedule, I told myself, whichever team wins game one is going to lose game two. When you have two teams that are this evenly matched, it’s natural to assume that they will split the series. At that opening number of even money, I would have stayed away from this one. But now that I can have Montana win, and by multiple points even, and still win my bet, I have no choice to make my play on Southern Utah.

You can expect another hard-fought game that comes down to the wire, and we are very likely going to need those points, as Montana just might sneak out of Cedar City with a series split. This game gives me several of my favorite plays in college hoops. I get to back a home dog in league play, and I get to fade the betting public, as they once again moved a line much too far! Now that is what I call value! Give me the Southern Utah Thunderbirds today on their home floor, getting +3-points!

The Bet: Southern Utah Thunderbirds +3

My Pick
Southern Utah Thunderbirds +3
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL