Arizona vs. UTEP NCAA Hoops Pick – Dec 19th

One more day. One more day. Just one more day until college hoops finally awakens from this week-long scheduling slumber. Sure, last night had Duke against a down UConn squad. That was decent. Earlier in the week had San Diego St. and Cincinnati. But for the most part, this week has been a snoozer. There’s only one more day to wait until college hoops gets rocking and rolling for real, but in the meantime, there are a few games on tonight’s slate that pose some decent opportunities.

There are two games in particular that I like this evening, so without further delay, lets dive into tonight’s free picks.

Today’s Free Picks:

St. Mary’s at St. John’s -7

At a quick glance, the battle of the Saints seems like a really good matchup; St. Mary’s is always good and the Red Storm are off to a nice start in the much better than expected Big East. However, this year’s St. Mary’s squad isn’t reminiscent of recent years when they had stars like Patty Mills, Matthew Delevadova and Omar Samhan. This year’s squad enters at 6-2 with losses Boise St and Northern Arizona. They do have a nice win over Creighton (who was severely overrated) but aside from that, it’s a pretty blank slate.

St. John’s on the other hand is poised for a breakthrough. They have been steadily improving under the stewardship of Steve Lavin and in his fifth year might be ready to make a big leap. They enter at 8-1 with their only loss coming in an impressive effort against Gonzaga and with wins over Syracuse and Minnesota by a combined 20 points. This team has lots of veteran talent led by D’Angelo Harrison (19.7 points per game). St. John’s has five upperclassmen contributing major production and looks like a legit tourney team.

St. Mary’s will fight hard, but they are a little outclassed tonight. Take the Red Storm and lay the points at home.

Free Pick: St. John’s Red Storm -7


Arizona Wildcats -5 at UTEP Miners

This one is a bit of a head-scratcher to me. I get that it is Arizona’s first true road game of the year. And UTEP has a few decent wins over Xavier and… um… Princeton? They also have losses to Washington, Colorado State and New Mexico State. Those are all decent little teams, and I know CSU and UW are off to great starts. But does that really prepare them for a visit from the second most talented team in the nation??

I am surprised this one is so close because I think Arizona is going to rip them. The Wildcats are 11-0 and have already been pushed and won against much better teams than UTEP like San Diego State and especially Gonzaga. Arizona is superior athletically and I expect their size to be a big factor as well.

They are also a relatively veteran team that has largely played together aside from superfrosh Stanly Johnson. I expect Gabe York and TJ McConnell to control the ball and tempo and to allow Arizona’s superior talent to shine. I’ll happily lay a small handful on the road and back the ‘Cats.

Free Pick: Arizona Wildcats -5

Chris Scheeren / Author