Charleston vs. LSU Pick NCAA Basketball – December 19th

We stole a narrow winner last night with Tennessee skating in a half-point under the line against Gonzaga to cap off a neutral weekend but keep the season mark at a nice, healthy 25-13 ATS.  It’s another slow week of college hoops (except for Wednesday; Kentucky vs. Louisville and UVA at Cal, Clemson vs. South Carolina and about six others), so it will take a little extra effort and tolerance for some less-than-glamorous hoops to keep carving out winners, but, hey, that’s what I’m here for.

As always, feel free to say hey, comment, argue or politely troll on Twitter @TheMarchManiacs.

Today’s slate is bad.  Let’s just be honest.  The best games on the schedule are Sanford at Florida State and Charleston at LSU.  Tomorrow’s has Georgia and Georgia Tech and Fresno State at Oregon.  Thursday is probably LSU vs. Wake, Friday has Rutgers vs Seton Hall and then the week goes dark.  It’s never a good sign if LSU is involved in two of the better games of the week on different nights.

Alas – every game is a good game if the number is right.  So, let’s take a look at my favorite number on the board tonight.

Today’s Free Pick:

Charleston Cougars at LSU Tigers -4

On paper, it’s easy to lean towards the power-conference team at home against the relatively anonymous low-major, but if you dig a little deeper, this a really even matchup when you get beyond the names on the front of the jerseys.

Charleston enters 8-3, and while the blowout loss to UCF looks a lot worse after UCF’s last three games (loss at home to Penn, blown out at George Washington and an overtime home win over lowly Miami (OH), and their blowout loss to Wake isn’t impressive.  The blowout at Villanova is no big deal, but the other two are a little troubling.  However, they are slightly balanced by wins over Boise State, @Coastal Carolina and five straight wins including a 15-point win over Davidson and holding East Carolina to 35 points on the road in their last game.

LSU is 7-2 with a nice 19-point win over Houston, but other than that it has been a steady parade of southern mid-majors visiting their gym.  So is Charleston a step above the Southern Miss’s and North Florida’s and Old Dominion’s?  It’s hard to say, but I’d put them in the exact same category.  A plucky, decent mid-major, but not quite on the level of a mid-level SEC opponent.

LSU got SMOKED by Wichita State – a bad loss 85-54.  The 9-point loss to VCU wasn’t great, but no big deal.  But the reason I go with LSU tonight is the WINS at home and the MARGIN.  22 over Wofford.  17 over Southern Miss.  19 over Houston.

Laying a scant four points tonight isn’t too steep of a price for a team that has handled their business at home consistently this season.

Free Pick:  LSU Tigers -4

Chris Scheeren / Author