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Free NCAA Pick Thursday

#572 Loyola Marymount +12 over Saint Mary’s 9:00 PM CT

Saint Mary’s is 12-0 in WCC play and the Gaels could effectively lock up the conference title with a home win over Gonzaga this weekend, having won in Spokane in January. This is a second straight road game in a look-ahead spot following up a hard fought game at San Diego last weekend. The Gaels won 87-59 in the first meeting between these teams in Moraga but that was the first game of the WCC season.

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At 7-16 Loyola-Marymount has been one of the worst teams in the conference but the home results of late have been compelling. Since losing the first two league home games, the Lions are 2-2 in the past four home games with narrow losses to Portland and San Diego and wins over San Francisco and BYU. Loyola Marymount isn’t a strong defensive team but they are aggressive and create turnovers at the highest rate in the conference. A few takeaways could be enough to swing the cover with a hefty home underdog spread facing one of the slowest-paced teams in the nation.

The Lions rebound well and score inside with good efficiency. They struggle from 3-point range but don’t bother taking many long range shots and while Saint Mary’s has an elite perimeter defense, they can be beat inside. In the first meeting Saint Mary’s shot 62 percent for the game while making 10 of 16 3-point shots to offset a turnover deficit. If those shooting numbers fall to the mean to decent degree this could be a tighter game than expected in a dangerous spot ahead of the biggest game of the season for the Gaels.

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