NCAA Basketball Picks for December 17: Best Bets Today

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Shiloh Robinson #33 of the Liberty Flames. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

The East Carolina Pirates and Liberty Flames will play a neutral court game for the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout. Can East Carolina find ways to score against Liberty’s defense? Keep reading to check the college basketball odds board and cash out at the best online sportsbooks. Let’s begin!

Liberty Flames vs. East Carolina Pirates

Friday, December 17, 2021 – 1:30 PM EST at Spectrum Center

The East Carolina Pirates will take on the Liberty Flames in the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout in the Spectrum Center. It's a neutral game for both of these teams, however, despite this game being a neutral game, Liberty is a 3 or 3.5 point favorite.

The Pirates have a balanced offense with lots of great ball movement. East Carolina is currently assisting on nearly 62 percent of field goals made and is shooting 38.2 percent from downtown on the season. This is crucial because of the fact that opponents are hitting 38.1 percent of long-range jumpers against Liberty on the season.

Liberty has been great at defending inside, allowing teams to shoot just 40.4 percent, but there's going to be a huge height mismatch in this game. Liberty is 316th in the nation in height while East Carolina is 25th in the nation in height. Shots inside the paint and rebounds should ultimately flip to East Carolina in this game.

The Pirates are 8-2 on the year with two losses to powerful teams like Oklahoma and Davidson. Outside that, East Carolina has won every other game this year. Competition hasn't been all that great, sure. But East Carolina lost to Oklahoma by five and Davidson by nine. Both were single-digit games against the top 75 teams.

Meanwhile, Liberty has only defeated a bunch of low-tier teams and Missouri. Missouri is the worst SEC team in the nation while the low-tier teams are ranked 342 or worse on KenPom. Liberty hasn't done a great job at getting to the line this year and that's an area where East Carolina should also thrive. The Pirates get to the line at a higher rate and shoot over 72 percent from the field.

There’s also going to be no better player on the court than Tristen Newton. Newton has an offensive rating of 119.2 and will be the focal point of the offense. Not only is he averaging 7.8 points per game, but he’s also assisting on 5.1 buckets per game.

Prediction

Liberty has really thrived playing against bottom-tier teams. Without playing Bethune-Cookman, Maryland Eastern Shore, Delaware State, and non-D-1 Carver, things would be much different. Of the four losses, Liberty has lost by double digits in three of those four.

East Carolina has six capable players that have played in all 10 games this season. Each average at least 22 minutes per game and at least seven points per game. With plenty of ball movement and great chemistry, I like East Carolina getting the +3.5.

Of course, I believe East Carolina wins outright, but I'll play it safe. For our NCAAB pick, let’s ride East Carolina in the early game at 1:30 PM EST.

NCAAB Pick: East Carolina +3.5 (-118) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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East Carolina +3.5 (-118)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.