TheSpread.com College Basketball Picks and Predictions 1/24

TheSpread.com College Basketball Picks and Predictions 1/24

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their College Basketball picks and predictions for Saturday, January 24.

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Gonzaga at Loyola-Marymount, 8:00PM ET

To have a chance to take over sole possession of first place in the West Coast Conference next week, Gonzaga first must take care of one of the worst teams in Division I on Saturday when it visits Loyola Marymount.

Since closing December on a three-game losing streak, Gonzaga (13-4, 4-0) has reeled off five consecutive victories and now has a chance to tie Saint Mary's atop the WCC with a win Saturday. That would set up a showdown for sole possession of the conference lead on Thursday because the Gaels are idle until visiting Gonzaga that night.

Looking to build some momentum going into that game, Gonzaga goes for a fifth consecutive double-digit win in conference play following an overtime victory at Tennessee on Jan. 7. The Bulldogs appear to have a good chance to open their WCC schedule 5-0 for the third time in four years as they face Loyola Marymount (1-19, 0-4), which is tied with Sacramento State for the worst record in Division I.

Gonzaga is coming off an 83-69 win over Pepperdine on Thursday for its first victory since returning to the Top 25 on Monday following a three-week absence.

The Bulldogs put up another solid defensive effort, holding the Waves to 36.6 percent shooting while leading the entire game. Josh Heytvelt scored 25 points - two shy of his career high - and grabbed nine rebounds while Austin Daye had 16 points and 10 boards.

Heytvelt, held to a season-low six points in the Bulldogs' previous game, is leading the team with 14.7 points per game and averages 6.8 rebounds. He scored the first nine points of the game Thursday and made his first five field goal attempts as Gonzaga scored the game's first 19 points.

NCAA Free Pick: Gonzaga – Best Line: -27.5 Sports Interaction

Xavier at LSU, 8:00PM ET

Xavier overcame a slow start in its last game. Another sluggish beginning on Saturday night in Baton Rouge would likely produce a different result.

Playing their final non-conference game of the season, the 15th-ranked Musketeers go for their eighth straight victory on Saturday as they face an LSU team that has won 17 in a row at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.

Xavier (16-2) is coming off an 84-64 win at St. Bonaventure on Wednesday, finishing with a season-high 54.2 field-goal percentage despite missing 10 of its first 14 shots.

"We didn't panic, we just tried to stay with our system and just keep playing defense,'' said senior swingman C.J. Anderson, who had a team-high 15 points and shot 5-for-10 from the field.

Freshman Brad Redford hit four 3-pointers and scored 14 points off the bench. The 6-foot guard is averaging 10.1 points and shooting 52.6 percent (20 of 38) from 3-point range during Xavier's seven-game winning streak.

"We have a young freshman who's a fantastic shooter," Musketeers coach Sean Miller said. "And as he's emerged, he's really continued to develop our offense. "I thought the shots he made in the first half, coupled with our defense, allowed us to go in at halftime with the cushion that we did."

Stifling defense has been a staple this season for the two-time defending Atlantic 10 regular season champs, who are limiting opponents to 37.0 percent shooting from the field. The Musketeers held the Bonnies to 30.8 percent shooting while building a 41-22 halftime advantage.

While Xavier looks to take one step closer to matching its school-best 24-2 start to the 1989-90 season, LSU is trying to match its second-longest winning streak in the history of the Assembly Center, where the Tigers are 231-31 all-time.

Although LSU (15-3) has won its 14 home games this season by an average of 20.3 points, the Tigers realize that Saturday presents a substantial challenge.

NCAA Free Pick: Xavier – Best Line: +2.5 Sports Interaction

Texas A&M at Texas, 8:00PM ET

Texas guard A.J. Abrams is still struggling with his shot. Luckily for the Longhorns, other offensive options are stepping up.

After Damion James and Justin Mason came up big in the second half of a Big 12 road win, the 14th-ranked Longhorns hope to continue to get balanced production as they try to extend their home dominance of conference rival Texas A&M on Saturday night.

Abrams helped Texas (13-4, 2-1) win nine of its first 10 games, averaging 20.9 points and shooting 44.7 percent from the field - 47.4 from 3-point range.

The senior guard, however, hasn't been able to find the range lately. He's been held to 12.3 points per game during the Longhorns' disappointing 4-3 stretch, shooting 29.1 percent from the field and 26.4 percent from beyond the arc.

Abrams was 3-for-10 and finished with 11 points last Saturday, but James scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half and Mason had 12 of his 15 after halftime as Texas pulled away for a 71-49 win over Texas Tech.

NCAA Free Pick: Texas – Best Line: -12.5 Sports Interaction

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