Thursday NCAAB Picks

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their College Basketball picks and predictions for Thursday, March 5.

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Providence at Villanova, 7:00PM ET

Villanova can help its chances at securing a double-bye in the Big East tournament with a win in its regular season finale Thursday night against Providence.

The Friars, losers of six straight to the No. 11 Wildcats, have just as much at stake, however, as they look to add to their credentials for an NCAA tournament bid.

Villanova (24-6, 12-5) is trying to finish the regular season with 25 wins for the first time since 1950-51 and only the third time in school history. The Wildcats are coming off a 77-60 victory over Notre Dame on Monday - their fourth win in five games.

Villanova enters Thursday tied with Marquette for fourth place in the Big East after the Golden Eagles lost 90-75 to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. The top four teams in the conference receive a double-bye in the Big East tournament, requiring only three wins to claim the title.

If Marquette, which closes the regular season at home against No. 25 Syracuse on Saturday, and Villanova remain tied at the end of the season, a complicated tie-breaking procedure would be used.

NCAA Free Pick: Villanova  View Game Matchup | Best Line: -11 Sportsbetting

Dayton at Xavier, 9:00PM ET

Xavier knew it had to improve defensively after last month's loss at Dayton. The Musketeers were able to do so immediately, and now they're a win away from clinching at least a share of their third straight Atlantic 10 regular-season title.

Xavier closes out its home schedule Thursday night against the Flyers, who haven't won on the road in this series in 23 games.

The 17th-ranked Musketeers (23-5, 11-3) continued their run of outstanding defense in a 68-54 victory over St. Joseph's on Thursday. Xavier, which snapped a three-game slide on the road, has held teams to 37.4 percent shooting and 56.3 points per game in winning three of its last four.

The current stretch started after a 71-58 defeat to Dayton on Feb. 11, when the Flyers shot 50.0 percent from the field.

NCAA Free Pick: Dayton View Game Matchup | Best Line: +10 Sportsbetting

Stanford at Arizona State, 8:30PM ET

Arizona State is a virtual lock to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003, but that won't lessen the frustration from two tough losses that ended its hopes for a Pac-10 title.

On Thursday night, the 21st-ranked Sun Devils look to avoid losing their third straight when they host Stanford.

Jeff Pendergraph was expected to combine with James Harden, one of the Pac-10's most talented returning players, as Arizona State (21-7, 10-6) sought its first conference title.

Back-to-back overtime losses last week at Washington and Washington State - in which the Sun Devils shot just 41.5 percent from the field - ended those hopes. Now, they're focused on getting a high seed for the NCAA tournament, where they've won just one game since 1996.

NCAA Free Pick: Stanford View Game Matchup | Best Line: +9.5 Sportsbetting

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Posted: 3/5/09 12:31AM ET

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