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Expert handicapper Stephen Rodriguez gives his picks for Friday's college hoops action

PICK OF THE DAY, (2u) Yale Bulldogs -5.5 @ -110

Harvard Crimson @ Yale Bulldogs, 5:00 PM:

  • Yale has the best ATS record in the nation at (144).
  • The Bulldogs have won each of the last nine games at home. Stat courtesy of Statschecker.

The reason we're backing Yale

Yale (13-6) kept the wins coming after picking up a fifth straight victory by rolling past Cornell 86-71.

The Bulldogs shot over 55 percent from both the field and three-point range. Junior Azar Swain led the way as he knocked down six of eight three-pointers for 25 points, and fellow junior Paul Atkinson added a double-double with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

Harvard (16-4), on the other hand, dropped a second straight game in narrow fashion after losing to the Princeton Tigers 70-69.

Sophomore Noah Kirkwood totaled a game-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

The Crimson have been one of the worst teams in the Ivy League ATS with a (7-11) record. Although this rivalry tends to be played tight and competitive, this seems like Yale’s year to own the conference. I like the Bulldogs to cover at home.

(1u) Illinois Fighting Illini -2 @ -110

#9 Maryland Terrapins @ #20 Illinois Fighting Illini, 8:00 PM:

  • The Fighting Illini have won each of the last seven games at home. Stat courtesy of Statschecker.

The reason we're backing Illinois

#9 Maryland (18-4) battled back and picked up a fifth consecutive win after edging out Rutgers 56-51.

Team-leading scorer Anthony Cowan Jr. did just that, scoring a game-high 17 points. Junior big man Jalen Smith added his fifth straight double-double posting 14 points with 15 rebounds and six blocks.

#20 Illinois (16-6) snapped a seven-game winning streak on the road against #18 Iowa 72-65.

Although they led by one at half, the Fighting Illini were outscored by seven in the second half. Senior Andres Feliz came off the bench with a team-high 17 points, and junior Trent Frazier led the starters with 12 points and three steals.

Maryland has lost four of six road games this season, with the only two wins being decided by 12 total points (11-point win over Northwestern, one-point win over Indiana). With that said, I like Illinois to stay strong at home and cover the spread.

(1u) VCU Rams -9 @ -110

Davidson Wildcats @ VCU Rams, 6:30 PM:

  • The home team has won five of the last six meetings between these teams.
  • VCU has won each of the last 22 home games. Stat courtesy of Statschecker.

The reason we're backing VCU

Davidson (11-10) got back on track in a big way by blowing out UMass 85-50 while shooting over 70 percent from the field and 64 percent from three-point range.

Five Wildcats scored in double digits including team-leading scorer Kellan Grady who totaled 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, and junior Jon Axel Gudmundsson scored 15 points with a team-high seven assists and two steals.

VCU (16-6) snapped a four-game winning streak losing on the road to Rhode Island 87-75.

The Rams shot over 55 percent from the field but it wasn’t enough as only two players scored in double-figures. Freshman Nah’Shon Hyland led the team with 16 points off the bench, and senior Issac Vann added 13 points.

With the way this matchup has been trending, home court plays a significant factor, especially for the Rams who have won 22 straight home games. I’m not going against the trend, and plan on riding the hot hand of VCU to cover (-9).

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