College Basketball Picks: Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Marquette Golden Eagles

Vanderbilt Commodores at No. 13 Marquette Golden Eagles
Thursday, 12/29/11, 9:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN2
Opening Point Spread:  Marquette -9.5
Current Betting Line:  Marquette -8.5
Opening Total:  148.5
Current Total:  149
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Vanderbilt Commodores have won two straight games heading into Thursday night's showdown with the Marquette Golden Eagles

Vanderbilt has won two consecutive games since dropping a 61-55 decision to Indiana State as 10-point home favorites on Dec. 17.  The Commodores offensive attack sports the leading scorer and third-leading scorer in the Southeastern Conference, as John Jenkins checks in scoring 20.6 points per game, while Jeffery Taylor averages 17.6 points per game.  “I think what we’ve done the last two games that hopefully will carry on is guys are penetrating to kick which is a big thing,” commented Commodores guard Brad Tinsley.  Vanderbilt is 14-5 ATS as an underdog the last two-plus years.

The Commodores have lost both of their games against ranked opponents this year, but both of those contests went to overtime.  Vanderbilt’s last victory over such a foe on the road came on Jan. 27, 2010, knocking off Tennessee.  Thursday night’s meeting will be the sixth in series history, with the Commodores picking up two wins in the first five games.  It’s important to note that center Festus Ezeli may miss a third straight game with knee tendinitis, as he averaged 13.0 points and 6.3 rebound a year ago.

Marquette wraps up its non-conference schedule against Vanderbilt and will host Villanova to open up Big East Conference play on Jan. 1.  The Golden Eagles have the opportunity to finish the non-conference portion of the regular season with a 12-1 record, which would be the first time they’ve collected 12-of-more non-league wins since 2006-07.  Depth is the name of the game for the program, as nine active players are averaging 10.0 or more minutes per game.  Marquette is 1-5 ATS when playing with five or more days of rest.

The Golden Eagles have enjoyed great success at the charity stripe this year, connecting on more free throws (223) than their opponents have attempted (208).  Marquette is led offensively by Darius Johnson-Odom, who is averaging a team-high 17.9 points per game.  He has been plagued by a shooting slump of late, hitting just 39.4 percent of his shots in the last five games, which directly followed knocking down 57.1 percent in his first six.

Bettors will likely back the Commodores due to their 8-2-2 ATS mark on the road, while the Golden Eagles are 0-4-1 ATS at home.

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