Thursday College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks: Saint Mary’s vs. BYU, Oregon vs. Arizona

Thursday College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks: Saint Mary’s vs. BYU, Oregon vs. Arizona article feature image

Boyd Ivey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Yoeli Childs

Thursday night brings us high-level college hoops out on the West Coast.

We will examine a key West Coast Conference battle between BYU and Saint Mary’s, and then analyze a huge Pac-12 contest between No. 9 Oregon and No. 24 Arizona.

Let’s see which teams have the betting edge.

Thursday College Basketball Odds & Picks

Odds as of Thursday and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

Saint Mary’s vs. BYU

  • Spread: St. Mary’s -4
  • Over/Under: 137.5
  • Time: 11 p.m. ET
  • TV:  ESPN2

BYU (12-4) is off to a strong start despite playing the first nine games without leading scorer and Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year, Yoeli Childs.  The Cougars have won six in a row and are 9-6 against the spread (ATS), including a true road win at Houston.

Saint Mary’s  (14-3) is coming off a 107-99 four-overtime loss at Pacific. The Gaels are 8-1 at home but only 7-9 ATS. On the season, Saint Mary’s is just 3-5 ATS at home.

BYU has become one of the best offenses in the country with Childs back in the lineup. It ranks 20th in adjusted offensive efficiency, fifth in effective field goal percentage and ninth overall with a team 39.1% average from beyond the arc.

The Gaels are one of the few teams that can match the Cougars on offense, ranking ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency and first overall with a team 41.4% average from 3P.

There are two major differences that favor BYU. First, the Cougars have much more impressive wins, with the true road win at Houston (without Childs), a neutral win over Virginia Tech (without Childs), an overtime loss at Utah and a neutral-court win over Utah State.

Meanwhile, Saint Mary’s has a neutral win over Wisconsin (opening game), a home win over Utah State and a neutral win over Arizona State.

Secondly, BYU holds opponents to just 26.9% from 3P, while the Gaels rank 180th in 3P% defense. The Gaels will need to find other ways to score besides beyond the arc, but Childs’ presence inside will make that even tougher.

The Cougars have an average of 2.35 years of experience per player, 14th oldest in the nation. They are an experienced team that will not get rattled on the road.

BYU hasn’t won at Moraga since the 2014 season, which is why 65% of the bets are currently on the Gaels.

I like BYU to push the pace against Saint Mary’s, which will be forced to pack its defense in the hopes of slowing down Childs. Once that happens, look for seniors Jake Toolson (14.6 ppg, 44.3% 3P), TJ Haws (12.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, 34% 3P) and Dalton Nixon (41.5% 3P) to find open shots from beyond the arc.

I’m taking the Cougars as the underdogs.

The Pick: BYU + 4

Oregon vs. Arizona

  • Spread: Oregon -3
  • Over/Under: 137.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV:  ESPN2

No. 9 Oregon (12-3) rebounded from its disappointing loss at Colorado to win 69-64 at Utah. The Ducks have protected their home court well — currently 8-0 in Eugene with an 82-74 semi-home win over Memphis with James Wiseman. They are an impressive 11-4 ATS, including an impressive 6-2 at home.

No. 24 Arizona (11-3) has recovered well from the FBI investigation haze, but struggled recently losing three of its past five games. The Wildcats only impressive win was a 90-69 home victory over Illinois back on Nov. 10. The Wildcats are only 7-7 ATS and have played only one true road game.

Oregon is balanced on both sides of the ball, ranking seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency and 42nd in effective field goal percentage allowed. The Ducks own the 3P line, shooting 39.9% as a team while holding opponents to just 30.1%.

Payton Pritchard and Chris Duarte combine for 30.1 ppg, 9.5 rpg, and 7.3 apg, while big men Shakur Juiston and Francis Okoro both grab more than six rebounds per game.

The Wildcats have played well, particularly on offense, but have struggled against the top teams. They had consecutive losses to Gonzaga and St. John’s, and both were non-competitive until an unlikely late-game rally.

Arizona has struggled at Oregon. having last won in 2015.

I’m giving the points with a balanced Oregon offensive attack in its Pac-12 home opener. Look for its zone defense to frustrate Arizona and lead to a comfortable Ducks win.

THE PICK:  Oregon -3

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