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College Basketball Odds & Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 4 Favorite Bets for Thursday

College Basketball Odds & Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 4 Favorite Bets for Thursday article feature image

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Andres Feliz

  • Betting college basketball tonight? With more than 60 games on the schedule, our crew complied their best picks for Thursday's action.
  • While our staff's bets are heavily shaded toward games in the Big Ten, we've also taken a crack at a a key matchup in Conference USA.
  • See all their bets below.

Thursday’s college basketball slate is better than what we usually get on this day of the week, at least at the top. And we’re heading to the Big Ten to find betting value.

Here are our staff’s favorite bets for Thursday:

Odds as of Thursday at 1 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


  • Odds: Wisconsin +6.5 at Michigan
  • Over/Under: 130
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

I’m higher than the market on Wisconsin and have been all year, so I see some value here at +6.5 for a game I make Michigan -5.1.

These two teams are eerily similar when you look at their profiles and match up fairly well against each other.

In a game between two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten, Ill take anything over +6.5 in a game I think comes down to the final minutes. The whole Big Ten has struggled to pick up road wins this season but the Badgers do have three, including two top 20 conference road wins at Penn State and at Ohio State.

Pick: Wisconsin +6.5

Mike Randle

  • Odds: Illinois -6 at Northwestern
  • Over/Under: 133
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: BTN

Backing road team in the Big Ten has been dangerous this season, but I’ll roll the dice and bet against Northwestern. The Wildcats are just 6-20 on the season and 1-15 in conference play. They are horrific against the spread at home with a 3-11 record and just one home cover (Purdue by just a half a point) on the season.

Illinois is fully healthy and is just one week removed from a huge 62-56 win at Penn State. Sophomore guard Ayo Dosunmu survived a scary moment against Michigan State and has averaged 21 ppg in the Illini’s last two games.

Freshman center Kofi Cockburn (13.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg) has two double-doubles in his last three games and should find success against a Wildcats’ team that is last in conference play in offensive rebounding and is second-worst in defensive rebounding efficiency.

Northwestern has been fading down the stretch and has lost its last two home games to Michigan and Minnesota by 25 and 26 points respectively. With Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili (7.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Illinois will find the same interior success as the Wolverines and Golden Gophers.

Illinois has been one of the best Big Ten road teams, already earning wins at Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan, and Penn State. I don’t see a slip at Northwestern, and will lay the points.

Pick: Illinois -6

Collin Wilson

  • Odds: Northwestern +6 vs. Illinois
  • Over/Under: 133
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET
  • TV: Big Ten Network

I’m on the opposite side of Mike here.

A conference record of 1-15 makes Northwestern the bottom of the barrel in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are dead last in offensive and defensive efficiency within conference play, but a sleepy home spot against Illinois may surprise some.

The return of Ayo Dosunmu saw an outburst of Illinois offense and underdog victory at Penn State last week. The Fighting Illini end the season with Indiana, Ohio State and Iowa, making this a defacto sandwich travel spot on the schedule.

Northwestern hung tight in a road cover earlier this season at Illinois. The Wildcats shot 43% from deep in the State Farm Center on Jan. 18, playing the game within four points of Illinois the entire night.

The Fighting Illini have been a disaster from the 3-point line on both ends of the court, ranking 14th in shooting and 13th in Big Ten perimeter defense. Expect Northwestern to take plenty of attempts from long range to keep them game close on their home court.

Pick: Northwestern +6

Steve Petrella

  • Odds: La. Tech +1.5 at Western Kentucky
  • Over/Under: 139
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

Both Louisiana Tech and Western Kentucky are a game behind North Texas for the Conference USA lead, and will jockey for position on Thursday night.

Western Kentucky has really elevated its game against top 100 teams. Take a look at their results thus far:

  • 71-54 loss vs. Louisville
  • 86-79 OT win vs. Arkansas
  • 86-82 OT loss at Rhode Island
  • 93-84 win vs. North Texas
  • 65-54 win vs. La. Tech

Louisiana Tech has also started to regress on offense thanks to an unsustainable 3-point percentage. Free-throw percentage is generally correlated with 3-point percentage, and La. Tech’s splits are wide — 313th in free-throw percentage, 73rd from 3. That screams regression.

The Bulldogs rank 24th nationally in offensive efficiency this season, per T-Rank, but just 86th over their last 10 games.

Poor 3-point shooting plagued La. Tech when these teams met three weeks ago, and I don’t see any reason to believe it will improve in a big way on Thursday.

Pick: WKU -1.5

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