College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 5 Favorite Thursday Bets
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Powell
This may be the best college basketball day of the year, outside the NCAA Tournament — 58 conference tournament games, including 21 that tip during working hours on the east coast.
While we’re not sure if the NCAA will continue playing games all weekend, we’ll press on for now.
Here’s our staff’s five favorite bets for Thursday.
College Basketball Betting Picks
- Odds: Michigan -3 vs. Rutgers
- Over/Under: 135
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: BTN
Well, who knows what’s going to happen today and how much basketball we’ll get so let’s roll with a noon tip. I’ll take the 3 points with Rutgers in a game I make closer to +1.
Rutgers did lose both regular season meetings to Michigan, including one on a neutral court, but it’s not the worst matchup for the Scarlet Knights, who don’t rely on the 3P shot, which Michigan takes away as well as any team.
Three points are also more of a premium here in what should be a lower scoring game. I also like the way Rutgers looked to close out the year. It should take a lot from that road win at Purdue which marked only its second win away from the RAC this season.
Pick: Rutgers +3
- Odds: Oregon State vs. Oregon-7.5
- Over/Under: 138.5
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- TV: Pac-12 Network
The Beavers and Ducks split their season series, with a pair of double-digit victories in favor of the respective home team. As I mentioned in the lead up to Oregon State’s game yesterday afternoon, the Beavers have been reliable at the window as of late. They handle inferior opponents and cash as favorites and run out of gas when pressed by quality teams.
The once-mercurial Ducks finally have a run of elite basketball in their rearview mirror. They’ve reeled off four straight wins SU and ATS, including an overtime thriller at Arizona.
Payton Pritchard, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, is averaging 27.5 ppg, 5.3 apg, and 4.5 rpg on 51.4% shooting from long range during this hot-streak. As a whole, the Ducks are now up to sixth nationally in offensive efficiency.
Oregon State is 5-9 ATS away from Corvallis this season and is ill-equipped for a shootout with the Webfoots. The Beavers have eclipsed 74 points just once since Jan. 16 and came into the Pac-12 Tournament as the 220th best three-point shooting team in the country. They were marginally better than that against Utah yesterday, shooting 8-22 from deep.
I like the Ducks to push the tempo and leave the Beavers down the stretch, leaning on elite three-point shooting (39.6%, 2nd) to put together a few second-half runs.
Pick: Oregon -7.5
- Odds: Butler -1.5 vs. Providence
- Over/Under: 129.5
- Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
- TV: FS1
These two teams last met on Feb. 1, with the Friars covering (+6.5) and winning outright (65-61) at Hinkle Fieldhouse to begin their streak of eight wins over the past 10 games.
Providence’s defense, owning the Big East’s No. 1 rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency during conference play, limited the Bulldogs to 1-of-14 shooting from the perimeter en route to 0.95 points per possession.
While Butler’s offense is at its best with senior guard Kamar Baldwin attacking the paint on his own or in pick-and-roll situations, the Friars’ ball pressure and size up front makes it difficult for opponents to have success inside. Those issues should compound vs. one of the most confident teams in the country, forcing Butler to force its offense from behind the arc.
At the other end, look for Providence to attack the rim and get to the line, as it’s manufactured the highest scoring rate from the free-throw line in league play against a Bulldogs’ team yielding the fourth-highest scoring rate in that department.
The Bulldogs appear slightly overvalued after racking up wins against DePaul, St. John’s and Xavier down the stretch — a trio of teams at the bottom of the Big East standings — to top it off. I’ll be on the Friars.
Pick: Providence +1.5
- Odds: Ohio State -2 vs. Purdue
- Over/Under: 128.5
- Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
- TV: BTN
Despite its roller-coaster season, Ohio State still has the profile of a team that can get hot in March. The Buckeyes rank inside the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They rattled off four consecutive wins before dropping a close game at Michigan State on Sunday.
Head coach Chris Holtmann’s Buckeyes were best in Big Ten play at 3P shooting (36.2%) and from the free throw line (77.7%). Junior forward Caleb Wesson 14.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg) has been an anchor inside while still shooting 42.5% (45 of 106) from beyond the arc.
The key for Ohio State could hinge on the availability of junior forward Kyle Young (7.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg). In a Feb. 15 win over Purdue, Young led Ohio State with 16 points and seven rebounds. He has not played since Feb. 23 and is listed as a game-time decision.
I can’t trust Purdue (16-15) in this spot as a result of its road struggles. The Boilermakers only have four true road wins on the season, and are just 2-8 against the spread in the Big Ten away from Mackey.
The Buckeyes still have an efficient and versatile scoring attack with Wesson and their 3P accuracy, and I don’t trust a Purdue offense that ranks last in conference play with just a 45.2% average from inside the arc.
I suspect Young will play, giving the Buckeyes a huge boost. Either way, I’m comfortable laying the small number with one of the most balanced metric teams in the country.
Pick: Ohio State -2
- Odds: Seton Hall -3.5 vs. Marquette
- Over/Under: 149.5
- Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
- TV: Fox Sports 1
Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard was quoted that “Everyone’s going to know everyone’s play calls awfully quick” in regards to COVID-19. Madison Square Garden is the host site for the Big East tournament with all eyes on empty arenas throughout college basketball on Thursday.
Marquette lost two games this season to Seton Hall by a margin of nine at home and 14 on the road. A point spread of just +3.5 on the Golden Eagles does not reflect those prior performances.
Markus Howard got the lion share of points in previous battles, but Marquette did not get much from his supporting cast. Brendan Bailey, Theo John and Koby McEwen must step up and provide support to Howard.
Seton Hall is the top team in the Big East in defensive effective field goal percentage. The power of the Pirates comes in defending the paint and not the 3-point line.
But Marquette, lead by Howard, is one of the premier long range shooting teams in the country. If Sacar Anim and Brendan Bailey contribute anything from the field, it could be a long night for a Seton Hall roster that could be dealing with injury to star player Myles Powell.
Pick: Marquette +3.5