Thursday College Basketball Betting Previews: UNCG-Furman; Arizona-Utah

Thursday College Basketball Betting Previews: UNCG-Furman; Arizona-Utah article feature image
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Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: UNC Greensboro Spartans guard Isaiah Miller (1).

My Valentine’s Day gift to you? A two-pack of picks from the Southern Conference and Pac-12.

We examine UNC Greensboro trying to stay in the Southern Conference race at Furman, and Utah looking to end a losing streak to Arizona.

Let’s see which teams should earn your financial backing.

Betting Odds: UNC Greensboro Spartans at Furman Paladins

  • Spread: Furman -5
  • Over/Under: 139
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN+

UNC Greensboro (22-3) has looked every bit the team that was projected to win the Southern Conference in the preseason poll. They have won eight straight games and are a perfect 5-0 on the road in conference. The Spartans are 10-7-1 overall against the spread including 7-4 on the road.

Furman (20-5) is 9-4 in the conference including an 89-79 loss at UNC Greensboro on Jan. 12. The Paladins have lost four consecutive regular-season games to the Spartans including the last two at home.  Furman is 5-3 in their last eight home games ATS.

UNC Greensboro has looked dominant since a shocking 29-point home loss to Wofford on Jan. 10. Within their conference games, the Spartans rank first in forced turnovers, blocks, and steals. They also value every possession and have the second-best turnover per game average within the conference.

Senior Francis Alonso (17.2 ppg) has been sensational for the Spartans, shooting 38.3% from 3P and 88.1% from the free throw line. In their first matchup with Furman, Alonso scored 16 points.

The under-the-radar star for UNC Greensboro has been sophomore Isaiah Miller (15.2 ppg) who has averaged 21.3 ppg over his last four games.

Furman is only 8-5 since starting the season 12-0. The Paladins have the second-highest turnover percentage within their Southern Conference games. In their first game against UNC Greensboro, Furman shot 56% (10 of 18) from 3P and 88% (15 of 17) from the free throw line, yet still lost by 10 points. It is unrealistic to assume a repeat performance of those efficiency numbers.

Furman has also shown to be vulnerable at home, losing to Samford 75-73 on Jan. 26.

UNC Greensboro is 1.5 games behind Wofford, which it plays on Saturday. The Spartans are playing fantastic basketball and already have a win over Furman at home. They forced 21 turnovers in that game and have improved their defensive efficiency since that matchup.

Grab UNC Greensboro and the five points in a game the Spartans could definitely win.

THE PICK:  UNC Greensboro +5

Arizona Wildcats at Utah Utes

  • Spread: Utah -4
  • Over/Under: 145.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPNU

Arizona (14-10) is on a five-game losing streak after starting 5-1 in the Pac-12. The Wildcats have lost three consecutive road games by an average of 17 points. They are 9-12-1 against the spread and have failed to cover six of their past seven games.

Utah (13-10) is 7-4 in the conference and has won six of its last eight games. They played at Arizona on Jan. 5 and lost 87-84 in overtime. The Utes are only 9-11 ATS but are 8-3 over their last 11 games.

Arizona has struggled mightily since losing freshman Brandon Williams (12.1 ppg) to a knee injury on Jan. 31. The Wildcats have lost the three games in his absence, including a 14-point home loss to Washington State. They have shot just 37.5% from 2P in that time period.

The Wildcats have also struggled defensively throughout conference play. They are the worst in the Pac-12 at defending the 3-pointer, allowing opponents to shoot 39.1% from beyond the arc. Arizona has no interior presence, ranking last in blocks per game, as well.

Utah has the most efficient offense in the Pac-12 since conference play began. The Utes rank first in adjusted offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage, and second in 3P, averaging 39.1% from deep.

Senior guard Sedrick Barefield (16.3 ppg) has been the model of consistency, scoring double-digits in 13 of his last 14 games. In their overtime loss at Arizona, Barefield scored 26 points including 5 of 9 from 3-point range.

The Utes have lost their last four regular season games against Arizona but will be ready to take advantage of a shorthanded Wildcats team. Look for a hot 3P shooting Utah team to maximize its home court advantage and score a big victory over reeling Arizona.

THE PICK:  Utah -4