Thursday NCAAB Odds, Picks | 5 Best Bets, Including Saint Mary’s vs. Loyola Marymount

Thursday NCAAB Odds, Picks | 5 Best Bets, Including Saint Mary’s vs. Loyola Marymount article feature image
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Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Ahrens (Loyola Marymount)

Thursday's college basketball slate is short on must-see matchups, but play begins at 2 p.m. ET and ends with the final tip-off at midnight.

This long-range slate offers plenty of betting value, and our staff is taking advantage by offering up five best bets across four different games.

Dive in below and get the top college basketball odds, best bets and picks for Thursday evening.


Thursday's 5 College Basketball Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Thursday's slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
7 p.m. ET
Purdue -7.5
7 p.m. ET
Purdue -8
8 p.m. ET
Northwestern +5.5
9 p.m. ET
Charlotte +3
10 p.m. ET
Loyola Marymount +8
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Iowa vs. Purdue

Thursday, Feb. 9
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Purdue -7.5

By Patrick Strollo

The top-ranked Purdue Boilermakers (22-2, 11-2) will host the unranked Iowa Hawkeyes (15-8, 7-5) this evening in West Lafayette, Indiana, as two of the nation’s top offenses square off in this Big Ten battle.

This game will be Purdue’s only home matchup across a 15-day stretch.

Offense will come at a large discount tonight, as Purdue and Iowa rank second and third nationally in KenPom’s offensive efficiency rankings, respectively.

While offense may be cheap, defense will come at a premium, especially for Iowa. The Hawkeyes rank a pedestrian 153rd in the nation in AdjD, per KenPom.

Meanwhile, Purdue ranks in the top 25 in the same metric and will look to slow down the Hawkeyes' offense.

Iowa has struggled to force turnovers this season, generating a change of possession on just 15.8% of plays. That puts the Hawkeyes near the bottom of the pack nationally.

This creates a large advantage for a Purdue team that protects the ball reasonably well and plays at a much faster tempo than the Hawkeyes.

In Purdue’s two losses this season, it struggled from the free-throw line, shooting below 65%. In the loss to the Hoosiers, the Boilermakers went 10-of-17 from the stripe.

I fully expect Purdue to redeem itself tonight and revert to its season average of 75%.

After a nasty spell against the spread at home earlier in the season, the Boilermakers have bounced back, covering three of their last four at Mackey Arena.

I like Purdue in this bounce-back spot after Saturday’s loss. Look for head coach Matt Painter to rely on his offense at home, but the differentiator will be Purdue’s defense doing enough to stymie Iowa’s powerful offense.

My model is projecting Purdue as 11-point favorites in this matchup, so I recommend laying the chalk at 9.5 or better this evening.

Pick: Purdue -7.5 (Play to -9.5)

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Purdue -8

By Shane McNichol

There’s not a ton of juice in betting the No. 1 team in the country to cover a modest spread against a conference foe at home, but it’s hard to see the Hawkeyes keeping things close in West Lafayette, barring an anomaly-level shooting night.

If you’re hoping for that kind of shooting as the road team in Mackey Arena, good luck.

Iowa will try to spread this game out and speed up the pace, yet the Hawkeyes don’t have the firepower to overcome Purdue’s advantages on the interior.

Zach Edey is already polishing National Player of the Year trophies in early February, thanks to a dominant campaign throughout Big Ten play.

Even in a league stacked with talented and productive big men, Edey stands above the rest (literally). The 7-foot-4 giant in the middle is a tough matchup, even for teams with a bigger center.

Iowa does not have that kind of player on the roster. The Hawkeyes start 6-foot-9 Filip Rebraca at center and don’t give meaningful minutes to anyone taller.

That lack of true size has bit Iowa in Big Ten play, where the Hawkeyes are second-to-last in cleaning the defensive glass. Purdue is the top offensive rebounding team in America, led by Edey, who paces the nation in offensive rebounding rate.

The Boilermakers will be too much to handle in the paint and on the glass, leading to quality shots and extra possessions.


Northwestern vs. Ohio State

Thursday, Feb. 9
8 p.m. ET
FS1
Northwestern +5.5

By Cooper Van Tatenhove

The Ohio State Buckeyes are in free-fall, losing nine of their last 10 games. As a result, the Buckeyes are ahead of only a 1-11 Minnesota team in the Big Ten standings.

On the other side, Northwestern sits in a three-way tie for third place in the Big Ten, which has six teams within one game of second place. The Wildcats will be looking to avenge a 73-57 loss to the Buckeyes on Jan. 1.

This conference success for Northwestern can be attributed to its play on the defensive end. The Wildcats rank 32nd nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency by emphasizing interior defense.

Northwestern ranks ninth nationally in block percentage, resulting in opponents converting just 43.8% of their 2-point attempts.

This interior defense will be critical against an Ohio State offense that thrives on creating penetration. The Buckeyes score 56.2% of their points on the interior, the 43rd-highest rate in the country.

Given this tendency to attack the rim, Ohio State attempts just 30.2% of its field-goal attempts from beyond the arc.

This lack of outside shooting is important to note, as perimeter defense has been one of the few weaknesses for this Northwestern defense. The Wildcats give up 39.5% of their points from the 3-point line, the ninth-highest rate in the country.

Ohio State’s offense, which has struggled, will be forced into low-percentage outside looks as a result of Northwestern's strength at the rim.

Lastly, Northwestern has thrived on the road. According to Haslametrics, the Wildcats rank fifth nationally in away/home court advantage, winning five of their seven true road tests.

I will gladly take the points with Northwestern against an Ohio State team that has the wheels falling off.

Pick: Northwestern +5.5 (Play to +4.5)



Charlotte vs. UTEP

Thursday, Feb. 9
9 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Charlotte +3

By Brett Pund

As long as center Aly Khalifa returns to the lineup, I really like the betting value on taking Charlotte to cover on the road at UTEP.

Khalifa, who leads the team in rebounding and is second in scoring, has missed the last two games due to COVID-19. But he should have quarantined for enough time to play in this one.

The 49ers are no strangers of close games on the road in C-USA play, with the average margin being four points per game in those spots.

This is the same squad that has also covered at Florida Atlantic and UAB, who are much stronger teams than the Miners.

I’m not sure if the early odds are factoring in Khalifa not playing, but this line would suggest that UTEP would be favored on a neutral floor. This is something that neither KenPom or myself agree with, so I’ll take the points with Charlotte.


Saint Mary's vs. Loyola Marymount

Thursday, Feb. 9
10 p.m. ET
NBC Sports Bay Area
Loyola Marymount +8

By Tanner McGrath

Thursday is a pretty good spot for a letdown game from Saint Mary’s, which is coming off an emotional overtime win over Gonzaga. The Gaels are flying high and are maybe a little fat and happy for this spot.

But I wouldn’t overlook Loyola Marymount.

The Lions have shown they can compete with some of the nation’s better teams, as they’ve posted wins over Gonzaga, BYU, Nevada and Wake Forest this season.

It’s also a good bounce-back spot for the Lions, as they're coming home off back-to-back losses, including one to San Diego that ShotQuality graded as an analytical win.

And I love backing LMU at home, considering the Lions are 10-3 against the spread in L.A. this season.

Finally, I don’t hate the matchup. Saint Mary’s defense thrives on forcing opposing offenses into tough shots, but LMU is elite at spacing the floor, shows great judgment in shot selection and has the shot-makers to take advantage.

The handicap is tricky from a value perspective, as most projection systems I trust make the spread right around LMU +8.

However, it’s an excellent spot, so I’m willing to take a shot at +8 (-110) and would still play it for smaller at a slightly lower number.

Pick: Loyola Marymount +8 (Play to +7.5)


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