NCAAB Odds, Picks: 5 Best Bets for Hawaii vs. UC Riverside & More

NCAAB Odds, Picks: 5 Best Bets for Hawaii vs. UC Riverside & More article feature image

Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Mor Seck (Hawaii)

While Thursday's college basketball slate is light on must-see matchups, that doesn't mean there isn't betting value on the board.

In fact, our staff is targeting five different games for five best bets.

So, dive in below to get the top college basketball odds, best bets and picks for UC Riverside vs. Hawaii and more on Thursday.

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.

7 p.m. ET
Detroit -115
7 p.m. ET
CCSU +4.5
8:30 p.m. ET
Michigan +6
10 p.m. ET
Pacific +19.5
11:59 p.m. ET
Hawaii -3.5
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.

Northern Kentucky vs. Detroit

Thursday, Feb. 23
7 p.m. ET
Detroit -115

By Cooper Van Tatenhove

Thursday night’s Horizon League matchup between Northern Kentucky and Detroit Mercy will be one in which both teams will be highly motivated to come away with a win.

For Northern Kentucky, a victory will be crucial, as it sits in a tie for third place with Milwaukee in the Horizon League standings.

The Norse will also be looking to bounce back from a crushing 64-63 defeat on the road to second-place Cleveland State.

On the other side is Antoine Davis, who is looking to end his stellar career at Detroit with a bang. The Titans' senior point guard is just 124 points shy of breaking Pete Maravich’s all-time NCAA scoring record with two games left in the regular season.

Davis’ chase for this record has been exceptional, as he has scored at least 30 points in Detroit’s last six games. These performances have resulted in five wins, with the only loss coming on the road to Milwaukee.

In addition to Davis’ play, Detroit’s offense matches up well against a Northern Kentucky defense that struggles to guard the perimeter. The Norse allow opponents to score 35.2% of their points from 3-point range, the 47th-highest rate in college basketball.

This high-volume perimeter scoring will be a welcome sight for Davis and a Detroit offense that scores 42.8% of their points from beyond the arc, the fifth-highest rate in the country.

Additionally, Detroit will have a plethora of second-chance opportunities against a Northern Kentucky defense that allows opponents to grab offensive rebounds on 32.9% of field goal attempts.

Detroit has already excelled on the offensive glass this season, ranking 15th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage.

The one area Northern Kentucky’s defense has excelled in is creating turnovers. The Norse have the highest turnover percentage in the Horizon at 25.4%.

However, this is an area where Detroit has improved, ranking fourth in the conference in offensive turnover percentage at 16.7%.

Look for this Davis-led Detroit offense to do enough to come away with a victory in a revenge spot on its home floor.

Pick: Detroit -115 (Play to -120)

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Central Connecticut vs. Merrimack

Thursday, Feb. 23
7 p.m. ET
NEC Front Row
CCSU +4.5

By Stuckey

CCSU has positive momentum for the first time in what feels like forever. The lesser-known Blue Devils have won five in a row for the first time since 2018, as this very inexperienced team has finally figured out its respective roles and how to close out games.

Tonight, the Blue Devils travel to first-place Merrimack, which has one of the smallest home-court advantages in all of college basketball.

When it comes to the Warriors, it’s all about their zone defense, which they run at the highest rate in the entire country. Yes, even more than Syracuse.

If a team can figure out the zone, it’ll have a very good chance of beating Merrimack — since it has one of the worst offenses in the country.

Well, this CCSU corps has fared fairly well against the Merrimack zone in their past three meetings this year and last, which makes sense since its advanced zone offense metrics are superior to its man numbers.

I show value in this number and I like the matchup. Plus, 4.5 points is a ton in what should be a grinder.

Michigan vs. Rutgers

Thursday, Feb. 23
8:30 p.m. ET
Michigan +6

By D.J. James

Michigan will have a tough test against Rutgers in a must-win game on Thursday as it looks to keep any semblance of its NCAA tournament chances alive.

Rutgers has the 11th-ranked home court advantage in college hoops, per KenPom, so this matters plenty to both teams.

That said, Michigan is the better offensive team of the two. It ranks ninth in offensive turnover percentage, which is one area where Rutgers usually prospers defensively, ranking 26th at 22.2%.

This should limit the Scarlet Knights’ ability to get out in transition.

Michigan also utilizes post-ups frequently, and it’s good in this area with Hunter Dickinson.

On the season, the Wolverines rank 10th in offensive points per possession (PPP) on post-ups, per ShotQuality. Rutgers struggles mightily in this regard, ranking 241st in PPP.

Outside of the arc, Michigan averages 1.07 PPP on catch-and-shoot 3s. Rutgers allows 1.04 PPP in this area, which ranks 274th in the nation.

The Wolverines use a balanced attack offensively by getting buckets inside and out, so this will surely come into play.

Since this is a huge edge for Michigan, it negates any impact Rutgers has of guarding the arc. Yes, the Scarlet Knights are holding opponents to 30% from deep on the season, but they’re also allowing a 3-point attempt mark of 42.6% (326th).

Simply put, Michigan should exploit any issues Rutgers has on the perimeter. The Wolverines have a more balanced team than the defensive-heavy Scarlet Knights.

Michigan could lose but should cover.

Pacific vs. Saint Mary's

Thursday, Feb. 23
10 p.m. ET
NBC Sports Bay Area
Pacific +19.5

By Tanner McGrath

Thursday is a fascinating spot for Saint Mary’s. The WCC regular-season championship and tournament seeding will likely come down to Saturday’s monster showdown between the Gaels and Zags in Spokane.

As it stands, Saint Mary’s (13-1) is one game up on Gonzaga (12-2). It seems like a foregone conclusion that the Bulldogs will roll past San Diego on Thursday and the Gaels will crush Pacific, setting up the all-important Saturday showdown for the title.

If Saint Mary’s wins on Saturday, the Gaels claim the outright regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, no matter what happens in this game.

But if the Gaels lose on Saturday, the two are regular-season co-champions, and (surprisingly) the higher NET ranking decides the seeding (assuming Gonzaga beats San Diego on Thursday).

You can argue about what will happen to the NET rankings between now and Saturday, but I’m looking past all that.

Simply put, Saint Mary’s wins the league if it wins Saturday, and I think coach Randy Bennett is emphasizing that.

Therefore, Saturday marks the biggest game in a decade for Bennett and the Gaels, who have won the WCC regular-season title over Gonzaga just once in the two-decade history of the league (in 2011-12).

So, I’m willing to bet the Gaels are looking right past this home matchup with Pacific as 20-point favorites. I wouldn’t be surprised if Saint Mary’s shows almost no interest in this game, looking to get in and out with a win that requires the minimal amount of effort and preparation.

Meanwhile, Pacific is in the thick of the seeding race, sitting at 6-8 in conference play, tied with San Francisco and a game ahead of BYU. It’s also looking to bounce back from consecutive losses.

But the Tigers are also playing better than it may seem, covering in two of their last three and dropping 88 in a two-point loss to red-hot Loyola Marymount.

And it’s not like Saint Mary’s has looked awesome.

The Gaels are 1-3 against the spread in their past four, recently putting together an incredible late-game collapse against San Diego in a three-point win.

No. 17 Saint Mary's doesn't score for final 7:05 but still avoids an upset against San Diego when this cross-court buzzer-beater just misses.

Quite the college basketball season.🏀🏀

— The Comeback (@thecomeback) February 17, 2023

Additionally, Saint Mary’s is good to fade as a favorite because of its slow pace (slowest tempo in the WCC), which will limit possessions and keep the final score short.

But I mostly believe we’re in for a monster letdown game from the Gaels.

The ShotQualityBets model makes this spread Saint Mary’s -16, so I’d be willing to play the Tigers a point above that number.

P.S. I realize the lookahead/letdown argument could also apply to Gonzaga on Thursday, but the Zags still need to win for a chance at the title. So, I think the Bulldogs will be more motivated.

Pick: Pacific +19.5 (Play to +17)

UC Riverside vs. Hawaii

Thursday, Feb. 23
11:59 p.m. ET
Hawaii -3.5

By Patrick Strollo

Hawaii (20-8, 11-5, KenPom: 122nd) will host UC Riverside (19-10, 12-5, KenPom: 138th) as the Warriors look to supplant the Highlanders as the second-place team in the Big West.

Tonight’s contest marks the first home game for the Warriors since Feb. 11. Hawaii has won four of its last five games, and the last time these teams met on Jan. 21, Hawaii walked away with the victory, 67-63.

This game also marks the first time UC Riverside has left the state of California since Dec. 14.

Being a California-domiciled program in the Big West certainly has its advantages, but the drawback is the tough once-per-season flight to paradise to play the lone non-California program.

Hawaii will look to lean on its defense, which is the most efficient in the Big West. The unit ranks 62nd nationally and gives up just 98.3 points per game.

The Warriors will rely on the frontcourt presence of forward Bernardo da Silva, who leads the team in rebounds (6.8) and blocks (1.1).

Hawaii’s defensive prowess extends beyond the frontcourt, as it features one of the best shooting defenses in the nation. The Warriors rank seventh in the nation in effective field goal defense.

When these two played earlier in the year, Hawaii held UC Riverside to just 31.9% shooting from the field.

My model is projecting Hawaii as five-point favorites at home in Honolulu.

In addition to backing the Hawaii defense at home, I like fading UC Riverside’s inability to get to the line. The Highlanders rank 319th in the nation with a free-throw rate of 26.5%, which hurts against this Rainbow Warrior defense.

I expect Hawaii to be in top form for its final home stand of the season, and I recommend laying the chalk at 4.5 or better.

Pick: Hawaii -3.5 (Play to -4.5)

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