College Basketball Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s 3 Best Bets for Thursday, Including Utah vs. Oregon State
Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Wayne Tinkle (Oregon State)
The new year is fast approaching, which means one thing: the stakes are getting higher and higher in college basketball.
Before we dive into 2022, Thursday’s slate is the final full bunch of games before the calendar turns.
With that in mind, our staff dove into three matchups to provide three of their top selections, including one for a Pac-12 game.
Thursday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|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.|
Brown vs. Maryland
Brown travels to Maryland in what will be each program’s final game before jumping into conference play.
Maryland has started 7-4, but has looked sloppy against lesser competition on multiple occasions. The Terps defeated 251st-ranked George Washington by seven and 123rd-ranked Hofstra by just two. Last game out, they led 326th-ranked Lehigh by only three at halftime.
The group has struggled scoring the basketball, averaging 69 points per game (190th). The Terps have hit just 30% of their 3-point attempts (275th) and 47% of their 2-point attempts (238th).
Brown has shown flashes of impressive play throughout its non-conference schedule. The Bears took both North Carolina and Colorado down to the wire.
The group’s leading scorer is Kino Lilly Jr., who is coming off of the bench to average 12.3 points per game. The freshman guard is a Maryland native and will surely be fired up to face his home state’s top basketball program.
Complimenting him is guard Paxson Wojcik, who transferred over from Loyola Chicago and is putting up 10.6 points per game.
Brown will be motivated in this game, as Maryland is its final Power-5 opponent of the season. The Terrapins will surely be looking past Brown with matchups against Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin looming.
Pick: Brown +12.5 (Play to +11)
South Alabama vs. UT Arlington
By Doug Ziefel
This number is simply too low for how these two teams have been trending as of late. The South Alabama Jaguars look to be the class of the Sun Belt, as they hold the best record in the conference. As for their opponent, well they are at the bottom of the conference.
It is not just wins and losses that create the large gap between these two teams, though.
The UT Arlington Mavericks have been one of the most dreadful offenses in the country. They are currently 334th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 348th in offensive turnover percentage.
Another area they lack in is defensive rebounding, as they allow about four percent more offensive rebounds per game than the national average.
All those areas of struggle will loom large against this South Alabama team.
The Jaguars have a pretty efficient offense this season and have proven to be near elite from inside the arc. They rank 64th in 2-point percentage.
The South Alabama defense will provide plenty of extra opportunities to put points on the board, as it is 32nd in defensive turnover percentage.
Lastly, the pace is what could really blow this game open. The Jaguars are 54th in tempo.
Add the fast pace to an efficient offense that is going to have a myriad of extra possessions, and we may have a blowout on our hands.
Pick: South Alabama -3 (Play to -4.5)
Utah vs. Oregon State
It’s hard to remember a worse follow-up to an Elite Eight appearance than what the Oregon State Beavers have done thus far in 2021.
Oregon State enters tonight’s conference battle against Utah at 2-10, with losses to UC Davis, Samford, Princeton and Tulsa, among many others.
The Beavers have had their fair share of bad luck with injuries and other absences, but this has still been an extremely disappointing start to the year for Wayne Tinkle’s group.
Meanwhile, Utah enters this game at 8-4 and 1-1 in Pac-12 play. There have been some good moments — including wins over Boston College and Tulsa on a neutral floor — but Craig Smith’s team has struggled to find consistency.
I love the home Beavers in this spot to finally break through and put together a complete 40 minutes. Oregon State has essentially lost every single close game it has been in this year.
As bad as the record looks, this team still has some key pieces from last year’s group, including Jarod Lucas and Warith Alatishe. There is bound to be some positive shooting regression and the roster is starting to get a bit healthier.
Furthermore, Utah is 0-2 in true road games this season, and the Utes haven’t really been competitive in those contests.
Give me the Beavers to show some pride with their back against the wall. I’ll take the 4.5, but would also endorse a play on the money line, as one of these close games is bound to go OSU’s way.