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College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 4 Top Picks for Thursday

College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 4 Top Picks for Thursday article feature image
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Photo by Chris Gardner/ Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Pope (BYU)

During college basketball conference play in January and February, Thursday’s are typically owned by the mid-majors.

But there’s still plenty of spots to find betting value.

Our staff is targeting four different plays this Thursday, so dive in below to get their top college basketball odds, picks and best bets.


Thursday’s 4 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
Coastal Carolina +7.5
8 p.m. ET
Lindenwood +10.5
8 p.m. ET
Wright State -8.5
9:30 p.m. ET
BYU +6.5
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.

Coastal Carolina vs. Old Dominion

Thursday, Jan. 12
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Coastal Carolina +7.5

By Tanner McGrath

The Monarchs are in a pure sandwich spot here. They barely pulled out an overtime win over Georgia Southern and are preparing for a road matchup with Marshall (which is likely still the best team in the Sun Belt).

Meanwhile, the Chanticleers could use a victory. They’re coming off three straight losses, including most recently dropping a road game to Marshall. Given Marshall is likely still the best team in the Sun Belt, this will be a nice step down in talent.

Both teams play similarly, too. Coastal plays more up-tempo, but neither team shoots 3s, instead playing on the interior while crashing the offensive boards.

On defense, both teams pack it in and allow plenty of 3-point attempts, although I don’t expect the 3 to be much of an issue here.

Instead, I expect this game to devolve into a rock fight, with both defenses packing it in against two interior-based offenses.

Also, Old Dominion is looking for a get-in-and-get-on-the-plane-to-Huntington victory.

The Action Network App has tracked sharp and big money on Coastal, with the Chanticleers pulling over 90% of the betting handle despite getting less than 40% of the betting tickets.

I’d still play this at +7 (-110) or better, but likely a little smaller, as projections make the line right around there.

Pick: Coastal Carolina +7.5 (Play to +7)

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Lindenwood vs. SEMO

Thursday, Jan. 12
8 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Lindenwood +10.5

By Keg

The Lindenwood Lions look to avoid dropping below .500 in conference play on Thursday night when they travel to Southeast Missouri State.

The Redhawks are 2-2 in conference play and are coming off a big win over Little Rock in which they led from the 11-minute mark of the first half on.

There’s no denying that Lindenwood is one of the worst offensive teams in the nation. However, its defense has been the best in conference play so far, specifically when it comes to defending on the perimeter.

The Lions have held teams to 30.7% from 3 all season and have been even better in their last five, allowing just 27.9% from deep.

Against the Redhawks, their defense on 3s from above the break will be key, as SE Missouri State is taking 34.4% of its field goal attempts from the region.

Lindenwood ranks in the 97th percentile over its last five games, holding teams to just 27% from above the break.

I do have some concerns when it comes to turnovers and fouls, as Lindenwood has struggled with both. But the Redhawks have been a bottom-10 team in the nation in fouls per game, racking up 21.9 hacks and sending opposing teams to the line 27.7 times per contest.

Lindenwood has been the second-best free-throw shooting team in the OVC (78.3%). Getting to the line 15+ times has been a deciding factor in every one of its wins so far this season.

There’s also a considerable differential when it comes to bets vs. money coming in on the Lions. While they’re drawing only 25% of bets, they’re bringing in more than 75% of the money.

That only adds to my confidence in Lindenwood, which has covered in four of its last five games.

Back the Lions at +8.5 or better to keep this one close in conference play.

Pick: Lindenwood +10.5 (Play to +8.5)


Wright State vs. Green Bay

Thursday, Jan. 12
8 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Wright State -8.5

By D.J. James

The Wright State Raiders have their easiest test of the season on the road against Green Bay, which is one of the worst teams in the country.

Green Bay ranks 356th in Adjusted Efficiency, including 347th on offense and 358th on defense, per KenPom. Wright State ranks 226th overall, and while that number is not great, it’s far better than the Phoenix.

Wright State does one thing well: get the ball inside. It has manufactured the most percentage of points inside the arc at 65.9%. Green Bay is permitting opponents to shoot 54.8% on 2-pointers, so the Raiders should score at will, as they shoot 52.3% inside the arc.

Otherwise, the Raiders seldom turn the ball over (17.9%) and shoot nearly 34% from deep. Green Bay is allowing teams to shoot 36.2% from outside, so the Raiders have an alternative to their typical game plan.

Now, Green Bay really can only score by getting fouled and shooting free throws. It gets 21% of its points from the strike, but Wright State ranks 37th in the nation in free-throw attempt percentage on defense.

Lastly, Wright State ranks 30th in Adjusted Tempo. The Raiders only use up 15.7 seconds per possession, which ranks 28th in college hoops.

Green Bay ranks 258th, but given its difficulties defending inside, the Raiders should get the ball into the paint and work into an open look quickly.

Pick: Wright State -8.5 (Play to -11)


Gonzaga vs. BYU

Thursday, Jan. 12
9:30 p.m. ET
ESPN
BYU +6.5

By Cooper Van Tatenhove

The BYU Cougars will have had a full five days off to prepare for a Gonzaga team that’s undefeated in WCC play.

This is an important game for head coach Mark Pope, who has built one of the nation’s best defenses.

The Cougars rank 24th nationally in adjusted efficiency (92.7) by maintaining an edge on the interior and on the glass. BYU only allows its opponents to grab offensive rebounds on 22% of their possessions, which is the fifth-lowest rate nationally.

Offensively, the Cougars are due for some shooting progression on their home floor. BYU is shooting 30.2% from outside, resulting in just 31% of its total points coming from distance.

Pope’s team has played its best at home this season, boasting a perfect 8-0 record.

Just as I believe this is a great spot to back the Cougars, Gonzaga may come into this game a little sluggish. The Bulldogs will be playing their third road game in a seven-day span when they step into the Marriott Center on Thursday night.

In order to neutralize Drew Timme, the Cougars will utilize junior Noah Waterman and sophomore Atiki Ally Atiki to give the All-American big man a plethora of different looks.

Overall, BYU — which ranks 64th in the country in total bench minutes (35.8%) — has the depth needed to make up for the talent gap it will be facing against Gonzaga.

In addition, BYU will be able to match Gonzaga’s up-tempo style, as both teams rank inside the top 55 in Adjusted Tempo.

This is a great spot to back a BYU team that has been most comfortable this season at home, and sell high on a Gonzaga team that’s ready to get back on its home floor.

Pick: BYU +6.5 (Play to +6)


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