Thursday College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks: Iowa State vs. Iowa, UNI vs. Grand Canyon
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trae Berhow
The Thursday college basketball slate is fairly bare, as programs squeeze in their last games before finals.
Luckily for gamblers, Iowa has come through and is living up to it’s unofficial motto — 75% vowels, 100% awesome — by juicing up the slate with a pair of interesting matchups.
Two games I’m targeting feature teams from the Hawkeye state.
Thursday College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks
College basketball odds as of Thursday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Iowa at Iowa State
- Spread: Iowa State -4
- Over/Under: 157
- Time: 8 p.m. EST
- TV: ESPN2
The Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series may be a mouthful, but the games themselves have been easy on the eyes.
The over has cashed in five of the last six in the series and featured some truly outstanding individual performances, including Tyler Cook’s 12-16, 26 point-outburst in Iowa City last December.
The fact that tonight’s total is being offered under 160 presents an opportunity to bank on two highly efficient offenses trading blows in Ames. The Hawkeyes rank eighth nationally in offensive efficiency with the Cyclones not far behind at 45th.
In terms of player efficiency, both teams feature a top-10 playmaker nationally with ISU’s Tyrese Haliburton checking in at sixth, and Iowa’s Luka Garza slotted No. 10.
Neither team can claim to be particularly effective on defense, but one statistic does pop off the page.
Iowa State consistently avoids sending opponents to the foul line and a major component of Iowa’s offensive success is getting to the charity stripe. The Hawkeyes attempt 22 foul shots per game, while Cyclone opponents take 10 fewer per game.
If Iowa maintains its level of aggressiveness and gets to the line as it usually does, this game will likely be played in the 80s on both sides.
Northern Iowa at Grand Canyon
- Spread: UNI-5.5
- Over/Under: 140
- Time: 10 p.m. EST
- TV: ESPN+
Northern Iowa, now 9-1 SU and 7-1 ATS on the season, is walking into a hornets’ nest on Thursday night.
Grand Canyon University Arena is home to the nation’s best Mid-Major student section.
The rowdy GCU “Havocs” have provided the Lopes with a significant home-court advantage. Since joining Division I in 2013, GCU is a staggering 85-25 SU at home.
Aside from the home court bump, the Lopes’ head coach, Dan Majerle, has the talent to keep this close, thanks in large part to the play of true freshman point guard Jovan Blacksher. The 4-star recruit out of Phoenix is the highest-rated recruit to ever sign with GCU and really makes the offense go for the Lopes.
The stellar play of Blacksher aside, the Lopes will continue to live or die with the play of their junior center Alessandro Lever. In their four wins this season, Lever averaged 20 points, 5.5 rebounds and shot 40 percent from 3-point range. In their seven losses, those numbers dip to 12/4.5/36%, respectively.
Two final reasons to like GCU in this spot — the letdown and getaway factors. Northern Iowa captured its first win over a ranked opponent since 2016 on Tuesday night when it beat Colorado.
It’s only human to view a road trip to face a WAC opponent with a losing record as a letdown. And lastly, this is UNI’s final game before they head back to Cedar Falls for finals and a 10-day break.