Thursday College Basketball Odds & Betting Picks: Northern Colorado-Montana State, Saint Mary’s-San Fransisco

Thursday College Basketball Odds & Betting Picks: Northern Colorado-Montana State, Saint Mary’s-San Fransisco article feature image

Samuel Stringer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Malik Fitts

  • Saint Mary's enters its first game of 2020 as 3-point favorites against the San Francisco Dons with the over/under set at 148 (11 p.m. ET on ESPNU)..
  • Check out a detailed betting break down for Saint Mary's-San Fransisco.

After seven weeks of intersectional matchups and obscure tournaments, conference play is now in full swing.

Familiarity between teams and normalized travel is adding a bit of sanity back into an unpredictable sport.

I’m zeroing in on two mid-major games out west that are currently offering value to bettors with a keen eye.

Thursday College Basketball Picks

Odds as of Thursday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.

Montana State at Northern Colorado

  • Spread: UNCO -8.5
  • Over/Under: 134.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. EST

This line pops for a couple reasons. The first is that the Big Sky has earned a reputation as a wide-open conference, with little differentiation between teams in the middle of the pack.

Four different programs have won the Big Sky regular-season conference title over the past five years. Aside from Montana, no team has established a dominant home court advantage, which makes this line a bit perplexing.

The second reason this line seems a bit inflated is that Montana State has the best player in this matchup on its side.

Harald Frey, a Scandinavian import, is one of the nation’s best point guards. The stat-sheet stuffer is averaging 17.5/5.3/5.2 per game on 43.6% shooting from deep and 90% shooting from the line.

He nearly orchestrated an upset of No. 17 Utah State in the season opener, pouring in 34 points on 6-10 shooting from 3-point range.

Double clicking into UNCO’s performance against the spread makes me more bullish on the Bobcats in this spot. Despite the Bears’ recent success under head coach Jeff Linder, they haven’t been a reliable play as a home favorite.

Dating back to last season, UNCO is 2-4 ATS when installed as a single-digit home chalk.

Pick: Montana State +8.5

St. Mary’s (CA) at San Francisco

  • Spread: SMC -3
  • Over/Under: 148.5
  • Time: 11 p.m. EST

The Gaels are one of the hottest teams in the nation right now. Since Nov. 12, SMC is 12-1 SU with a pair of wins over Pac-12 programs and a high-end “Quad 1” win against Utah State.

Against the spread, Randy Bennett’s squad has been the model of mediocrity, posting a 6-6 ATS record in their last 12 games with posted lines. Where they have been profitable, however, is the total.

During their hot streak, the Gales have gone over in nine of 12 games. And it hasn’t been a case of foul shooting in the final minute pushing these games over. Their nine overs have exceeded the closing number by an average of 13.9 points per game.

Watching the Gaels offensively is an over bettor’s dream. SMC is the best 3-point shooting team in America, burying treys at a 42.7% clip. They also check in sixth nationally in shooting efficiency. And there aren’t many empty possessions, as SMC only turns it over 10 times per game, the third lowest in all of college basketball.

As for the home team, the San Francisco Dons have fans in the Bay Area thinking about the postseason, which is pretty rare for Bill Russell’s alma mater. The Dons haven’t gone dancing since 1998, but their high-scoring offense has kept them in games all season long and gives them a shot to score an upset or two along the way.

USF has four guards who average 9.8 points per game or better and they connect on 10.1 3’s per game (11th).

While SMC makes their bones by eliminating easy looks, USF doesn’t appear all that interested in playing defense.

In every meaningful defensive shooting metric, USF is sub-250th. This should be a run-n-gun kind of game, but SMC has more firepower to win. Toss in the short distance for this road game (40 minutes) and three points feels like a bargain.

Picks: SMC-3 & Over 148.5

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