College Basketball Betting Picks for Thursday: Our Staff’s 4 Favorite Bets (March 5, 2020)

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Mitchell Leff/Getty Images. Pictured: Army Black Nights basketball

  • Need college basketball betting picks for Thursday? Our staffers broke down their favorite bets on the 49-game card for March 5.
  • They're honing in on a few short lines, including two conference tournament games.
  • Get their best bets for Thursday as an Action EDGE member below.

We’re officially reached weekday daytime college basketball betting season.

While our staff’s favorite bets don’t kick off until 5 p.m. ET on Thursday, the three games that tip during work hours signify the start of arguably the best few weeks on the betting calendar.

Let’s dive into our best bets for Thursday.

College Basketball Betting Picks


Odds as of Thursday morning and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Collin Wilson

  • Odds: Boise State +2 vs. UNLV
  • Over/Under: 141
  • Time: 5 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS Sports Network

UNLV defeated Boise State by 10 in the Thomas and Mack Center just a week ago. The point spread on the game was the Runnin’ Rebels -2, and they shot 71% from 2-point range.

A week later, UNLV is favored by the same number. Possible reasons could range from additional rest fo the Broncos to injury for the Rebels.

Elijah Mitrou-Long is considered the team’s best player, leading the team in offensive rating, assists and steals. The 6-foot-1 senior guard did practice on Wednesday, but is not going to play on Thursday.

Mitrou-Long’s influence on the floor cannot be understated, especially in the plus-minus per 40 minutes category.

Fatigue may also play a part in the game, as Boise has not played since their loss in Las Vegas eight days ago. UNLV had an additional game with a victory in travel to San Jose State.

The Broncos are the top team in perimeter defense and rank second in the Mountain West in defensive turnover percentage. Transition offense will be key for UNLV without their floor general Mitrou-Long, as Boise State should have success forcing plenty of turnovers.

Pick: Boise State +2

Mike Randle

  • Odds: Army -1
  • Over/Under: 140.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: Patriot League Network

It’s hard to beat a team three times in one year, but not if they have significant injuries.

Lafayette (18-11) finished 10-8 in the Patriot League, tied with Army for fourth place. However, the Leopards lost junior guard and leading scorer Justin Jaworksi (17.1 ppg, 36% 3P) for the season after he suffered a knee injury, ironically, at Army. Since losing Jaworski, Lafayette has gone just 3-2 and has failed to cover in three consecutive games.

Army (15-14) is the league’s best in effective field goal percentage and 2P%. The Cadets are also disciplined, ranking first in offensive turnover percentage. Senior guard Tommy Funk (17.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 6.9 apg) will be the best player on the floor and has scored 10 or more points in 25 consecutive games. They should also dominate the defensive boards, and outrebounded the Leopards 49-34 in their 65-48 win on Feb. 12.

The loss of Jaworski changes the Lafayette efficiency on both sides of the floor, and it’s tough to see the Leopards pulling the upset when they lost just two weeks ago by 17 with Jaworksi for most of that game.

I’ll take Army at home to win and cover for the third time against Lafayette.

Pick: Army -1

Michael Calabrese

  • Odds: Illinois vs. Ohio State -6
  • Over/Under: 132
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

The Illini have been a team of streaks this season. They kicked off 2020 with a seven-game winning streak, only to turn around and follow that up with a four-game skid. And right on brand, they rebounded from that recent slump with a four-game winning streak, which brings us up to date.

Overall, Illinois is just one game over .500 against the spread, but have been marvelous away from Champaign against the closing number. In their 12 games on the road and at neutral sites, the Fighting Illini are 8-4 ATS.

Drilling down deeper you can see how profitable Illinois has been as a moneyline underdog. When catching four or more points this season, Illinois is 5-4 ATS, but has won outright in four of those nine contests.

Ohio State, 8-2 SU in its last 10, has been one of the nation’s best home teams SU and ATS. The Buckeyes are 14-2 at Value City Arena and have lived up to their home-court moniker by posting a 12-4 record ATS.

Statistically, Ohio State is a cut above in this matchup, outclassing the Illini in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The only noticeable difference between the two teams that favors Illinois is rebounding.

Ohio State is no slouch in this department, but the Illini lead the Big Ten in offensive rebounding percentage, which is one of the reasons they rank 68th in extra scoring chance opportunities and Ohio State is just 156th.

Motivation won’t be a question mark tonight, with both teams vying for a top-four seed in the Big Ten tournament and the sought-after double-bye.

With two white-hot teams playing, I’ll take the points and count on Illinois’s Ayo Dosunmu to carry his team when it matters most. The future pro has been on a mission as of late, averaging 20 points per game on 53.4% shooting from the field in his last four games.

Pick: Illinois +6

Eli Hershkovich

  • Odds: Memphis -1.5
  • Over/Under: 137.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

Memphis could be viewed as a fraudulent team of late, tallying a pair of wins by a combined five points while surviving at Tulane in overtime on Saturday. But Wichita State deserves that title more than almost anyone, masking its flaws with a 24-point comeback win at SMU on Sunday, as the Mustangs blew yet another double-digit lead in AAC play.

The Shockers have generated the second-highest 3-point scoring rate in their conference slate despite generating the fifth-lowest 3-point clip (31.5%) clip during that span, showcasing their reliance on perimeter shooting.

Penny Hardaway’s crew is letting up the fifth-lowest 3-point clip (28.1%) across Division I, so unless Wichita State controls the tempo for the entire contest, expect the Tigers to offer more resistance than SMU’s second-half effort.

At the other end, Memphis should be able to get to the line (second-highest free-throw rate in AAC play) vs. a Shockers team allowing the third-highest rate in that department. Freshmen Precious Achowioa and Lester Quinones combined for 21 attempts at the line in their previous meeting, and a similar result should occur with the Tigers’ ability to get to the rim in transition.

Wichita State needs to a win to remain in the at-large picture for the big dance, but a Memphis win helps it continue on the path to a first-round bye in the conference tournament. The Tigers have no chance at an at-large bid, so they’ll need to win the AAC Tournament to have a shot.

Expect a desperate Tigers team to outlast the Shockers and get revenge for their loss in Wichita on Jan. 9.

Pick: Memphis -1.5

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