College Basketball Odds & Betting Picks for Thursday: Boise State-UNLV, Illinois-Ohio State (March 5)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images). Pictured: Alan Griffin
- Updated odds for Boise State-UNLV list the Runnin' Rebels as a slight favorite over the Broncos in the Mountain West Conference tournament (5 p.m. ET, CBSSN).
- Mike Spector is looking at that game, plus Ohio State vs. Illinois later in the night.
- Get our Illinois-Ohio State pick below.
What an exciting time it is if you are a fan of college basketball. With conference tournaments underway, games will start popping up all day. In addition, the regular season is nearing its end in major conferences as teams jockey for tournament seeding.
Thursday brings us the perfect balance of early mid-major conference tournament games and late-night major conference battles.
In the Mountain West, No. 5 seed Boise State takes on No. 4 seed UNLV in a quarterfinal matchup.
In the Big Ten, two of the top seven teams clash as Illinois heads to Columbus in search of a huge road win against Ohio State.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
Boise State vs. UNLV
- Spread: UNLV -3
- Over/Under: 141
- Time: 5 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS Sports Network
Boise State (19-11, 17-11 ATS) limped to a 3-3 finish to the regular season and now meet UNLV for the second time in as many games. The Broncos have not played since losing at UNLV 76-66 eight days ago.
UNLV (17-14, 17-14 ATS) caught fire down the stretch. The Rebels won six of their last seven games following a brief four-game skid. The biggest win in this span was handing San Diego State its only loss of the season.
The Rebels are first in the Mountain West in offensive rebounding percentage (32.2%) per KenPom. Though they play at one of the slowest tempos in the country (ranked 263rd in avg. possession length), they are a respectable 65th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Boise State will look to challenge UNLV with its defense. The Broncos rank second in the conference in both turnover percentage (19.5%) and offensive rebounding percentage allowed (21.4%).
For the Broncos to have success in their third meeting against UNLV, they need to continue to limit the Rebels’ three-point shooting.
In the two regular season meetings, UNLV shot a combined 12-49 (24.5%) from long distance. In conference games, Boise State ranked first in the Mountain West, allowing opponents to shoot just 28.6% from three.
UNLV has an advantage since the entire conference tournament is played on its home floor at the Thomas & Mack Center. Given that the Rebels beat Boise State by 10 at home just nine days ago, a spread of -2.5 seems somewhat surprising.
Boise State +2.5 seems like a perfect “contrarian” pick. As of this writing, 66% of bets and 79% of the money was wagered on UNLV. Yet, there has been a bit of reverse line movement as the spread has gone from an opening line of +3 to +2.5.
The familiarity between these teams should make for a tighter contest. Boise State has been the better team most of the year, and should be backed with confidence.
Pick: Boise State +2.5
Illinois vs. Ohio State
- Spread: Ohio State -6
- Over/Under: 132
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
Illinois (20-9, 14-13-1 ATS) looks to keep its momentum going at Ohio State. A win would put them in a four-way tie atop the Big Ten standings.
The Fighting Illini have won four straight games since Ayo Dosunmu returned from injury. The sophomore guard suffered a leg injury on the final possession against Michigan State. He sat out the next game, which Illinois lost at Rutgers 72-57. Since then, the Fighting Illini’s winning streak includes wins at Penn State and at home against Indiana.
Illinois has one of the best guard-center combinations in the country. Along with Dosunmu (16.4 PPG), freshman center Kofi Cockburn (13.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG) is an absolute beast inside. Cockburn has recorded double-doubles in three of the last five games.
Ohio State (20-9, 17-11-1 ATS) has won five of its last six games, including wins over ranked teams in two of its last three. The Buckeyes have won their last five home games by an average of 10.4 PPG.
Ohio State is one of six teams in the country ranked in the top 17 in the country in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency per KenPom. They are first in the Big Ten in three-point percentage (36.9%). The Buckeyes are also best in the conference in keeping their opponents off the offensive glass (24.4% offensive rebounding percentage).
A key matchup in this game is who will win the battle between Kofi Cockburn and Ohio State forward Kaleb Wesson. Cockburn has picked up four fouls in two of the last four games. If Wesson can attack Cockburn and get him in early foul trouble, the game can quickly get away from Illinois.
Ohio State must guard against a potential letdown after defeating rival Michigan. However, I trust this experienced roster (two seniors, two juniors in the starting lineup) to keep the team focused.
The Buckeyes have been dominant at Value City Arena, and this game will be no different.
Pick: Ohio State -6