Thursday is a great day for college basketball. With no NFL football on the horizon, sports bettors can focus on college hoops every night of the week. There is less than a week in February, so teams are running out of time to make a push for the NCAA Tournament.
Most college basketball teams have three or four regular-season games left to play. With regular season titles and NCAA Tournament seeding on the line, expect tons of craziness as teams get desperate.
This Thursday, we’ll see four games that include ranked opponents. The Pac-12 and Big Ten have teams playing, and plenty of mid-major teams will be active as well.
So, what are the best picks for this intriguing slate of games? Let’s look at the betting odds for the best games this Thursday. We’ll break down the key factors and make some predictions to help guide your hand with the best bets for February 23.
Let’s start with a Big Ten showdown.
Northwestern Wildcats vs. Illinois Fighting Illini
Thursday, February 23, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at State Farm Center
Northwestern is the team ranked in this game, and they have a better record in conference play than the Fighting Illini. Also, the Wildcats have a better seed in the NCAA Tournament. Still, the fact that Illinois plays at home could change how this game goes down.
Illinois needs to get on track with this game. They are 2-3 in the last five games, and they have not clinched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament just yet. A win here would go a long way, but a late-season collapse could put them into the NIT instead.
Matthew Mayer has stepped up as a scorer in recent weeks, and the Fighting Illini will need that extra scoring to win this game. However, I like the Wildcats to cover on the road. The crowd will be a factor, but Northwestern is red-hot.
Northwestern has won five straight games, including two against ranked opponents. They won their last two games on the road, and they have one of the best defenses in the Big Ten. They’ll need that against Illinois’s offense, but I see the defense holding up.
Give me the Wildcats to cover.
NCAAB Pick: Northwestern +5.5 (-110) at BetMGM
UCLA Bruins vs. Utah Utes
Thursday, February 23, 2023 – 11:00 PM EST at Jon M. Huntsman Center
These are two of the best defenses in the conference, which explains why the totals line is so low. This should be a chess match, but the real question is if either offense can overcome the stifling defensive nature these teams like to utilize.
I trust UCLA’s ability to score on Utah. The Utes have struggled to stop elite offenses. The Bruins don’t have an amazing offense, but they are at least efficient.
Here are the key offensive stats for UCLA.
• 74.1 PPG
• 11.9 Offensive RPG
• 14.9 Assists per game
• 10.4 Turnovers per game
On the other side, I don’t think Utah can keep up offensively. No one has scored over 65 points against UCLA in six straight games.
It doesn’t feel great, but give me the under in this matchup.
NCAAB Pick: Under 131.5 (-110) at FanDuel
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Thursday, February 23, 2023 – 06:30 PM EST at Value City Arena
As of right now, Penn State is on the wrong side of the bubble. They have ground to gain, and they can’t afford any steps in the wrong direction. This game is on the road for the Nittany Lions, but they are playing better at this point in the year than the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has lost eight straight games. Things are spiraling out of control in Columbus, and I don’t think they can right the ship against Penn State.
I realize OSU is favored, but this seems like the perfect time to bet on a bubble team to gain some ground in a tough environment.
NCAAB Pick: Penn State +2 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook