This Thursday has an intriguing slate of games. With many ranked opponents playing on the road and other tournament teams looking to boost standings, we could see a shift in how the bracket looks because of this day.
Thursday is usually the Pac-12’s time to shine, and we certainly have a few big games from that conference. However, there are other key matchups that will carry weight once March rolls around.
If you’re reading this, something tells me you care more about the college basketball odds than the details of each game. Those are mere factors that go into valuing your bets, so let’s get things rolling and figure out the best games to bet on for this Thursday.
Since the Pac-12 is the biggest conference playing, we’ll start with a pivotal game out West.
Washington State Cougars vs. USC Trojans
Thursday, February 2, 2023 – 11:00 PM EST at Galen Center
USC is the last team to earn a bye in the current Bracketology. We obviously have a lot of season left, but too many losses will put them on the wrong side of the bubble as this year wraps up.
So, what can we do with this information? USC will be playing with urgency, but that can also mean more pressure as this season hits the home stretch. The Trojans seem to be trending up with two recent wins, but anything can happen in conference play.
This is not a must-win for USC by any means, but these are the kinds of games they need to win over the course of the season to reach the NCAA Tournament without being a First-Four matchup.
These teams actually match up well. They play similar styles in terms of the pace of the game, and both rely on strong defensive performances to win most games. The Trojans can force more turnovers, but the Cougars have a better scoring defense.
Washington State is likely out of NCAA Tournament contention at this point in the season. It would take something insane to see them back on the bubble. Still, they won’t go down without a fight. That’s why this game will be so good to bet on.
Keep an eye on how low the total is, and don’t be surprised if the under is the way to go.
NCAAB Pick: Under 132 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Florida Atlantic Owls vs. UAB Blazers
Thursday, February 2, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Bartow Arena
Florida Atlantic is ranked, but they are underdogs in this game according to the best sportsbooks. UAB hosts this one, and the Blazers are one of the best home teams in the conference.
The Owls could easily see the first loss in conference play in this game. If so, it will be because of UAB’s opportunistic defense. This team can score points in a hurry, but the defense is not always there. When it is, it’s because of forcing turnovers and playing quickly.
These factors are more likely to work out at home, so don’t be surprised if UAB wins a barn burner. Still, 20 straight wins is a tough streak to stop.
If this were a neutral site game, FAU would be clear favorites. That is the beauty of conference games. If you change a few circumstances, this could go from a blowout to a shocking upset.
NCAAB Pick: UAB -1 (110) at Bet365
Houston Cougars vs. Wichita State Shockers
Thursday, February 2, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at Charles Koch Arena
This is another ranked opponent playing a conference game on the road. Houston’s hopes of an undefeated conference season are over, but they can still dominate the American. They should easily win this game, but we will learn a lot about Houston’s preferred style of play.
This team loves to run up the score and win games with elite offensive outputs. However, Wichita State loves to slow things down. Will Houston play its brand of basketball, or will they prove they can win any kind of game?
I think Houston will simply run up the score and win in blowout fashion once again. They are good enough to dictate the pace of play, and this is going to be one of those games where they will want to prove that.
NCAAB Pick: Houston -12.5 (-102) at FanDuel