Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday, December 31st, 2020

Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday, December 31st, 2020
Wed 30th December 2020

Minnesota vs Wisconsin 

The headliner of the New Year’s Eve is undoubtedly the Big Ten showdown between the #21 Minnesota Golden Gophers and #6 Wisconsin Badgers. These two schools will meet each other for the third time in 2020 after splitting their previous two contests in February and March. 

The Golden Gophers are 9-1 on the season, playing in a tremendous form. Over their previous three outings, the Gophers outlasted Saint Louis 90-82, #4 Iowa 102-95 in overtime, and #17 Michigan State 81-56.   

On the other side, the Badgers are 7-2 following a 70-64 defeat to Maryland last time out. They snapped a five-game win streak and suffered their first home loss of the season. 

Both Minnesota and Wisconsin are 2-1 in the conference play, and we expect to see a hard-fought battle at Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers barely outlasted Minnesota 71-69 in their previous duel in Wisconsin, but the Golden Gophers thrashed off the Badgers 70-52 in their last encounter in Minnesota. 

The Gophers have won a couple of ranked games and will play their next five contests against the ranked teams which is a ridiculous schedule. We don’t think they’ll pull off another upset, but the Golden Gophers should have enough firepower to keep it close and cover a 7.5-point spread. 

The Badgers are 5-1 straight up but only 2-3-1 ATS in their last six home games when listed as favorites of eight or fewer points. They have the ninth-best offensive rating (113.5) and the eighth-best defensive rating in the country (88.5). However, the Badgers love to play at a slow pace, so seven and a half points should be enough. 

College basketball pick – Minnesota by 7. 

Michigan vs Maryland 

Here’s another marquee Big Ten clash, as the #16 Wolverines head to XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland, to face off against the Terrapins. The Wolverines are still perfect, going 7-0 on the season and 2-0 in the conference play, while the 6-3 Terrapins have dropped two of their three Big Ten contests. 

It’s hard to separate these two teams, and the Wolverines opened as slight 1.5-point road favorites. Both teams are doing a great job offensively, as Michigan ranks 10th in offensive efficiency, while Maryland is right behind, but the Wolverines have a better defense on paper. 

Also, visitors have a height advantage. Michigan is 50th in the country in rebounds per game (41.1), allowing just 31.1 in a return (53rd). Maryland allows 32.0 rebounds per contest (68th) but posts only 36.0 in a return (186th).  

On the other hand, the Terrapins are pretty unpredictable thanks to their prolific offense. Over the last few weeks, they’ve lost to #19 Rutgers at home, 74-60, but they’ve also defeated #6 Wisconsin 70-64 on the road. 

If you like betting on the totals, we suggest you take the over that has hit in three of the last four encounters between Michigan and Maryland. If they continue with a strong defensive performance, the Wolverines should win this game. Of course, a lot will depend on the Terrapins’ shooting. 

College basketball pick – Michigan by 2. 

California vs Oregon 

We were shocked to see the 6-1 Oregon Ducks as 14.5-point favorites for Thursday’s game against the Golden Bears. But hey, they are the No. 21 in the AP Top 25 Poll, riding a six-game win streak. 

However, during that stretch, the Ducks haven’t beaten any ranked team. They barely outlasted the hapless Washington Huskies 74-71, but we have to give them a credit for a 74-64 victory over San Francisco. The Ducks are 10-1 straight up and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games overall which is an impressive record. 

On the other side, the Golden Bears are 5-4 on the season and 0-2 in the Pac-12 play. Still, they’ve won three straight games including a 72-70 victory to San Francisco as 3.5-point home dogs. 

The Golden Bears covered in three of their last five matchups with the Ducks. They are 13-6-1 ATS in the previous 20 meetings with Oregon, but the Golden Bears are winless in nine straight outings as double-digit dogs, covering just three times in the process. 

The visitors will have a chance to make this game interesting to watch if they manage to slow down the tempo and control the glass. The Golden Bears average only 66.3 possessions per 40 minutes, but their offensive rating is 158th in the country (101.3). 

The Ducks’ offensive rating is the 18th-best in the nation (111.7). They shouldn’t have problems to tally their seventh straight win, but covering a 14.5-point spread could be a problem. 

College basketball pick – California by 14.

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