Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday, February 18th, 2021
Wed 17th February 2021

Houston v Wichita State 

The #6 Houston Cougars haven’t played since an 82-65 victory at South Florida on February 10, postponing their next two games against Memphis and East Carolina due to the COVID-19 medical protocols. 

On the other side, it’s the same story with the Wichita State Shockers who postponed their previous two contests against SMU and East Carolina. They are coming off a 61-60 victory at UCF on February 10. 

Houston and Wichita State already met each other this season, and the Cougars outlasted the Shockers 70-63 as 11.5-point home favorites on January 6. Wichita State is winless in six straight encounters with Houston, covering the spread twice in that span. 

The Cougars dominate their rivals on the defensive end. In that seven-point win over Wichita State, the Cougars hold the Shockers to 33.9% shooting from the field and 30.8% from beyond the arc. Houston leads the nation in both opponent field goal percentage and opponent 3-point percentage. 

The Shockers allow 99.2 points per 100 possessions (119th in the country) even though they rank 26th in opponent FG% and ninth in opponent 3P%. They score 109.6 points per 100 possessions (63rd) on just 40.3% shooting from the field (318th), so we’re looking for Houston’s D to make all the difference in this American Athletic Conference showdown. 

College Basketball Pick – Houston by 8. 

Iowa v Wisconsin 

The Big Ten showdown at Kohl Center in Madison will be a joy to watch, as both teams enter with so much on the table. The #11 Iowa Hawkeyes occupy the fourth spot of the conference standings, just half a game ahead of the #21 Wisconsin Badgers. 

Iowa takes on Wisconsin for the first time this season, and the Hawkeyes are only 3-6 SU and 2-6-1 ATS in the last nine matchups with the Badgers. In their previous duel at Kohl Center two years ago, the Badgers thrashed off the Hawkeyes 65-45 as 6-point favorites.

The Hawkeyes will lean heavily on their offense once more. Iowa tallies 127.7 points per 100 possessions (1st in the country) on 47.6% shooting from the field (37th) and 39.6% from downtown (11th). Luka Garza (24.5 PPG, 8.4 RPG) is a dominant force in the paint, while junior guard Joe Wieskamp (15.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG) leads the Hawkeyes’ backcourt. 

However, Iowa surrenders a whopping 98.9 points per 100 possessions (107th). The Hawkeyes’ defense has so many flaws, and the Badgers need to take full advantage of it. Wisconsin scores 112.7 points per 100 possessions (31st) and yields just 89.5 in a return (10th). 

College Basketball Pick – Wisconsin by 1. 

Ohio State v Penn State 

Penn State hasn’t played well recently, losing three of its last four games. The Nittany Lions are coming off a disappointing 62-61 home defeat to Nebraska, failing to satisfy the odds as massive 11-point favorites. 

The #4 Ohio State Buckeyes, on the other side, are rolling on a six-game winning streak following a 78-59 victory to Indiana. They are 9-1 straight up and 8-2 ATS over the last ten games overall, and the Buckeyes hold the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten Conference, half a game behind Illinois and Michigan. 

Considering their current form, the Buckeyes shouldn’t have any problems beating the Nittany Lions for the second time this season. Back on January 28, Ohio State outlasted Penn State 83-79 as a 7-point home fave. 

The Buckeyes are only 1-6 ATS in their last seven encounters with the Nittany Lions. If they put on another strong offensive performance, the Buckeyes will improve their record. Ohio State scores 122.7 points per 100 possessions (4th) while yielding 95.6 in a return (60th). 

The Nittany Lions haven’t impressed defensively either, allowing 94.9 points per 100 possessions (52nd) while scoring 112.5 in a return (32nd). They are 4-8 ATS in the last 12 outings on the home court. 

College Basketball Pick – Ohio State by 5. 

Saint Mary’s v Gonzaga 

The Saint Mary’s Gaels are winless in four straight games against Gonzaga, but they covered twice in that stretch. Back in January, the Gaels hosted the Zags and suffered a 73-59 defeat as 16-point underdogs. 

This time, the Gaels are 20.5-point road dogs and will have a mountain to climb at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane. The #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs have won seven of their eight home games this season by 23 or more points. 

Last Saturday, the Zags smashed San Francisco 100-61 as 16.5-point road favorites. They shot 61.0% from the field and 47.6% from deep, while sophomore forward Drew Timme posted a double-double of 28 points and ten rebounds. Gonzaga owns the second-best offensive rating (125.8) and the fifth-best defensive rating (88.3), and the Zags play at the seventh-fastest pace of 74.4 possessions per 40 minutes. 

The Gaels will try their best to slow down things. They average 62.6 possessions per 40 minutes and surrender 93.4 points per 100 possessions (34th). However, we highly doubt their chances to keep it close against the mighty Bulldogs. Gonzaga is 15-5 ATS in its last 20 matchups with Saint Mary’s. 

College Basketball Pick – Gonzaga by 21. 

Rutgers v Michigan 

The #3 Michigan Wolverines will rout the Rutgers Scarlet Knights if they replicate the second-half performance from their previous clash against Wisconsin. The Wolverines overcame a 12-point deficit from halftime and outlasted the Badgers 67-59, yielding just 20 points in the second half. 

It was Michigan’s first game in more than three weeks, as the Wolverines had to shut down their activities due to the COVID-19 issues. They are still the top-10 team in the country in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Also, Michigan ranks 12th in field goal percentage and third in opponent FG%. 

The Scarlet Knights have played well lately, winning five of their previous six games overall. They are coming off a 64-50 home victory over Northwestern, but the clash against the Wolverines will be a completely different story. Rutgers is winless in its 12 encounters with Michigan while going 2-7 ATS over the previous nine. 

If they want to make this Big Ten showdown interesting to watch, the Scarlet Knights have to play exceptionally well on both sides of the ball and still hope for the Wolverines’ bad night. Rutgers allows 90.6 points per 100 possessions (12th) but scores only 110.6 in a return (56th). 

College Basketball Pick – Michigan by 10. 

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