Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday, January 7th, 2021
Wed 6th January 2021

Iowa vs Maryland 

The college basketball season goes on with plenty of interesting games on Thursday night including the Big Ten showdown between the #5 Iowa Hawkeyes and Maryland Terrapins at XFINITY Center in College Park, Maryland. 

The hosts have lost three of their last four games overall, dropping to No. 36 in the NCAA NET Rankings. They are 6-5 on the season and 1-4 in the conference play, as the Terrapins lost to #16 Michigan 84-73 and at Indiana 63-55 in their previous two outings. 

On the other side, the Hawkeyes are No. 8 in the latest NCAA NET Rankings. They’ve won two straight contests to improve to 9-2 on the season and 3-1 in the Big Ten play, outlasting #19 Northwestern 87-72 and #14 Rutgers 77-75.  

Senior center Luka Garza continues to dominate the Hawkeyes’ rivals, averaging 27.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He’s scored at least 23 points in eight of his 11 appearances this season while posting five double-doubles. 

The Terrapins don’t have a big body to put on Garza, so we expect the Hawkeyes to take full advantage and beat Maryland on the road. Both teams heavily on their offenses, ranking among the top-15 teams in the country, but they also have some serious problems on the defensive end. 

Maryland scores 113.1 points per 100 possessions (13th) while surrendering 96.9 to their opponents (85th). Iowa tallies 122.6 points per 100 possessions (1st) and allows 97.4 in a return (97th).  

College basketball pick – Iowa by 3. 

Indiana vs Wisconsin 

The #8 Wisconsin Badgers are 9-2 on the season and 3-1 in the Big Ten Conference play after winning six of their last seven games overall. That one loss came against Maryland at home, 70-64, while the Indiana Hoosiers are coming off a 63-55 home victory over the Terrapins. Indiana is now 7-4 overall and 2-2 in the conference play. 

We are looking for the Badgers to close this circle and beat the Hoosiers at Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin, on Thursday night while covering a 5-point spread. Indiana leans on a stout D, but so Wisconsin does, while the Badgers are way more efficient offensively than the Hoosiers. 

Wisconsin ranks 6th in the country in defensive efficiency (88.9) and eighth in offensive efficiency (114.6), while Indiana has the 10th-best defensive rating (89.7) and the 57th-best offensive rating (109.1). 

Both Indiana and Wisconsin love to play at a slow pace, averaging below 67.5 possessions per 40 minutes each, so we think the Badgers will know how to deal with the Hoosiers who rank 24th in blocks per game (5.0). 

The Badgers are 17-3 straight up and 14-6 ATS in their last 20 encounters with the Hoosiers. Also, Wisconsin is undefeated in 17 straight home contests against Indiana, covering the spread 11 times in that stretch. 

College basketball pick – Wisconsin by 6. 

BYU vs Gonzaga 

Many say this is the best Zags’ team in school history. Gonzaga sits atop of all the latest NCAA NET Rankings, KenPom rankings, and AP Top 25 Poll, going undefeated through its first ten games of the 2020-21 college basketball season. 

The Bulldogs met some lousy teams this term, but they also outlasted four ranked teams including #3 Iowa 99-88 and #16 Virginia 98-75. Gonzaga is coming off an 85-62 home win over San Francisco, covering a 19-point spread.   

The Zags play at the seventh-fastest pace in the country, recording a whopping 76.3 possessions per 40 minutes. They score 122.2 points per 100 possessions (2nd) on 55.4% shooting from the field (1st) while yielding 90.6 points in a return (15th) on 42.6% shooting (180th). 

Back on February 22, 2020, the Zags suffered a surprising 91-78 defeat at BYU as 4-point road favorites. The Cougars are 9-2 this season, starting their West Coast Conference campaign with Thursday’s clash against the Zags, hoping for another upset. However, the Cougars are only 1-5 SU and ATS in their last six meetings with Gonzaga. 

BYU is riding a four-game win streak, outlasting #18 San Diego State 72-62 in the process. It was the Cougars’ lone encounter with the top-25 team this season. They are 66th in the KenPom rankings and 51st in the NCAA NET Rankings, scoring 107.8 points per 100 possessions (67th) and allowing 95.9 in a return (68th). 

College basketball pick – Gonzaga by 18. 

Illinois vs Northwestern 

The #12 Illinois Fighting Illini (8-3; 4-1 in the Big Ten) are rolling on a three-game win streak, beating Indiana 69-60 and Purdue 66-58 in their previous two showings. On the other side, the Northwestern Wildcats (6-3; 3-2 in the Big Ten) have lost two straight contests at Iowa 87-72 and Michigan 85-66, dropping out of the AP Top 25 Poll. 

Illinois has owned Northwestern over the last few years, and we are looking for more of the same on Thursday night. The Fighting Illini are 8-3 straight up and 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 meetings with the Wildcats, while Illinois went 6-0 ATS in its previous six tilts at Welsh-Ryan Arena. 

However, keep in mind that five of the last six encounters between Illinois and Northwestern were decided by five or fewer points. On paper, the Fighting Illini are a much better team than the Wildcats, but covering on the road is always a tall task. 

College basketball pick – Illinois by 5. 

Oregon vs Colorado 

The Pac-12 showdown between the #17 Oregon Ducks and Colorado Buffaloes will close down Thursday’s slate, and the Buffaloes opened as slight 2.5-point favorites which seems quite surprising. 

The Ducks have won six of their last ten matchups with Colorado and are 3-2 SU and ATS over the previous five. On the other hand, Oregon is 0-7 SU and 1-6 ATS in its seven visits to CU Events Center in Boulder, Colorado. 

Oregon is 8-1 on the season and 3-0 in the conference play following a 73-56 home win over Stanford. The Ducks have won eight straight tilts since the opener but haven’t met a top-25 team yet. 

On the other side, the Buffaloes are 7-3 overall and 1-2 in the Pac-12 play. They lost at #12 Tennessee 56-47 back in December in their lone encounter with the top-25 school, and the Buffaloes are 1-2 straight up in their last three outings, outlasting USC 72-62 and losing at Arizona 88-74 and UCLA 65-62. 

Both Colorado and Oregon rank among the top 30 teams in the country in offensive and defensive efficiency, so this should be a very tight clash. We are backing the Buffaloes to tally another home win over Oregon and put an end to the Ducks’ winning streak. 

Colorado is 10-2 SU and 7-5 ATS in its last 12 home games, while Oregon is 3-3 SU and 1-5 ATS in its previous six road contests. 

College basketball pick – Colorado by 3.

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