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Conference tournament play continues Thursday, and expert handicapper Stephen Rodriguez is bringing us his picks for an action-packed day in college hoops

BET OF THE DAY: (**2u) Texas Tech Red Raiders -5.5 @ -110**

Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Texas Longhorns, 12:30 PM:

  •  Texas Tech has won five of the last six meetings with Texas.
  •  Texas has lost each of the last five Thursday games played at the Sprint Center. (Stats courtesy of Statschecker).

The reason we’re backing Texas Tech

Texas (19-12) ended the season strong, winning five of the last six games.

But they saw their five-game winning streak snapped in ugly fashion 81-59 at home to Oklahoma State in the season finale.

Texas Tech (18-13) had their sights set on yet another NCAA Tournament appearance after reaching the NCAA Championship last season.

However, the Red Raiders have fallen hard from grace, ending the season on a four-game losing streak and capped it off with a 66-62 defeat at home to #1 Kansas.

Defense has been the identity for both these teams this season - Texas has allowed 63.3 ppg and Texas Tech 63.5 ppg.

Yet, offensively the Red Raiders hold a significant advantage, averaging 71.9 ppg compared to the Longhorns’ 64.2 ppg.

These teams have met twice this season and split both meetings with the road team winning each game.

With these teams being in-state rivals, my expectation is another closely contested game decided late in the second half.

I’m giving the edge to Texas Tech and their offense to cover the spread and advance.

(1u) Rutgers Scarlet Knights +2.5 @ -110

Michigan Wolverines @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 12:00 PM:

  •  Rutgers had the second best ATS record in the Big Ten this season (18-10-2).

The reason we’re backing Rutgers

Rutgers (20-11) ended the season on a two-game winning streak and with a much-needed road win after edging out Purdue 71-68 in overtime.

Although the Scarlets Knight had road troubles, they were one of the best teams in the nation at home with an 18-1 record.

Michigan (19-12) finished the regular season trending downward, losing three of the last four games, including an 83-70 road loss to #9 Maryland in the season finale.

Rutgers’ only home loss this season came at the hands of the Wolverines 60-52 nearly a month ago.

The Scarlet Knights lead by three point at half but couldn’t hold on for an undefeated home record in the regular season.

Although Rutgers has lost all eight of their meetings with Michigan over the last decade, they’ve been the second-best team ATS in the conference and have played the Wolverines tough.

Taking the Scarlet Knights to win outright might be a gamble but taking them with the points here is a good bet.

(1u) Seton Hall Pirates -3.5 @ -110

Marquette Golden Eagles @ #16 Seton Hall Pirates, 7:00 PM:

  • Seton Hall has won each of the last four meetings with Marquette.
  •  The Pirates had the second best ATS record in the Big East this season (18-12).

The reason we’re backing Seton Hall

Neither the Pirates nor Golden Eagles finished the season how they would’ve liked.

#16 Seton Hall (21-9) ended on a two-game losing run and suffered an ugly 77-60 loss on the road to #11 Creighton.

The Pirates ranked as high as #8 in the nation a week ago, but with back-to-back losses dropped eight spots despite having three wins against Top-10 opponents.

Marquette (18-12) lost a third game in a row after narrowly losing on the road to St. John’s 88-86 in the regular-season finale.

The Golden Eagles finished the regular season losing six of the last seven games.

Despite the lack of wins, Marquette has been led by the nation’s leading scorer this season, senior Markus Howard, who averaged a nation-best 27.8 ppg with a 42.2 percent field goal percentage.

Seton Hall handled Marquette in both the teams’ two meetings this season large-in-part due to defense - the Pirates combined to force 23 turnovers.

Aside from Howard, Marquette has struggled to find answers and my belief is that Seton Hall will be far too deep of a team for the Golden Eagles to keep up.


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