College Basketball Picks: 2 Best Bets for Thursday's Games

College basketball picks and predictions for Thursday's games from across the country. Joey Ruiz gives us his two favorite bets for tonight here in his debut article with OddscheckerUS.
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College Basketball Picks: 2 Best Bets for Thursday's Games

*Editor's note*: We are thrilled to welcome Joey Ruiz to the OddsChecker family and our growing team of content creators! Joey is a master at discovering winning plays, especially in College Basketball, and he backs it up with excellent analysis. Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @Joes_Picks and sign on to OddsChecker so you don't miss a single pick!

We have a loaded slate tonight in college basketball and there are multiple games that have caught my eye but for tonight I will be focusing on two matchups in particular. The first is a high-profile matchup with UCLA traveling to face Arizona and the second is a not so high-profile matchup between Oakland and Northern Kentucky in the Horizon League.

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Arizona vs. UCLA Prediction - 8:00 pm ET

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The first matchup between Arizona and UCLA was one of the most anticipated games of the season and it did not go very well for Arizona, who were 2.5/3 point favorites in that game. UCLA basically dominated from the opening tip and never looked back. UCLA won the game 75-59 and held Arizona to their lowest point total of the season by far. It was essentially UCLA's best showing of the season and Arizona's worst which led to a lopsided victory for the Bruins, but I think we will see a different Arizona team show up tonight.

Now Arizona is back in their comfort zone at home where they have been one of the best home teams in the country. On the season, Arizona is 11-0 at home and has won every home game by at least double digits. They have also gone 7-4 ATS in those games as well so not only have they been blowing teams out, but they have also done well from a betting perspective at covering the spread. Arizona is a juggernaut of an offensive team who had their worst offensive game of the season in their first matchup with UCLA and I expect that to change tonight.

Arizona is ranked 13th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, 33rd in effective field goal percentage, and 8th in 2-point percentage offense this season. Their defense has also been spectacular as they are ranked number 1 in the country in 2-point percentage defense, 4th in effective field goal percentage defense, and 7th overall in adjusted defensive efficiency. Arizona should be highly motivated with revenge on their mind after their horrendous performance against UCLA in the first matchup. I think Arizona will start fast and get off to a hot start, so my pick for this game is going to be Arizona 1H -3.5 (-103) (LowVig).

Arizona vs. UCLA Pick

Arizona Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins Line Movement

Northern Kentucky vs. Oakland Prediction - 7:00 pm ET

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This is a fairly low-profile matchup, but this game may have large implications in the Horizon League race. Oakland is currently at the top of the standings with a 10-1 conference record and for the most part, has looked like the best team in the conference by far. They go on the road to face a Northern Kentucky squad who has had an up and down season but is coming on strong lately as they have won 5 games in a row and 6 of their last 8. In their last 5 games though, Northern Kentucky has been feasting on the bottom dwellers of their conference as 3 of those wins came against Illinois Chicago (3-7), IPFW (6-6), and IUPUI (0-10).

Northern Kentucky has been trending up and I think that is why we are getting a discount price on the line here as I think this should be closer to -6.5/7. The impressive thing about Oakland this year is that really only have one bad loss on their schedule (At Milwaukee by 10). Their other 4 losses have come on the road to West Virginia where they covered easily and nearly won, on the road at Alabama, a neutral site game to #11 Michigan St, and a tight one-point loss on the road to Bowling Green. Oakland is ranked 9th in the country in non-conference strength of schedule and I think that really prepared them to excel in conference play. Northern Kentucky is ranked 259th in toughest non-conference schedule and 345th overall in strength of schedule.

I think Oakland is the more talented team that should be able to go on the road here and come away with a win versus an offensively challenged Northern Kentucky team. Northern Kentucky for the most part has started slow in the first half and come on strong in the second halves of games, so I am rolling with Oakland 1H ML (-135) (Barstool) in this contest.

Northern Kentucky vs. Oakland Pick

Northern Kentucky Norse vs. Oakland Golden Grizzlies Line Movement

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Joey has spent the last 6+ years betting on sports with a focus on basketball and baseball. Basketball is his main focus, and not many people know more about mid-major basketball than him. Whether you need advice on a Saturday night primetime game or a Tuesday night back-alley SWAC/MEAC game, Joey is your man.

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