Division I’s longest active winning streak is put to the test as the Eastern Washington Eagles bring their 17-game winning streak into a road battle with the Weber State Wildcats. We focus on this matchup and two others from the Big Ten in our college basketball best bets column for Thursday.
Here are our best bets for Thursday’s college basketball action.
Also, take a look at our other best bets for Thursday:
Best College Basketball Bets for Thursday
(Odds courtesy of DraftKings)
Penn State vs. Ohio State O/U
The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes have combined to lose 10 of 12 games, primarily because they are two of the weaker teams defensively in the Big Ten. Penn State and Ohio State rank 11th and 13th among Big Ten teams in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency (per KenPom). And with each team reeling, we expect little attention to detail on the defensive end.
Penn State’s NCAA tournament hopes are on life support, though it does enter this game on a two-game winning streak on the backs of an offense that has shot 22-for-54 (40.7%) from 3-point range. However, the Nittany Lions lost four straight games before that and still connected on better than 40% of its 3-point attempts in that span.
Penn State head coach Micah Shrewsberry attempts to hide his team’s defensive efficiencies with low-possession games (Penn State ranks 297th nationally in adjusted tempo). Still, the Nittany Lions do not sacrifice anything on the offensive end with that style, ranking tops in Big Ten play in effective field goal percentage (56.3%). Thus, we are not worried about Penn State’s ability to score, and Ohio State still ranks 28th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency despite losing 13 of its last 14 games.
Penn State entered the week as the most profitable Over team in the Big Ten (16-11 O/U record), and the Over has cashed in five of Ohio State’s eight games after having 4+ days off.
Michigan vs. Rutgers Spread
It may seem blasphemous to fade Rutgers at home given how much of a homecourt advantage Jersey Mike’s Arena (formerly the RAC) is. Rutgers entered this season with a 32-4 home record since 2019, with the .889 winning percentage being the fifth-best among Power 5 teams. However, Rutgers is 13-3 at home this year with an inexcusable loss as 14-point favorites against Nebraska in its last home game. In addition, the Wolverines are brimming with confidence, having won four of its previous five games in Piscataway.
Given how banged up the Scarlet Knights are, this line feels too big. Rutgers will be without forward Mawot Mag (out for the year with a torn ACL) and guard Caleb McConnell could be limited after missing the last game with back spasms. Those two are Rutgers’ best on-ball defenders, and the Scarlet Knights will have difficulty disrupting a Michigan offense that ranks eighth nationally in lowest turnover percentage (14.4%). In addition, Rutgers has little frontcourt depth behind center Cliff Omoruyi, making defending Wolverines center Hunter Dickinson much more difficult. Dickinson averaged 20.5 points per game in two games against Rutgers last year.
Rutgers has covered 12 of 16 home games and is 13-5-1 as a favorite. However, consider this a contrarian play on the Wolverines, with the Scarlet Knights’ injuries being the primary concern.
Eastern Washington vs. Weber State Spread
The fishiest line of the day is in this Big Sky battle, as Eastern Washington curiously is not being given more respect despite winning 17 consecutive games. Nevertheless, we are biting on this low line, as four of the Eagles’ victories during the winning streak came by four or fewer points, one of which was by four points at home over Weber State on January 28.
The Wildcats covered as +6.5-point underdogs despite getting out-rebounded 36-22. However, we expect significant positive regression on the backboards for Weber State, as it allows the fewest percentage of offensive rebounds (21.0%) in Big Sky play. And Outside of Eastern Washington forward Angelo Allegri, the rest of the Eagles shot 5-for-23 (21.7%) from 3-point range in the first meeting.
Weber State is 5-2 ATS as a home underdog since 2019, which has us fading an Eastern Washington team despite its 11-3-1 ATS record in conference games this year.
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