Thursday’s college basketball slate has a little bit of everything, from low-major contests to mid-major exhibitions to power conference battles.
Here’s a sample of what the strong schedule has to offer with our four best bets to target.
Loyola Chicago (-1.5, 130) vs. san francisco
Jan. 6.2 p.m. ET
An impromptu matchup between two of the nation’s best mid-major squads, Loyola Chicago squaring off against San Francisco is sure to be a fun one. While the Ramblers built a reputation of being a strong defensive team under Porter Moser, it’s their offense that now shines the brightest, as Drew Valentine’s squad leads the country in effective field-goal percentage.
The Dons’ defense isn’t too shabby either, and San Francisco’s offense, led by dynamic guard Jamaree Bouyea, will be able to create drive-and-kick opportunities against Loyola’s perimeter defenders. On the other side, Loyola just doesn’t possess the same blow-by ability on its perimeter, and San Francisco’s hounding 3-point defense – ranked No. 14 nationally – should take control and hang on for the victory.
Pick: San Francisco -2 or better
Ohio State @ Indiana (-2, 138)
Jan. 6.7 p.m.
Indiana has covered its last seven home games and will put its streak on the line against conference foe Ohio State. The Buckeyes needed a monster 35-point performance from freshman Malaki Branham just to survive Nebraska earlier in the week and shot below 50% from inside the arc. Against the Hoosiers’ No. 1 ranked 2-point defense, expect that number to stay low.
On offense, Indiana’s biggest weakness is its guards, who often struggle to shoot and cough up the ball too often. However, the Buckeyes’ lack of defensive turnovers and propensity to allow outside jumpers will do wonders for the Hoosier’s backcourt. With Ohio State post presence Kyle Young questionable to play, expect a big performance by Indiana star Trayce Jackson-Davis en route to a home win.
Pick: Indiana -3 or better
Middle Tennessee @ Rice (-3.5, 151)
Jan. 6.8 p.m.
Rice has shot 40% or better from beyond the arc in all but one home game this season and should get plenty of open opportunities against Middle Tennessee’s defense, which ranks No. 191 in 3-point percentage. On the other side, the Blue Raiders will run a speedy pick-and-roll attack against the Owls, who rank in the 11th percentile in that facet defensively.
These squads have completely different methods of scoring, but both do so effectively, and neither has a formula to stop the other. Add in the fact that these schools have combined to go 14-8 on overs this season, and the high total becomes the right side in this matchup.
Pick: Over 153 or better
Oral Roberts (-5.5, 157) @ St. Thomas
Jan. 6.8 p.m.
Against all odds, Division III import St. Thomas (Minnesota) has managed to go 10-3 against the spread this season. Now with heightened expectations, the Tommies only catch two possessions against 2021 Cinderella darling Oral Roberts. While the Golden Eagles have scorched the nets at home, they’ve had their fair share of struggles on the road.
These two schools rank first and second nationally in percentage of shots made from beyond the arc, so the majority of points in this game will be from deep. With 3-pointers known as the great equalizer for underdogs, and the home team generally likely to shoot a better percentage, expect St. Thomas to continue its surprising run of elite offensive basketball in the program’s most important game of its DI era.
Pick: St. Thomas +5 or better