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Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday

Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday
Tyler Burton #3 of the Richmond Spiders shoots the ball against the Morehead State Eagles. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images via AFP.

The college basketball schedule continues through Thanksgiving, and we make our top picks for the holiday Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving all! While we all enjoy the relaxing effects of tryptophan later today, there is still a nice group of 20 college hoops games to enjoy. 

Thursday’s picks feature one team playing a semi-home game in South Dakota, an intrastate rivalry, and an ACC team that somehow remains underrated.  

Here are my top picks for Thursday’s college basketball schedule (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Top College Basketball Picks

Louisville vs. Mississippi State -1.5 (-110) ★★★★★
Maryland vs. Richmond +1 (-110) ★★★★
Alabama vs. Iona +12 (-105) ★★★★★

SEE ALSO: All College Basketball Odds

College Basketball Picks and Predictions

Mississippi State -1.5 (-110)

Louisville will still play this game without head coach Chris Mack, who is still serving a six-game suspension to start the season after the fallout from the Dino Gaudio conflict. The Cardinals are led by dynamic guard Noah Locke (16.0 points per game, 37.5 3-point percentage), but he will face his toughest matchup against Mississippi State sophomore guard Shakeel Moore who ranks among the nation’s leaders with 3.0 steals per game. The Bulldogs have a great inside-outside duo in guard Iverson Molinar (15.8 PPG, 5.3 assists per game) and UNC-transfer forward Garrison Brooks (11.5 PPG, 7.3 rebounds per game) 

Louisville ranks 58th in 2-point percentage (54.7%) while holding opponents to just 41.8% inside the arc on defense. However, the Cardinals are facing a Bulldogs team that is a better mirror image of their roster. Head coach Ben Howland’s defense allows a minuscule 37.6% from inside the arc, for the fourth-best rate in the country. Mississippi State also scores inside at a comparable 54.8% rate, while shooting a superior 45.7% from beyond the arc as a team. 

This will be the first game outside of their respective home arenas, and I’m taking Howland’s pressure defense and better offensive metrics over a Mack-less Cardinals team that won’t be able to dominate on the interior as normal. Back Mississippi State to start our college basketball picks.

Richmond +1 (-110)

Richmond returned the majority of its scoring from last year, with the veteran players repeatedly citing "unfinished business." Due to COVID-19, the 2019 NCAA Tournament was canceled and last year's Richmond team stumbled to a 13-7 regular-season record with a second-round exit in the NIT Tournament. This Spiders group is determined to break Richmond’s 11-year NCAA Tournament drought. 

Led by dynamic point guard Jacob Gilyard (11.0 PPG, 5.8 APG, 3.6 SPG), the Spiders bring one of the country's most versatile and explosive offenses. Richmond has allowed junior F Tyler Burton (19.8 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 58.6 3P%) to ascend to the role as the leading scorer. Burton scored 20 points in each of the last three games, including 30 in the close loss at Drake.

Maryland has struggled to find offensive efficiency, shooting just 25.4% from beyond the arc to rank 328th in the nation. The Terps are also shooting below 70% from the free-throw line, a critical concern in a projected close game.

Maryland ranks just 278th in defensive turnover percentage and is also allowing opponents to shoot a robust 37% from 3. In their home loss to George Mason, the Terps allowed the Patriots to shoot 50% (12-for-24) from deep, something the hot-shooting Spiders could definitely replicate.

I’m backing a veteran Richmond team to get past an overrated Maryland group in the Bahamas.

Iona +12 (-105)

Head coach Rick Pitino’s Iona Gaels are 5-0 and will have revenge on their mind against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the HP Field House in Kissimmee, Fla. 

The Crimson Tide defeated the Gaels, 68-55, in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Despite Alabama’s lofty No. 2 seed, that game was tied with just six minutes left before Alabama went on a run to finish off Iona. 

Pitino’s team is much stronger and is one of the best teams in the country at guarding the 3-point arc. Iona allows opponents to shoot just 24.8% from 3-point range to rank 21st in the country. The Crimson Tide have relied on their 3-ball prowess for over 36% of their points, 85th most among all teams. 

The difference for Alabama this season is it's shooting only 31.6% from deep, while relying on volume for production. Playing in their first game away from home, I see head coach Nate Oats’ team struggling even more. 

Iona brings a strong interior game with F Nelly Junior Joseph (16.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG) and a bevy of guards to frustrate Alabama’s inexperienced perimeter players. I’m taking the Gaels with the large number in a revenge spot against the overvalued Alabama.

SEE ALSO: All picks and odds. Be sure to check out's community forums and betting tools.

College basketball picks made on 11/25/2021 at 10:30 a.m. ET.