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Thursday's Top Expert College Basketball Picks: Indiana-Iowa Meet for Tight Fight

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Thursday's Top Expert College Basketball Picks: Indiana-Iowa Meet for Tight Fight
Coryon Mason of the Abilene Christian Wildcats handles the ball. Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images via AFP.

Get ready for another night of exciting college hoops action. Here are our top expert college basketball picks for Thursday.

Our hoops experts select their top against the spread and Over/Under picks for the Jan. 13 college basketball games (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and BetMGM; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5 star scale).

Thursday’s Expert College Basketball Picks

SEE ALSO: Top College Basketball Parlay Picks for Thursday

Top College Basketball Expert Spread Picks

Seton Hall -5.5 (-110)

Seton Hall heads to Chicago to face a DePaul team playing its fourth game in the last eight days. That scheduling quirk makes things that much more demanding when factoring in the Blue Demons have alternated home and away games in that span, so their tired legs will be a little wearier from all that travel. Therefore, the Pirates have a significant scheduling advantage in this game.

From an X's and O's standpoint, DePaul has gotten outstanding production from Javon Freeman-Liberty of late. He scored at least 22 points in six of his last eight games. However, the Blue Demons have lacked a consistent second scoring option, and Freeman-Liberty can't beat the talented Pirates by himself.

Seton Hall has had four days off after a thrilling overtime win over UConn, and it won't take a road trip to DePaul lightly after the Blue Demons gave Villanova fits for most of the game in their last home affair.

Wisconsin -3.5 (-115)

I'm buying all things Wisconsin. Head coach Greg Gard has successfully eradicated the negative energy from last year's team and has one of the most cohesive units in college basketball. Despite ranking just 293rd in minutes continuity, according to KenPom, the Badgers are playing like a veteran team with its sights set on a Big Ten regular-season title.

Wisconsin is 4-1 in conference play, with its only loss being a 73-55 pummeling by Ohio State on Dec. 11. I expect a much better effort from the Badgers at home, where they've already earned impressive wins over Marquette, Indiana, and Iowa.

The Buckeyes generate 36.7% of their points from beyond the arc, 60th-most in the country. If those shots don't fall, they really struggle offensively. Their recent 67-51 road loss to Indiana is a prime example. I'm backing the Badgers at home to get revenge against an offensively challenged Ohio State team that's overvalued by the market.

Tarleton State +9.5 (-110)

After numerous close calls early in the season, Tarleton State finally picked up a win over a Division I opponent with a 13-point victory over South Alabama. That game was played on Dec. 17, and the Texans haven't looked back since. Tarleton enters Thursday's matchup against New Mexico State having won five of six and three of its first four against WAC opponents.

The backcourt trio of Tahj Small, Montre Gipson, and Freddy Hicks are all averaging double-figure points this season. All three finished with 18 points or more in Tarleton State's most recent win over Stephen F. Austin. Speaking of recent wins, the Texans haven't been simply taking down the armpits of the WAC: they topped both Sam Houston State and SFA at home.

New Mexico State's days of being the perennial WAC powerhouse are gone, as the conference continues to expand. Though the Aggies enter Thursday's game 2-0 in league play, and 13-2 overall, their previous conference games came over a pair of middling programs in UTRGV and Chicago State.

The betting market was quick to hammer Tarleton at the opening spread of NMSU -11.5. The Texans are fully capable of staying within single digits and possibly even springing an outright upset on the road.

SEE ALSO: Oakland vs. Cleveland State Picks

Top College Basketball Expert O/U Picks

Indiana-Iowa Under 151 (-110)

This matchup is a battle of strength vs. strength, as Iowa's high-powered offense meets Indiana's stingy defense. The Hawkeyes rank fourth in the country in scoring at 86.7 points per game, while Indiana allows just 60.8 points per game.

Iowa has played two teams that rank inside KenPom's top 30 in adjusted defensive efficiency (Iowa Stat and, Wisconsin), and they averaged just 65.5 points in those two contests. Indiana ranks 11th in that metric, and only one team has cracked 80 points against it, and that was a double-overtime game against Syracuse.

Additionally, this game features a fascinating individual battle between Iowa's Keegan Murray and Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis, who each rank in the top five in the conference in scoring. However, it's possible either one or both of them run into early foul trouble while guarding each other, which would limit the ceiling offensively for each club.

The Citadel-UNC Greensboro Under 132 (-110)

The Citadel has the reputation of being one of the fastest-paced teams in the country. It's ranked inside the top 10 nationally in adjusted tempo in each of the last six seasons, per KenPom. In four of those seasons, they were inside the top four.

Most won't realize the Bulldogs have slowed down considerably and rank just 128th in tempo this season, per KenPom. They host a UNC Greensboro team that's one of the slowest in the nation. The Spartans rank 351st in adjusted tempo and have one of the strongest defenses in the Southern Conference. UNCG is also an elite rebounding team, ranking in the top 20 in defensive-rebounding efficiency.

Given the high-scoring matchups between these two teams the past few years, this is a leap of faith. However, I like the under between a good UNCG team and a Citadel offense that has slowed way down.

Abilene Christian-Grand Canyon Under 132.5 (-110)

Arguably the most high-profile game in the WAC on Thursday is the showdown between Abilene Christian and Grand Canyon. Earlier this season, Abilene Christian was among the top 10 teams in all of college basketball in terms of average possessions per game. The Wildcats have since slipped to 47th, and none of their three most recent games against WAC opponents exceeded 128 total points scored. Even a road game against a similarly fast-paced Dixie State outfit produced just 114 total points.

Of course, ACU is still fully capable of winning low-scoring games thanks to its stingy defense. Entering Thursday, the Wildcats ranked second in the WAC in scoring defense, allowing just 61.5 points per game. The team ranked ahead of them is none other than Grand Canyon. The Antelopes enter Thursday surrendering only 59.1 points per game. GCU also averages only 68.7 possessions per game - that mark ranks as the 287th-slowest pace in Division-I basketball.

This matchup pits an ACU team that has been playing slower since the start of conference play against a GCU outfit that has been synonymous with tough defense and a slow tempo all season long. (Note that the opening total of 131 has since risen to 132.5. While a play on the Under contradicts the line move, it still stands out as the preferred side.)

The likelihood of the Wildcats controlling the pace of Thursday's game on the road is low. Look for a defensive-minded affair between the top two defensive teams in the WAC.

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