Top-ranked & unbeaten Kentucky is back in action tonight, and they seem safe from an upset as an 18-point favorite on NCAAB odds at Missouri. However, here are three dogs that could win outright.
Michigan State vs. Rutgers (+8.5)
This Big Ten game was originally to be played in New Jersey on Tuesday night but was pushed back to Thursday because of the snowstorm that hit that area. This is the most inconsistent Michigan State team in many years under Coach Tom Izzo as the Spartans (13-7, 4-3) are squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. They have lost two of their past four games, and even those two wins were very close at home against pretty bad Northwestern and Penn State clubs. This is the first time MSU has ever visited Rutgers. In addition, Sparty might be caught looking ahead to a Super Bowl Sunday showdown with arch-rival Michigan. Rutgers (10-11, 2-6) does enter on a four-game losing streak but at least it didn't have all the travel issues that Michigan State did. In addition, the Scarlet Knights have been very competitive at home in conference play, upsetting No. 4 Wisconsin, beating Penn State and losing a very close game to Michigan. Rutgers is one of the worst offensive teams in the nation so it's going to need big nights from both leading scorers, Myles Mack (14.4 ppg) and Kadeem Jack (13.1 ppg), to pull the upset.
Key NCAAB Betting Trends: MSU is 0-4 ATS in its past four Big Ten games. It is 2-7 ATS in its past nine road games.
Connecticut (+4.5) vs. Cincinnati
Expect this to be one of the lowest-scoring games Thursday, maybe the lowest. Both teams struggle to score -- Cincinnati doesn't even have a player averaging double-digit points -- but both are great on defense, specifically UC, which is ranked fifth nationally in scoring defense at 54.5 points per game. If Cincinnati (14-5, 5-2 AAC) gets to 60 points, it usually wins. Opponents haven't scored 70 or more points in the last 23 games dating back to last season. In their past seven wins, the Bearcats have allowed the opponent to score 60 just once. In Cincinnati's last three losses, it has been held to 56 points or less and the opponent topped 60 in all three. That includes a Connecticut 62-56 home win over Cincinnati on Jan. 10. Huskies guard Ryan Boatright, who will be the best player on the floor Thursday, had 18 points and eight assists in that one. Cincinnati shot 39.6 percent from the field and only Troy Caupain (14 points) scored more than eight points. This game should be close as the past seven meetings have been decided by seven points or less. UC is favored because this game is at home, where it is 11-1 this season and 29-2 since the start of last season. UConn (11-7, 4-2) is 2-2 in true road games but did win at Florida out of conference.
Key NCAAB Betting Trends: UConn has covered seven of its past nine Thursday games. UC is 1-4 ATS in its past five on Thursday. Connecticut has covered the NCAA basketball odds in the past six meetings.
Utah vs. UCLA (+7)
If UCLA (11-9, 3-4 Pac-12) has any hope of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, it might have to run the table in the regular season, which would mean a win over the No. 11 Utes on Thursday and also an upset at current No. 6 Arizona on Feb. 21. Other than that, no ranked teams left on UCLA's schedule. The Bruins come off a two-game losing sweep on the road at the hands of the Oregon schools, losing each by at least 11 points. UCLA has played just two home games in the past 46 days and did win both of them, a rout of California and a double-overtime win over a good Stanford team. UCLA also has a player who can take over a game in Kevon Looney, the nation’s only freshman to be averaging a double-double (13.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg). Utah (16-3, 6-1) ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense and its only losses were to ranked teams San Diego State, Kansas and Arizona -- all away from home. Utah did destroy visiting UCLA 71-39 on Jan. 4. The Bruins shot 28.8 percent from the field and were 1-for-11 from 3-point range. This starts a season-high three-game road trip for Utah.
Key NCAAB Betting Trends: UCLA has covered five of its past six at home at sportsbooks following three or more consecutive road games. The home team has covered the past five meetings.