Our handicapper has his eyes on three nine o'clock games on Thursday's college basketball betting card, starting with the No. 5 Arizona Wildcats hosting the California Golden Bears.
California vs. Arizona
The Arizona Wildcats are guaranteed at least a share of the regular season Pac-12 title, and by virtue of two wins over the Utah Utes, they're set as the No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament next week in Las Vegas. Sean Miller's crew can wrap everything up officially in front of the home fans with a victory Thursday against the California Golden Bears.
ESPN will begin its broadcast at 9 PM (ET), the Wildcats favored by 19-19½ on the NCAA Basketball odds and a total forthcoming.
Arizona (26-3 straight up, 18-11 against the spread) can claim the title on its own with a win either against Cal or Saturday vs. Stanford. Both games are in Tucson while the Utes are in the Evergreen State this week against Washington State and Washington.
The Wildcats have reeled off six straight wins, the latest last Saturday in Utah with a 63-57 decision over the Utes as small underdogs. Arizona suffered through one of its worst offensive performances of the campaign in the victory, shooting a season-low 33.3% from the field and connecting on just 2-of-12 from 3-point range. They hammered the glass to help overcome the poor shooting.
California (17-12 SU, 13-16 ATS) stopped a 3-game slide on Sunday with a 73-56 triumph vs. Oregon State. Four Bears scored in double-figures to help Cal backers beat the 3 point spread, and three of their last four of their games have gone 'over' the total thanks to the team shooting about 44% in that span.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Cal-Arizona Over. The first meeting stayed 'under' the total in Berkeley, but I'm expecting this one to hurdle a mark in the upper-120s for my first free pick.
Memphis vs. Connecticut
At the same time over on The Deuce, the Memphis Tigers will be out to stop a 2-game skid with a battle in Storrs against the Connecticut Huskies. A rematch from their February 19 clash in Memphis, the Huskies opened -6½ with that spread now up a point.
Memphis (17-12 SU, 12-14 ATS) may have to go without leading scorer Austin Nichols after the sophomore forward reinjured his ankle in last Saturday's overtime loss to Tulsa. Nichols missed a couple of games earlier in February with the same injury, and is officially listed as questionable for this one.
Connecticut (17-11 SU, 10-15 ATS) has strung together three consecutive wins, the latest a small upset at home last Sunday against the SMU Mustangs. Rodney Purvis had 28 for the Huskies, Ryan Boatright adding 23, as UConn put up a season-high 81 against an SMU team that is among the nation's leaders allowing under 60 per game.
The Tigers had just enough to cover a -2 line in the 75-72 triumph over the Huskies a couple of weeks back, but UConn is the way I'm going this time.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Connecticut -7.5 at BetOnline
Virginia Commonwealth vs. Davidson
Closing out our trio of 9 PM (ET) contests is a big one in the Atlantic 10 where the Virginia Commonwealth Rams travel to face the Davidson Wildcats. ESPNU will carry this one, and the Wildcats are 3½ point chalk after the spread started a point higher.
The A-10 heads into Thursday with VCU and Davidson two of the four teams sitting just 1.5 games apart at the top of the ranks. Davidson (21-6 SU, 19-5 ATS) can move into a tie with Dayton with a victory over Virginia Commonwealth (21-8 SU, 11-17 ATS), and the Wildcats hold the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney over the Flyers should those two teams end deadlocked for the regular season crown.
The Wildcats are on a 7-game run as they look to avenge a 71-65 loss at VCU nearly two months ago. This is only the third meeting ever between the team, and first to be played at Belk Arena.
Let's close out these free NCAA basketball picks with a play on the home team.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Davidson -3.5 at 5Dimes