NCAA Basketball Odds: High/Low Picks For Thursday, January 26

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 7:16 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017 7:16 PM UTC

Both the biggest and shortest spread on the opening NCAA basketball board for Thursday are games from Conference USA: Middle Tennessee is a massive favorite over Southern Miss, while Louisiana Tech-UAB is at pick'em. Here are my picks.

Southern Miss At Middle Tennessee (-23.5)

Middle Tennessee is no joke. You may remember that the Blue Raiders made last year's NCAA Tournament and pulled one of the stunners in Big Dance history, 90-81 over second-seeded Michigan State, a team that was taking huge NCAA basketball betting action to win it all. That was no fluke as Middle Tennessee never trailed. The next game, the Blue Raiders were  hammered by Syracuse, an eventual Final Four club. This year, MT is 17-3 overall and the only unbeaten team in Conference USA play at 7-0. The school has beaten SEC teams Ole Miss and Vanderbilt and barely lost at a very good VCU team. Middle Tennessee has seven true road wins overall, which is the third-most in the nation. It comes off an 86-57 blowout win at Florida Atlantic on Saturday for a seventh straight victory. Middle Tennessee is a very good defensive team in allowing 64.4 points per game (32nd nationally). FAU shot only 35.5 percent in that game.

Southern Miss is just 6-13 overall and 3-4 in the conference. The Golden Eagles lost 61-58 at home to Rice on Saturday as Quinton Campbell couldn't sink a 70-footer at the buzzer. But USM had quite a comeback as it trailed by 24 with 16 minutes to go. Southern Miss held Rice to just 32 percent shooting from long range and has held eight of its last 10 opponents to 33 percent or less shooting from behind the 3-point line. Campbell is Southern Miss' best player and is in the Top 10 in C-USA play in scoring (16.4 ppg), rebounding (7.7) and minutes (35.6). The Golden Eagles played Rice without guard Khari Price due to a hand injury and he's questionable here. Price averages 8.8 points and 4.2 assists.

This is the only scheduled meeting between these schools. The Blue Raiders took the only matchup last season, 76-54. Middle Tennessee opened the second half on a 21-8 run to blow it open.  

NCAAB Free Pick: Middle Tennessee -23.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Louisiana Tech At UAB (Pick'em)

Louisiana Tech hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 1991 but is second in C-USA, a game behind Middle Tennessee. Those two play on Saturday for the only scheduled meeting  so the Bulldogs can't be caught looking ahead. They are on a four-game winning streak and off an 81-57 blowout of North Texas on Saturday. Tech used a 24-3 run spanning just under seven minutes early in the second half to pull away. Two Bulldogs registered double-doubles as Jacobi Boykins had a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Erik McCree scored 14, while grabbing a game-high 13 boards. Tech allows just 63.5 points per game and has now held its opponent under 60 nine times this season.

UAB is in third in the conference, a game behind Louisiana Tech. The Blazers opened C-USA play with a 60-49 loss at Middle Tennessee and then won five straight before a 94-85 defeat at Florida International on Saturday. Starting senior guard Hakeem Baxter suffered a hyperextended left knee in the loss and is being called day-to-day. Baxter is UAB's fourth-leading scorer at 8.2 points per game. He's averaging 3.4 rebounds per game and is second on UAB's team with 44 assists. Baxter is also a very good defender and when he went out early vs. FIU, he was missed. Baxter most likely would have been guarding FIU's Donte McGill, who scored 24 points.

The Blazers put a 20-game home winning streak in the conference on the line here. They are 6-3 against Louisiana Tech in the all-time series and 4-1 at  home.

NCAAB Free Pick: UAB At Pick'emBest Line Offered: Heritage

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