NCAA Basketball Picks: Thursday Picks of the Day

Willie Bee

Thursday, January 23, 2014 1:44 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 1:44 PM UTC

Once again we look west for our Thursday college basketball previews, and once again we've found value on games involving some of the same teams from a week ago.  Let's dive right in with some of the particulars along with free NCAA basketball picks.

Colorado Buffaloes vs. Arizona Wildcats

Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats put their unbeaten record and No. 1 ranking back on the line with a visit from the Colorado Buffaloes. ESPN2 has the telecast starting at 9 PM (ET), and the Wildcats are 14.5 point favorites after opening a point higher. No official totals are available for this game or the others on our list, so keep checking back to catch those figures on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds.

Arizona (18-0 straight up, 13-4 against the spread) has had a week off since soundly beating Arizona State last Thursday, 91-68. Favored by 14 at the closing bell, the Wildcats held that advantage at halftime and kept the heat on the Sun Devils by shooting nearly 56% from the field, including 8-of-15 from beyond the arc.

All five Arizona starters scored in double figures, paced by Aaron Gordon's 16, and Miller was able to empty his bench with 14 'Cats seeing action.

Colorado (15-4 SU, 10-8 ATS) lost that same night, dropping a 69-56 decision at home to UCLA with the Bruins receiving 1 point from the oddsmakers. That marked the second consecutive defeat for the Buffaloes, but they bounced back two days later with an 83-62 victory and cover vs. USC. Tad Boyle's bunch is trying to regroup after losing leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie to season-ending knee surgery a little more than a week ago.

The Buffs have the 11-8 all-time edge in this series, but the teams have split their six conference matchups since CU joined the Pac-12. Arizona took two of three last year, winning in overtime at home and in the Pac-12 Tourney in mid-March. Colorado won the payouts, however, 2-1.

My pick: Colorado +14.5


San Diego Toreros vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

From Tucson we head northwest to Seattle where the Gonzaga Bulldogs host the San Diego Toreros in a 10 PM (ET) contest that can be seen on ESPNU. The Zags started at -17 on the NCAA odds, and that spread has since moved to -18.

San Diego (11-9 SU, 9-7 ATS) must have pissed someone off in the West Coast Conference scheduling department, as Thursday's visit to Gonzaga is the middle of a 4-game road trip and Bill Grier's gang is playing their sixth WCC away tilt in eight games. The Toreros dropped their first three league matchups, and are coming off a tough 64-62 loss at San Francisco last Saturday when they were 7 point underdogs and lost on a last-second jumper by the Dons.

Gonzaga (16-3 SU, 9-8 ATS) sits atop the West Coast standings, but the lead is only one over BYU with the Cougars coming to McCarthey Athletic Center in two days. The Bulldogs are off back-to-back road wins and covers last week at Pepperdine and Loyola-Marymount, and have beaten San Diego 10 straight to take a 62-21 lead in this series.

My pick: San Diego +18


Stanford Cardinal vs. UCLA Bruins

A key battle in the Pac-12 caps the evening as the Stanford Cardinal head to Los Angeles for the weekend, first taking on the UCLA Bruins in an 11 PM (ET) contest available on the Pac-12 Network before meeting USC on Sunday. Online sportsbooks are listing the Bruins as 6.5 point favorites.

Johnny Dawkins brings Stanford (12-5 SU, 9-5-1 ATS) to Tinseltown on a 3-game streak, both outright and vs. the NCAA odds. The Cardinal started the string by upsetting Oregon on the road, then continued with home triumphs over Washington State and Washington as double-digit favorites. Stanford managed to shoot better than 50% from the field, and at least 40% from 3-point range, in all three victories.

UCLA (14-4 SU, 10-7 ATS) was a 1 point underdog in both of its games last week; Steve Alford's group won 69-56 at Colorado before dropping a 74-69 decision at Utah. The Bruins and Cardinal are currently tied for fourth in the Pac-12, with the eventual top 4 teams getting a 1st-round bye in the conference tourney.

My pick: Stanford +6.5

Season: 21-15 (+4.5)


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