NCAA Basketball Picks: Thursday's Best NCAAB Bets

Willie Bee

Thursday, January 30, 2014 1:00 PM GMT

The last couple of weeks, we've been sticking to the Left Coast for our college basketball picks of the day assignment.  We'll make a couple of stops out west again, but also take a look at one of the games in the eastern half of the Lower 48 where the top two teams in the American Athletic Conference tangle.

'Cats & Cards Clash In AAC Battle

Thursday's only matchup pitting ranked teams takes place in Louisville where the No. 12/7 Cardinals host the No. 13/15 Cincinnati Bearcats. ESPN will televise the proceedings from KFC Yum! Center starting at 7 PM (ET), and the Cardinals are 9.5 point favorites after opening -8.5. SBR's live college basketball odds are not showing a total for this game, or any other NCAA hoops contest today, but I'm going with 129.

Cincinnati (19-2 straight up, 9-6 against the spread) is off to an 8-0 start in the AAC and brings a 12-game win streak into the matchup. The Bearcats' only two losses this season came in back-to-back early-December matchups, one a true road game at New Mexico and the other at US Bank Arena to crosstown rival Xavier.

Louisville (17-3 SU, 10-8 ATS) trails Cincy by 1.5 games in the league standings, and has won four straight since suffering its only AAC loss to Memphis nearly three weeks ago. That defeat, as 10 point favorites, stopped a 15-game home winning streak at the Chicken Box for the Cards. All three of the Ville's losses this season came to teams ranked at the time, and as the favorite.

The Cardinals have the 55-42 overall advantage in this series after taking last year's lone meeting, 67-51, as 10.5 point favorites in a Big East battle. Cincinnati's last victory in Louisville came about six years ago when the Bearcats upset the Cards, 58-57 as double-digit 'dogs.

My pick: Cincinnati +9.5

[gameodds]14/256272/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Bruins Start 3-Game Road Trip At Oregon

Steve Alford and the UCLA Bruins look to at least not fall further behind top-ranked Arizona in the Pac-12 when they visit the Oregon Ducks. Tip-off at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene is set for a little past 9 PM (ET), and televised on ESPN2. 

Oregon started as 2 point chalk before the spread went to -3; my total is 155. 

UCLA (16-4 SU, 12-7 ATS) is beginning a 3-game road trip with this contest, and currently sits 2 games behind the Wildcats in the conference. The Bruins are coming off a pair of wins and covers last week at Pauley Pavilion, topping Stanford by a 91-74 count as 6 point favorites before beating Cal 76-74 as 6.5 point chalk. They've lost two of their last three at Oregon. 

Oregon (14-5 SU, 10-8 ATS) is returning home after three games on the road, ending that jaunt with an easy 71-44 victory at Washington State as 6.5 point chalk. The victory stopped a 5-game skid for the Ducks, all five of the contests losers for anyone holding Oregon tickets. 

My pick: UCLA +3

[gameodds]14/256322/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Gaels Go South For Collision with Toreros

Last but not least, the Saint Mary's Gaels will look to fatten up their West Coast Conference record at Jenny Craig Pavilion in San Diego against the Toreros. The contest will be shown on ESPNU starting at 10 PM (ET), and the NCAA odds list the Gaels -3.5, down a point from the opener. I like 137 for the total. but will be focusing on the spread for my NCAA Basketball picks

The matchup has the potential to catch Saint Mary's (16-5 SU, 10-8 ATS) looking ahead to Saturday's trip to Provo against BYU, a contest we will also preview at SBR. The Gaels are 1.5-games behind Gonzaga in the WCC after winning their last four games, all in Moraga and all going 'over' the total. Randy Bennett's boys have won their last five vs. the Toreros, including all three a year ago. 

San Diego (12-10 SU, 11-7 ATS) has had a tough early conference schedule with seven of its nine WCC games away from home, including the last four. The Toreros halved the recent road trip with each game finishing no more than three points apart on the scoreboard, and USD covered all four as the underdog.

My pick: Saint Mary's -3.5

[gameodds]14/256328/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]