This handicapper likes betting good teams on the road, where the lines are friendlier, and that's our line of thinking for our patented College Basketball Plays of the Day for Thursday.
Mustangs in Memphis
After just missing the NCAA tournament last season SMU is taking no chances this season, and will snap a two-decade Big Dance drought. A regular-season conference title wouldn't hurt the resume, either, and the Mustangs are closing in on one as they head into Memphis Thursday night.
SMU has won four in a row, and 20 of its last 22, after topping Temple Saturday 67-58, covering NCAA basketball odds at -7. Just before that the Mustangs beat UConn 73-55, covering at -6.
At 22-5 overall and 13-2 in conference play SMU is tied for the lead in the AAC with Tulsa. But the Mustangs own the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Hurricane, and host them for the regular-season finale March 8. SMU is a shoo-in for the Dance, although it probably won't get much love from the seeding committee.
Memphis, meanwhile, struggled through a 3-4 stretch a while back, but has won three in a row, after outlasting Central Florida in overtime Saturday 75-65. Just before that the Tigers defeated UConn 75-72, and just before that they won at South Florida 75-48. But at 17-10 overall and 9-5 in AAC play Memphis, barring a run through the conference tournament, is probably going to miss the Dance for the first time in five years.
SMU beat Memphis back in early January 73-59, covering at -9. The Mustangs led that game by 13 at the half, and never let the Tigers get closer than seven from there. Tonight's game might be a little tighter, but we still foresee SMU coming out on top.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Take the Mustangs -2 at Bookmaker.
Cats in Colorado
Arizona, trying to track down a Pac-12 regular-season title and possibly a top seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament, visit the blundering Buffaloes.
Most of the college basketball betting market opened the line on this game at Arizona -10.5, and that number was holding steady in the early betting.
The Wildcats have won 10 of their last 11 games, after dispatching of UCLA Saturday 57-47. But Arizona shot the ball very poorly and missed the cover at -14. Prior to that the 'Cats had won and covered three games in a row, over Washington at -11, over Washington State at -15 and over USC at -24.
At 24-3 overall and 12-2 in-conference Arizona leads the Pac-12 by a game over second-place Utah, and of course sits right in the running for a No. 1 seed for the Dance.
Colorado, meanwhile, has lost five of its last six, and is now just playing out the string on a very disappointing season. Last time out the Buffs lost at Oregon State 72-58, and just before that they lost at Oregon 73-60. At 12-14 overall, 5-9 in the Pac-12 Colorado, which had made the Big Dance three seasons in a row, is asking “what happened?”
The main cause of the Buffaloes recent demise has been their inability to throw the ball in the hole; over their last six games their high-point mark is 64. And that doesn't bode too well for going against the Arizona defense.
This looks like a good spot to take a very good team on the road, where the spread is friendlier than if this game were being played elsewhere. Also, the Wildcats took the first meeting of this season between these teams six weeks ago 68-54, and while they came up just short of covering at -16, they'll cover tonight with a repeat performance, add them to your college basketball picks tonight.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Take Arizona -10 at Pinnacle.