The Hawkeyes are trying to turn around their offensive struggles with no time on the clock as we get closer to tournament time.
We also have a deadly showdown in the UConn-Temple game and UCF are finally ranked and will try and stay there. There’s some good and ugly basketball coming your way on Thursday but there is no such thing as bad basketball this time of year. Let’s get to a handful of games that you should be targeting in this Thursday slate!
Iowa Hawkeyes vs #21 Wisconsin Badgers -7.0
(7 pm EST)
The Wisconsin Badgers have consistency on their side when they host a recently lackluster Iowa team that’s decided to have offensive issues at the worst possible time. Undisciplined play is culminating in a confidence crushing, two-game losing streak for the Hawkeyes.
The Badgers are going to make the Hawkeye offense look even worse if they continue their defensive domination. They rock the 11th ranked defense in the country with just 61.6 ppg against, while also crushing teams in terms of opposing field-goal percentage. The bottled up the Nittany Lions to a 35.2 field goal percentage on Saturday.
Further, the Badgers are only averaging 9.3 turnovers and are shooting 37.5 % from behind the arc which puts them at the the top in the Big 10. This is a disciplined team that’s 5-2 ATS at the last seven home games against Iowa.
The Badgers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Thursday games and 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win. The Hawkeyes are 6-14-1 ATS in their last 22 road games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs a team with a winning % above .600.
My main concern? The teams combine for a stupefying record of 0-11-1 ATS in their last 6 games each. The Badgers are going to sink the Hawkeyes in a close one, with Iowa sneaking in the backdoor for the cover.
NCAAB Free Pick – Iowa +7.0
SMU Mustangs vs. #12 Houston Cougars -12.5
(9 pm EST)
SMU is not hanging onto any major postseason hopes but potentially upsetting the ranked Houston Cougars could be a fun way to go out.
In all honesty, SMU are not on any path to upset. They won a single game in February and their most recent loss saw them shoot 5-of-15 from the field and 1-7 on 3-point shots. However, their WMP percentage is at an all time high (WMP= womp, womp).
Houston, on the other hand, smashed through their conference with a minor homecourt upset this past weekend against UCF. However, this proves that they can be handled. They are walking in as a number 3 seed for the Big Dance and will be looking to improve as we near Selection Sunday.
Houston is 11-7-0 ATS at home and are 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games following a loss.
We know where this is headed but keep an eye on SMU Senior Jahmal McMurray who has had six games with 25+ points, and is pretty exciting to watch.
The Mustangs haven’t won against a ranked Houston since 1993 and haven’t stolen victory on the road since 1982. Most of you weren’t even born yet, so trust history and let’s all take Houston for the win and a very, narrow cover.
NCAA Free Pick – Houston -12.5
Temple Owls vs. UConn Huskies -2.0
(7 pm EST)
This is a matchup for the gods. The almost neck-and-neck teams are here to do battle, and the matchup presents as a game that will be exhilarating to take in.
The Owls are in fourth with a 6-3 record in their conference and Huskies sit at seven with a 4-5 record. Straight up and against the line, these teams are perfectly divided in their last ten meetings. UConn is 12-5-0 ATS at home and Temple is 7-4-1 on the road. It’s going to be scrappy, folks.
With a less than mediocre shooting percentage beyond the arc (32.9 percent), the Owls will struggle against a Huskies defense that protects their rim and forces their opponents to move inside the 3-point line. The only thing the offense can do is take mid-range jumps shots and you can bet UConn will be prepared for those rebounds.
Temple can be super disruptive defensively because of their size. They are amongst the tallest teams in the nation and use their reach to play in the passing lane and get their long limbs tangled up in the offensive play. The Huskies are just little guys, sitting way down at 212th in the nation for size. They rank 10th overall in steal rate (12.3 percent) against Div-1 opponents and average 4 takeaways per game.
The Owls are favored by 4 points but The Huskies are methodical. Temple are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss and the Huskies are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games.
Temple is grinding and they will use their size to their advantage. I’m taking the Temple Owls over the UConn Huskies 76-72.
NCAAB Free Pick – Temple +2.0
#20 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #25 UCF Knights -2.5
The UCF Knights are serving BIG MOOD after their takedown of the Houston Cougars on Saturday, but Cincinnati is on a bold 5-game winning steak and wants to be in the fight for an AAC title
Tacko Fall, the 7-foot-6 Floridian center is a one-man wrecking ball but the Bearcats held him to 7 points and only 4 rebounds when they last met. Further, UCF will be battling a wicked Bearcats defense (20th) and have a scoring big man in Jarron Cumberland who makes 41.1 percent of his threes. So watch for some deadly swats from both sides.
UCF are now ranked for the first time since the 2010-2011 season and are making a case for an at-large-berth with their 2 remaining regular season games. The Knights are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win but they are also 7-0 in their last 7 games vs a team with a winning straight up record.
Stay away from betting ATS with the Bearcats. They haven’t beat the spread in on any stat.
I’m taking UCF on this one. They have more to lose and more to prove and they are going to stomp all over Cincinnati.
NCAAB Free Pick UCF -145 ML
The basketball season comes to a head as March arrives, follow BetAmerica’s coverage on the year end tournament run!
Lindsay Van Gyn has a masters degree in sports communications focusing on the NFL. She is a passionate writer who focuses on the cultural intersection of sports, statistics and fans.