College Basketball Picks & Best Bets: Thursday, February 18

College Basketball Picks & Best Bets: Thursday, February 18

There are a lot of top teams in action tonight, I count four in the top five of the national rankings. All look pretty safe though.

It’s a shame that the game between Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga isn’t of much significance this season. At -20 it just looks like another spot for the Zags to pad their stats.

Here’s a closer look at the games featuring the top teams in college basketball:

February 18 College Basketball Betting: Best Bets

Houston vs Wichita State, ESPN2, 7:00 PM ET

Matchup: No. 5 Houston Cougars (17-2 SU, 13-5 ATS) vs. Wichita State Shockers (12-4 SU, 6-7-1 ATS)

Spread: Houston -7.5 (-110), Wichita State +7.5 (-110)
Total: Over 136.5 (-110), Under 136.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Houston -320, Wichita State +260

These teams have met once already with Houston winning by 7 at home. The Cougars only two losses were on the road but I am not worried about them in this spot. They are still one of the best defenses in the country.

Wichita State has been a nice story given they had to switch coaches just before the season. They can be sneaky but this is a bad matchup. Their top scorers, guards Tyson Etienne and Alterique Gilbert, are inefficient under the best of times. Against a team like Houston, they are very likely to struggle. The number has dropped from 8 giving even more value to the Cougars.

Betting Advice: Take Houston.

Iowa vs Wisconsin, ESPN3, 7:00 PM ET

Matchup: No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes (15-6 SU, 12-9 ATS) vs. No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (15-7 SU, 10-11-1 ATS)

Spread: Iowa +1 (-115), Wisconsin -1 (-105)
Total: Over 145 (-110), Under 145 (-110)
Moneyline: Iowa -105, Wisconsin -115

Iowa is third in the nation in scoring. This is going to be a tough trip as the Badgers are giving up only 62 points per game, 25 points below the Hawkeyes average. Iowa had been really struggling for a couple of weeks but they have won their last two games. I am not sure they are back in form, but maybe not a fade here.

The Badgers have been trading losses and wins over the last seven games. That means they are due here as they have not lost back-to-back games this season. They were dismantled by Michigan in the second half of their last game though and that might have a lingering effect. I am not sure Iowa is the better team but they do have the best player in Luka Garza and he is tough to handle.

Betting Advice: Take Iowa.

Ohio State vs Penn State, Big Ten Network, 8:00 PM

Matchup: No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (17-4 SU, 13-7 ATS) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (7-10 SU, 9-8 ATS)

Spread: Ohio State -4.5 (-110), Penn State +4.5 (-110)
Total: Over 146.5 (-105), Under 146 (-115)
Moneyline: Ohio State -215, Penn State +170

The Buckeyes can’t be the fourth-best team in the country, can they? Nobody really talks about them winning it all but if things hold they will be one of the top seeds in the Tournament. They are just so good at not beating themselves. That is is their superpower and often it is enough.

Penn State played the Buckeyes close in Columbus only losing by 4. I might have been hot on them to upset here if they had not lost their last two games. Their most recent loss to Nebraska, at home, is terrible. I know they lost by just a point but this season that is a game you have to take. Might have cost us a little value here.

Betting Advice: Take Ohio State.

Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga, ESPN, 9:00 PM ET

Matchup: Saint Mary’s Gaels (11-6 SU, 9-8 ATS) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (20-0 SU, 9-9-2 ATS)

Spread: Saint Mary’s +20 (-105), Gonzaga -20 (-115)
Total: Over 144 (-110), Under 144 (-110)
Moneyline: Saint Mary’s +1125, Gonzaga -2050

The Gaels covered when these teams met last month. They still lost by 14 though so I am not seeing an upset here. They were effective in slowing things down somewhat but you are not going to knock off the top-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs if you can’t score even 60 points at home. The gap between these programs is great this season.

The only knock against the Zags this season is that ATS record. The fact is that they have rarely been challenged. In their last 10 games, the closest any team has come is 11 points. Sure this number is a lot bigger than that but the Bulldogs are at home and feeling good off a demolition of San Francisco the other day. Unless I think an opponent might actually beat them I am not going to fade Gonzaga.

Betting Advice: Take Gonzaga.

Rutgers vs Michigan, FS1, 9:00 PM ET

Matchup: Rutgers Scarlet Knights (12-7 SU, 9-9-1 ATS) vs. No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (14-1 SU, 12-3 ATS)

Spread: Rutgers +9 (-110), Michigan -9 (-110)
Total: Over 136 (-110), Under 136 (-110)
Moneyline: Rutgers +320, Michigan -394

Rutgers seems to have stabilized. I still like the ceiling of this team and would not want to see them in my bracket if I were a top seed. The Scarlet Knights have won five of their last six and could definitely push Michigan in this spot.

Michigan took a while to get going in their last game against Wisconsin. That was somewhat to be expected though after not playing for weeks. They gave up only 20 points in the second half as they stormed all the way back, to win. They might be a little inflated though because everyone was talking about that one. Big Blue wins but I see Rutgers hanging in there.

Betting Advice: Take Rutgers.

San Diego State vs Fresno State, CBS Sports Network, 10:00 PM ET

Matchup: No. 25 San Diego State Aztecs (15-4 SU, 10-8 ATS) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (9-7 SU, 5-9 ATS)

Spread: San Diego State -13.5 (-110), Fresno State +13.5 (-110)
Total: Over 130.5 (-110), Under 130.5 (-110)
Moneyline: San Diego State -950, Fresno State +630

The first of two on the road here for SDSU against Fresno State. The Aztecs are on a roll now, they have won six in a row and covered five straight double-digit numbers before only winning by 22 in their last game. The number says don’t expect an upset.

Fresno State has won their last two games but beating Air Force is not exactly a great win this season. There is a huge gap between the haves and have not in the Mountain West this season. Fresno State struggles on offense and the Aztecs are one of the best defensive teams in the country. The matchup is just all wrong for the Bulldogs.

Betting Advice: Take San Diego.