First, let me say this: the oddsmakers have caught up with NCAA basketball. They've nudged the favorites up 10-20% hoping the bettor will expect the better team to come out and play an A game every night whereas the dogs (ranked 200 or more) will languish in mediocrity and fall short. Well, not so. In the conferences I've covered the last five years, the dogs are the teams that show the most improvement in the weeks priors to conference play. After all, they're starting on the bottom rung and improvement is magnified at that level. Of course the Dukes, Kentucky's, etc improve too. They have all the talent in the world on the court, but their improvement isn't necessarily skill improvement as much as it is building team chemistry, balance, role identification, and team trust. That's why they look so F**king incredible in February and March.
My pick for Thursday is:
#730 Pacific -10 at home hosting #729 Sac St.
I like this game for multiple reasons. Pacific is ranked #156 vs Sac State #322 at Team Rankings. Neither team is expected to do much in their conference and neither is in a lookahead spot. Both teams have played some talented opponents however Pacific has had a stronger SOS so far. The two teams are only 50 miles apart so this is somewhat a rivalry game. But what I like most in this matchup is this is the third home game for Pacific and 1st year coach Damon Stoudamire will want to prove his worth and talent to the home crowd and that usually leads to running up the score if at all possible. This is a common trait for year one coaches and what better opportunity is this?
Blue Ribbon Guide has Pacific's back and front court rated as B- whereas Sac St is a C+ and C. Not that these ratings are etched in stone, but C's in the Big Sky are a lot different in the West Coast Conference. I'm looking for Pacific to control this game from start to finish. They gave UCLA a good first half, handled Wyoming 73-65 at home, and lost at #59 Nevada 67-77 Tuesday night. Now they bring it all back home to face the Hornets and it's my take they will play to win big.
I like Pacific -10 to cover
As always, don't blindly take my word or anyone else's for that matter, but do the work before you bet. These are just my opinions only.