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CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK THURSDAY - ANALYSIS AND PICKS FOR COLLEGE BASKETBALL

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Rutgers vs Michigan - 12:00 pm Eastern


Today's the day for me to put my money where my mouth is. On my Big Ten Tournament Preview I listed Michigan as one of the teams I liked, though I did hold off on placing a futures bet on them. They are playing well coming into the tournament and have the ability to be solid on both ends of the floor. Their odds to win the tournament have gone down, so that indicates I'm not the only one who thinks they have a chance.


As much as I like Michigan, I dislike Rutgers more. The only team they could play in the conference where I might bet on them is Minnesota, and even they have looked better recently. To win, Rutgers has to slow the game down, play phenomenal defense, and hope their paltry offensive output can get them a win. I don't think it happens here. I thought this line would be 5.5 or 6.5, so I'm in on this one and might add more live depending how the game develops.


Pick: Michigan -3 (-110) DraftKings




Penn State vs Illinois - 6:30pm Eastern


Penn State was another team I talked about fading on my preview show. They are more dangerous than Rutgers, but it really comes down to whether three-point shots are falling or not. They play solid defense, so Illinois is going to have to be sharp, which hasn't always been the case lately.


Look, I can certainly see a path where Penn State wins this game, but I think Illinois covers 2.5 points 65% of the time, so I see value in this line. I think it's either a close game or an Illinois blowout, a Penn State blowout would be the most shocking outcome to me here.


Pick: Illinois -2.5 (-110) BetRivers




Rice vs UAB - 9:30pm Eastern


Since the return of Jelly Walker on February 2nd, UAB has amassed an 8-1 record, with the lone loss coming to North Texas in OT. 4 of the 8 wins were by double digits, including a 85-57 curb stomping of this Rice team. Jelly gives them a dynamic offensive presence. It's possible top-tier defenses will be able to slow him down enough because of his size, but that will not be the case against Rice.


Against the 3 big dogs in Conference USA (FAU, North Texas, UAB), Rice lost by 29, 28, 9, 10, and 18. (They did beat North Texas in the first conference game of the year.) It's not just that Rice is making a habit of losing by double-digits to good teams, their trajectory is bad right now too. The close games they had were earlier in the year. Yes, they squeaked out a win against UTSA in the first round, but that's another bad team. UAB would crush them too.


Give me some Jelly.


Pick: UAB -12 (-110) BetUS

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