College Basketball Best Bets February 20: CS Northridge Covers ATS & Defense Features in West Virginia and Illinois Matchups

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NCAAB Pick: Under 143 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Under 143 (-108)
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Picks Summary:

  • Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. West Virginia Mountaineers – Under 143 (-108)
  • Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini – Under 135.5 (-105)
  • CS Northridge +7 (-110)

We’ve got a trio of top college basketball matchups for your best NCAAB picks for Monday night featuring a visit to West Virginia by Oklahoma State as well as the Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini, and finally, a West Coast swing with UC Riverside visiting CS Northridge.

Let’s preview these top games from tonight’s basketball betting slate.

Remember, fans from the Golden State who want to wager on this game should check out our top-rated California betting sites.

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. West Virginia Mountaineers 

Monday, February 20, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at WVU Coliseum

What Oklahoma State Misses

Oklahoma State misses a true point guard -- both of its guys who occupy the point guard position, John-Michael Wright and Chris Harris Jr., have also shared both guard positions.

It took time for the Pokes to settle upon Wright as the primary ball handler. As the facilitator, he remains prone to turning the ball over and has less in his legs to make the most of his potential effectiveness as a three-point shooter.

The Cowboys miss guys who can help Wright facilitate. Most critically, the team's top distributor Avery Anderson is sidelined with a wrist injury.

West Virginia's Pressure 

It is true that the WVU defense is not like the Mountaineer defense of previous years which would accrue steals at a high rate and use them to ignite a transition offense.

But the Mountaineers still do apply significant ball pressure, and they remain adept at forcing turnovers. One thing they do is, on ball screens, concede minimal space to the ball-handler to pass or dribble. 

West Virginia's pressure is also characteristically stronger in the raucous Morgantown environment. This pressure will keep a Cowboy offense lacking sufficient ball-handling skill from finding a rhythm.

West Virginia's Half-Court Offense 

West Virginia's half-court offense has always been poor under coach Bob Huggins. It's not like Huggins doesn't try -- he does implement various sets for different players.

But the Mountaineer's offense suffers for lacking guys who can beat their man off the dribble, which partly explains the team's low shooting efficiency.

The team's low three-point efficiency in conference play points to the lack of guys who can bail out the offense.

While guard/forward Erik Stevenson is comfortable trying to create his own shot, it would be exceedingly unusual for him to follow his three-point efficiency in his last game with another strong output from deep.

Jimmy Bell's Outlook

West Virginia's best option to help its offense be efficient is center Jimmy Bell on the inside.

But the Cowboys are uniquely difficult to score on inside.

Specifically, against Bell, they will have perimeter defenders bother him by digging. They will also try to deny the entry pass.

Defensively, Oklahoma State is also so stout inside because it has a high-level shot-blocker in seven-footer Moussa Cisse, who boasts the nation's 10th-best block rate.

Rebounding and Fouls 

Given West Virginia's inefficiency on offense, the Mountaineers rely to an unusual extent on second-chance points via offensive rebounding and fouling.

But Oklahoma State's ability to prevent shot attempts at the basket -- video footage also shows Cowboy defenders' vigilance against cutters, for example -- makes rebounding harder for the opposing offense.

Cisse's excellence inside helps the Pokes be one of the Big 12's better teams at securing defensive rebounds and limiting opposing free throw attempts.

NCAAB Pick: Under 143 (-108) at Heritage Sports

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Monday, February 20, 2023 - 09:00 PM EST at State Farm Center

Minnesota Misses Ball-Handlers

Offensively, the Golden Gophers suffer for lacking reliable ball handlers -- the offense's high turnover rate is partly explained by the fact that it does not have players who have always occupied the point guard position.

Minnesota's discomfort with handling the rock contributes to its struggles against more aggressive defenses like Northwestern, and teams that cause a lot of turnovers.

Illinois' Pressure 

Now, Illinois doesn't cause a lot of turnovers. But this is not a passive defense, either.

The Illini will often press, which leaves the opposing offense with less time to attempt a shot.

Against ball screens -- and this is especially relevant because Minnesota employs a lot of high ball screens -- they are switch-heavy, which means that Golden Gopher ball-handlers will always have an Illini defender in their face.

While Illinois has been vulnerable to dribble penetration against dynamic and energetic guards like Texas' Marcus Carr, and against opponents who use their threat as a three-point shooter to pump fake and put the ball on the ground, Minnesota lacks the personnel to hurt Illinois in these ways.

Selfless to a Fault 

On offense, Golden Gopher ball-handlers pass up a lot of individual scoring opportunities. The team's assist rate is so high largely because its players are generally looking to pass to a teammate.

To this end, Minnesota will run pick-and-rolls and will utilize off-ball screens to pass to an open teammate.

Illinois, though, is vigilant against cuts inside and has an attentive help defense that will be well-positioned to take away easy looks at the basket. This attentiveness helps Illinois' defense excel at limiting assisted baskets.

Terrence Shannon's Injury 

Key Illini shot-taker Terrence Shannon Jr. might not play today as he tries to overcome a concussion that caused him to miss his team's last game.

Illinois' co-second-leading scorer in the first meeting between these teams, Shannon's absence would deal a blow to the Illini offense.

Shannon uses his speed to excel in transition and his speed off the bounce to drive past his man and otherwise score baskets by himself.

Minnesota will often employ a 2-3 zone, which offers its defense needed assistance against the dribble penetration that the likes of Shannon can achieve.

Generally, whether Shannon plays or not, Minnesota's ability to force jump shots via its zone defense -- which it is comfortable abandoning man defense to rely upon -- will hurt the Illini offense.

Illinois is already inclined to attempt threes but converts an awful 29 percent of them.

NCAAB Pick: Under 135.5 (-105) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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UC Riverside Highlanders vs. Cal State Northridge Matadors

Monday, February 20, 2023 - 10:00 PM EST at Premier America Credit Union Arena

Key Trends 

Look to fade Cal Riverside against the Matadors at the current NCAAB odds, who haven't won a road game by more than six points all year.

It took an 18-point comeback and unusually efficient three-point shooting just to win at UC San Diego by six points.

For your best bets, expect low-scoring games in West Virginia and Illinois, plus a CS Northridge cover ATS.

NCAAB Pick: CS Northridge +7 (-110) at BetOnline

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.