College Basketball Best Bets for Thursday: Ride the West Coast Express

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NCAAB Pick: Saint Mary’s -13 (-110) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Saint Mary’s -13 (-110)
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Welcome back to the ranch. Here we are nestled snugly in the Pacific Northwest, home to one of the country’s top college basketball programs: the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They’ve ruled the West Coast Conference for over a decade now, regular season champions every year since 2013 inclusive.

But they’re not the best in the WCC this year. That honor goes to the Saint Mary’s Gaels, at least for now; the Gaels (22-5 SU, 15-9-2 ATS) are one game ahead of Gonzaga (21-5 SU, 8-16-1 ATS) in conference play with just four games left to go – including their February 25 season-finale in Spokane (the Zags have a game in hand as well).

As it happens, we’ve got both teams in our college basketball picks for Thursday, plus another Pacific treat for discerning bettors: the Over in the Pac-12 matchup between the California Golden Bears and USC Trojans. Let’s riggidy-roll.

Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. San Diego Toreros

Thursday, February 16, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at Jenny Craig Pavilion

It isn’t often we put double-digit favorites in our NCAAB picks, but that’s how good Saint Mary’s have been this year – although they’re only a slight lean as 13-point faves at California betting sites.

How Did Saint Mary’s Get So Good?

Having a quality head coach in Randy Bennett makes a big difference. Okay, there’s also been some shady recruiting along the way, including violations that put the Gaels on probation for four years starting in 2013. But you know how these things go.

By hook or by crook, Bennett has brought some tantalizing international talent to the Bay Area since he took over the program in 2001. This year’s squad features three Australians, including their top two players in forward Kyle Bowen (plus-7.9 BPM at Sports Reference) and guard Alex Ducas (plus-7.6 BPM).

Despite all this talent, the Gaels are actually undervalued at No. 17 on the AP poll. They’re seventh overall (No. 34 offense, No. 6 defense) on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency charts, and miles ahead of the No. 210 Toreros (No. 57 offense, No. 345 defense). Enjoy your chalk responsibly.

NCAAB Pick: Saint Mary’s -13 (-110) at BetOnline

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Loyola Marymount Lions

Thursday, February 16, 2023 – 11:00 PM EST at Gersten Pavilion

Gonzaga may be swimming in red ink right now, but they’re still the right choice as 7.5-point favorites at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review) for Thursday’s matchup with Loyola Marymount – for a fun-sized bet.

What Happened to Gonzaga?

Every team has to reload sometime. Head coach Mark Few had a lot of holes to fill this year with the departures of Chet Holmgren (now with the Oklahoma City Thunder), Andrew Nembhard (now with the Indiana Pacers), and others.

They can’t all be gems. Junior guard Malachi Smith (plus-7.6 BPM) has played very well since transferring from Chattanooga; sophomore center Efton Reid (minus-8.5 BPM) has been an absolute bust since coming over from LSU.

The Bulldogs are still No. 13 in the polls and No. 15 overall (No. 2 offense, No. 92 defense) on the Pomeroy charts, but their plus-17.77 on the Simple Rating System is their worst performance since 2015-16. That team only made the Sweet Sixteen, shucky-darn.

Gonzaga even saw their 76-game home winning streak end last month at the hands of Loyola Marymount (16-10 SU, 16-9-1 ATS), who beat them 68-67 as 16.5-point road dogs. Very nice, but also plenty of motivation for the Zags to rectify things this Thursday.

NCAAB Pick: Gonzaga -7.5 (-110) at Bookmaker

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Gonzaga -7.5 (-110)
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California Golden Bears vs. USC Trojans

Thursday, February 16, 2023 – 11:00 PM EST at Galen Center

Last stop: Los Angeles, where the best sportsbooks have a total of 129 on the NCAAB odds for Cal-USC. That’s worth investing a single unit of your bankroll on the Over; the Trojans are projected to win this game 73-58 or thereabouts.

Will USC Make the Tournament?

It’s close. The Trojans (Under 13-12) are on the wrong side of the bubble after losing back-to-back games at Oregon and Oregon State; forward Joshua Morgan (ankle, plus-3.9 BPM) remains out indefinitely, but guard Reese Dixon-Waters (lower body, plus-0.3 BPM) could return Thursday after sitting out the past two weeks.

Maybe Dixon-Waters should be saved for a more formidable opponent. California (Under 13-12) have won just three games all season – they’re No. 257 on the Pomeroy charts, making the Bears one of the absolute worst teams from the Big Six. Even the wounded Trojans (No. 53) look like world-beaters in comparison. Bet accordingly, and may the sphere be with you.

NCAAB Pick: Over 129 (-110) at BetOnline

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Over 129 (-110)
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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.