CBB Picks: Run with Stanford, Oregon as underdogs, Wisconsin at home

Thursday's college basketball slate has a little bit of everything.

An early Pac-12 game, a few key Big Ten clashes, mid-major contests spread all over and a loaded late schedule that features four of the top six teams in the country.

There are a few trends and narratives that could work in our favor throughout the slate. For example, Wisconsin will attempt to avenge a loss to Ohio State and Stanford needs to prove its win over USC on Monday was a statement of intent in the Pac-12 and not a fluke.

Oregon has a point to prove after its blunder of a start, and if it is competitive with UCLA, our opinion of the Ducks could change.

The biggest trends come from the mid-major slate, where there are a few hot teams against the spread and in favor of overs.

CBB Thursday Picks

Overall Record: 83-108-1

Stanford (+8) at Washington State (5 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Stanford impressed me in its win over USC on Monday.

The Cardinal returned from a weeks-long layoff to beat one of the two remaining undefeated teams in Division 1.

Jerod Haase's team won outright as a 6.5-point underdog in that contest and it is 4-0 against the spread in its last four games.

I have trust issues with Washington State. I couldn't get on the right side of the Cougars in nonconference play and I don't think they should be an eight-point favorite with their recent inconsistencies.

Wazzu is 2-4 straight up in the last six games with losses to Boise State, Colorado, New Mexico State and San Diego State.

Stanford might not win outright again, but it can certainly cover the spread, especially if Harrison Ingram stars in the paint again. The freshman had 21 points and 10 rebounds versus USC.

Ohio State at Wisconsin (-3.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

I'm playing the revenge angle and the hot team sides with Wisconsin.

The Badgers lost by 18 points to Ohio State on December 11. They have not lost a game since then and they controlled their last Big Ten home game against Iowa.

Ohio State struggled in its last two road games. The Buckeyes lost to Indiana and were forced into overtime by Nebraska.

I feel more comfortable throwing my trust behind Johnny Davis and the in-form Badgers to keep rolling and earn some payback in the process.

Northern Kentucky at Youngstown State (-3.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Northern Kentucky is not a strong road team.

The Norse lost each of their last five road games and they did not cover in any of those contests.

That is a red flag along with their 335th ranking in two-point percentage on KenPom. They also rank 325th or worse in a handful of defensive categories.

Youngstown State averages 3.5 more points per game and its field-goal percentage is four percent better. I'll gladly take the Penguins at home with those numbers.

Lehigh (+3.5) at Bucknell (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Bucknell is on a five-game losing streak and it has a single victory in its last nine games.

The Bison give up 79.8 points per game and they are facing a Lehigh team that is rolling at the moment.

The Mountain Hawks won four of their last five contests, so I'm willing to risk it with the hotter team against a struggling side.

North Texas (-3.5) at Marshall (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Marshall has not covered the spread during its five-game losing streak.

The Thundering Herd lost all of those contests by double figures, so of course I'm fading them with North Texas.

The Mean Green's defense will be vital to their success in West Virginia on Thursday. UNT concedes 55.8 points per game, which is more than 20 points worse than Marshall's defense.

UL Monroe at Texas State (Over 141.5) (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

UL Monroe is 11-2 to the over.

That is the best record to the over in Division 1 and it is thanks to its wretched defense.

The WarHawks give up 77 points per game and they rank 346th in three-point defense on KenPom.

Texas State isn't great on defense either and that unit may show some rust after a two-week layoff.

Louisiana (-1.5) at UT-Arlington (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Louisiana is 7-0 ATS in its last seven games.

The Ragin' Cajuns play at a much faster pace than UT-Arlington. They rank 22nd in adjusted tempo, while UT-Arlington sits beneath 300th in effective field goal percentage, two-point and three-point percentages on KenPom.

Louisiana has a better offense and it has been grinding out close wins in the last few weeks. I'm willing to keep running with the hot covering streak.

Georgia State at South Alabama (Over 144.5) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

The Over is 7-1 in the last eight South Alabama games.

The Jaguars rank 54th in adjusted tempo and they average 75.1 points per game.

Georgia State scores 74.3 points per contest and it ranks 355th in defensive three-point percentage. That lends itself to South Alabama hitting a decent amount of shots from deep to aid the over.

Oregon (+9.5) at UCLA (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Oregon has something to prove at Pauley Pavilion.

The Ducks went through a rough stretch in nonconference play with losses to Baylor, BYU, Saint Mary's and Houston. They also fell to Arizona State and Stanford at the start of Pac-12 action.

Dana Altman's team righted the ship with a three-game winning streak and it can prove on Thursday that it will be competitive in the Pac-12 by sticking with UCLA.

If Oregon plays well against UCLA and USC on Saturday, some trust can be put back toward the Ducks.

BYU at Gonzaga (Over 152.5) (11 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

BYU is one of the few teams in the West Coast Conference that can challenge Gonzaga.

The Cougars are off to a 2-0 start in the WCC, but they need to be much better than they were in the 52-43 win over Saint Mary's on Saturday.

Gonzaga is coming off a 117-point performance versus Pepperdine, and the Cougars will need to score at a high rate to run with the Zags.

Plus it's fun to bet the over for one of the late-night games to stay awake here on the east coast.

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