Thursday nights present a treasure trove of college basketball games.
You have the normal slew of PAC-12 games that are always interesting.
Utah-UCLA and Arizona State-Oregon top that list tonight.
There’s also the opportunity to catch up on mid-major programs that have a larger spotlight on them due to the lack of marquee teams playing on the east coast and Midwest.
My card for tonight’s slate is all about the PAC-12 and taking advantage of mismatches on the mid-major level.
Youngstown State at Detroit Mercy (Over 155) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Youngstown State and Detroit both rank in the top 40 in three-point offense.
Both teams are in the bottom third of three-point defense. Neither side has spectacular two-point defensive numbers either.
Detroit conceded and scored over 75 points in four of its six Horizon League games.
North Alabama at Liberty (-17) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Liberty ranks 23rd in three-point offense. North Alabama is is 363rd in three-point defense.
That is staggering disparity that plays in Liberty’s favor, and oh by the way, the Flames are coming off a loss, so the motivation to bounce back should be there.
Liberty held its last four home opponents to 56 points or less.
Longwood at UNC Asheville (Over 142.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Both teams average over 75 PPG and have top 50 three-point offenses.
Each team shoots over 47 percent from the field as well.
Wright State (-9.5) at Green Bay (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Green Bay is one of the worst teams in Division I.
The Phoenix gave up over 75 points in each of their last four games in the Horizon League.
Wright State put up 82 & 90 on IUPUI and Detroit, two of the conference’s worst teams, in its last two wins.
Texas State (-3) at Arkansas State (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Arkansas State enters on a three-game losing streak in which it lost all games by at least 12 points.
Texas State is tested on the road with back-to-back wins over James Madison and South Alabama. Those wins should help it on the road in Jonesboro.
Colorado at USC (Under 140) (9 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network)
Colorado and USC each concede 66 points per game.
Both teams rank inside the top 40 in two-point defense on KenPom.
Colorado is coming off games against Oregon and Oregon State in which it conceded 83 total points.
Arizona State (+5.5) at Oregon (9 p.m. ET, FS1)
Arizona State has a top-five two-point defense on KenPom.
The Sun Devils give up the same 64.9 points per game as Oregon.
ASU averages 3.5 more points per game than Oregon. I think the offense helps the Sun Devils stick around in a tight defensive game.
Southern Miss at Marshall (Under 147.5) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Here you have the classic case of two teams with strong offenses that can be cancelled out by stout defenses.
Southern Miss ranks 28th in points allowed per game and 42nd in opponent field goal percentage.
The Golden Eagles can frustrate Marshall’s offense enough to keep the game in the 60s or low 70s.
New Mexico State at Seattle (-4) (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Seattle is on a four-game winning streak with three of those wins by six points or more.
New Mexico State is on a four-game losing streak and it lost the last three by nine or more points.
Yup, sometimes it’s that simple.
Utah (+12) at UCLA (11 p.m. ET, PAC-12 Network)
I’ve been on Utah for a few games now because of its defense.
The Utes rank fourth in opponent field-goal percentage and 23rd in points allowed per game.
Utah can hang with UCLA if its defense translates to the road.