Two of the four best teams against the spread are in action in college basketball on Thursday night.
By now, everyone knows about how fantastic Florida Atlantic's season has been. The Owls have the best overall record in college hoops and they should continue their winning streak on the road.
Northwestern State obviously has not received a ton of publicity, but if you have bet on the Demons, you know all about them. NW State has the second-best ATS record in college basketball.
FAU and NW State are among a group of mid-major teams that are thriving at the top of their conferences right now. That is the prevailing theme of my mid-major-heavy picks for the slate.
Thursday CBB Picks
Overall Record: 119-119-7
Georgia Southern at Marshall (-12.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Marshall seems to be on every one of my Thursday cards.
The Thundering Herd have won each of their 10 Sun Belt games by at least eight points. They are coming off a pair of double-digit wins over Coastal Carolina and Georgia State.
Georgia Southern has five straight road losses and its defense was unable to deal with James Madison and Louisiana, who put up 83 and 94 points, respectively, on the Eagles. JMU and Louisiana are directly beneath Marshall in the standings.
Marshall ranks in the top 60 in a handful of defensive metrics on KenPom, so if its defense plays well and its offense torches Georgia Southern, like others, it should open up a large gap.
Florida Atlantic (-4.5) at Middle Tennessee (7 p.m. ET, CBSSN)
Florida Atlantic has the third-best record in Division I against the spread.
The Owls are 16-7-1 ATS and they sit in a nice spot against Middle Tennessee. The Owls earned their last eight wins by at least five points.
I like FAU to win, so I’m going to ride with the recent trend as well that fits within the number.
Green Bay at Robert Morris (-13.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Despite some recent close losses, Green Bay is still 8-19 ATS, which is the fourth-worst record ATS in the country.
Robert Morris blew out Green Bay on January 21, as it held the Phoenix to just 38 points.
RMU has a distinct advantage in every statistical category, and I think its defense, which allows nine fewer points per game, will make a big difference.
Milwaukee (+9.5) at Youngstown State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
This is too big of a spread for the clash between the top two teams in the Horizon League.
Three-point defense will be the key for Milwaukee to stay within single digits. The Panthers rank 19th in opponent three-point percentage. Youngstown State is 23rd in three-point shooting percentage.
If Milwaukee neutralizes Youngstown’s shooting from deep, it should hang with the Horizon League leader.
Southern Miss (-1) at South Alabama (8 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Southern Miss owns the nation’s fourth-longest winning streak of nine games.
The Golden Eagles face a South Alabama side that they beat by four points in their first meeting.
I believe the Sun Belt leader is a far better team than USA, so that makes this decision easy with the one-point spread in play.
SE Louisiana at Northwestern State (-6.5) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
A lot of people do not know this, but Northwestern State has the second-best ATS record in Division I behind Pittsburgh.
NW State is only 5-4 ATS in its last nine games, but this is a perfect spot to bet on it.
The Demons have an eight-game winning streak in place, and they won six of those contests by eight or more points.
SE Louisiana lost to NW State by 10 in a game that went to overtime on January 19, and it is stumbling into Thursday on a three-game losing streak.
Northern Arizona at Eastern Washington (-10.5) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Eastern Washington comes into Thursday with the nation’s longest winning streak of 15 games.
The Eagles have been the class of the Big Sky, and on Thursday, they face a Northern Arizona squad with a 3-11 mark in conference play.
NAU’s shooting could hurt it on the road. The Lumberjacks shoot six percent worse than the Eagles and there is a gap of 304 places between the two sides on KenPom in two-point offense.