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Thursday Free Picks

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The first gauntlet of games gets underway on Thursday afternoon. Have you taken the day off of work yet? If not, it's time to start coughing up lungs and leaving your boss a voicemail that you're not coming in tomorrow. Get your bets in as soon as possible and don't forget to load up your account so that you're ready for all the action! This is the best two days in basketball betting that exist so let's prime you with some free picks for all the game.

All times listed are in eastern standard time and the betting lines are subject to movement.

MIDWEST REGION PICKS

#1 Louisville Cardinal -26.0 over #16 North Carolina A&T Aggies (6:40pm)
The Cardinal are carrying a ton of momentum after their domination in the Big East, and while the Aggies are capable of scoring in bunches, the Cardinal defense will frustrate them in a blowout win.

#9 Missouri Tigers +4.5 over #8 Colorado Buffalo (9:20pm)
Phil Pressey is in dire need of a big performance and he'll come through against a Colorado team that is amongst the best in the country when it comes to rebounding and defense. The Tigers are a talented bunch that should overcome the Buffalo by a slim margin so a moneyline play here isn't out of the question. This is a game where overall talent will trump team play.

#5 Oklahoma State Cowboys -3.0 over #12 Oregon Ducks (4:40pm)
Look elsewhere for that coveted "12 over 5" play because Marcus Smart will ensure that the Cowboys make up for their lackluster performance in the Big 12 Tournament. The Ducks, who won the Pac-12, are still a horrific betting team going 4-11-1 ATS in their last 16 games overall.

#4 St. Louis Billikens -9.0 over #13 New Mexico State Aggies (2:10pm)
The Billikens are one of the country's best kept secrets and anyone who backed their 21-10 ATS record throughout the season was well rewarded. Time to get onboard.

#6 Memphis Tigers +1.0 over #11 St. Mary's Gaels
The Tigers are simply the better team and are playing with all sorts of confidence after decimating lesser competition in their own conference. St. Mary's won't have the gusto to get past the Tigers who are on a 6-0 SU winning streak where they also went 4-2 ATS.

#14 Valparaiso Crusaders -10.5 over #3 Michigan State Spartans (12:15pm)
The Crusaders are an underappreciated basketball gold mine that went 17-12-1 ATS on the season, and they have a deadly perimeter weapon in Ryan Broekhoff who averaged 15.9 points per game. The Spartans will likely advance but I expect Valparaiso to keep this game closer than most expect. With Michigan State making most of their money in the paint, Valparaiso has a shot at covering this incredibly large spread by ramping up the tempo when they have the ball.

WEST REGION FREE PICKS

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#8 Pittsburgh Panthers -4.5 over #9 Wichita State Shockers (1:40pm EST)
The Panthers are used to stiffer competition and they'll come out ready to rip the Shockers to shreds. While Wichita State is a good basketball team, and upset potential certainly exists, I like the Panthers to bounce back after a strong showing in the Big East Tournament and carry forward with their recent 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS record.

#11 Belmont Bruins -4.5 over #9 Arizona Wildcats (7:20pm)
Arizona is the better known team, but the Bruins are the better team. The oddsmakers gave them heavy odds during championship week, but this is a team that's gone 8-2 SU in their last 10 games. Don't be dismayed by their 4-6 ATS record over that span - they will thwart the Wildcats as the public keeps this line honest by forgoing any serious research.

#3 New Mexico Lobos -14.5 over Harvard Crimson (9:40pm)
The Lobos' brand of defense will suffocate the Ivy League Champions, who rely too much on perimeter shooting. New Mexico will figure out a way to disrupt passing lanes and create low percentage opportunities for their team that will cause the wheels to fall off of Harvard's bus.

SOUTH REGION FREE PICKS

#12 Akron Zips +8.0 over #5 VCU Rams (9:45pm)
I love the Rams this year, but they're a horrible cover team because they rely so much on creating turnovers and using their havoc schemes to disrupt opposing offenses. The Rams were 10-17 ATS on the season, which includes a 2-6 ATS record in the past 8 games. They'll get the win here, but bet on Akron's offense to keep this game close.

#4 Michigan Wolverines -11.0 over #13 So. Dakota St. Jackrabbits (7:15pm)
Trey Burke and the Spawn Twins are going to reign destruction down on the Jackrabbits. Michigan hasn't been a great cover team, but their overall talent and penchant for running up the scoreboard when they're out in front will give them a cover and a straight up win over an outmatched South Dakota State squad.

EAST REGION FREE PICKS

#5 UNLV Rebels -2.5 OVER #12 California Bears (7:27pm)
A tough game for one reason - UNLV is an atrocious cover team having gone 13-20 ATS this season. Still Anthony Bennett is need of a huge tournament to prove to scouts that he's worth mentioning in the top-5 when it comes to the NBA Draft. Cal doesn't have a defender that can stop Bennett, who I'm betting will take over this game and help cover a line that's tight enough to warrant a play on UNLV.

#11 Bucknell Bison +3.5 over #6 Butler Bulldogs (12:40pm)
Don't just side with Butler because you know their team name. The Bison have an outstanding college player in Mike Muscala, and they're a disciplined team that doesn't make too many mistakes. They're an atrocious cover team at 2-4 ATS but they're also in a 9-1 SU run and haven't lost in their last seven games. Bucknell takes the upset here and the cover along with it, but keep it safe and play the line here.

#14 Davidson Wildcats +3.0 over #3 Marquette Eagles (3:10pm)
The Davidson Wildcats are poised to make some noise in this tournament, and I expect them to surge past a questionable and overrated team from Marquette who have gone just 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games. Davidson is a strong underdog moneyline play here.

  
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