- Iowa State vs. Baylor: Iowa State +4.5 (-110) at BetMGM
- Mississippi State vs. Florida: Florida +3.5 (-110) at BetMGM
- Penn State vs. Illinois: Penn State +2.5 (-110) at BetRivers
The computers know what they’re talking about. Wednesday’s AI-approved college basketball picks, with the free OddsTrader BetStation app supplying the projections, had the Pittsburgh Panthers covering the 7.5-point spread versus the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Final score: GT 81, Pitt 89.
Let’s see what the computers say about Thursday’s Champ Week slate. There are still a small handful of games where the opponents have yet to be determined as we go to press, but with so much potential value in our first pick – and the game starting so early – we had to get cracking.
Thursday, March 09, 2023 – 12:30 PM EST at T-Mobile Center
This is the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, where the No. 4 Bears (22-9 SU, 16-14-1 ATS) are 4.5-point favorites over No. 5 Iowa State (18-12 SU, 15-15 ATS) on the NCAAB odds. Ah, but what if we told you the computers have the Cyclones winning 73-72?
Does AI Even Work?
Better than you might suspect. Baylor may be the superior team on paper, checking in at No. 14 overall (No. 2 offense, No. 91 defense) on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency charts, with Iowa State eight spots behind at No. 22 (No. 101 offense, No. 5 defense). But there are only about two points per 100 possessions difference between these two clubs.
These are also two relatively slow teams that should combine for about 65 possessions apiece this Thursday, barring overtime. Clearly, the Cyclones are the right choice; the betting public doesn’t value defense as much as offense, and Baylor won the National Championship two years ago, so you don’t need a computer to see why the Cyclones have all the value here.
But wait, there’s more: ISU swept their regular-season series with the Bears 2-0 SU and ATS, including the finale on March 4, which the Cyclones took 73-58 as 7-point road dogs. And Baylor guard Langston Love remains out for the Big 12 Tournament after suffering an eye injury in late February. Stack ‘em, pack ‘em, and rack ‘em.
NCAAB Pick: Iowa State +4.5 (-110) at BetMGM
Thursday, March 09, 2023 – 01:00 PM EST at Bridgestone Arena
Our second game takes us to the second round of the SEC Tournament, where the No. 9 Bulldogs (20-11 SU, 16-14-1 ATS) are 3.5-point favorites at BetMGM to put away the No. 8 Gators (16-15 SU, 15-16 ATS). As it turns out, the AI sees each team scoring 67 points in regulation – no overtime winner predicted.
Is Mississippi State Better Than Florida?
Yes, but just barely. Pomeroy has the Bulldogs ranked No. 46 overall (No. 159 offense, No. 7 defense), and the Gators No. 59 (No. 113 offense, No. 30 defense), again with about two points per 100 possessions separating them.
They’ll probably get in about 67 possessions when you balance out Florida’s swiftness with Mississippi State’s molasses, so once again, the computers have correctly identified the Gators as the right choice in this matchup.
There isn’t quite as much betting value in this case, with both teams leaning primarily on their defensive chops. But Florida did win their regular-season matchup 61-59 as 2.5-point road dogs back on January 21, so getting them at +3.5 on a neutral court in Nashville is too good a bargain to pass up.
NCAAB Pick: Florida +3.5 (-110) at BetMGM
Thursday, March 09, 2023 – 06:30 PM EST at United Center
Lastly, we return to Chicago for the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, where No. 10 Penn State (19-12 SU, 16-13-2 ATS) will throw down with No. 7 Illinois (20-11 SU, 18-13 ATS) as 2.5-point puppies at BetRivers. The computers have the Lions winning 76-75.
Is Illinois Better Than Penn State?
Yes, but you know the drill by now. Illinois ranks No. 32 overall (No. 63 offense, No. 28 defense) on the Pomeroy charts; Penn State finds itself 2.33 points per 100 possessions behind at No. 50 (No. 17 offense, No. 123 defense). Pencil them in for about 67 possessions this Thursday.
Unlike our other AI-approved picks, this game is a virtual home game for Illinois, even if their actual home is about a three-hour drive away in Champaign. But go figure, Penn State took both their regular-season games SU and ATS. Bet accordingly – the AI has spoken.
NCAAB Pick: Penn State +2.5 (-110) at BetRivers