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Top AI NCAAB Picks to Bet on March 2: A Tale of Two Kentuckys

Devontae Blanton Eastern Kentucky Colonels USC Trojans
Devontae Blanton 14 of the Eastern Kentucky Colonels reaches for a rebound against the USC Trojans Jayne Kamin OnceaGetty ImagesAFP

It’s almost time. The calendar has turned to March, and Champ Week has already started in the low majors of Division I men’s college basketball. It’ll be March Madness before you know it, and as the games get more important, the free OddsTrader BetStation app will no doubt reveal bigger and bigger profit margins for us to exploit.

As it turns out, two of the three best choices for Thursday’s NCAAB computer picks are still regular-season games, but there’s still plenty of betting value to be had in the low and mid-majors – especially with a certain team from the Bluegrass State.

Picks Summary

  • Western Kentucky vs. UTEP: Western Kentucky +3 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
  • Eastern Kentucky vs. Liberty: Liberty -13.5 (-110) at FanDuel
  • UCF vs. Temple: UCF PK (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. UTEP Miners

Thursday, March 02, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at Don Haskins Center



The Hilltoppers (15-14 SU, 10-15-2 ATS) may be 3-point road dogs at the sportsbooks for Thursday’s game against UTEP (13-16 SU, 15-12 ATS), but the AI says they’ll win 70-69.

Did Western Kentucky Win Last Time?

They sure did. Back on February 4, the Hilltoppers welcomed Texas-El Paso to E.A. Diddle Arena and beat them 74-69 as 3.5-point favorites, with junior guard Dontaie Allen scoring a season-high 25 points on 8-of-15 from the floor and 5-of-8 from downtown.

This is a difficult matchup for the Miners. They thrive in the paint, but WKU have a 7-foot-5 answer in senior center Jamarion Sharp, the team’s highest-rated player at plus-5.4 on the Box Plus/Minus charts at Sports Reference. That includes plus-4.7 at the defensive end, where Sharp collects 6.1 blocks (!) per 40 minutes.

As a team, the Hilltoppers only allow opponents to shoot 45.5% inside the arc (No. 25), and while their perimeter defense is a lot more porous at 36.0% (No. 312), the Miners just aren’t the right team to take advantage; they’ve connected on just 27.6% of their trey attempts this year (No. 362).

NCAAB Pick: Western Kentucky +3 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook


Eastern Kentucky Colonels vs. Liberty Flames

Thursday, March 02, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Liberty Arena



While the Hilltoppers have ample betting value this Thursday, their colleagues from Eastern Kentucky (19-12 SU, 17-10-1 ATS) aren’t so fortunate.

They’re 13.5-point road dogs on the NCAAB odds board at FanDuel for Thursday’s Atlantic Sun semifinal versus Liberty (24-7 SU, 17-11 ATS), and the computers say the Flames will win 80-63.

How Good Is Liberty?

Way better than anyone else in the A-Sun. Sports Reference has the Flames at plus-9.0 on their Simple Rating System – the only team in the conference with a positive SRS. Eastern Kentucky is fourth at minus-2.3 SRS.

Ken Pomeroy’s famous efficiency stats tell much the same story. He has Liberty at No. 41 overall (No. 52 offense, No. 42 defense) in the nation, one spot ahead of the mighty Michigan Wolverines. The Colonels are well off the pace at No. 174 overall (No. 226 offense, No. 126 defense).

Victory isn’t guaranteed, mind you. Eastern Kentucky did pull off an impressive 62-59 upset over Liberty back on January 8, cashing in as 9.5-point road dogs, and they also covered the February 11 rematch that the Flames (-13) took 83-73.

Liberty also happens to operate at a casual 64.9 possessions per game (No. 313), much more slowly than EKU at 70.6 possessions (No. 41). That will make it a bit harder to cover this double-digit spread, but from a sheer talent perspective, the Flames should rise high this Thursday.

NCAAB Pick: Liberty -13.5 (-110) at FanDuel


UCF Knights vs. Temple Owls

Thursday, March 02, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Liacouras Center



Alas, Northern Kentucky didn’t make Thursday’s list, but the UCF Knights (16-12 SU, 14-13-1 ATS) certainly did.

They’re a pick’em at Caesars Sportsbook for their AAC matchup with Temple (15-14 SU, 16-11-2 ATS), but the AI has the Knights prevailing 72-69.

Didn’t Temple Win Last Time?

Yes, but they needed overtime to put away Central Florida 77-70 as 5-point road dogs. And that was after UCF shot an unusually poor 23-of-58 (39.7%) from the floor – unusual even for the Knights, who rank No. 289 in Division I at 42.7% on the season.

They do make up for it somewhat with their 3-point shooting, where they connect at a decent 36.3% clip (No. 73). The Knights also rank No. 41 in defensive efficiency compared to No. 90 on offense, while the Owls (No. 132 offense, No. 117 defense) are worse on paper than UCF at both ends of the court. Bet accordingly – the AI has spoken.

NCAAB Pick: UCF PK (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook


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