Pair Of Bulldogs Big Part Of Thursday Slate

By: Adam Markowitz | Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thursday night's college basketball betting schedule features a slew of nationally televised games. Unlike on Wednesday when six teams ranked No. 12 or better in the AP Poll met each other, Thursday's games showcase teams that are still fighting for their lives for the NCAA Tournament.

We'll start in the Big Ten, where absolutely anything could happen down the stretch of the season. The Wisconsin Badgers come into Thursday sporting the nation's best defense at just 49.8 PPG allowed. They watched their six-game winning streak go up in flames at home against the Ohio State Buckeyes last weekend. The 58-52 setback marked the third straight game in which Wisconsin failed to beat the college basketball odds.

It should come as no surprise that Wisconsin's offense is truly the key to its covers. In 11 Big Ten games this year, the Badgers have scored more than 65 points just three times; they are 3-0 SU and ATS in those games. In the eight games in which they have scored 65 or fewer, they are only 4-4 SU and 1-7 ATS.

This could be good news for a Minnesota Golden Gophers outfit which is allowing just 63.3 PPG. The Gophers won a huge road game at the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the eve of the Super Bowl, and have to feel like they are four or five wins away from dancing.

Minnesota is 5-2 SU and ATS since January 12, a mark that it will put on the line in this clash at home at 7:00 (ET) on Tuesday night against the Badgers on ESPN.

Meanwhile on ESPN2, there are three straight games that are going to feature teams that could be in some bubble trouble.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs look good right now in the SEC, and they are probably the only team in the SEC West in good shape for a spot in March Madness. Things can change in a hurry though, and if they get beaten by the Ole Miss Rebels in a 7:00 (ET) tip on Thursday night, projected brackets will be shuffled.

The Rebels have played seven straight games decided by eight points or fewer, going 5-3 SU and 6-2 ATS in those games. They are still searching for a few signature wins to help out their resume though, and a win against an RPI Top 50 team would go a long way to determining whether this is a team destined for the Dance or the NIT.

The Miami Hurricanes have their signature win now that they have beaten the Duke Blue Devils, but they still clearly need more victories to get into the NCAA Tournament. They have won four in a row and are 3-1 ATS in those four clashes, but Thursday night's duel at home against the Virginia Tech Hokies is a game that really has to be won.

Va Tech's 13-10 record (2-6 in the ACC) doesn't have the team anywhere near March Madness at this point, but perhaps the win at home against the Clemson Tigers from the weekend can spark a nice run in what amounts to be the easiest portion of the team's conference slate.

The Hokies and Hurricanes get it on in South Beach at 9:00 (ET).

In the 11:00 (ET) tip, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, a team that can't afford many more losses, take on the St. Mary's Gaels at "The Kennel." The Zags were topped by 21 by this 22-2 St. Mary's team on the road on January 12, a loss that they would love to avenge. However, Gonzaga has gone just 0-6-1 ATS in seven games since the defeat at St. Mary's and will be hard-pressed to cover this spread.

There are other clashes on Thursday night that you should be keeping a close eye on for when you fill out your brackets.

At 7:00 (ET) on ESPNU, the North Carolina State Wolfpack will look to avoid a second defeat on the season against the lowly Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. At the same time, the Cleveland State Vikings and Valparaiso Crusaders, both of which have dreams of making the NCAA Tournament this year, will meet for first place in the Horizon League. The Davidson Wildcats, the only team out of the Southern Conference with a shot at an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament face a test at the Citadel Bulldogs at 7:00 (ET) as well.

Later on in the night, the Northwestern Wildcats host the Iowa Hawkeyes in a 9:00 (ET) tip from Ryan Arena on ESPNU.

If you're a Pac-12 fan, this is the night for you as well, as all 12 teams are in action. The showcase game pits the Colorado Buffaloes against the Arizona Wildcats in a 9:00 (ET) tip that can be seen on ESPN or ESPN3.

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