College Basketball Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, January 19th

By Adam Burke  ( 

January 19, 2023 12:04 PM

College basketball schedule today has 76 games

Thursday brings us a monster card, but I’m still jumping for joy about winning an under in an overtime game. It’s like finding the golden ticket to the chocolate factory or not getting a hangover after drinking with buddies you haven’t seen in a while. 

I know we’re in the era of a million Same Game Parlays and all the sportsbook PR stuff about big wins and near-misses, but I’m a traditionalist. I remember the good ol’ days when a bad beat was having an under 128.5 that finished regulation at 112 points and then went over in overtime, not some 15-line parlay of player props. Thanks to Missouri State and Drake for not giving me one of those, especially with only two points in the final 1:32 of OT.

Anyway, let’s look at the Thursday card, after I remind you to check out Jonathan Von Tobel’s daily work with NBA best bets and Andy MacNeil’s wall-to-wall coverage of the NHL tips you need to know.

Here are some thoughts on the January 19 card (odds from DraftKings):

Rice Owls at North Texas Mean Green (-12, 129)

A pretty good Rice offense heads down to Denton as a double-digit dog to take on North Texas. This will be a big step up in class for Rice, as they face just their second top-100 team of the season (OT loss to Texas on 12/12 in the Longhorns’ first game after Chris Beard was suspended), but I still like the Owls to keep it close.

As good as North Texas is defensively, they struggle offensively and it takes some measure of efficiency to cover a big number like this. The Mean Green are easily last in the country in pace per Ken Pomeroy and Bart Torvik. They’re also 318th in the country in 2P% against Division I opponents per Torvik. They take a lot of 3s and there can be some high variance in that department. 

Rice is a top-25 offense by 2P% and a top-30 offense by eFG%. They’ve played a terrible schedule, so take it with a grain of salt, but they’re in the top 30 in Assist Rate on made shots, so they do share the basketball well. North Texas has struggled a bit defensively over the last six games in conference play, especially the games against Louisiana Tech and Florida Atlantic.

The average margin on the final score in UNT’s last six games has been just 3.6 points per game. Rice has played three overtime games in the last six and their last three losses have been by 3, 6 and 6 points, with the two six-point games coming in OT. They don’t really get blown out and it takes a lot for North Texas to blow a team out with a game played to probably 63 or 64 possessions, which would be a fast-paced game for them.

Pick: Rice +12

Washington Huskies at Colorado Buffaloes (-9, 142)

It’s still getting dark at like 4:45 out here in Vegas, so calling this Pac-12 After Dark is somewhat disingenuous, but it is one of the late games for the conference this evening. The Huskies play a zone defense akin to what Syracuse played when former assistant coach Mike Hopkins was working under Jim Boeheim. The 2-3 zone defense is designed to make teams take shots from the outside and prevent teams from getting shots at the rim.

Washington’s shot share on Close Twos is just 29.2% per Torvik, which ranks as the 23rd-best rate in the nation. Colorado is a team that likes to get the ball inside, posting a shot share of 43.6% on Close Twos, which ranks 18th. Washington’s defensive style tries to force teams into mid-range jumpers and 3s, which goes against what Colorado wants to do offensively.

To me, that should make it hard for Colorado to win this game by margin. Not only is Washington protecting the rim, but the Huskies are also only allowing teams to shoot 29.5% from 3. When these two teams played back on Dec. 4, Washington won by 10 in Seattle and did a great job of forcing turnovers. Colorado’s TO% in eight Pac-12 games is 24.7%, the worst mark in the conference.

If Washington can force a few turnovers and protect the paint again, they should be able to avoid losing by double digits. That would be my expectation, as Colorado just doesn’t have the 3-point shooters they’ve had in previous seasons.

Pick: Washington +9

Sacramento State Hornets (-3, 131) at Idaho State Bengals

Sacramento State won and covered for us a week ago against Northern Colorado and I’m back on the Hornets tonight. They didn’t play their best offensive game last Saturday against Northern Arizona, but did play one of their best defensive games. In looking at the history of head coach David Patrick, I have really high hopes for this team going forward. He’s been a longtime assistant at major programs and his basketball ideology aligns with the types of teams I want to bet on.

Patrick is a disciple of the Houston Rockets and “Moreyball”, which means getting high-percentage looks at the rim and shooting 3s. From a shot share standpoint, Sac State is shooting a Close Two on 42.9% of shots against Division I opponents, which ranks 27th. Idaho State, meanwhile, ranks 357th out of 363 teams at 27.3%. The Bengals are also 320th in Close Two shot attempt rate against at 41.4%, so opponents get inside a ton.

Furthermore, Idaho State is allowing opponents to shoot 65.2% on Close Twos. I’ve been looking at Sac State because they’re 27th in rate of shots at the rim, but 291st in FG% at 54.6%. The median FG% on Close Twos is around 58%, so they should improve and they get a lot of looks at the rim. Idaho State doesn’t, settling for a bunch of mid-range jumpers and 3s. Well, another tenet of Moreyball is to run teams off the 3-point line. Sacramento State’s shot share against with 3-point attempts ranks 10th.

In other words, I think Sac State’s shot selection will be vastly superior in this game and Idaho State will be forced into a lot of tough mid-range jumpers. It’s an area where they’ve excelled this season, but I don’t see that continuing. They’re a bad offensive team that doesn't get many offensive rebounds. I’ll lay the short road price with Sacramento State.

Pick: Sacramento State -3

VSiN College Basketball Links

Greg Peterson’s Daily Lines

College Basketball Betting Splits

College Basketball Odds

Peterson’s Daily CBB Podcast

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: The Lombardi Line

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


Matt Youmans: Heat (+8.5) at Nuggets. View more picks.


The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.