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CBB Lines And Locks For March 15th

Ohio State vs #13 Illinois: The Buckeyes have all of sudden found more life since firing Chris Holtmann in February and are suddenly on the bubble, going 6-1 since the firing with a massive win against Purdue as one of the wins. Meanwhile, Illinois has been the clear second-best team in the Big Ten, but are nowhere near perfect, especially on defense. Ohio State is slowly creeping up the metrics too at 55th in the NET and 49th in KenPom. They have been balanced overall with three players averaging over double digits and the team allowing 69 points per game. Bruce Thornton is their leading scorer, averaging 16.1 points per game as well. Illinois has been great on offense and struggled on defense this season. They are 16th in the NET and 10th in KenPom. They are also 4th in adjusted offense on KenPom at 124.8 and they are a top-15 scoring offense, at 83.9 points per game. The issue has been on defense, allowing 72.9 points per game and 76th in adjusted defense on KenPom at 101.1. When it comes down to it, the games during Championship week rely a lot on motivation and the team that is the most motivated in this game is clearly Ohio State. It also helps the Buckeyes that the Fighting Illini have fallen off when it comes to their defense. This game will be close because of Illinois’ talent, but expect Ohio State to cover at minimum but I’m going to take them to win outright.

Pick: Ohio State +5

#25 Texas Tech vs #1 Houston (-8.5): Houston was one of two teams that was profitable for us yesterday, so let’s go back to the well. The Cougars might genuinely be the best team in the country with how consistent they have been. All the metrics love the Cougars the most of any team in the country with the top ranking in the NET and in KenPom. They are also the best defensive team in the country, with the top adjusted defense in KenPom at 86.9 and ranking first in scoring defense, only allowing 56.9 points per game. They have the best defensive guard in the country too in Jamal Shead who has been extremely consistent and averages 2.3 steals per game. On offense, Houston is efficient and solid overall, ranking 14th in adjusted offense at 120. The Cougars have three players that average over double digits with L.J. Cryer leading the way at 15.7 points per game. Texas Tech shocked a lot of people with how well they played against BYU in the Big 12 quarterfinals. The Red Raiders have been solid this season. They are ranked 29th in the NET and 23rd in KenPom. They have played much better on offense this season, with five different players averaging double digits. Pop Isaacs leads the team in scoring at 16 points per game. The Red Raiders have the players on offense and the overall balance to cause issues for the Cougars. However, Houston is the better team and they have the ability to just send waves at teams and wear teams out. Expect this game to be close in the first half, but Houston should pull away and cover in the second half.

Pick: Houston -9

Oregon vs #6 Arizona (-11): There is similar logic to taking Arizona in this game as Houston. They won and won big, so let’s go with them again. Arizona is legitimately one of the best teams in the country when they are clicking on cylinders and we saw that again in the quarterfinals against USC. That is the key though because they have been proven to have some head scratching losses throughout the year. They are 4th in the NET and 6th in KenPom overall when it comes to the metrics. Their bread and butter is on offense with one of the best offenses in the country. They are tied for second in scoring at 89.5 points per game with Kentucky in all of college basketball and they are 7th in adjusted offense on KenPom at 122.2. There are five different Wildcats that average over double digits with Caleb Love leading the way and playing on an All-American-caliber level, averaging 18.7 points per game. They have also improved on defense, ranking 12th in adjusted defense at 94.6. On the other side, Oregon is in need of a win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive. The Ducks have fallen off under Dana Altman, but this would be a massive win for the program to go in the right direction. Their metrics are not great with a ranking of 67th in the NET and 69th in KenPom. The Ducks have five players that average over double digits with Jermain Couisnard and N’Faly Dante leading the way at 15.5 points per game and 15.4 points per game apiece. Oregon has the ability to make this close because of their talent and overall athletes, but Arizona is the better team. Oregon should keep this close at first, but expect Arizona to pull away and cover and finish the season undefeated against the Ducks with a 3-0 record.

Pick: Arizona -11

San Diego State (-3.5) vs #18 Utah State: These two teams split their record this season with San Diego State winning the first matchup, while Utah State won the most recent game. Utah State emerged this season in Mountain West play and won the conference. The Aggies are 30th in the NET and they are 47th overall in KenPom. They excel the most on offense, scoring 79.9 points per game and they have four players that average over double digits with Great Osobor leading the way down low at 17.9 points per game. San Diego State had a magical season last year on their way to the National Championship game, before losing to UConn, but they managed to reload well and are still the class of the Mountain West. They are 20th in the NET and 21st in KenPom. Their offense has been efficient, but they have one of the best defenses in all of college basketball. They are 8th in adjusted defense on KenPom at 94.0 and they allow 66.4 points per game. On offense, Jaedon LeDee is the player that makes them go, averaging 20.9 points per game. Reese Waters is the only other Aztec that averages over double digits scopring-wise at 10.2 points per game. These two teams know each other well and while Utah State is the ranked team, the Aztecs are going to win and cover in this game. The Aztecs are still the best team in the conference and will prove it once again in the Mountain West semifinals in this game and beat the Aggies.

Pick: San Diego State -3.5

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