College Basketball Best Bets Today (DePaul, Illinois, Portland Among Top Predictions for Feb. 24's Action)

Illinois' Kofi Cockburn (21) and Trent Frazier (1) celebrate during the first half of the Indiana
Illinois' Kofi Cockburn (21) and Trent Frazier (1) celebrate during the first half of the Indiana / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY

Back after the best bets column took a breather as per usual on Wednesday after a little bit of a skid sending us just into the red on the year. That being said, the columnless betting day brought some good results back -- all plays can be found on my betstamp here -- and I'll look to carry that into Thursday.

I have four plays on Thursday scattered across the board with a high volume schedule. I keyed in on a few power conference matchups as well as a marquee mid-major game between Belmont and Murray State.

Onto the bets.

Odds courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook

Column Record: 67-64-3 (-.44 Units)

Temple (+12) vs. Memphis

Temple has done quite well punching above its weight class in AAC play this season, yet to lose a game by double digits in conference action.

The Owls haven't played Memphis this season, but they do profile nicely against their turnover driven defense. Temple is fourth in AAC in turnover percentage and also get to the free throw line at the highest rate in the conference. By slowing down this game and making it more of a half court matchup with plenty of stoppages, Aaron McKie's team can stay within this double digit spread.

While the Tigers have played themselves back into the NCAA Tournament picture behind their improved offense, Temple has been playing elite defense over the past month. The Owls rank 21st in adjusted defensive efficiency, per since the start of February and can match Memphis' physicality inside and out.

On the year, Temple is 9-4 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog while Memphis is 8-14 as a favorite. This spot sets up nicely for the Owls to hang around.

LEAN: Temple +12, play to +10.5

Parlay: DePaul/Illinois (+135)

An inner-state parlay.

We'll start with DePaul, who I previewed as a strong bet Thursday morning. From my analysis:

The Blue Demons have been competitive this season, and despite their four game losing streak, they have played well against stiff competition, losing three of them by single digits and a combined total of 19 points. In that span the team played three NCAA Tournament quality teams in Providence (lost in overtime), Creighton and Seton Hall.

Now they travel to face Georgetown, who can't do anything right. The team is winless in Big East play and has lost all seven games in February by at least eight points, six of which by double digits.

I'm not super interested in laying the points with DePaul, but I believe they are still playing for something while Georgetown is a train wreck. I'll pair them with Illinois to increase my payout. From my game preview of the Big Ten matchup against Ohio State:

The Buckeyes may have ample bodies to throw at Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn, but I'm not counting on the team's leaky defense to hold up against an elite Fighting Illini offense. It's not just Cockburn on the block that gives opposing defense fits, it's the perimeter that features two deadeye shooters in Trent Frazier and Alfonso Plummer.

On the other end, E.J. Liddell is in line for a big game against an Illini defense that doesn't match up well with him, but the Buckeyes are reliant on the 3-point shot and Liddell in the mid-range.

Illinois has Cockburn down low to shut down the Ohio State interior attack, and also do a great job funneling shooters off the perimeter, yielding a bottom-10 3-point rate in the country. The home team should be able to get better looks against OSU's defense that is trending towards falling outside the top 100 in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency metric.

I'm going to trust the better team to beat an Ohio State team that is playing their third game in five days including an overtime game Monday vs. Indiana.

PICK: DePaul/Illinois ML Parlay (+135)

Murray State (-3) vs. Belmont

Belmont may have the reputation of being a devastating 3-point team, but that has not been the case this season, more reliant on finishing around the rim (second best two-point percentage in all of college basketball this season) but the Racers are great at limiting interior opportunities for their opponents. The Bruins are shooting a pedestrian 33% from the perimeter this season and will struggle to get clean looks against Murray State's ball pressure defense.

While the Racers likely won't shoot 14-of-25 from beyond the arc again like they did in the blowout win at Belmont earlier this season, they are the 10th best offensive rebounding team in the country and can attack Belmont in transition.

I make Murray State about a 4.5-point favorite in this one and believe they are in line to beat an overvalued Belmont team that has struggled against the class of the OVC this season.

PICK: Murray State -3, play to -3.5

Portland (-103) vs. Pacific

Gonzaga and San Francisco may be the game of the night WCC but I'm looking at one of the hottest teams in the conference: Portland. The Pilots have won five straight including a win at San Francisco two weeks back.

First year head coach Shantay Legans has his young team (seventh youngest in the country per KenPom) playing their best basketball down the stretch and I don't expect a slip here.

Portland was favored by 2 in January against Pacific and won by eight and the market doesn't seem to be adjusting for anything since that game as the Tigers are getting the baseline three points for home court advantage.

I'm going to keep on with the Portland train as they have been a cashcow as underdogs, going 12-3 ATS this season. Meanwhile, in the rare instances when the Tigers have been favorites, they have failed, going 2-5-1 ATS.

PICK: Portland ML -103

You can find all of Reed's bets HERE!