Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley
Southern California forward Isaiah Mobley (3), forward Max Agbonkpolo (23) and guard Reese Dixon-Waters gather for a meet during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Utah in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

NCAAB BEST BETS, JAN. 6

Patrick Werkmeister

Now that the college basketball season is in full swing with conference play, these games are much more meaningful and competitive. In this jam-packed Thursday college slate, schools from across all conferences will get some action tonight. However, the real action lies with the power five programs who are scheduled to play this evening. As these teams fight it out in their respective division, it will be interesting to see how much they differ in ability and if one is able to win it all this year. Nevertheless, here is what I’m going with for these college hoops games.

Iowa @ Wisconsin (-3)

The opening line for this contest had Wisconsin as two-point home favorites, and they are currently favored by three points. Although Iowa is an impressive 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games played, the Badgers are also 7-3 ATS in their past 10 matches. Led by star guard Johnny Davis, Wisconsin is off to a fast start where they are ranked 23rd in the country with a 11-2 record. Similarly, the Iowa Hawkeyes are a formidable Big 10 opponent with an 11-3 overall record. The path to a conference title starts here in these critical matchups, where Iowa is the first team to stand in their way. Last game out, the Hawkeyes got their first Big 10 win vs Maryland and the Badgers defeated the 3rd ranked program in the nation, Purdue. Wisconsin Badger Jonny Davis had a staggering 37 points and 14 rebounds in their upset win over the Boilermakers. However, the Hawkeyes could have a National Player of the Year of their own in Keegan Murray. With more signature wins over quality opponents, Wisconsin is the more battle-tested squad so they should find a way to secure a victory. Take the Badgers to handle Iowa.

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Washington @ Utah (-9.5)
This line opened favoring Utah by ten points, but they are currently listed as nine and a half-point home favorites. Although Utah is a shoddy 2-7 ATS in their last nine games, Washington has a horrendous record of 1-11 SU in their past 12 road games. Additionally, the Huskies are 1-4 SU in their last five games overall. Last time out, Utah lost to the Oregon Ducks in Eugene, 79-66, whereas Washington was demolished by the top ranked Arizona Wildcats. Despite their recent struggles, Utah is still 6-1 at home this season and is better rested having 5 full days of rest since their last two road games. Although Utah and Washington’s records are not drastically different, at 8-6 and 5-6 respectively, the Utes are clearly better suited for this matchup. The Huskies most notable win was against a non-ranked South Dakota State team, who they only defeated by eight points. Right now, they look like a bottom-tier P-5 team let alone a Pac 12 contender. Washington just doesn’t have the talent to take down this highly skilled team. Take Utah to win comfortably and cover the spread.

USC (-5.5) @ California
The opening point-spread margin for this matchup has USC as five and a half-point road favorites and that is where this line currently sits. Although Cal is a very impressive 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games played, the Trojans have so far led an undefeated campaign with a current record of 12-0. Led by top NBA draft prospect Isaiah Mobley, USC is off to a fast start where they are ranked 7th in the country. According to Kenpom data, they are the number one ranked defense in the country for effective FG%. Contrarily, the Golden Bears have been playing some of the worst defense in the country, where they rank in the bottom third off all major categories. Last game out, Cal got their first Pac 12-win vs Arizona State where they defeated them 74-50, whereas USC dominated Georgia Tech. The little brother of NBA rookie Evan Mobley, Isaiah averages a block and a steal a game for the stout Trojans defense. However, their offense has also been electric under the coaching job of Andy Enfield. The Trojans just totally outmatch this Golden Bears squad, and I don’t see them being upset in this meeting. Take USC to take care of their in-state rival.

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