With just 2 games on the NBA docket for Thursday, NCAA Basketball moves front and center with a variety of games to choose from for our NCAA Picks of the Day.

North Carolina State (16-6, 5-4) at #4 Duke (19-2, 6-2)

Image previewOh have the mighty have fallen! The Wolfpack were expected to be contenders for the ACC Title and were clearly the 2nd best team in the ACC Conference when this season started. After a 1 point loss to the surprising Miami Hurricanes, the Pack are ranked just  5th in their own conference.  Ever since their big win over Duke, N.C. State has won 2 out of their last 4 games and we find them as a double digit dog against the same Duke team at Cameron.

Lorenzo Brown is Questionable

The only way that this hurts N.C. State is through their lack of depth. Tyler Lewis proved that he could step up to the challenge in which he had 16 points and 5 assists against Miami (FL) and has added some stability to the Wolfpack offense. Nonetheless, the Wolfpack can use all of the ammunition that they can get against Duke at home and to see Lorenzo Brown in the lineup would benefit them greatly, but I wouldn’t expect it.

Expect C.J. Leslie to come up big in this spot. Whether he’s a disciplinary problem or not, he’s a consistent producer that can offset the production of Mason Plumlee.

Role Players Taking Center Stage

Everything is working well for Duke at the moment. They’re come off of a 79-60 beating of the Florida State Seminoles in which Mason Plumlee could rest for part of the game. Things are starting to come together for the Blue Devils; Amile Jefferson has done an exceptional job filling in for an injured Ryan Kelly and Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon are giving more than expected on the offensive end.

Duke is still a team with a weak bench, but with Lorenzo Brown’s status up in the air, the Wolfpack are equally weak where the bench is concerned and the benches are a “wash”.

Duke is the better team, but 10.5 points is too much to give to the Wolfpack for our basketball picks, despite their lack of recent success.

College Basketball Picks: N.C. State +10.5

#21 Missouri (16-5, 5-3) at Texas A&M (13-8, 3-5)

A team plays a little harder when they know that their chances of making the NCAA Tournament are slipping away and unless they go on a huge winning streak, a victory over Missouri would be huge for the Aggies.

Missouri is a slight 3 point betting favorite on the road. The Tigers are the better team and the NCAAB odds makers are trying to lure you into taking the Tigers on the road.

Contenders or Pretenders?

If you look at the Missouri schedule, they haven’t had any huge wins. Earlier in the season, the Tigers defeated an Illinois team that was in the top 25 at the time, but the Fighting Illini have since dropped a bit and are just 2-7 in the Big Ten. Missouri also holds victories over Stanford and Alabama, but these teams aren’t world beaters. Texas A&M fits into the teams that were previously mentioned.

While leading scorer, Laurence Bowers, tries to recapture his offensive game, the Tigers don’t have a real go to guy. Guards Keion Bell and Earnest Ross are both coming off of huge games against Auburn, but they’re both inconsistent and the level of competition in this game is much higher. Look for Bowers to take the reins back as the schedule gets tougher.

Hasn’t Met a Shot That He Doesn’t Like

Texas A&M will rely upon the production of leading scorer, Elston Turner. Turner has been off target as of late, but he continues to keep hoisting them up. In his last 3 games, he’s averaging  17 points per game on 17 of 50 from the field and 5 of 20 from beyond the arc. The Aggies need the offense and you can expect more of the same from Turner against a Tigers team that doesn’t allow many 2nd opportunities.

College Basketball picks: Missouri -3 at 5 Dimes