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College basketball picks for February 6: South Florida is one win from program history

Can Saint Mary’s survive the hangover from the game of the year in the WCC? And how will Alex Karaban’s status affect the No. 1 UConn Huskies?

South Florida Bulls forward Sam Hines Jr. slaps forward Kasean Pryor on the back as the team celebrates as the buzzer sounds after defeating Memphis 74-73 at FedExForum. Chris Day-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a terrific Tuesday night schedule in college hoops, with 32 games for your wagering pleasure, including three Big 12 beauties in BYU-Oklahoma, Iowa State-Texas, and Texas Tech-Baylor.

But if you’re looking for value for your wallet, you might want to head a bit further down the board. Here’s our picks for tonight’s slate. All odds are from DraftKings Sportsbook.

Pacific +21.5 vs. Saint Mary’s

Let’s be clear: Pacific is terrible. The Tigers are the worst offensive rebounding team in the country, and sit at 343 in KenPom out of 362 teams. They are 0-9 in the WCC, and 6-18 overall. And they’re not winning this game.

But UoP has played hard and kept good teams close, particularly in their oft-empty home court of the Spanos Center. They took a good U San Francisco team to OT, were within five of Gonzaga late before losing by nine, and should have beaten Portland a week ago.

Saint Mary’s is coming off a season-defining win behind Aidan Mahaney and Joshua Jefferson at The Kennel, and the hangover will be in effect. And while the Gaels will be a deserving NCAA team, and should win the rebounding battle tonight by double figures, they’re not blowing the home team off the floor.

Leonard Perry probably won’t be the coach in Stockton next season, but he gets the cover tonight.

Butler vs. UConn Over 146

The Huskies should probably sit Alex Karaban or at least limit his minutes because they’re not going to need him to win tonight. UConn is certainly the more talented team, and the only thing they need to worry about is peaking too early, because they are unquestionably the best team in the country right now.

These are two teams that play unbelievably hard at all times on both ends of the floor, and they’re both a joy to watch if you love basketball. So despite UConn’s deliberate pace (just 64.6 possessions per game vs. 68.6 for Butler), they get after it in transition when presented opportunities. And the Bulldogs should try and run before the Huskies can set the puppies in the half court.

It should lead to run outs both ways and more transition basketball than expected. We lean Butler to cover the 15, but let’s hope for 80 points before Dan Hurley empties his bench.

South Florida -2 vs. Charlotte

Full disclosure: We are an alum of the favorite tonight, and will be in attendance screaming our heads off for perhaps the most surprising team in the nation. USF has no business being this good under new head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim, but they’ve won seven straight and are tied first place in the AAC with Charlotte and FAU at 8-1.

They’re also 13-5-2 ATS, the 11th-best percentage against the number in the country, and have covered in six of their last seven. Former Boise State Bronco and JC transfer Kasean Pryor has been a revelation in the post, and seniors Chris Youngblood and Brandon Stroud, who both followed Abdur-Rahim from Kennesaw State, have shown they can be difference makers in a better conference as well. Their experience from last year’s NCAA run for the Owls is proving invaluable in Tampa.

Charlotte isn’t quite back to their Bobby Lutz heyday, but they’ve won eight straight as well and covered in seven of them. But only three were on the road, and the 49ers haven’t really been challenged away from Halton Arena in the league. Their 75-71 win over Tulane was a smidge flukey in that they shot twice as many free throws as the Green Wave, and won the rebounding battle by 11. That won’t happen tonight.

If USF wins, they’ll be in first place alone in a men’s basketball conference in for the first time since... ever. Seriously. And they started playing in 1973. As the head coach says, “This ain’t the same ol’ South Florida.” The Bulls keep their cover machine rolling tonight.