Thursday NCAAB Picks

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their College Basketball picks and predictions for Thursday, February 26.

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Minnesota at Illinois, 8:00PM ET

Fresh off one of its best shooting games of the season, Illinois has quieted some of the critics following an embarrassing offensive performance.

Another lackluster effort against Minnesota on Thursday night, though, could leave the 20th-ranked Fighting Illini subject to even more ridicule.

Back at Assembly Hall for the first time since last Wednesday's 38-33 loss to Penn State, Illinois looks for its 11th straight home win against the Golden Gophers.

The Illini (22-6, 10-5 Big Ten) had their lowest-scoring game since a 34-31 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 6, 1947, last week but rebounded to win their third straight conference road game Sunday, 70-68 over Ohio State behind Mike Davis' 22 points and eight rebounds.

NCAA Free Pick: Illinois View Game Matchup | Best Line: -8

Youngstown State at Butler, 7:00PM ET

Back at Hinkle Fieldhouse following an impressive non-conference victory, Butler tries to do something it failed to do in its last two Horizon League games: win the regular-season title.

The 24th-ranked Bulldogs look to avoid their first three-game slide in conference play in four seasons Thursday night as they host a Youngstown State team that hasn't defeated a ranked opponent in more than 57 years.

Butler (23-4, 13-3), which last dropped three straight Horizon League games from Jan. 22-29, 2005, took a one-game break from conference play Saturday, defeating NCAA scoring leader Stephen Curry and Davidson 75-63.

NCAA Free Pick: Youngstown State View Game Matchup | Best Line: +16.5

Xavier at St. Josephs, 7:00PM ET

A few weeks ago, there was speculation that Xavier might run the table in the Atlantic 10 and win its third straight regular-season title without a blemish. Now, the Musketeers are just trying to hold on.

Three losses in the last five games - all on the road - have left the 19th-ranked Musketeers with only a half-game lead atop the league. The title is still in their control, given how the schedule plays out.

The question is whether Xavier (22-5) can regroup in time.

NCAA Free Pick: Xavier View Game Matchup | Best Line: -4

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Posted: 2/26/09 11:25AM ET

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