This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
Welcome back to another edition of the Thursday preview. We continue to see a steady amount of action on the West Coast, with the bulk of the slate comprised of late-night of Pac-12 action. We have a packed 10-game slate with the list of games across both platforms includes Ohio State/Iowa, Connecticut/Temple, USF/Wichita State, Oregon State/Arizona, Michigan State/Nebraska, Oregon/Arizona State, USC/Colorado, Stanford/Washington, UCLA/Utah. With DraftKings adding Santa Clara/BYU and FanDuel adding San Francisco/Gonzaga. I'll be using the same format as I've been before with only three weeks left of the regular season. As always, we have plenty of useful tools to help you compile your rosters, especially our advanced daily lineups and lineup optimizer. Let's check out the slate.
Luka Garza, Iowa, F ($9,000 FD, $9,500 DK)
Garza and the Hawkeyes played last Thursday, with the junior putting up a whopping 56 DK points in the contest. Garza has been the best offensive player in the country over his last ten games, averaging a staggering 43.2 DK points per contest and hitting the the 20-point plateau in each game. Garza's floor is as safe as any player in college basketball at 35 points, but I'm a bit concerned with the matchup Thursday. Ohio State currently sits at the 275th-fastest pace this season (per KenPom), and they feature big man Kaleb Wesson that has had a strong season in his own right. I'm tempering my expectations for the All-American candidate Thursday.
Xavier Tillman, Michigan State, F ($8,700 FD, $8,700 DK)
Tillman is expected to play in the game despite being away from the team for personal reasons. The junior has carried strong play into conference games, as he's hit at least 30 DK points in each of his past eight contests. He and the rest of the Spartans will get a great matchup against a Nebraska team that plays at the 32nd-fastest pace this season. Even though he sits at just 22 percent usage this year, eight percentage points behind Cassius Winston, I still like Tillman if he plays at his high salary.
Payton Pritchard, Oregon, G ($8,300 FD, $8,600 DK)
It may be the second week in a row were highlighting the senior, but he's been a frontrunner for first-team All-Conference honors. Scoring double-figures in each conference game, Pritchard has averaged 37.3 DK points over his past 13 games. He's been the go-to guy for the Ducks as well, as evidenced by his team-leading usage at 28 percent to go along with taking 28 percent of shots while on the floor. In a pace-boosted matchup against Arizona State, I'm looking to plug Pritchard into all of my lineups.
Quinton Rose, Temple, G ($8,000 FD, $8,400 DK)
The senior has put together as strong of a campaign as any in the American Conference, averaging 44.3 DK points in his past three games. Rose is the unquestioned offensive leader for the Owls this season, suiting up in 82 percent of his team's minutes and racking up up a team-leading 28.5 percent usage rate. Rose draws a tough matchup Thursday, however, as Connecticut sits at 39th in defensive efficiency while playing at a bottom-half pace this season. Rose only had 30 DK points against the Huskies in their last meeting, so he'll be absent from my lineups Thursday.
Yoeli Childs, BYU, F ($8,500 DK only)
It's interesting to see Childs' price this high on DraftKings, especially considering he's coming off a 29.8 DK-point effort Saturday against San Diego. He's been the unquestioned leader when he's been on the floor for the Cougars, as he's racked up a 33.5 percent usage rate while taking 35 percent of shots. Since returning from injury, Childs has averaged a solid 35.3 DK points in his past eight contests. In a pace-boosted matchup with Santa Clara on the road, I'm bullish on Childs and will look to deploy him in tournaments on DraftKings.
C.J. Walker, Ohio State, G ($4,900 FD, $5,500 DK)
Walker has a great opportunity against an Iowa squad that plays at the 69th-fastest pace Thursday. The redshirt junior has started the past nine games for the Buckeyes and has played at least 30 minutes in all but one. With D.J. Carton (personal) continuing to be away from the team, Walker has racked up an 17.3 percent usage rate while taking 17 percent of shots while on the floor. Walker should have plenty of opportunity for fantasy production in all facets, and I like him as my top depth option at his current price.
Josh Carlton, Connecticut, F ($4,900 FD, $5,300 DK)
With fellow big man Akok Akok going down with a season-ending injury in Sunday's game against Memphis, Carlton assumes a major role inside for the Huskies. He's already started all 25 games this season, but he's racked up a nice 23.8 percent usage rate. Carlton and the rest of the Huskies face a nice pace-boosted matchup against a Temple squad running at the 60th-fastest tempo this season per KenPom. Last time out against the Owls, Carlton produced 20.8 DK points, which I'm looking for him to at least reach again Thursday.
Charles Minlend, San Francisco, G ($5,300 FD only)
In the FanDuel-exclusive game Thursday, at Minlend's price he looks to be a phenomenal fantasy option. The junior has appeared in 75 percent of the team's minutes this season, while racking up a team-leading 26.5 percent usage rate along with taking 27.6 percent of shots while on the floor in the process. Minlend has hit double figures in four of his past five games, and is coming off a double-double performance in Thursday's game against Santa Clara. With Gonzaga playing at one of the fastest 30 paces in the nation this season, Minlend will be one of my first players selected when crafting lineups on FanDuel.
Justin Brown, USF, G/F ($4,700 FD, $4,800 DK)
Zach Reichle, Oregon State, G ($4,600 FD, $5,000 DK)
Dylan Smith, Arizona, G ($4,700 FD, $4,700 DK)
Rob Edwards, Arizona State, F ($4,100 FD, $5,500 DK)
Ethan Anderson, USC, G ($4,600 FD, $5,000 DK)
Daejon Davis, Stanford, G ($4,700 FD, $5,200 DK)
Alex Barcello, BYU, G ($5,300 FD)
CJ Fredrick (ankle), Iowa: Fredrick will be a game-time call for Thursday's game after missing Sunday's game with the ankle issue. His absence will likely grant Ryan Kriener another start at one of the forward positions.
D'Shawn Schwartz (nose), Colorado: The junior left Saturday's win over Oregon State with a bloody nose and didn't return after just 22 minutes of action. If Schwartz misses Thursday's game, more minutes would be expected for Maddox Daniels and Eli Parquet
N'Faly Dante, (knee), Oregon: Dante has missed seven-straight games with the knee issue and is uncertain for Thursday's game. The bulk of the center minutes would go to Shakur Juiston with Francis Okoro seeing depth minutes.
Prince Ali (back), UCLA: Ali has dealt with back spasms the past two games, seeing just seven minutes over that span. If he's limited again, the majority of guard minutes would be handled by Tyger Campbell, David Singleton and Jaime Jaquez Jr.
Onyeka Okongwu, (concussion), USC: Okongwu remains in concussion protocol but is expected to play, according to Ryan Katje of the Los Angeles Times. A bump in minutes would be expected for Daniel Utomi and even Nick Rakocevic should Okongwu miss more time or be eased back into action.
Game to Target
Michigan State (-11.5) @ Nebraska, o/u 151, 8:30 p.m. EST
With both teams in the top 100 of pace per KenPom this season, there should be plenty of fantasy opportunities in this game. It's rarely the case that a Big Ten game reaches a total of 150, so I'm going to be studying this game closely for my lineups. For the Spartans, I'll be playing the aforementioned Xavier Tillman and Cassius Winston ($7,400 FD, $7,900 DK). I've touched on Tillman, but Winston has led the team in usage at 30 percent, and even though he's shot that ball at a 39 percent clip from the field in his past five games, I like Winston to bounce back. My favorite depth option for the Spartans is Aaron Henry ($5,100 FD, $5,600 DK). Henry has seen action in 68 percent of minutes this season and he's racked up a 19.7 percent usage rate. The sophomore has averaged 21.1 DK points per contest this season which is a nice contribution at his salary.
The Cornhuskers have struggled in Fred Hoiberg's first season at the helm, however, they've been playing at a blazing fast pace this season. Seven of their last eight games have seen at least 70 possessions and they have a few solid fantasy options. Their unquestioned leader on offense is Cam Mack ($7,000 FD, $7,700 DK). He's led the team appearing in 85 percent of minutes and has racked up a 23.9 percent usage rate. Mack's 31.1 DK points per game is by far the best number on the team. Their second-best option is senior Haanif Cheatham ($5,400 FD, $6,100 DK). He's started all 25 games for the Cornhuskers while playing in 77 percent of his team's minutes. If you want to dig deep into the bargain bin, I love freshman Kevin Cross ($4,100 FD, $4,400 DK). Cross has entered the starting lineup for the past two games, and he's racked up a team-leading 24.5 percent usage rate this season.
Game to Avoid
USF @ Wichita State (-10) , o/u 125, 7 p.m. EST
This game has the lowest total of the slate and features a USF team that sits at 328th in average tempo this year. Both these teams pride themselves on the defensive end as USF sits 13th in the country in points allowed per game (61.4 ppg) and Wichita State is tied for 41st in that same metric (64 ppg).
The Shockers continue to spread the ball around this season, making it quite a headache trying to pinpoint which players to target for lineups. I'll elect to take the easy way out and fade their team entirely Thursday. The one player that deserves a look for USF is Justin Brown ($4,700 FD, $4,800 DK). The junior has come off the bench in the past five games, but he's still averaged 28.4 minutes per game over that span. Brown has taken 20.1 percent of shots when he's been on the floor this season, good for third on the team in that metric.
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