After a wild college basketball Wednesday consisting of Xavier, TCU, UConn, and Arkansas getting beaten up on the road, we turn to Thursday’s slate.
Our staff has five best bets, including one Big Ten game featuring third-place Purdue.
So, tune in now for the best college basketball odds and picks for Thursday.
Top 5 college basketball bets on Thursday
The team logos in the table below represent each of the games the college basketball team is targeting on Thursday’s slate of games. Click on the team logos for a match below to go to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Purdue vs. Minnesota
In my most recent Big Ten betting update, I wrote about Purdue being the best selling team in the conference.
Lucky for us, we immediately get the perfect opportunity to fade the Boilermakers as double-digit road favorites. What a treat!
Purdue is a great basketball team, but there’s a simple way to beat the Boilermakers: You contain Zach Edey as much as possible to try and get the other guys to beat you. Next, you attack the mini-guards away from dodge.
Matt Painter-led teams can’t stop dribbling, no matter how they cut it. Boilermakers don’t feature any elite perimeter advocates, and guys like Tyson Walker and Cam Spencer have revealed that.
I expect Ben Johnson to draw plenty of high screens with Ta’Lon Cooper and Dawson Garcia/Jamison Battle, putting Painter defense on the ball and getting Edey out into space where he’s been known to miss a bit.
Minnesota is bad, but the Gophers are tough, tall (18th nationally in average height), and low-key headlong uphill. The Gophers have covered three of their last four games and are now 6-5 ATS as an underdog this season.
Meanwhile, there is no team in the nation that I sell more to than Purdue. The Boilermakers are 3-7 ATS over the last 10 games and now only 4-11 ATS as a season favorite.
The ShotQualityBets model recognizes the market inefficiency between the two teams, putting Minnesota just a 10.2-point home dog Thursday night.
Plus, Big Ten road games are very difficult to play (see: Ohio State’s road losses to Minnesota and Nebraska), and Purdue is playing its fourth in five games.
Put it all together, and I see this finishing as a single-digit issue. I’ve been playing Minnesota up to +11 (-110).
Charlotte vs. Middle Tennessee
by Brett Bond
I think the wrong team is favored in this Conference USA game in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which is why I support Charlotte for victory on the road.
The 49ers have already shown they can be a profitable team away from home in conference play, covering such underdogs as Florida Atlantic and UAB.
You also can’t ignore the fact that Charlotte won the first meet by 15 points just three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the 49ers also match well with Middle Tennessee’s strengths and weaknesses.
For starters, Charlotte ranks 20th in the country in offensive EFG%, an area where the Blue Raiders are outside the top 200 defensively, according to Bart Torvik.
MTSU thrives on turning overs, but the 49ers do a great job of handling the ball (70% TO%). Middle Tennessee also loves to smash glass and create second chance points, while Charlotte ranks in the top 10 in rebounding defense.
If that spread gets to +3.5 or better, I’d rather take the 49ers on the spread. With this number under the main number three, I’m going for visitors to pick up a win on the money line at a plus price.
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Maine vs Vermont
Chris Markwood has really changed the culture in Orono. The Black Bears are a legitimately competitive team in the America East, and they have crushed their non-conference competition.
Unfortunately, a lot of that was smoke and mirrors. The underlying issues were masked by the hot 3-point shooting from Gedi Juozapaitis and other big guys.
Now that the shooting has subsided, the Black Bears have lost seven straight games, including their first four conference games. And it reared its ugly head on the underlying issue: defense.
It’s an absolute throw line for anyone playing Maine. Vermont’s offense was horrible, but John Baker will run whatever he wants to whomever he wants and he’s going to hit the ground running tonight.
I see Dylan Penn has a huge breakout game against a weak inside defense and a weak defense in isolation.
On the other end, Vermont attacks with its deployment, as it has no internal defensive presence. But Maine is a heavy offense with Kellen Tynes and Jaden Clayton, and Vermont has several perimeter defenders who can blow out the combos Markwood tries to run.
And if Maine tries to exit in transition, it will be staring down one of the best transitional defenses in the country.
I’m usually not one to put double digits with a home favorite, but this is a good place for the Vermont circumstance. The Catamounts will be fired after back-to-back losses to New Hampshire and UMass Lowell, and they are looking for a “get it right” game against a struggling team.
Also, Vermont may be undervalued in general. The Cats are only 2-2 in league play, but they are still the best team in KenPom’s America East by adjusted efficiency. Vermont’s ShotQualityBets model makes about 19 points a favorite in this game.
Sharps have recognized incompetence and attacked that number, so get the best you can, and #GoCats.
UTRGV vs. UT Arlington
UT Rio Grande Valley (10-8, 1-4) will start a road swing against UT Arlington (6-13, 1-5) tonight as WAC play resumes.
I’ll jump at it here and get it off my chest: five points is too many for this conference game.
Bart Torvik ranked UTRGV 256th in the nation and Arlington 274th. KenPom reversed Arlington’s trend, but with a lower separation, ranking Arlington 275th and UTRGV 281st.
Either way you interpret the ratings, five points seems like a bit too much. But out of order, I like to support the Vaqueros because of their offense.
Namely, UTRGV guard Justin Johnson is the man to watch. In 18 starts, Johnson has an impressive stat line of 20.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 0.9 steals per game. Johnson is making a name for himself on the national stage as well, ranking 16th in the country in scoring average.
UTRGV has an Achilles heel, and that is its defense. Vaqueros ranks 314th in the nation in AdjD, according to KenPom.
While defense may be a cause for concern, UTGRV is drawing a favorable match here against an Arlington offense that is even worse than UTRGV’s defense.
UT Arlington ranks near the bottom of all teams nationally in KenPom’s AdjO at #324 with an average of just 95.8 points per 100 possessions. Given the lackluster offense of the Mavericks, I don’t think the Vaqueros will have a hard time keeping this game close.
In fact, UTRGV’s cards may be totally winning.
Model shows UTRGV as a two-point favorite, and offers seven points of relative value to available markets. I like taking points here, and at +18.5, I think there’s a case to be made to put a few shekels on the money line as well.
Both teams are evenly matched, but I think UTRGV’s offense will tell the ticket tonight.
Spotting a few spots for having UTRGV on the road probably makes sense, but five is too much. Run this on UTRGV +4.
St. Mary’s vs. Pepperdine
by DJ James
The Pepperdine Waves are ranked 11th in the Tempo Adjustment, per KenPom, but they will meet their conference opposite at Saint Mary’s Gaels on Thursday.
Saint Mary’s ranks 352nd in adjusted pace, so these two teams couldn’t be more different when it comes to their playing styles. Gaels use up to 20 seconds per possession. They hold opponents with 30.8% depth and 43.7% rebounding.
Pepperdine contains 36.5% of 3s and 51.2% of 2s. However, in ShotQuality it ranks 320 in 3 Open Rate and 323 in Rim & 3 Rate. Since Gaels are strong at forcing opponents to take bad shots, that’s probably the case in this game.
The Gaels bounced back very well defensively. They have a 20.9% discount on offensive glass. Pepperdine ranks 284 in offensive rebounding, so on at least one side of the field there should only be one shooting opportunity.
Gillies can smash glass offensively, so they might get some second chances.
Now, neither of those teams has reached the free throw line very often. Saint Mary’s only shoots 64.9% of the shot, so this shouldn’t be a concern for the group. Pepperdine only takes off 69% from there.
Finally, Pepperdine’s defense may be a concern for the group, but Saint Mary’s slows the pace to such an extent that she must control how this game is played. This is more important because there will be fewer possessions for both teams.
With a wide margin of victory, this should come under without much fouling of late.