Best Bets Today: Top Picks, Predictions from Thursday's Sports Slate
We've looked around at the odds and lines at our best sportsbooks in search of today's top bets for Thursday, March 30. Our top picks include offerings from MLB, and the NBA, NHL, and college basketball.
Opening Day has finally arrived, and every MLB team is in action. That means the frenzied spring sports betting season is fully underway, and we also have picks for the NBA, NHL, and college basketball.
Read on for today's best bets for Thursday, March 30, based on the odds from our best sportsbooks.
Thursday's best bets
- College basketball: North Texas +2.5 vs. UAB (-120 via FanDuel Sportsbook)
- NHL: Rangers ML (+115 via DraftKings Sportsbooks) vs. Devils
- NBA: CJ McCollum Over 19.5 points vs. Nuggets (-115 via FanDuel)
- MLB: Shohei Ohtani to record win (-105 via DraftKings)
Thursday's college basketball best bet
North Texas +2.5 (-120 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐
North Texas is 5-0 in games decided by three points or fewer and 3-0 in overtime games, so the Blazers should be comfortable in a game with a low 2.5-point spread. While Conference USA teams as a whole have been dominant this year in the postseason with a combined 17-1 straight up and 14-4 against the spread record, we're making North Texas a three-star play given head coach Grant McCasland’s outstanding postseason record (11-3) in his coaching career.
North Texas plays at D-I’s slowest tempo and spends an average of 21.3 seconds on offense per possession. Thus, when the Mean Green buried themselves in a 12-point hole at halftime against Wisconsin, many thought it would be difficult for them to come back since their offense is not built to score in bunches. While their offense did not scorch the nets in the second half, North Texas is in the NIT finals because it held Wisconsin to 13 second-half points, including zero points over the final 9:08 of the game. The Badgers made one of their last 16 field goal attempts and attempted just two free throws during the nine-minute scoring drought. Thus, the Mean Green are riding high as Wisconsin had won 182 of its last 186 games when leading by at least 12 points at halftime, while North Texas won its eighth game in the previous 109 when trailing by 12+ at the half (per OptaSTATS).
North Texas changed the game against Wisconsin with how it defended Badgers point guard Chucky Hepburn in the second half. After Hepburn made 5-of-5 3-pointers and had 15 points at the half, the Mean Green put Kai Huntsberry on him in the second half, and Hepburn finished with the same 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor. That likely means Huntsberry will draw the defensive assignment on UAB guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker, the fifth-leading scorer in the country at 22.3 points per game.
UAB is a highly thought of team by the oddsmakers, as it was favored in the C-USA Championship against an FAU team that is now in the Final Four. However, they were highly overvalued in hindsight after the Owls beat them by 22 points. In addition, the Blazers played five extra minutes in the late game on Tuesday night and have not been the best team on short layoffs this season. UAB is just 3-4-1 ATS with one day off, while North Texas is 7-2 ATS in such games.
North Texas-UAB picks made by Mike Spector.
Check out all of our top college basketball picks, as well as our 2023 March Madness odds and 2023 Wooden Award odds.
Thursday's NHL best bet
Rangers (+115 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
For the most part the Devils have been the better team this year. They’re definitely the better team five-on-five, boasting a superior Corsi for percentage, expected goals for, expected goals against, and expected goals for percentage. That said, the Blueshirts have been a team possessed, running-up an 8-1-1 record over their past 10 games, outscoring opponents 40-18 over that stretch.
After a bit of a slow start to his Rangers career, pre-deadline acquisition Patrick Kane is finally starting to find his footing, lighting the lamp in consecutive games heading into Thursday’s matchup.
The Devils are a middling 4-4-2 during their most recent 10-game stretch, surrendering four-plus goals five times during this uncharacteristic spell of mediocrity. And this is why I’m backing the Rangers. New York may not be the better team, but they’re unquestionably the hotter team right now, and at +115, the Rangers are a good bet in what seems like a bit of a coin flip.
On top of this, Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin’s brick wall impression is starting to resemble the one that led him to a Vezina Trophy last season. The 27-year-old boasts a sterling .951 save percentage, 1.60 GAA, and 6.68 goals saved above average over his past five starts. Conversely, Devils netminder Vitek Vanecek hasn’t been nearly as sharp over the same span, posting a .904 save percentage, 2.60 GAA, and 1.49 goals saved above average.
Led by Shesterkin, I expect the Rangers to emerge victorious on Thursday night in what should be a relatively tight affair.
Rangers-Devils picks made by Kyle Smith
Check out all of our NHL best bets, and our Stanley Cup odds.
Thursday's NBA best bet
CJ McCollum Over 19.5 points vs. Nuggets (-115 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐
McCollum has been trading with a total of 20.5 points, but on Thursday, he's trading with a total of 19.5 points. Due to this slight shift in price for McCollum, combined with his projected scoring output, we have an advantage over the odds available on FanDuel.
It's projected that McCollum will score 21.3 points, which on a total of 20.5 points is fine, but when it's 19.5 points, you need to hit the button. Using this projection, we can price McCollum at -140 to exceed 19.5 points while buying it at -115 on FanDuel.
You can find the best price for this prop at FanDuel or PointsBet, both of which are trading the Over at -115. The Over is trading at -125 at DraftKings, 10 cents higher than both of these sportsbooks.
Thursday's NBA player prop made by Jon Metler.
Check out all of our NBA best bets, and our 2023 NBA Finals odds and 2023 NBA MVP odds.
Thursday's MLB best bet
Ohtani to record win (-105 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐
Do I think this is the year the Angels finally put it all together and stop wasting the excellence that is Ohtani and Mike Trout? No, probably not. But do I think they can absolutely spank the lowly Athletics on Opening Day? Absolutely.
Ohtani has the third-greatest projected win total for Thursday's action at 0.48, behind only Blake Snell (0.50) and Max Fried (0.49), according to NumberFire.
The Angels ace opened the 2022 season with starts lasting only 4 2/3 and 3 2/3 innings, but players also had a much shorter spring training before the beginning of last year's campaign. Following those abbreviated outings, he went at least five innings in 24 of 26 starts. He won 15 of those 26.
Meanwhile, FanGraphs projects the Athletics to finish with the third-fewest wins this season at 71.
Caesars prices an Ohtani win at -111, which feels like a more appropriate price considering the Angels range from -215 to -225 moneyline favorites. Since I already believe Ohtani will manage to go five innings and have zero faith in A's starter Kyle Muller's ability to match his effectiveness, I'll gladly take DraftKings' more generous price for this prop.
Shohei Ohtani props for Opening day by Andrew Brennen
Check our MLB Opening Day best bets, and our White Sox-Astros picks.
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