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College basketball best bets.
College basketball best bets.

Our top college basketball player props and best bets for Thursday based on the best college basketball odds examine an intriguing late-week slate ahead of a busy weekend of hoops.

All season long, we've seen the top teams in college basketball fall to lesser foes with regularity. This week is no exception with six of the top eight teams in the latest AP top 25 falling to unranked teams.

Arizona and Florida Atlantic look to avoid a similar fate in tricky road games against unranked Utah and UAB squads, respectively, in rematches of games played earlier in the season. Arizona secured a 92-73 victory against Utah at home on Jan. 6, while Florida Atlantic triumphed over UAB with an 86-73 win eight days later.

Here are our college basketball player props and best bets for Thursday (odds via our best March Madness betting sites; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Thursday’s college basketball best bets

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Thursday’s college basketball schedule and odds

(Odds via Caesars)

Thursday’s college basketball player props

Tony Perkins Over 4.5 assists vs. Penn State (-110 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Iowa point guard Tony Perkins leads the team with 4.1 assists per game, and the Hawkeyes rank in the top 28 nationally in assist percentage per made field goal (59.4%). Iowa faces a Penn State defense that allows assists per made field goal at a top 45 rate (56.8%) and ranks ninth in Big Ten play in that metric.

The Nittany Lions are also susceptible at the rim, allowing a league-worst 56.4% from 2-point range in league play. Thus, in a game in which KenPom projects Iowa to score 83 points, there should be plenty of opportunity for Perkins to accrue five or more assists, which he has done in half of his previous 12 games.

bet365 charges slightly shorter -115 odds to back the Over on Perkins’ assists, but bettors who think he is in for a big day stuffing the stat sheet might be enticed by the shop’s +350 odds for him to dish out seven or more assists.

Branden Carlson Under 1.5 3-pointers vs. Arizona (-130 via bet365) ⭐⭐⭐

Arizona flirted with disaster in its last game against Stanford, trailing 45-34 at the half, as the Wildcats had no answer for mobile big man Maxime Raynaud, who finished with 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including making five of six 3-point attempts.

However, the Wildcats can use the momentum of a much better defensive second half to carry over into this game, as they held the Cardinal to 26 points over the final 20 minutes, and Stanford finished with just 1.01 points per possession after a torrid start.

Utah's 7-foot center Branden Carlson has attempted the third-most 3-pointers of anyone on the team, and that is something the Utes will look to exploit in the same way Stanford did with Raynaud.

However, Carlson has been ice-cold, shooting 28.3% (13-of-46) from beyond the arc in his last nine league games, including going just 1-of-6 from 3-point range in a 92-73 road loss at Arizona on Jan. 6. He has made just one 3-point attempt in three of the previous four games, and we expect the Wildcats to limit him again in what should be a lower scoring game than our best sports betting sites predict, with the Under cashing in eight of Utah’s 12 home games.

We are getting the best value for this play at bet365, as DraftKings charges slightly more in juice (-135) to back the Under.

Thursday’s college basketball game picks

Detroit Mercy +19 vs. Wright State (-110 via Caesars) ⭐⭐⭐

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Most involved with Detroit Mercy would have admitted that it would be no easy task to replace Antoine Davis, D-I's second all-time leading scorer. However, few would have envisioned the Titans’ 0-24 start.

Not only has Detroit Mercy struggled from a wins and losses perspective, but it is 5-19 ATS, including covering just one of its nine home games. However, if there is reason for optimism, the Titans have been a better road ATS team (4-10 ATS as road underdogs) and should be catching Wright State in a classic lookahead spot.

Wright State enters the day 8-5 in league play and two games back of 10-3 Oakland, which it hosts on Saturday. In addition, the Raiders have not been world beaters at home, losing two of their last three home games to teams above them in the standings, which should also put added emphasis on this weekend's game more than Thursday's.

The Titans have an avenue to hang around in this game, as Wright State is the Horizon League's worst 3-point defense, allowing 38.8% from beyond the arc in league play. Wright State is also ninth or worse in the conference in adjusted defensive efficiency and turnovers forced.

Detroit Mercy lost by five points at Wright State last year, and all Titans outside of Antoine Davis shot 54.8% from 2-point range and made 7-of-18 shots beyond the arc. We expect the Titans to stay within this big number and cover for the third time in their last four games as underdogs of at least 19 points.

Most of our best sports betting apps offer a line of +18.5, so be sure to grab whatever +19 is out there. DraftKings is at +19, but at a slightly higher cost (-112) than this price at Caesars.

UNC Wilmington -3.5 vs. Drexel (-110 via BetMGM) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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This matchup will go a long way in determining the CAA regular season champion as Drexel (8-2) and UNC Wilmington (7-3) are two of four teams with a 7-3 or better league record.

Drexel easily covered as a 1.5-point home favorite in its first meeting against UNC Wilmington on Jan. 4, as the Dragons were in a revenge spot of sorts after losing their two games against UNCW last year (at home and on a neutral court in the conference tournament) by a combined six points.

Drexel was dealing with injuries for those games late last season and looked every bit the favorite now that it was fully healthy in this year's rematch, but UNCW did many things that suggest the game should have been much closer than the 78-63 final score indicates.

The Seahawks are one of the smallest teams in the country, ranking 234th in average height, and have struggled to keep opponents off the offensive glass, surrendering a 30% offensive rebounding rate (ninth in the CAA). However, when they faced a Drexel team that leads the conference in offensive rebounding (the Dragons secure 35.1% of their misses in league play), the Seahawks allowed just five offensive rebounds and held tough on the boards overall, getting outrebounded 35-33.

UNCW also committed fewer turnovers (10 to Drexel's 12) and made 21-of-24 free-throw attempts, but its undoing was shooting 6-of-30 (20%) from 3-point range, while Drexel shot 47.4% (9-of-19) from beyond the arc.

Donovan Newby was the only UNCW starter to score in double figures in the first meeting, as the Seahawks got 30 combined points from KJ Jenkins and Trazarien White off the bench. We expect a much more balanced scoring output in this home rematch, as four Seahawks average double figures on the season.

In what should be a low-possession game (each team ranks 11th or lower in adjusted tempo in league play), we trust the better free-throw shooting team (UNCW ranks 23rd nationally making 77% of its free throws) to cover. In addition, Drexel is 4-8 ATS in road games this season, while UNCW is 15-12-1 ATS at home since 2021.

BetRivers has already gone to -4, while FanDuel and DraftKings charge a slightly higher -112 price to back the favorites at a spread of -3.5.

College basketball best bets made Thursday at 6:41 a.m. ET

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