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College basketball best bets.
College basketball best bets.

College basketball is doing its best to rival the NFL on Thanksgiving by presenting us with a loaded holiday slate, and we have you covered with our daily college basketball player props and best bets for Thursday based on the best college basketball odds.

After securing victory in the loaded Maui Invitational, Purdue is poised to become the unanimous No. 1 team in the AP poll next Monday. This recognition does not diminish Marquette's accomplishments as the second-place finisher. The Golden Eagles achieved a historic feat, becoming the first team in NCAA history to beat two teams with a combined 15-plus national championships on consecutive days (UCLA and Kansas), as reported by OptaSTATS.  

With the Maui Invitational concluded, attention now shifts to the upcoming second-round games in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the inaugural matches in the ESPN Events Invitational, and a highly anticipated clash between No. 3 Arizona and No. 21 Michigan State at the Acrisure Classic. The basketball spotlight now focuses on these events, promising thrilling matchups and competitive games in these prestigious tournaments.

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 schedule and odds

(Odds via DraftKings)

Thursday’s college basketball best bets

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Thursday’s college basketball player props

Oumar Ballo (Arizona) Over 12.5 points vs. Michigan State (-110 via DraftKings, bet365) ⭐⭐⭐

Tom Izzo’s Spartans have had difficulty limiting opposing bigs in recent non-conference games. Last year, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, and Villanova’s Eric Dixon exceeded their season scoring averages and dropped 22-plus points on Michigan State. While the Spartans held Duke’s Kyle Filipowski to 15 points (his second-lowest point total of the season), he also got to the free-throw line a season-high seven times, which speaks to the difficulty they had defending him.

Michigan State will likely choose to play Ballo straight up on post touches and stay home on Arizona’s shooters, as the Wildcats have shot 41.5% from 3-point range (13th-best in the country). Ballo has scored in double figures in all five games this season, and he has done an excellent job of staying out of foul trouble (he has committed more than two fouls in just one game), so we expect him to have ample opportunities to fill up the stat sheet in this important non-conference battle.

This line has gone from +100 to back the Over at DraftKings to -110, which aligns with bet365’s price.

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Keshon Gilbert (Iowa State) Over 19.5 points + rebounds + assists vs. VCU (-105 via DraftKings) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Keshon Gilbert has totaled 20-plus points/rebounds/assists in three of four games this season, and two of his three highest point totals have come in the last two games. He has topped out at 27 minutes played, but Iowa State has not won a game by fewer than 41 points, and his minutes will likely climb significantly in its first true test as a 10.5-point favorite.

Gilbert did not score more than eight points in his last four games at UNLV last year, so he is a much more coveted player in T.J. Otzelberger’s system. VCU ranks 290th in 3-point shooting percentage (28.1%), so there should be plenty of rebounds to be had, and we expect Gilbert to fill up the stat sheet in the Cyclones’ most highly contested game of the young season.

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Thursday’s college basketball game picks

Texas A&M -6.5 vs. Penn State (-120 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mike Rhoades has the Nittany Lions playing solid defense in his first season with the team, as they rank second in effective field goal percentage defense, turnover rate forced, and 3-point percentage allowed (19.7%). However, the light early-season schedule has much to do with that, as Penn State has not faced a team ranked inside KenPom’s top 200. 

Rhoades’ VCU teams were poor from an ATS standpoint on extended rest, covering just 18 of the 27 games (40%) it played on four-plus days’ rest. In addition, his teams went 4-6 ATS against ranked opponents. 

Texas A&M has already faced a Big Ten team in a true road environment and handled its business as 1.5-point underdogs in a 73-66 win. The Buckeyes were picked to finish seventh in the Preseason Big Ten Media Poll, while Penn State was picked 13th out of 14 teams. The Aggies punished the Buckeyes 45-35 on the glass in that meeting, and their second-ranked offensive rebounding percentage (they rebound 45.8% of their misses) should pose problems for a Penn State team that ranks outside the top 230 in defensive rebounding rate. 

We are willing to pay the steep -120 odds at FanDuel, the only sportsbook offering a line lower than -7, with some of our best sports betting apps as high as -7.5.

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Iowa +1.5 vs. Oklahoma (-122 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Iowa returned just one starter from a team that won 19 games last year and made its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament. But that does not mean the Hawkeyes are hurting for experience, as Patrick McCaffery, Payton Sandfort, and Tony Perkins combined for 112 starts and played in 263 combined career games. Their experience in the Iowa system is a big reason the Hawkeyes have averaged 95 points per game through the first four games. Iowa has had balanced scoring, with four players reaching double figures in every game and five or more players in double figures in two of the four.

This is a four-star play, as Iowa’s Ben Krikke and Owen Freeman were named Big Ten Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week last week, the first time the Hawkeyes have swept those two awards since 2019-20. We expect Iowa’s ability to spread out Porter Moses’ packed-in defensive philosophy to be the difference, as the Hawkeyes average 7.3 made 3-pointers per game.

We would have backed the Hawkeyes on the moneyline if they were getting plus-money odds, but FanDuel has them at -110 (which is a virtual pick’em), so we do not mind paying up slightly for them to get the point’s worth of insurance on the spread by using our FanDuel promo code

College basketball best bets made 11/23/2023 at 6:50 a.m. ET.

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