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College basketball best bets.
College basketball best bets.

A heavyweight battle between two of the AP poll’s top seven teams in the country headlines an intriguing late-week college basketball slate. We have highlighted the odds, movements, and our college basketball picks and best bets for Thursday.

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge has dominated the headlines for most of the week, but today the Big East and Big 12 conferences get their chance in the spotlight, as the two will pit their best teams against each other over the next several days. None of those matchups are bigger than the No. 7 Creighton Bluejays visiting the No. 2 Texas Longhorns, as each team shot up the rankings with impressive victories over ranked teams last week.

Here are our best bets for Thursday’s college basketball slate (odds via Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and DraftKings Sportsbook; 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

  • Moneyline: Oregon (-189 via Caesars) vs. Washington State
  • Spread: Utah +7.5 (-110 via FanDuel) vs. Arizona
  • Total: Washington-Oregon State Under 133.5 (-115 via DraftKings)
  • Upset: Mount Saint Mary’s (+145 via Caesars) vs. Saint Peter’s
  • Prop pick: Creighton team total Under (OFF) vs. Texas

Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday

Moneyline: Oregon (-189) ★★★★

We are getting a much better price on the Oregon Ducks than we usually would at home for this Pac-12 opener, given how much of a wreck their roster is due to injuries. Despite having just six scholarship players available and a walk-on (Gabe Reichle) in their starting lineup against Villanova, the Ducks were victorious in the Phil Knight Invitational seventh-place game. 

Oregon has had just three days to get players healthy, so it is unlikely to have the services of Jermaine Cousinard, Brennan Rigsby, or Ethan Butler, who have yet to play all year. However, there is a chance that starting center N’Faly Dante, Oregon’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder could be back from a short one-game absence. Even if he cannot go, we have confidence in the Ducks, who showed mettle in out-rebounding the Wildcats 42-30 with many vital contributors out.

Spread: Utah +7.5 (-110) ★★★★

Arizona is the country’s top-scoring team with an average of 97.5 points per game, and is lethal when it can get out in transition. However, Utah is built to make opponents grind it out in the half-court, as the Utes rank 362nd in the country with an average of 19.5 seconds per defensive possession.

Also, few teams in the country have the frontcourt to match up with the Wildcats’ 6-foot-11 Azoulas Tubelis and 7-foot Oumar Ballo. However, Utah will counter them with the 6-foot-9 Ben Carlson and 7-foot Branden Carlson, who are big reasons the Utes rank third in the country in 2-point percentage allowed (38.7%).

Total: Washington-Oregon State Under 133.5 (-115) ★★★

Oregon State did a masterful job defensively in its biggest game of the season. The Beavers held Duke to 16-for-60 shooting (26.7%), the Blue Devils’ worst field goal percentage in a win in the last 25 seasons. The Beavers now face Washington’s menacing 2-3 zone that coach Mike Hopkins brought over with him from Syracuse. Unfortunately, the Beavers are not well-equipped to shoot over the top of the zone, as their 28.6% team 3-point percentage ranks 313th in the country. That is the worst mark of all Pac-12 teams, and Oregon State is not talented enough offensively to overcome those shortcomings in this difficult matchup.

Making this wager at DraftKings is a no-brainer for Under backers, as it is the only sportsbook offering a line of 133.5 compared to 132.5 everywhere else.

Upset: Mount Saint Mary’s (+145) ★★★

Mount Saint Mary’s would have likely been one of the favorites to win the NEC this year, but instead is making the transition in its first year playing in the MAAC. The Mountaineers get a winnable game in their first game in the new conference, as the Saint Peter's Peacocks' roster was gutted after last year’s Elite Eight run.

Saint Peter’s returns just 18.3% of its minutes from last season (ranks 318th), and its frontcourt is very much a work in progress, as two freshmen starters, Corey Washington and Mouhamed Sow, combine for just 13.6 points per game thus far. Conversely, Mount Saint Mary’s returns excellent production from a defense that ranked No. 1 in ShotQuality’s 3-point quality allowed metric last season.

Caesars is the most generous book with its moneyline odds, higher than the +140 found most commonly elsewhere.

Prop pick: Creighton team total Under (OFF) ★★★

The last time a top-seven team went into Austin, it walked out with a 19-point loss, as Texas held Gonzaga to 74 points (almost 10 points below its season average). Head coach Chris Beard’s squad is elite defensively, ranking in the top six in opponents’ points per game (52.8) while forcing the ninth-most turnovers per game (20.6). Texas ranks third in adjusted defensive efficiency, fifth in effective field goal percentage defense, and fourth in 2-point percentage defense (39.2%). 

Creighton will challenge Texas in ways Gonzaga couldn’t, especially with one of the best stretch forwards in the country in South Dakota State transfer Baylor Scheierman. However, until we see a team have offensive success against the Longhorns, we are inclined to believe Beard’s team will suffocate opponents all season. Creighton has an implied team total of 67.5, and that is where we would be comfortable making this wager.

Where to Bet on College Basketball

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:

College basketball best bets from 12/1/2022 at 6:28 a.m. ET.