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College basketball best bets.
College basketball best bets.

The Big Ten takes centerstage on a small 11-game college basketball slate. We have highlighted the odds, movements, and our college basketball best bets for Thursday.

Of the 11 games to be played Thursday, just eight involve two Division I opponents. The Ohio State Buckeyes play their first conference game when hosting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, while one of the fiercest rivalries in college sports between two non-conference opponents takes place when the Iowa State Cyclones visit the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Here are our best bets for Thursday’s college basketball slate (odds via PointsBet, 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)

  • Rutgers (+195) vs. Ohio State (-230)
  • Iowa State (+210) vs. Iowa (-250)

Thursday’s College Basketball Best Bets

  • Spread: Ohio State -5.5 (-110 via PointsBet)
  • Moneyline: Michigan (-220 via FanDuel)
  • Total: Iowa State-Iowa Under 142 (-115 via DraftKings)
  • Upset: Marshall (+100 via DraftKings)

Top College Basketball Picks for Thursday

Spread: Ohio State -5.5 (-110) ★★★

Since 2019-20, Rutgers is 10-3 at its on-campus arena (Jersey Mike’s Arena, formerly known as the RAC) against AP top 25 opponents. The Scarlet Knights’ latest victim was No. 10 Indiana, which Rutgers held to 48 points. Before that, the Hoosiers had scored fewer than 81 points just once all season.

But as gaudy as that record is, we have seen this script before. Rutgers tends to struggle on the road in conference, as evidenced by its 4-6 road conference record last season.

Ohio State has played some of the best defensive teams in the country (San Diego State, Texas Tech, and Duke) and still ranks third in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Buckeyes’ top three players in terms of 3-point field goals attempted (Sean McNeil, Brice Sensabaugh, and Bruce Thornton) all shoot 35.9% or better from beyond the arc. In addition, they have one of the most physical post presences in the conference in Zed Key, who dominated Duke’s massive front line for 21 points and eight rebounds.

PointsBet and DraftKings are the only sportsbooks offering Ohio State at -5.5 with standard vig. FanDuel charges -115 for the same number, while Caesars Sportsbook has less value for Buckeyes backers at -6.

Moneyline: Michigan (-220) ★★★★★

We are getting a much better price on the Wolverines than we usually would, likely because of their difficult scheduling circumstances that had them playing in London just four days ago. However, Michigan is a far superior team than Minnesota, and we do not consider the Wolverines on upset alert at “The Barn.”

There is no shame in losing consecutive games to Virginia and Kentucky, especially since those two losses were by a combined six points. Michigan even had an 11-point halftime lead over the Cavaliers and was within two points of Kentucky with less than two minutes to play, but it could not close the deal.

The Wolverines shot 40% or better from 3-point range in those two contests, which has helped open things inside for Hunter Dickinson (46 points on 18-of-35 shooting in the last two games). Even if this game ends up close, Minnesota’s dreadful free-throw shooting (54.9% ranks 363rd) should prove costly.

By making this wager at FanDuel, we are getting $10 more value than at DraftKings (-230) and $25 more than at PointsBet (-245).

Total: Iowa State-Iowa Under 142 (-115) ★★★

Iowa is coming off a quick turnaround, having played at the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night, which is worrisome heading into a game against a team as physical as Iowa State. Duke used its size and length to completely shut down the Hawkeyes from the perimeter (3-of-16 shooting from 3-point range). It also became apparent how much lower Iowa’s offensive ceiling is when its best player, Kris Murray, does not have a good game (eight points on 3-of-9 shooting vs. Duke).

Iowa State has held opponents to 26.3% shooting from 3-point range (16th-best in the country). The Cyclones cause a lot of havoc on the perimeter (No. 1 in the country in turnovers forced at 30.3%) and will look to disrupt the flow of Fran McCaffery’s motion offense.

The extra juice is worth it at DraftKings, as the number there for Under backers is far superior to the 140.5 found at FanDuel and PointsBet.

Upset: Marshall (+100) ★★★

Perhaps we are overvaluing Duquesne’s 7-1 start to the season, as it has not beaten any team inside KenPom’s top 110. The Dukes were picked to finish dead last in the Atlantic 10 this year after finishing last season with 17 consecutive losses. Two backcourt transfers in Tevin Brewer (from FIU) and Dae Dae Grant (Miami OH), have helped solidify the offense, but Marshall has been an underrated defensive group.

The Thundering Herd rank in the top 45 in the country in effective field-goal percentage defense, 3-point percentage allowed, block percentage, and steal percentage. In addition, Duquesne’s point total decreased in four consecutive games before its last win against Ball State, and Marshall has held three straight opponents to fewer than 70 points. Its disruptive defense will pose issues in this contest.

Where to Bet on College Basketball

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:

College basketball best bets from 12/8/2022 at 6:25 a.m. ET.