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College basketball best bets.
College basketball best bets.

Four of the five ranked teams in action Thursday hail from the West Coast. Read on for our college basketball best bets for Thursday based on the top NCAAB odds.

The day's results will heavily impact the Pac-12's and West Coast Conference's regular-season races. Arizona visits California and starts the day a half-game back of UCLA, who heads to Oregon State. Meanwhile, Saint Mary's is two games ahead of Gonzaga as the Gaels take on Loyola Marymount and Bulldogs face San Francisco.

Here are our college basketball best bets for Thursday (odds via BetMGM, DraftKings Sportsbook, and FanDuel Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Check out our top college basketball picks and our best March Madness betting sites.

Thursday’s college basketball schedule and odds

(odds via DraftKings)

  • USC vs. Oregon (-4.5)
  • Northwestern vs. Ohio State (-5)
  • Iowa vs. Purdue (-7.5)
  • Arizona State vs. Stanford (-3.5)

Check out our best March Madness odds and Wooden Award odds.

College basketball best bets for Thursday

  • Spread: Northwestern +5 (-110 via DraftKings) vs. Ohio State ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Moneyline Parlay: Milwaukee vs. Detroit Mercy/ BYU vs. Pepperdine (+129 via FanDuel) ⭐⭐⭐
  • Total: Oral Roberts-St. Thomas Over 153.5 (-110 via BetMGM) ⭐⭐⭐
  • Spread: Loyola Marymount +8.5 (-115 via BetMGM) vs. Saint Mary’s ⭐⭐⭐

College basketball top picks

Spread: Northwestern +5 vs. Ohio State (-110) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Northwestern is 7-5 in Big Ten play and is in an excellent position for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament with a No. 52 NET ranking and 4-4 Quad 1 record. Big Ten games are hard to win on the road, as evidenced by the league's 51-13 record for home favorites against league opponents (entering Wednesday). However, one of those upsets happened in Northwestern's last game at Wisconsin, and the Wildcats are being underrated against a reeling Buckeyes team.

Ohio State is just 2-9 in Quad 1 games and has won just one of its last 10 overall. Northwestern has enough veterans to go on the road and earn a big victory, as it ranks in the top 70 in D-1 experience and minutes continuity. In addition, senior point guard Boo Buie has scored 20+ points in five of his last seven games (and three consecutive road games), and he is a huge weapon as the Big Ten's leading free throw shooter (90.5% in league play) if the game is tight late.

Moneyline Parlay: Milwaukee ML vs. Detroit Mercy/ BYU ML vs. Pepperdine (+129) ⭐⭐⭐

Milwaukee raced out to a 31-16 lead on the road in its first meeting against Detroit Mercy, then survived a 41-21 run and overcame a five-point second-half deficit to earn a three-point victory. In that game, D-1 leading scorer Antoine Davis (26.6 points per game) went off for 31 points, but the Panthers held the rest of the Titans to 5-of-17 (29.4%) shooting from 3-point range. 

The second leg of our parlay is with a BYU team that scored 91 points in the first home meeting against Pepperdine, its highest-scoring game against a D-1 opponent this year. The Cougars have won 10 of the last 11 meetings in this rivalry, with seven victories by double digits. BYU has covered both games as a road favorite and is 7-4 ATS in conference games. We expect the Cougars to win comfortably against a Pepperdine team that needed a miracle buzzer-beater off an inbounds play with 0.6 seconds left to end an 11-game losing streak in its previous game.

Total: Oral Roberts vs. St. Thomas Over 153.5 (-110) ⭐⭐⭐

Oral Roberts is the second-leading scoring team in the country (85.2 points per game). The Golden Eagles have won 18 of 19 and scored 80-plus points in 14, using a breakneck pace (13th in shortest average possession length) to bludgeon opponents. 

While St. Thomas is not particularly known for its up-and-down style (277th in adjusted tempo), it has the league's best turnover rate (13.5%), free throw percentage (79.4%) and is third in adjusted offensive efficiency (per KenPom). The Over is 6-1 when the Golden Eagles have had four-plus days off, and St. Thomas has scored 80-plus in two of its last four home games.

Spread: Loyola Marymount +8.5 vs. Saint Mary’s (-115) ⭐⭐⭐

Much is thought of Saint Mary's this year, as evidenced by the fact that the Gaels were rare home favorites against Gonzaga. The Gaels overcame an eight-point halftime deficit and prevailed in overtime, and now it's fair to wonder if they have anything left in the tank for this matchup.

Loyola Marymount is 10-1 in its last 11 home games, with the only loss coming by two points to San Francisco in that span. The Lions earned a historic win at Gonzaga earlier this season, ending the Bulldogs' 75-game home winning streak. They are 9-3 ATS at home and covered their only game as home underdogs. Thus, we expect them to stay close in this game as they neutralize the Gaels' biggest strength on the offensive glass with the league's second-best defensive rebounding percentage.  

College basketball best bets made 2/9/2023 at 6:18 a.m. ET.

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