College Basketball Best Bets for Thursday

College Basketball Best Bets for Thursday article feature image

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Kalkbrenner (Creighton)

The Big East-Big 12 Battle gets started tonight, so value can be found across the college basketball odds board.

Below we have college basketball best bets and our staff's four top picks for Thursday, November 30, including one for Creighton vs. Oklahoma State.

College Basketball Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
6 p.m.
8 p.m.
9 p.m.
9 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Liberty vs. Florida Atlantic

Thursday, Nov. 30
6 p.m. ET
Liberty +7.5

By John Feltman

Ritchie McKay’s Flames are off to a terrific 6-0 start on the season, mostly due to their explosive offense. They'll head to Boca Raton, Florida, to take on the surging Florida Atlantic Owls in what should be an offensive showcase.

It’s evident that the Owls have faced much stronger opponents thus far, but I think many are undervaluing McKay’s team in this spot. The Flames have the ability to go toe-to-toe with any offense in the country.

Currently, the Flames are the No. 1 team in the nation in FG% and 12th in 3PT%. This matchup bodes well for them against a shaky Owls perimeter defense.

What’s impressive about the Flames’ offensive numbers thus far is that they move at a snail’s pace. Usually, explosive offenses move much more rapidly in order to get as many possessions as possible.

I know their schedule has been soft, but I also like that the Flames are 65th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. More importantly, their perimeter defense has been terrific, as they’re 54th in opposing 3PT%.

Kyle Rode has been extremely elite so far this season, as he’s shooting 44% from beyond the arc. He should be a matchup nightmare for Johnell Davis and Co.

There’s always that scare that the Flames are a paper tiger, but I think McKay’s team is poised to make a statement in this one. KenPom makes this game FAU -5, so I like the extra value we’re getting here.

Pick: Liberty +7.5 (Play to +5.5)

Louisiana vs. Samford

Thursday, Nov. 30
8 p.m. ET
Louisiana +3

By Doug Ziefel

These two teams are very evenly matched, and their KenPom rankings are a testament to that — Samford is just three spots ahead of Louisiana.

Despite the slight difference, the Ragin' Cajuns are very live underdogs in this matchup.

On paper, the most significant edge will be when Samford has the ball. Louisiana hasn't looked great on the defensive end of the floor, as it’s ranked 227th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.

However, there’s a caveat that actually helps the Ragin' Cajuns on the defensive end. That caveat? The majority of the Bulldogs' shots are from beyond the arc.

42% of their attempts have come from downtown, and they’ve done a decent job at converting them 37.1% of the time. The issue is that their style plays into the strength of the Louisiana defense.

Louisiana enters this matchup 11th in the country in 3-point percentage allowed, and 3s have only made up 16.5% of the points it’s surrendered this season.

On the other end of the floor, Louisiana has edges in multiple aspects. It’s been excellent from deep, it has the size to control the offensive glass and it can convert at the stripe.

All three of those areas are where Samford has been lacking on the defensive end, and if the Ragin' Cajuns can continue contesting perimeter shots defensively, they have a clear path to pull off the upset tonight.

Pick: Louisiana +3 (Play to +2)

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Creighton vs. Oklahoma State

Thursday, Nov. 30
9 p.m. ET
Creighton -7.5

By Tanner McGrath

This is a pretty obvious bounce-back spot for Creighton off that horrendous, 21-point neutral-court loss to Colorado State.

I don’t think that loss is as bad as it looks. I’m uber-high on the Rams behind Isaiah Stevens – who dropped 20/7 in that one – and the Bluejays had an off-shooting night, finishing 6-for-29 from 3.

ShotQuality actually graded that loss as an analytical win based on the “quality” of shots taken and allowed. If the 3s fell, that game could’ve been a close Bluejay win.

As such, I think the Bluejays are undervalued on Thursday, especially against a very unimpressive, uninspiring Oklahoma State squad.

So far, the Cowboys have dropped games to Abilene Christian, St. Bonaventure and Notre Dame, while picking up wins over Houston Christian, New Orleans and Sam Houston.

That’s a nightmare resume.

They’re also on a two-game home win streak against KenPom sub-280 teams. I could see the Pokes stumbling against a vast step up in competition – this will be, by far, their most formidable opponent this year.

Could the Pokes be going through growing pains? Sure. Mike Boynton Jr. lost a ton to the portal last offseason and is starting two freshmen.

Photo by Grace Bradley/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Greg McDermott (Creighton)

But that won’t help against a veteran Creighton squad that ranks 15th nationally in D-I experience and 40th in minutes continuity.

More importantly, I love the schematic matchup for Creighton.

Greg McDermott runs one of the nation’s best and most inventive pick-and-roll offenses. I’d put it right up there with Marquette’s.

The Bluejays have an elite point guard to run the show in Steven Ashworth (Utah State transfer), a dominant interior scorer in Ryan Kalkbrenner (70% from 2 this year) and a lights-out spot-up shooter in Baylor Scheierman (40% from 3 this year).

Essentially, it’s the perfect personnel to run this scheme, so it makes sense that Creighton ranks 11th nationally in ball-screen PPP (1.08) by Shot Quality’s numbers.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma State ranks in the ninth percentile of D-I teams in pick-and-roll PPP allowed (.94) by Synergy’s numbers. The Pokes also fare poorly against off-screen action, which McDermott uses extensively to free Scheierman and Trey Alexander.

On the other end of the court, the Pokes’ 3-point heavy offense (35th nationally in 3-point rate, 45.9%) will struggle against the nation’s best drop-coverage scheme. The KalkDrop (h/t @Jorcubsdan) is elite at forcing opposing ball-handlers into the mid-range, with the Bluejays leading the nation in opposing mid-range shot frequency (52.3%).

The Pokes have shot well from the mid-range this year, but that’s not what they want to do. They want to take 3s and get into the paint, but that’s impossible against Creighton.

OKST's shot profile bodes poorly for the Pokes against the KalkDrop (h/t @jorcubsdan) tomorrow night

— Tanner McGrath (@tannerstruth) November 29, 2023

Oklahoma State’s best chance here is to run the floor with Javon Small and get into the post with Mike Marsh. Sadly, Creighton allows only five fast break points per game and ranks above the 90th percentile in post-up PPP allowed (.60).

I don’t see how Oklahoma State keeps pace here. I’m betting the Bluejays bounce back with a monster, double-digit win over the lame-duck Pokes.

Pick: Creighton -7.5 (Play to -9.5)

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Hawaii vs. Utah

Thursday, Nov. 30
9 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
Under 145

By D.J. James

Both Hawaii and Utah have played at a fast pace this season. The Utes rank 85th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom, while the Rainbow Warriors rank 76th. However, both of these teams are also top-75 defensive teams.

Utah is more of a threat from outside, shooting 39.1% as a unit. The issue is the Utes rank 200th in Open 3 Rate, per Shot Quality.

Meanwhile, Hawaii is particularly strong when it comes to defending the arc, as the Rainbow Warriors rank second in Open 3 Rate on defense. They also rank 11th in Rim & 3 Rate, so even inside the arc, it’s hard for opponents to manufacture open opportunities on Hawaii.

Finally, Hawaii ranks 30th in defense at the rim, so if Utah starts driving the ball, the Rainbow Warriors are one of the best in the nation in that regard, as well.

Hawaii ranks 177th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency. It struggles with turnovers and offensive rebounding, ranking below 250th in both metrics.

Utah is not too strong in either area, but neither of these teams turns over opponents, so this shouldn't be as much of a concern.

The two both rank in the top 35 in defensive rebounding, per KenPom, so look for only one shot on each side of the court for much of the game.

Despite how fast these two play, defense should reign supreme. Hawaii is not a good enough offensive force to efficiently score against a top-50 defense like the Utes.

Take this under to 144.

Pick: Under 145 (Play to 144)

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