College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 2 Top Selections for Thursday, Including UT Arlington vs. Oral Roberts

College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 2 Top Selections for Thursday, Including UT Arlington vs. Oral Roberts article feature image

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With just 16 games and one ranked team in action, Thursday's slate in college basketball is probably one of the worst of the year.

But that doesn't mean there is no value to be had from a betting perspective.

In fact, our staff has two best bets from two separate games that could help you pad your wallet before what should be a thrilling weekend of basketball.

Thursday's College Basketball Best Bets

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

7 p.m. ET
Under 138.5
8 p.m. ET
Oral Roberts -7
Specific bet 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.

Appalachian State vs. Duke

Thursday, Dec. 16
7 p.m. ET
Under 138.5

By D.J. James

The Appalachian State Mountaineers head to Durham, North Carolina to take on the Duke Blue Devils.

The Mountaineers are notoriously one of the slowest teams in college basketball over the last few seasons. This has not changed in their 2021-2022 campaign, as they are averaging less than 70 points per game, which is skewed from playing two non-Division I teams.

They have yet to put up more than 69 points against far lesser competition than Duke.

In addition, they play at such a slow pace — they average 20 seconds per possession on the offensive side and hold foes to around 17.3 seconds per possession.

They also crash the glass shockingly well on defense, limiting the opposition to a 21.0% offensive board rate. This should hold Duke to few second chances on the glass, since it only snags 29.0% of its offensive rebounds.

Now, Duke is a fast-paced team. In fact, it ranks in the top 75, according to the adjusted tempo metric from KenPom. That said, the Blue Devils have a top-15 defensive efficiency, they rarely foul their opponents and they force turnovers via steals 12.8% of the time.

This game will be lower scoring than the total currently resides. Duke’s defense could hold the Mountaineers to less than 55 points, and Appalachian State should at least prevent multiple scoring opportunities for the Blue Devils on single possessions.

Pick: Under 138.5 (Play to 137)

UT Arlington vs. Oral Roberts

Thursday, Dec. 16
8 p.m. ET
Oral Roberts -7

By Kyle Remillard

The UT Arlington Mavericks bring the 322nd offensive efficiency ranking with them as they travel to Oklahoma to face off against Oral Roberts.

It just so happens that Oral Roberts owns the most electric scorer in the country in Max Abmas, who is averaging 21.2 points per game.

The Golden Eagles – as a team – are connecting on 37% of their 3-point attempts on the season. Leading that charge is Abmas, who has hit 40-of-90 attempts. However, the team has six other players that have at least 30 attempts this season. That’s a problem for a UT Arlington squad that ranks 172nd in defending shot attempts behind the arc.

UT Arlington’s offense has been atrocious this season, averaging 63 points per game with only one player putting up double digits this season. One of every four offensive possessions results in a turnover, which is sixth worse in the country. When they do get a shot attempt up it has rarely gone in, as the Mavericks rank 308th in two-point and 344th in 3-point percentages.

Oral Roberts is 5-5 on the season, with four of those losses coming to programs that rank inside the top 100. In their other matchups, the Golden Eagles have outscored their opponents by an average margin of 90-57.

They now welcome in the 256th-ranked Mavericks, according to KenPom. This game could get out of hand early if Oral Roberts continues to shoot lights out from behind the arc, as it has done for two seasons now.

Pick: Oral Roberts -7 (Play to -8)

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