NCAAB Odds, Best Bets: 6 Top Picks, Including Southern Miss vs. South Alabama & More
Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Greg Parham II (South Alabama)
Thursday’s college basketball slate features four of the top-10 teams in the country — including three playing on the road — and mid-major matchups galore.
Our staff has six best bets for the slate, including No. 3 Purdue vs. Maryland, Southern Miss vs. South Alabama and much more.
Dive in now to get the top college basketball odds, best bets and picks for Thursday’s schedule.
Thursday’s 6 College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Thursday’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|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.|
Purdue vs. Maryland
This is a good spot for Maryland, which has been a different team at home with an undefeated record in league play.
Meanwhile, the young Purdue backcourt has struggled much more on the road.
If you take a look back at some of the Boilermakers’ road results, they lost their past two away from home and previously barely escaped Ohio State (which lost Zed Key early in the game), Michigan (which didn’t have its best player) and Nebraska on a bad call.
Zach Edey will get his, but the Terps can take away everybody else. That’s what happened in the first meeting when Maryland only lost by three at Purdue despite horrid outside shooting and trailing by 16 early.
The Terps’ pressure — Purdue had a 25% turnover rate in the first meeting — and dribble penetration can give the young Purdue backcourt issues, and I think they get a big win in front of a raucous crowd.
Pick: Maryland +1.5
What is QuickSlip?
QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Florida Atlantic vs. Middle Tennessee
By Brett Pund
No. 25 Florida Atlantic is one of the best mid-major teams this season, and I’m very surprised to find it undervalued in this spot at Middle Tennessee.
In the first meeting last month, the Owls secured a dominant 85-67 victory in a game where they closed nine-point favorites. I don’t believe enough has changed between both programs since then to warrant the move in the point spread.
For starters, this is a bad matchup for this Blue Raiders squad, whose strengths offensively are eFG% (76th) and making 2-pointers (79th), according to Bart Torvik.
However, FAU resides inside the top 40 in both categories defensively.
On the defensive end of the floor, MTSU likes to turn opponents over at a high rate (29th), but the Owls are 65th in turnover percentage on offense.
The Blue Raiders also had no answer for FAU’s Johnell Davis, who finished with 25 points on 58% shooting from the field in their last matchup. Davis leads the Owls in scoring, with 16.2 points per game in Conference USA play to go along with 6.1 rebounds per game.
I expect him to have another big game against a struggling MTSU defense.
Pick: FAU -4.5 (Play to -6.5)
Charleston vs. Elon
Charleston will continue to bolster its NCAA tournament resume on Thursday night against an abysmal Elon team.
Elon is just 7-20 on the year, but has won five of its last six. Although this streak of wins is impressive for a team that didn’t record a win against a ranked D-I opponent until Jan. 28, it has its work cut out for it against Charleston’s explosive offense.
The Cougars rank 55th nationally in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency through their ability to extend defenses beyond the arc. Charleston takes 46.6% of its shots from deep and scores 29% of its total points from the perimeter.
This perimeter shooting is important to note against an Elon defense that allows 45.4% of opponents’ field goals to come from 3-point range, resulting in 37.8% of their total points (15th-highest rate in the country).
This inability to guard the perimeter was exposed in Elon’s first matchup with Charleston, as the Cougars racked up 15 total made 3s on their way to an 18-point victory.
On the offensive end, Elon will struggle to keep up, as it ranks 316th in Adjusted Efficiency due to its habit of settling for low-percentage looks from long range.
Elon attempts 40.8% of its field goals from deep despite shooting just 29.1% on those shots (352nd nationally).
These numbers will be emphasized against a Cougars defense that allows the 33rd-fewest 3-point attempts in the nation.
Even though this is a revenge spot for an Elon team that has found some wins of late, I will gladly back a Charleston team looking to make a statement in its final three games of the season.
Pick: Charleston -13.5 (Play to -14)
William & Mary vs. Stony Brook
By D.J. James
The last time Stony Brook and William & Mary matched up, they somehow combined for 151 points.
That should not be happening this time around.
Stony Brook ranks 336th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. It averages 19.6 seconds per possession, while William & Mary ranks 288th in Adjusted Tempo. The Tribe average 18.5 seconds per possession on offense and 18.2 seconds per possession on defense.
This should be a slow-paced game, even if the two teams have a lousy defensive approach.
Another indicator for an under is turnover percentage. These two have both had struggles on offense with turnovers, but are even worse on the defensive end at getting out in transition.
Stony Brook owns a defensive turnover clip of 14.1%, ranking 358th in the NCAA, while William & Mary ranks 312th at 16.2%.
An area of concern may be Stony Brook’s 42.6% 3-point attempt percentage on defense because William & Mary is hitting 37% from deep. However, the Tribe own just a 35.4% 3-point attempt percentage and typically look to get the ball inside on possessions.
Finally, compared to how poorly these two measure up in nearly every metric, neither team tends to foul too often. Stony Brook ranks 37th in free-throw attempt percentage defensively, and William & Mary sits at 111th — not as strong, but comparatively decent.
Unless these teams are nailing 3s like last time — they shot a combined 23-for-39 — the under should hit in this game.
Pick: Under 130.5 (Play to 128.5)
North Alabama vs. Bellarmine
I continue to think Bellarmine is undervalued. The ShotQuality data shows the Knights are due for monster amounts of positive regression on the defensive end, especially on the interior, where Bellarmine has sunk to 11th in the ASUN in 2-point shooting allowed.
Meanwhile, North Alabama enters after winning seven of its last eight. But five of those wins came at home, and I think we’re reaching the peak of the Lions’ market value.
It’s a great time for a letdown game from the Lions, especially because of their past with the Knights. Bellarmine has won and covered four straight games against North Alabama, including earlier this season in Florence.
The Lions are sub-300 in 3-point rate and attack the rim at the highest rate in the ASUN, so I’m hoping the positive defensive regression ShotQuality expects comes in this game.
The ShotQualityBets model projects Bellarmine as an 11-point home favorite here, and I’m willing to buy low on the Knights while selling high on the Lions.
I’d bet Bellarmine up to -4.5 (-110).
Pick: Bellarmine -3 (Play to -4.5)
Southern Miss vs. South Alabama
This is a really good spot for South Alabama. Southern Miss comes in riding a nine-game win streak, but six of those nine games came in Hattiesburg.
South Alabama, meanwhile, has won five of its last six and will be playing its third straight home game.
The Southern Miss offense hasn’t really been that effective in the half-court, averaging 0.95 PPP during conference play to rank ninth in the Sun Belt. This offense also relies on its half-court play more than any other team in the conference.
The Golden Eagles also tend to rely on a lot of mid-range jumpers. They shoot these shots on 22% of their field goal attempts, which is the 81st-highest frequency in college basketball, per ShotQuality.
South Alabama has been tremendous at defending in the half-court, allowing just 0.95 PPP during Sun Belt play and ranking 12th in the entire country in PPP allowed off of mid-range jumpers.
The last time these two faced off, South Alabama held Southern Miss to just eight points from the mid-range, which caused the Golden Eagles to take more 3-pointers than they’re used to. They went 5-for-26 on those shots.
If this game is going to primarily be played in the half-court, it’s going to greatly favor the South Alabama offense, which ranks second in the Sun Belt in PPP in half-court offense.
South Alabama doesn’t get to the free-throw line very often and it’s a bad offensive rebounding team, but it ranks top-80 in PPP on pick-and-roll, mid-range and post-up sets, which are all areas where Southern Miss’ defense has been average.
This is a fantastic spot for South Alabama to end Southern Miss’ win streak, so I like the Jaguars at home at +1.5.
Pick: South Alabama +1.5 (Play to PK)
How would you rate this article?
This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.