College Basketball Odds & Picks: Our 6 Best Bets for Thursday’s Early Conference Tournament Games (March 10)

College Basketball Odds & Picks: Our 6 Best Bets for Thursday’s Early Conference Tournament Games (March 10) article feature image

Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dalen Terry.

There are few things better than college basketball conference tournament season. Why? For one, we can bet on college hoops all day, from before noon until midnight.

Our staff has taken that to heart on this fine Thursday. We have six best bets coming your way for the early slate — and that's just to get you through the afternoon.

Starting at noon ET, we have top picks from some of the top conference tournaments in the land, including the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Sky, Mountain West and Pac-12.

And be sure to check back later because we'll have even more best bets for Thursday's early evening slate and the late-night set.

Thursday 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 of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

12 p.m. ET
Duke -11
12:30 p.m. ET
Texas -5
2 p.m. ET
Sacramento State +10
2:30 p.m. ET
Marquette -2.5
3 p.m. ET
Nevada +6
3 p.m. ET
Arizona -14.5
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.

ACC: Syracuse vs. Duke

Thursday, March 10
12 p.m. ET
Duke -11

By Kody Malstrom

Congrats on the huge win, Syracuse. Your reward? A date with a pissed-off Duke team.

Oh, you also will not have your best player after Buddy Boeheim thought it was a smart idea to punch an opposing player right in front of the camera.

This is going to be ugly. Syracuse has already lost to Duke on two separate occasions this season, once by 25 and another by 20. Syracuse already plays very thin with its first five garnering a majority of the minutes.

Losing anyone, let alone its star player and leading scorer, is detrimental to the team.

While Duke has looked more vulnerable than ever, it’s still the clear-cut No. 1 team in the ACC and will be in revenge mode coming into the tournament. The Blue Devils are loaded with talent, and Paolo Banchero has only been improving his game.

Duke gets a chance for revenge against one of the worst defenses in the nation, as Syracuse’s AdjD sits outside the top 200. Duke has serious national title potential, and I'm sure it will come in motivated after disappointing Coach K in his last home game ever against his rival.

I grabbed the opener at -11 right before the news of Boeheim’s suspension, and it has since moved to -13. I would still play -13 for smaller or else wait for a live opportunity.

Pick: Duke -11 (Play to -13)

Big 12: TCU vs. Texas

Thursday, March 10
12:30 p.m. ET
Texas -5

By Doug Ziefel

Despite losing the last two games of the regular season, the Texas Longhorns proved that they are contenders in the Big 12 by the effort displayed against the best the conference has to offer.

Overall, the Longhorns were much better offensively than given credit for, as they finished third in the conference in adjusted offensive efficiency.

However, the same cannot be said for their opponents. In large part, the Horned Frogs got roughed up in conference play, as they struggled in all aspects on offense.

Being eighth in adjusted efficiency, sixth in effective field goal percentage and 10th in turnover percentage is not a recipe for success against any team, let alone the 13th-best defense in the country.

For the Longhorns, this game comes down to Timmy Allen and Andrew Jones. Allen was the KenPom MVP in both regular-season victories over TCU, as he was ultra-efficient on the low block.

However, Jones is the sparkplug of the Longhorns' offense. His outside shooting prowess gives them the ability to pull away once their defense settles in.

Pick: Texas -5 (Play to -6)

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Big Sky: Sacramento State vs. Montana State

Thursday, March 10
2 p.m. ET
Sacramento State +10

By Matt Cox

Despite a brutal 9:30 a.m. local tip off time, the Hornets were buzzin’ yesterday. Sacramento State edged by Idaho, 57-54, to advance to the quarterfinals, where a date with the Big Sky’s top-seed, Montana State, awaits it.

Betting a team on a back-to-back can be a slippery slope, but fear not when it comes to these Hornets. Interim head honcho Brandon Laird cut his rotation to seven men the last two months of the year, but the Hornets are built to play with a thin bench.

For starters, they play a methodical offensive pace. The transformation of Bryce Fowler from a useful asset to dominant world-beater is a revelation for this offense. At 6-foot-6, he’s a true Swiss Army knife, particularly lethal working off screens and operating in the mid-post against smaller defenders.

Since Laird redesigned the offense around Fowler, the Hornets have been a different team. His production and efficiency have been bonkers the last three weeks.

Sac State’s covered seven of its last eight games, with the lone exception being yesterday morning’s push against Idaho.

This early timeslot, where they find themselves today, is actually a situational advantage for the Hornets. As Laird alluded to in yesterday’s postgame presser, the Hornets have played in the early time slot window for four consecutive seasons. He explicitly touts this as an edge in their favor.

Continue to back the surging Hornets in a favorable spot against a banged-up Bobcat squad.

Pick: Sacramento State +10 (Play to +9)

Big East: Marquette vs. Creighton

Thursday, March 10
2:30 p.m. ET
Marquette -2.5

By Shane McNichol

There are certainly a few reasons why Creighton could win this game. The Bluejays swept Marquette in the regular season by the slimmest of margins. The first game between these two teams went to multiple overtimes, while the second meeting was decided by just one point.

Marquette led the Big East in 2-point shooting percentage, which plays into Creighton’s strengths. Ryan Kalkbrenner is a stellar rim protector in the middle, earning Big East Defensive Player of the Year. He helped Creighton lead the Big East with the lowest 2-point percentage allowed.

There are two factors working against Creighton that outweigh that advantage. First, Marquette can be content winning this game without challenging Kalkbrenner at the rim. The Golden Eagles scored a higher percentage of points from long range in Big East play than any of their conference foes.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, this is not the same Creighton team that swept Marquette. The Bluejays lost freshman point guard Ryan Nembhard to injury. A team riddled with turnover issues lost its most reliable ball-handler.

There's no doubt that Shaka Smart, once famous for his havoc defense, will be ready to test Creighton’s untested guards. Marquette should force a ton of turnovers and convert them into easy buckets, propelling the Golden Eagles into the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.

Pick: Marquette -2.5 (Play to -3.5)

Mountain West: Nevada vs. Boise State

Thursday, March 10
3 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Nevada +6

By Anthony Dabbundo

Nevada won its first-round matchup against New Mexico, overcoming a sluggish start to pull away in the second half before holding on for a seven-point victory.

The Wolf Pack just faced off vs. Boise State last week in Boise, when the Broncos were playing for a chance at the regular-season conference title.

The Wolf Pack were competitive the entire game, as they were within one in the final minutes and eventually lost the game by six after some fouls. The ShotQuality report had them within five points, and it was one of Grant Sherfield’s worst games of the season. He had just 10 points and six turnovers.

Nevada has the size to compete inside with Boise State, and the Broncos’ defense has continued to slip throughout conference play.

The Broncos have won a ton of close games in league play because of the clutch shooting of Marcus Shaver Jr., but they haven’t been great at covering bigger numbers of multiple possessions.

The Wolf Pack’s early-season and mid-season injuries hurt them in the advanced metrics and inflated the line a bit, but it’s important to remember that a fully healthy Nevada had expectations of winning this league.

The Wolf Pack may not be victorious, but they should keep this close and might catch Boise flat after its conference title.

Pick: Nevada +6 or better

Pac-12: Stanford vs. Arizona

Thursday, March 10
3 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network
Arizona -14.5

By Charlie DiSturco

Stanford had a miracle comeback win over Arizona State in a draining first-round game and is now tasked with taking on the best team in the Pac-12 on a swift turnaround.

To me, this comes down to Arizona’s interest, and I think Tommy Lloyd will have his players ready in his first taste of the postseason. The Wildcats have already won by double digits twice against the Cardinal, and Thursday will be no different.

Stanford (15-15) has been pretty lucky all season long, as seen in its 11-19 ShotQuality record.

The Cardinal turn the ball over at the eight-highest rate in the country, are mediocre both inside and from distance and shoot 65.9% as a team from the free-throw line. Wednesday’s 12-of-14 performance is nothing short of a fluke.

The only way for the Cardinal to keep this game close would be Spencer Jones heating up from 3 and carrying the Pac-12’s third-worst offense in adjusted efficiency.

And I haven’t even mentioned Stanford’s horrid defense that doesn’t force turnovers and ranks 295th in 2-point defense. Azuolas Tubelis and Christian Koloko should have a field day against James Keefe and Co., both on the glass and offensively in the low post.

There’s just no real matchup advantage for Stanford to exploit. It usually thrives on the offensive glass because of its size, but Arizona can combat that.

Offense should come at a premium for Stanford, while Arizona has been dominant all season and should continue that trend as it runs through the Pac-12 Tournament.

Stanford’s season should have ended with its sixth consecutive loss. Instead, it’ll end in an Arizona dismantling.

Pick: Arizona -14.5 (Play to -15)

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