Wednesday’s College Basketball Best Bets: Our Top Picks for the Late-Night Set, Including Notre Dame vs. North Carolina & Oklahoma vs. Iowa State (March 10)
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: De’Vion Harmon.
- The night isn't over yet.
- After a day full of college basketball, our staff broke down six more games for the night owls hoping to make some money after the sun goes down.
- Check out each pick complete with a betting breakdown below.
We’ve made it through the early games. We’ve made it through the semi-late games. Now, it’s time for the late-night set.
Wednesday night’s games offer the perfect chance to continue a hot streak or get back on top after a long day.
And don’t forget the Southland, SWAC, and Conference USA games that are also thrown into the mix.
Check out each pick and breakdown below, and feel free to use the table below to navigate to any game included in our best bets.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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Note: All photos below are via Getty Images.
Notre Dame vs. North Carolina
By Pat McMahon
Notre Dame is fresh off a thriller last night, knocking off Wake Forest at the buzzer for a comeback 80-77 win in the opening round of the ACC Tournament.
The Irish were caught sleepwalking in the first half, allowing 44 Wake Forest points and trailing by seven after the first 20 minutes. This was uncharacteristic of a Mike Brey team that typically comes out of the gates fast before struggling in the second half.
There are plenty of examples of the Irish having a great start against strong opponents. Look no further than last Saturday’s upset over Florida State.
Notre Dame came out firing, shooting the lights out in the opening period to open up a 47-31 lead at the break. That was one of the few games in which the Irish finished the job after building a lead on a tough opponent.
ND had halftime leads against Ohio State, at North Carolina, at Virginia Tech, at Georgia Tech, and at Syracuse but lost all of those games after crumbling in the second half.
I think that playing last night should be to Notre Dame’s benefit early, especially since it finally got its offense to click in the second half against Wake Forest.
North Carolina is a very strong defensive team, but it has one weakness that the Irish can exploit. North Carolina allows 34.4% from 3-point range, which ranks just 215th nationally. The Irish are a very good shooting team, and six of their seven rotation players are capable of hitting the deep ball. They shoot it at 37.2% from downtown, which ranks 37th nationally.
On the other side of the ball, UNC struggles to shoot it from the outside (30.9% from 3). The Irish will likely play some zone to neutralize the Carolina big men and force the guards to beat them. This strategy worked on Saturday, as they mixed in some zone against the much bigger Seminoles, who struggled to hit shots from deep.
Notre Dame hung with the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill in January, and I think it can do it again here in Greensboro playing with nothing to lose.
Lamar vs. Houston Baptist
By Jim Root
One of the biggest themes we try to stress during conference tournament handicapping is the idea of teams hitting a reset button on their seasons. More specifically, it’s a chance for underachieving teams to salvage a disappointing year via a fresh start.
Lamar, a team picked fifth in the Southland preseason poll, fits that description perfectly. Rather than contend toward the top of the conference, the Cardinals sputtered to a 3-10 start in league play, limited by some minor injuries and the ups and downs that come with having a freshman point guard.
Signs of life surfaced late, though, as Lamar ripped off four straight wins to end the year, most notably a two-overtime conquest of Stephen F. Austin.
That’s the kind of performance that buoys a team’s confidence entering postseason play, and the Cardinals have the pieces on the roster to harken back to those preseason expectations.
Lamar and Houston Baptist split the season series, but I like that Lamar lost the most recent meeting, further incentivizing a surging team. Plus, the matchup sets up well: teams beat Lamar by turning it into jump shooters in the half-court, but Houston Baptist is among the nation’s worst in both transition and interior defense.
I like the Cardinals to continue their late season winning streak, and I think they do so emphatically enough to cover as a medium favorite.
Mississippi Valley State vs. Prairie View A&M
By Matt Cox
This bet is not for the faint of heart. This is your last chance to back out. To take the blue pill, instead of the red pill.
If you’re still reading this, join me as we enter the Mississippi Valley State matrix.
Wagering on one of the worst Division I teams in college basketball history isn’t a great recipe for success. Doing so this season would’ve cost you nine units, as the Delta Devils mustered to stay inside the number only eight times all season. However, three of those instances occurred in the past two weeks, as Lindsey Hunter’s squad finally hit rock bottom while oddsmakers continued to downgrade them from awful to putrid to lifeless.
Where MVSU falls in that dismal spectrum is anyone’s guess. No team’s pride has been tested like the Delta Devils this season, a laughing stock within the betting Twittersphere.
But now, it’s tournament time.
There’s no better placemat for a bad — or in this case, really bad — team to rally around the “one last stand” mantra. Large underdogs have been a thorn in the side of big favorites this conference tournament season, a continuation of a long-standing championship week trend. Dogs of 12 points or more are 7-4 against the spread, covering by roughly one point a game on average.
There isn’t a bigger long shot on the board than MVSU, who’s catching 25 points in a neutral site game against a conference opponent.
Let the latter part of that sentence soak in before rushing to call your bookie. But once you come to grips with the terms and conditions, proceed cautiously.
Oklahoma vs. Iowa State
Today’s two-game Big 12 slate doesn’t have much to offer.
The Kansas State-TCU game that starts the tournament is a messy matchup of two mediocre teams. It’ll be a slow and ugly grind-it-out game between two teams that split their regular season series, each winning on the road.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, has to be gutted to be stuck playing in today’s game. On Feb. 20, the Sooners were 9-4 and in line for a top three seed in this tournament. Four straight losses, plus losing a tiebreaker in the standings to Texas Tech, doomed Oklahoma to the play-in round.
The Sooners should take care of business here. Iowa State stayed within 10 points of Oklahoma in two meetings this year, but the Sooners shot 28% combined from distance in those games.
With a depleted Kansas team looming in the quarterfinals, there could be worries about the Sooners looking ahead, but a veteran coach like Lon Kruger knows his team needs to tackle the task at hand first.
Stuckey’s Conference USA Betting Angles
UTEP vs. Florida Atlantic | 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+ | UTEP -4, 137
I actually think Florida Atlantic and UTEP match up fairly well with each other on the defensive end in a game where second-chance opportunities may be limited.
This could be a good spot to take a 1H or game under in another matchup of two teams trying to feel each other in their first meeting of the year in a new gym.
Middle Tennessee State vs. North Texas | 10 p.m. ET, ESPN+ | North Texas -16, 126
Not much to say about North Texas-Middle Tennessee in a game that should turn into a laugher.
The Blue Raiders will struggle to score against the NT defense. And the Mean Green should score efficiently at the rim, where they rank in the top 10 nationally in field goal percentage against a MTSU defense that ranks in the bottom 10 in that same category.
After losing three straight to close out the season, you should get an angry and focused Mean Green squad — although it can be difficult to lay this big of a number with how methodical NT plays