College Basketball Betting Picks for Friday 3/15/24

Annie Nader
Annie Nader@ANader33
College Basketball Betting Picks for Friday 3/15/24

The college basketball season always provides a flurry of twists and turns that few saw coming -- especially when the NCAA Tournament comes around. This can make college basketball one of the most challenging sports to bet on.

Fortunately, we have plenty of tools available that can aid our chances of taking the most favorable college basketball bets. Bart Torvik and KenPom are excellent sources that give insights into team-level efficiency, and Sports Reference provides a wide range of useful team stats, as well.

Let's check out FanDuel Sportsbook's college basketball odds and select some of the best bets of the day by utilizing the mentioned tools.

Please note lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published.

College Basketball Best Bets

St. John's vs. UConn, 5:30 p.m. ET

St. John's +9.5 (-110)

After topping Seton Hall by a score of 91-72, the St. John's Red Storm have moved on to the semifinals of the Big East tournament for the first time since 2000.

Rick Pitino and the Johnnies will be dealt a matchup against the Connecticut Huskies, the current favorite to win this year's NCAA Tournament (+450 odds via FanDuel Sportsbook).

UConn has everything going for them and more, but in a tournament that likely holds more significance for the Johnnies, I want to back them to cover on their Madison Square Garden home front.

The Huskies rank 2nd in adjusted offense and 9th in adjusted defense. They come in at the second spot (behind only Houston) in Bart Torvik's power rating, which measures a team's chance at beating the average D1 team. It's not hard to decipher why they are the favorite to win out this March.

But the Big East tourney is a different breed, and the Red Storm have proved they are capable of keeping up. They come in with the 19th-best adjusted offense and 32nd-best adjusted defense, leaving them at the 21st spot in BartTorvik's power ratings.

Joel Soriano (14.1 points and 9.5 rebounds) will be key for the Red Storm tonight. His physicality in the post could tame UConn's Donovan Clingan while his offensive prowess could help make this matchup trend towards a possession-for-possession game.

These teams have met up twice this season. UConn went 2-0 in this span but won by just four and 13 points. Going into halftime, the Johnnies held onto a lead in both of these games, so I'd consider St. John's 1st Half Handicap +5.5 at -115, too.

St John's ranks fourth in offensive rebounding rate (UConn ranks 10th), and they force the 77th-highest turnover percentage (UConn ranks just 208th here).

Offensive boards and timely forced turnovers could keep this game within striking distance. Further, the MSG swing is real, so I feel comfortable backing an exciting and competitive showdown at the Garden.

Marquette vs. Providence, 8:00 p.m. ET

Providence Moneyline (+162)

This is neither a pro-Providence Friars bet nor an anti-Marquette Golden Eagles bet.

The Golden Eagles are a better team than the Friars, but Marquette's focus is on next week.

Tyler Kolek (15.0 points per game), last season's Big East Player of the Year and Big East tournament Most Outstanding Player, did not play in last night's overtime victory against Villanova.

His status for tonight's game has not been confirmed, but coach Shaka Smart provided some telling comments, saying that the star guard will suit up once the team hits the NCAA Tournament.

It seems clear that Marquette is, first and foremost, honed in on the NCAA Tournament. Kolek's likely absence and doubts regarding team motivation could be grounds for concern.

Providence, on the other hand, is on the bubble and seeking an NCAA Tournament birth.

After winning the Big East Tournament last season, Marquette was bounced in the second round of the NCAA tourney. They now come into the night without Kolek and off the heels of an overtime contest where Kam Jones (16.7 points per game) and Oso Ighodaro (14.0 points per game) each played more than 40 minutes. Perhaps it would be in Marquette's best interest to ship back to Milwaukee and start preparing for next week.

But even if we deny the motivation factors, we can't ignore that Marquette is short-handed and stretched thin following last night's barnburner victory. Providence touts the 18th-best adjusted defense and forces opponents into the 35th-worst effective field goal percentage. The Friars are not a defense you want to go up against given the circumstances leading up to this showdown.

Add in that Josh Oduro and Devin Carter (2024 Big East Player of the Year) have been playing for keeps since stepping foot into the Garden, and I'm happy to take a chance on these +162 odds.

Ohio State vs. Illinois, 6:30 p.m. ET

Over 150.5 Points (-110)

A quarterfinal Big Ten tournament matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Illinois Fighting Illini could produce fireworks.

Yesterday's Ohio State victory over Iowa has the Buckeyes in the bubble conversation, and now they enter the night as 5.5-point dogs against a nationally-ranked Illinois team.

I think we have a potential barnburner on our hands, so it seems best to get in on the over.

Illinois has the fourth-best adjusted offense in college ball, while Ohio State has the 33rd-best adjusted offense. Both teams rank outside the top 50 in adjusted defense.

Further, both the Fighting Illini and the Buckeyes rank outside the top 230 in three-point defense.

This is set up to be a fast-paced, friendly three-point shooting matchup. The market obviously had this in mind when setting the over/under at 150.5 points. But given both teams come into this one motivated as ever, I'm encouraged by the numbers we could see put up at the tail-end of this game. I'd expect a close game to translate to ample three-point attempts and bonus foul-shot opportunities.

These teams met up in January and produced a 162.0 game total, even with OSU shooting the three-ball at a below-average clip. Bart Torvik's model has a 79-75 Illinois victory in tow, so I'll fade either side in favor of the over.

If you’re betting on any NCAAB action before Selection Sunday on March 17th, you can take advantage of FanDuel Sportsbook’s College Basketball Boost Builder. See the promotions page for more information.

Looking for more college basketball betting opportunities? Head over to FanDuel Sportsbook to check out all of the upcoming college basketball odds.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.