College Basketball Betting Picks for Thursday 12/14/23

Aidan Cotter
Aidan CotterAidanCotterFD
College Basketball Betting Picks for Thursday 12/14/23

The college basketball season always provides a flurry of twists and turns that few saw coming -- especially when March Madness 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. Thomas (MIN) at No. 7 Marquette

Marquette -14.5 1H (-114)

The seventh-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles (8-2) host the St. Thomas (MIN) Tommies (6-4) in one of only two games featuring a top-25 team. Marquette is a 25.5-point favorite while the total is set at 140.5.

We're diving into the alternate markets here as I like Marquette to cover a 14.5-point first-half spread.

The Golden Eagles are one of the best teams in the country, through and through. They're ranked fifth on KenPom (11th in adjusted offensive efficiency; 8th in adjusted defensive efficiency) despite having played the 14th-hardest schedule. They've picked up notable wins over Illinois (16th on KenPom), UCLA (42nd), Kansas (11th), and Texas (35th). Both of their losses came against top-15 KenPom teams.

But, most importantly, the Golden Eagles are 5-0 at home and 6-0 against teams ranked outside of Quad 1 in the NET rankings. They've dominated inferior competition at home, especially in the first half. In four home games against teams ranked outside the top 100 on KenPom, Marquette has gone into halftime with 22-, 17-, 16-, and 28-point leads. They averaged 50.8 first-half points in such games, continuing a trend of dominant early offense.

Marquette ranks 20th nationally in first-half scoring (41.5 points per game) and second in first-half scoring at home (49.0).

On the other side, St. Thomas ranks just 267th in first-half scoring (31.4). They've given up the 12th-fewest first-half points per game (28.0) but haven't played anyone at Marquette's level. The Tommies are down at No. 218 on KenPom (219th in adjusted O; 205th in adjusted D), and their strength of schedule ranks 319th out of 362 Division-I programs.

St. Thomas has played just one team inside KenPom's top 150 -- Portland State, who they beat by six on a neutral floor. They lost their lone game against a Power Conference opponent -- by five to lowly Cal (167th on KenPom) -- and own a 2-3 road record.

Simply put, Marquette is in a different stratosphere than St. Thomas and should handle them with ease, just as they have every other non-Power Conference opponent.

Given the talent disparity, Marquette -25.5 (-110) is also an intriguing wager, but I'm banking on the Golden Eagles to head into halftime with at least a 15-point lead.

Grambling State at Drake

Drake -22.5 (-120)

The slate is small tonight, but I do see some value in the Drake Bulldogs (9-1) in a home game against the Grambling Tigers (2-7). Drake is favored by 22.5 points, and the over/under is set at 142.5 points.

Grambling is overmatched in this one -- plain and simple.

The Tigers have not defeated a D-I opponent this season. In fact, Grambling has not come within 10 points of a D-I opponent this season. KenPom's 330th-ranked team has played the 9th-hardest schedule, already facing off with four teams inside the top 100. They lost by 32 to Colorado (21st), 55 to Iowa State (19th), 30 to Dayton (57th), and 18 to Washington State (48th).

That alone hurts their chances against Drake (64th), but the Tigers have struggled against sub-100 teams, as well, dropping games to Delaware State (295th), Sam Houston State (168th), and Troy (192nd).

There just aren't many (if any) metrics that Grambling is even average at. They're outside the top 300 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, 352nd in turnover rate, and 361st in effective field goal percentage allowed.

There are only 362 D-I teams!

Drake, meanwhile, continues to be a quality mid-major program. After making the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons, the Bulldogs are off to a hot start yet again this year. They haven't played the toughest schedule in the country but already have a pair of top-100 wins against Akron (99th) and Nevada (55th). They were shelled by Stephen F. Austin early on but have since rattled off six straight wins -- four by double-digits.

They've held up well within the metrics, too, ranking 55th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 92nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. They're one of the most efficient two-point shooting teams in the country (57.5%; 18th) and do a great job limiting turnovers (14.1%; 22nd) while simultaneously forcing turnovers themselves (20.9%; 53rd).

Grambling is in contention for the worst college basketball team in the country, whereas Drake has a legitimate tournament shot to make the NCAA Tournament. This one shouldn't be close. Look for Drake to roll and cover this 22.5-point line.

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.