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College Basketball Best Bets: Picks, Odds & Predictions for Thursday, Dec. 8

Big Ten and Pac-12 matchups again highlight the Thursday college basketball betting slate, and Reeky is back to offer his trio of best bets for free.

Iowa State at Iowa

Both of these teams are extremely lopsided. Iowa has an elite offense, recording the sixth-highest offensive adjusted efficiency rating, but struggles on defense ranking No. 75 on that end, while Iowa State has an elite defense, posting the 13th-best adjusted efficiency rating, but struggles on offense, ranking No. 114. Strength versus strength and weakness versus weakness, essentially. Furthermore, Iowa's offense has the lowest turnover rate in the country, per KenPom, while Iowa State's defense has the highest forced turnover rate. Something's gotta give in this matchup.

Based on the past performances of each team, it appears Iowa State has the upper hand. The Cyclones have already played three other teams this season that rank top-15 in offensive efficiency and Iowa State defeated two of them, with the one loss coming to UConn, a team that also boasts a top-10 defense. Iowa, on the other hand, has already faced two teams that rank top 25 in defensive efficiency, and the Hawkeyes lost both games by double-digits. This is not a great sign for Iowa entering today's game, as Iowa State's defense will be the best it has faced yet.

Given that this is an intense rivalry game, with both teams relatively equal as far as overall efficiency numbers are concerned, I'll take the points and the Cyclones' ferocious defense.


Editor's Note: We can't discuss the Iowa/Iowa State game without mentioning the Kris Murray injury. He apparently suffered a lower-body injury this week against Duke and was later spotted in a walking boot. It's unclear what, if any, limitations the Iowa leading scorer and rebounder (1`9.4 ppg, 10.1 RPG) will be under in Thursday's rivalry game.

College Basketball Best Bet: Iowa State +4

Michigan at Minnesota

The Wolverines enter the game with a 5-3 record, but all three losses were effectively Quad 1 games, per KenPom. There's no shame in losing close games to Virginia and Kentucky, two teams that rank top-10 in overall adjusted efficiency. Michigan will now take on a team that is currently the lowest-rated Big Ten team in KenPom's overall adjusted efficiency standings.

Michigan has several advantages in this matchup. Michigan is almost a sure bet to win the turnover battle, as the Wolverines are turning the ball over at the second-lowest rate among all D1 teams, per KenPom, while Minnesota is well below average in turnover rates on both offense and defense. Michigan is exceptional at blocking shots, posting the 19th-highest defensive block rate, which will surely come into play in today's game because Minnesota's offense has been vulnerable to having shots blocked, ranking No. 293 in that category.

All in all, these two teams are not on the same level. Michigan's offensive attack is substantially better than Minnesota's, and the Gophers aren't great on defense, either. Considering the line isn't too big, I'll roll with the road favorite in this one.

College Basketball Best Bet: Michigan -5

Colorado State at Colorado

Colorado limps into this game after losing its first two Pac-12 games of the season, first blowing a 15-point halftime lead against Arizona State and then losing by double-digits at Washington. Colorado's record isn't good, now 4-5, but it's worth noting the Buffaloes have played one of the hardest schedules in the country up to this point, per KenPom, facing the ninth-toughest slate of defensive opponents among all D1 teams. All four of Colorado's previous opponents rank top-60 in adjusted defensive efficiency, which explains the Buffaloes' low-scoring output in recent games. The good news for Colorado is that today's opponent ranks No. 115 in adjusted defensive efficiency, so we should see a noticeable uptick in scoring. Earlier this season, Colorado scored 78 points on Tennessee and then 103 points on Texas A&M, so it has shown it's capable of colossal scoring outbursts.

Colorado State is an offensive-oriented team, ranking No. 67 in adjusted efficiency while also recording other great offensive stats in the process. Specifically, the Rams are making 58 percent of their two-point field goal attempts, the 20th-highest percentage in the country. They also have the 14th-highest effective field goal percentage among all D1 teams, so they know how to find high-quality shots. The Rams are also careful with the ball, ranking 10th in offensive turnover percentage.

Both teams prefer playing at a fast tempo, ranking top-52 in adjusted tempo when playing possessing the ball. Given the preference for a fast game and the traits of the teams involved, I'm betting we'll see a high-scoring game in the Rocky Mountains. I'll take the over.

College Basketball Best Bet: Over 143

Thursday College Basketball Best Bets:

Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Thursday:

  • Iowa St +4

  • Michigan -4.5

  • Colorado St. at Colorado - Over 143

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