Selection Sunday for the March Madness tournament is less than a month away. However, you don’t have to wait that long to make money betting on the sport. Keep reading to get our three sure-fire picks for Thursday’s slate of college games across the country.
Against The Spread: Purdue at Maryland
At first glance, you’d be surprised that the Purdue-Maryland spread is only two points. After all, the third-ranked Boilermakers are atop the Big Ten with a 12-3 record and eying a number-one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Terps, on the other end, are only 8-6 in the conference. Still, it’s a razor-close spread, according to the most-used basketball betting sites:
|Purdue spread (-2)||-110||-110||-110|
|Maryland spread (+2)||-110||-110||-110|
Partly why this game is almost a toss-up is their previous encounter. On January 22, Purdue outlasted Maryland 58-55 on their home floor. But the final score only tells part of the story. The Boilermakers let a 14-point lead slip to the Terps, which has had a fighting spirit all year long. Outside of soon-to-be Wooden Award winner Zach Edey, everyone on Purdue struggled that night. That was by design as Maryland game-planned around that, forcing the supporting cast to beat them, not the Boilermakers' star.
But honestly, a similar game plan from the Terps could be even more effective on Thursday. For one, role players typically struggle more on the road than at home. But second, Purdue is reeling right now. They were upset last time out against Northwestern. That marks the second defeat in three games for the Boilermakers — both on the road. You have to think their mental confidence is shot going into Maryland.
You can probably guess what way we’re betting here, and that’s on Maryland to pull off the small upset. The Terps have yet to lose a conference home game this season, an impressive streak we see continuing Thursday.
Against The Spread: San Diego State at Fresno State
San Diego State is one of four teams in action on Thursday night (besides the aforementioned Purdue, No. 2 Houston and No. 25 Florida Atlantic also play). The No. 21-ranked Aztecs are getting a good cushion despite being on the road. As it stands, San Diego State is favored by 7.5 over Fresno State:
|SD State spread (-7.5)||-110||-110||-110|
|Fresno State spread (+7.5)||-110||-110||-110|
The Aztecs are on a roll, and we're not necessarily referring to the team's win-loss record (though that is also true). Look, the team is 20-5 overall and leads the Mountain West Conference. But more importantly for us bettors, San Diego State has covered the spread in seven of its last eight games. They're a well-balanced team all around, evident by its overall KenPom ranking, which is currently top 20 in the league.
We don't see the Bulldogs putting up much, if any, of a fight come Thursday — despite being at home (the Fresno fanbase isn't exactly diehard). Fresno has a poor offense, perhaps one of the weakest in the conference. They are averaging a meager 102.4 points per 100 possessions (228th nationally). That won't fly, especially against an Aztec squad known for its staunch defensive play. We expect the favorites to roll to victory and cover the spread.
Over/Under 137.5 Points: Houston at SMU
The Cougars are getting 15.5 points on the spread against lowly SMU. Honestly, we hate betting lopsided spreads — especially on the road. So we're staying far away from that wager. However, we do find the Houston-SMU over/under much more appealing:
|Over 137.5 points||-110||-110||-110|
|Under 137.5 points||-110||-110||-110|
We'll be upfront and say the Cougars should explode offensively. That's because SMU is porous defensively. They rank all the way 133rd in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency rating. That should help Houston's top playmaker, Marcus Sasser, sizzle. Sasser is coming off a 25-point outburst a week ago, his second-best scoring game of the year. The Cougars haven't played since then so they should be well-rested and ready to score in bunches.
The big question is whether or not SMU can score or not. Its KenPom rating here is even worse as they rate 233rd nationally. If this game gets out of hand, perhaps the Mustangs can gobble up some garbage points. We say that's what happens, which pushes this game into over territory.
How To Bet On NCAA Basketball Today?
Now that the NFL season is over, betting attention is about to turn toward NCAA hoops. March Madness is the second-biggest betting event of the year and as we said earlier, it’s only a few short weeks away. To bet on everything NCAA basketball has to offer, visit one of the below bookies. Any one of them could be your one-stop shop for college basketball gambling for the rest of the year.
Read our in-depth sportsbook reviews if you need help picking the right bookmaker. Not only that but consider the big-money sign-up bonus offered at each site too. Through these deals, you could bet on NCAAB for free. Hundreds to thousands of dollars in free play are on the table so don’t overlook these deals. The table underneath lists some of the very best bonuses available right now.