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
No. 22 James Madison Dukes at Southern Illinois Salukis
Over 146.5 (-115)
After shocking Michigan State with a 79-76 win as 16.5-point underdogs in the season opener, James Madison has steadily become more relevant in the national picture. Following a 4-0 start, the Dukes are one of two mid-majors in the AP Top 25 Poll (along with No. 19 Florida Atlantic).
James Madison has a tough road test as 5.5-point favorites against Southern Illinois. KenPom suggests the Dukes are remarkably better, ranking 89th in overall rating compared to the Salukis at 141st. However, JMU failed to cover their last game as they snuck by Radford with a three-point win. The total could feature the best bet.
The over is 4-0 in James Madison games. Even large totals have still managed to hit the over, such as 167.5 against Howard on November 12. This is thanks to the Dukes’ electric pace, which is the ninth-quickest. JMU is also averaging 93.8 points per game (PPG).
Southern Illinois does not feature the most daunting defense (117th in rating). The Salukis play at a much slower pace, though (among the top 25% slowest paces). However, they have still scored at a high clip with 83.3 PPG. Southern Illinois also ranks in the 88th percentile of field goal percentage (FG%).
With James Madison’s quick pace and the Salukis’ efficiency, this total could go over.
No. 7 Tennessee Volunteers at No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers
Purdue -2.5 (-120)
Now, let’s dig into the big boys. The Maui Invitational features two top-seven clashes tonight. First up is No. 7 Tennessee against No. 2 Purdue.
This will be a strength-on-strength matchup as the Volunteers boast KenPom’s best adjusted defensive rating while the Boilermakers have the third-best mark in adjusted offensive efficiency. Like nearly every team in the country, Tennessee’s challenge will be coming up with the size to slow Zach Edey.
The 7-foot-4 center continues to dominate and comes off 25 points and 14 rebounds. Perhaps the Volunteers a season ago — when they had more size — would have fared well against Edey. This year’s rotation only features one regular contributor who stands above 6-foot-6 — the 6-foot-11 Jonas Aidoo.
The Volunteers could simply lack the bodies to stop Purdue’s superstar center. Tobe Awaka, who stands at 6-foot-8, could be in store for increased playing time, but he is averaging only 9.0 minutes per game. Aidoo could deal with foul trouble if he’s tasked with one-on-one situations against Edey.
More than likely, Tennessee will consistently swarm Edey in the paint. They do have a pesky defense, which forces 13.5 turnovers per game (top-third nationally). Storming the painted area will only open up space for guards to shoot, and the Boilermakers’ Braden Smith has been exceptional with 12.0 PPG and a 55.6 FG%. Smith is even among EvanMiya‘s top 10 players in the nation.
Tonight’s game will show just how good Tennessee’s top-ranked defense really is.
On the other side of the court, the Volunteers’ advantage may be from the three-point line. Purdue ranks in the bottom 10 nationally in allowed three-point attempts per game. Tennessee has several capable shooters, including Dalton Knecht (38.9%), Josiah-Jordan James (57.1%), and Jordan Gainey (42.1%).
Similar to Purdue’s 73-63 win over Gonzaga, Edey and guard play from Smith and Lance Jones could be the difference. The Volunteers’ best shot will likely be to make this game ugly and knockdown three-pointers, but Edey and Co. could be too much in the end. Give me the Boilermakers to cover the spread.
No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks at No. 4 Marquette Golden Eagles
Marquette +4.5 (-110)
The nightcap of the Maui Invitational is an even better matchup as Kansas and Marquette collide in a top-four clash. The Jayhawks feature the sixth-best defense in adjusted efficiency, and the Golden Eagles hold the eighth-best mark in adjusted offensive efficiency.
Kansas features an excellent defensive backcourt with Kevin McCullar, who has the fifth-best mark in EvanMiya’s Defensive Bayesian Performance Rating (DBPR), and Dajuan Harris Jr. Of course, Hunter Dickinson has been the star of the show with 24.2 PPG and 12.0 rebounds per game (RPG). He is EvanMiya’s fourth-best player in the country.
While Marquette’s defense may seem like a weakness (29th in rating), Oso Ighodaro is one of the team’s best defenders with his versatility and ability to hold up in isolation. Ighodaro could fare well against Dickinson, who frankly has rarely faced size thus far.
As previously mentioned, McCullar and Harris are an elite defensive backcourt; it could be the best in the country. However, Kansas gives up 29.5 three-point shots per game (bottom 3%). The Golden Eagles are in the 82nd percentile of three-point attempts per game.
Kam Jones (17.5 PPG) and Tyler Kolek (13.3 PPG) are a lethal scoring duo in the backcourt who both shoot over 46.0% from three. Jones and Kolek against Harris and McCullar is a must-see backcourt matchup.
Ultimately, Marquette’s three-point shooting and ability to guard Dickinson could keep it close. After defeating UCLA 71-69 thanks to a three-point shot from Sean Jones with 36 seconds left, the Golden Eagles could give Kansas a run for their money with a cover against the spread (ATS).
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.