College Basketball Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Thursday, December 8th

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

December 8, 2022 10:16 AM
USATSI_19565207

College basketball schedule today has just eight games

The pickings are slim on Thursday, as there are only six games on the main board and a couple on the added board. Most colleges and universities are going through finals this week and next, so the schedules are set up for players to try and succeed in the classroom to maintain eligibility and have a future after basketball.

It is a light night on the college hardwood, as well in the Association with three games and on the ice with five games, but you can still find JVT’s daily NBA best bets and Andy MacNeil’s daily NHL picks.

Here are some thoughts on the December 8 card (odds from DraftKings):

Iowa State Cyclones at Iowa Hawkeyes (-4, 139.5)

It may be a small card, but we’ve got a couple rivalry games, including a damn good one in Iowa City between the Hawkeyes and Cyclones. Iowa has played the tougher schedule to this point, but there are a few reasons I like Iowa State to cover. In four games against Top-100 competition as defined by Bart Torvik (Seton Hall, Clemson, TCU, Duke), the Hawkeyes are shooting just 22.1% from 3. Iowa State ranks 16th in the nation in 3P% against at 26.3%, including a 27.1% success rate for Top-100 opponents.

Iowa State’s turnover prowess may be mitigated in this game by an Iowa team that takes good care of the basketball, but the Hawkeyes turned it over 15 times in the loss to TCU, the only team in the top 60 that they’ve faced in TO%. Iowa State leads the nation at over 30%. Between some lost possessions and missed 3s, I think it will be tough for the Hawkeyes to win by margin here, if they win at all.

Pick: Iowa State +4

Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Utah Utes (-15.5, 134)

Two damn good basketball coaches square off here with Ray Harper’s Jacksonville State bunch a long way from home to take on Craig Smith’s Utah squad. The Utes came into the season with fairly low expectations, but that has changed in an instant after wins over Arizona and Washington State to open Pac-12 play.

This isn’t a great situational spot for Utah coming off of the highs of conference play, but Jacksonville State also has to go play in elevation against a defense that has not allowed more than .998 points per possession this season. The Gamecocks live and die by the 3, as they’re shooting 39.2% from beyond the arc and have taken a 3 on 43.2% of their field goal attempts. It takes legs to shoot from distance and I’m not sure Jacksonville State will have any in the second half.

Furthermore, Utah’s opponents have shot 22.5% from 3 on the season, which ranks second in the nation. Utah is second in eFG% defense and eighth in 2P% defense. Basically, it’s hard to see a path in which Jacksonville State puts up points. It’s a big number with a below average total, but Utah has offensive and defensive advantages on every possession and enough of them to win by a sizable margin. (Most of the market is -16, which is also okay to take)

Pick: Utah -15.5

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