College Basketball Best Bets This Week: Harvard a Heavy-Favorite Against Undersized Army

Gear up for a thrilling week of college hoops with our best bets from the NCAA's most talked-about matchups.

Dec 8, 2023 • 07:03 ET • 4 min read
Harvard Crimson star Malik Mack in NCAAB action.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The 2023-24 NCAAB season has already featured more twists than a pretzel factory. That was especially evident this past weekend as TCU shocked heavily-favored Georgetown with a last-second three-point heave, and TJ Long lifted Vermont past Yale with a dramatic four-point play at the buzzer. Elsewhere, Wisconsin downed No. 3 Marquette in an outcome few oddsmakers saw coming, and Northwestern beat No. 1 Purdue for the second straight season. The Wildcats 92-88 OT win was an instant classic that's sure to be re-run on the Big Ten Network for years to come. 

There's bound to be even more big surprises this week as all 353 Division I teams return to the hardwood. We've hand-picked the best games on college basketball's jam-packed schedule and have tasked our experts with providing analysis for each matchup. Below you'll find the latest odds along with a best bet for every game we're tracking. Let the games begin!

Best bet: Harvard -11.5 (-109 at Pinnacle)

The Black Knights are coming off their first two wins of the season but those came at home against a Div III squad and another school that ranks as the fifth-worst team in the nation per KenPom. Army has one of the smallest lineups in the country and lack both athleticism and shooting ability which is a horrible combination to have on the road. In fact, they rank just 351st in the country with a 37.5 FG% and that number drops to 34.9% on the road. They also allow foes to shoot 48.9% in away contests while sharp-shooting Harvard has been lights out at home, with a 50.4 FG% and an incredible 48.8% clip from the arc. Go against the line movement and take the Crimson to win big here.

Best bet: Illinois-Chicago +1 (-118 at Pinnacle)

Defense travels and the Flames are strong on that end of the floor holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of just 43.5% — the 15th best number in the country. While they are coming off back-to-back losses they had won their previous five games (including four victories by double digits) and are 6-1 ATS in their last seven contests. The Gamecocks are 239th in the country with a 48.1 EFG% and sit 274th in turnover rate. They've gone 3-5 ATS this season and also lost to the Flames when these teams met up last November.

Best bet: Eastern Michigan +6.5 (-110 at bet365)

The Grizzlies are coming off a pair of defeats at home, getting clobbered by 21 points by Purdue Fort Wayne and coming up just short against Toledo on Wednesday. Now on just one day of rest they face another MAC team as they travel to Michigan to take on a well-rested Eagles squad that is 5-2 SU (4-2 ATS) in its last seven games. The Eagles are led by one of the best players in the MAC in Tyson Acuff (22.8 ppg on 52.3 FG%) and while they're heavily reliant on his offense the Grizzlies don't have good enough perimeter defenders to slow him down. This is an EMU squad that plays at an extremely slow pace and knocks down threes at 37.5% rate which should translate into them covering this spread against a Grizzlies team that is among the worst in the country at allowing high quality threes per ShotQualityBets.

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Where can I bet on college basketball?

You can bet on college basketball odds at every online sportsbook and casino. The best sites offer NCAA basketball point spreads, Over/Under totals, derivative bets, NCAAB futures and even prop plays as well. Check out our list of the best U.S. betting sites and sportsbooks in 2023 to find a location in your region.

Strategies for betting on college basketball

Betting on college basketball games can be exciting, but it's important to approach it with a strategic mindset. Here are some helpful tips to consider before laying down a wager:

Research teams and players: The college basketball landscape is always changing. Stay up to date on team rosters, NCAAB player injuries, and coaching changes to make the most informed decision possible.

Analyze team statistics: Review NCAAB team statistics such as points per game, field goal percentage, 3-point shooting, and defensive efficiency. Knowing is half the battle, especially when it comes to outwitting oddsmakers.

Study historical performance: Examine head-to-head matchups, recent game results, and trends between the teams. Some teams may have historical dominance over others. Just remember that not all trends are created equal. Try to rely on more recent data that takes into account the team's current personnel and playing style.

Home court advantage: Consider the impact of home-court advantage. Teams tend to perform better when playing in front of their home crowd, especially in places like Duke's jam-packed Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the frenzied fans are practically on top of the court.

Practice bankroll management: Set a budget for your betting activities and stick to it. Bankroll management is crucial for long-term success.

Shop for the best odds: Compare NCAAB odds from multiple sportsbooks to find the best value for your bets. Even a slight difference in odds can make a significant impact on your profits, particularly if you're placing larger wagers.

Play the long game: Betting on college basketball is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't get discouraged by short-term losses, and avoid chasing those losses with bigger bets.

AP Top 25 Rankings

Rank Team Record Points
1 Arizona Arizona 7-0 1,571
2 Kansas Kansas 7-1 1,460
3 Houston Houston 8-0 1,432
4 Purdue Purdue  7-1 1,407
5 UConn UConn 7-1 1,340
6 Baylor Baylor 8-0 1,234
7 Tennessee Gonzaga 6-1 1,146
8 UConn Marquette 6-2 1,134
9 North Carolina North Carolina 7-1 1,004
10 Bruins Creighton 7-1 921
11 Tennessee Florida Atlantic 7-1 901
12 Texas Texas 6-1 763
13 Colorado State Colorado State 8-0 755
14 BYU BYU 7-0 732
15 Miami Miami 6-1 638
16 Kentucky Kentucky 6-2 544
17 Tennessee Tennessee 4-3 509
18  Illinois James Madison 8-0 381
19 Oklahoma Oklahoma 7-0 355
20 Illinois Illinois 6-1 322
21 Texas A&M Texas A&M 6-2 306
22 Duke Duke 5-3 296
23 Wisconsin Wisconsin 6-2 245
24 Clemson Clemson 7-0 227
25 San Diego State San Diego State 7-1 168

Team rankings as of December 4, 2023. 

Biggest riser: Colorado State moved up seven spots to No. 13 thanks to convincing wins over Colorado and Washington. The undefeated Rams are now first in the Mountain West Conference.

Biggest faller: Duke dropped 15 spots to No. 22 following shocking back-to-back defeats to unranked Arkansas and Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils managed just 68 points on 41% shooting against the Yellow Jackets.

The Associated Press (AP) Top 25 rankings are determined by a panel of approximately 65 sportswriters and broadcasters from various media outlets across the U.S.

Each voter is asked to submit a list of their Top 25 college basketball teams. They rank these teams based on their assessment of their performance, including wins, losses, and overall team strength. The rankings are submitted on a weekly basis during the college basketball season.

Once all the individual ballots are submitted, the AP compiles the rankings by assigning points to each team based on their position in the voters' lists. A team that is ranked first on a ballot receives 25 points, a team ranked second receives 24 points, and so on. The points are then tallied to determine the overall rankings.

The AP Top 25 rankings are released every Monday at noon during the college basketball season. 

Player spotlight: Boo Buie

Boo Buie is sure to haunt the dreams of Boilermakers fans for years to come. The 6-foot-2 senior scored seven of his 31 points in overtime on December 1 to lead Northwestern past Purdue 92-88. It was just the latest gutsy performance from the Albany native, who is averaging a  career-high 20.3 points per game on 47.6% shooting from the floor and 40% from beyond the arc. 

Boo's frighteningly good play has staked Northwestern to a stellar 6-1 record and has many believing the Wildcats are poised to make some noise in March. Chris Collins' squad will get a well-deserved break this week before resuming play against 0-8 Detroit Mercy on December 10.

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