College Basketball Best Bets This Week: Turbulence Ahead for Air Force

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

Mar 1, 2024 • 10:12 ET • 4 min read
Air Force Falcons player in NCAAB action.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

It's a good thing they don't make college basketball brackets in February, because more than a few would have been busted this weekend as six AP Top 25 teams fell to unranked opponents. The mayhem began on Saturday with Wake Forest defeating No. 8 Duke 83-79 behind a herculean effort from Hunter Sallis. The junior guard erupted for 29 points to help improve the Demon Deacons' resume ahead of Selection Sunday.

St. John's continued the trend on Sunday by demolishing No. 15 Creighton at Madison Square Garden, 80-66. The victory came one week after head coach Rick Pitino ripped into his players for blowing a 19-point lead against Seton Hall, and the Red Storm responded with a frenetic urgency from the opening tip-off to the final buzzer. St. John's remains on the bubble, but an at-large bid isn't out of the question after grounding the Bluejays in basketball's Mecca.

There's bound to be even more upsets this week as all 353 Division I teams take 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: Appalachian State -6.5 (-110 at bet365)

The Red Wolves are red-hot, going 8-1 SU and 9-0 ATS in their last nine games. However, they're still four games behind the Mountaineers in the Sun Belt standings and their combination of good offense (61st in adjusted offensive efficiency) and bad defense (262nd in adjusted defensive efficiency) makes for some poor performances on the road. Although the Red Wolves have been great at home, they are just 5-10 in away games while the Mountaineers are a perfect 14-0 at home. The Red Wolves have been heavily reliant on their offense to win games, and while they have a sizzling 61.1 EFG% at home, that drops to just 46.4% on the road. That's bad news against a stingy App State team that is 39th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and ranks sixth in opponent EFG% (45.4%).

Best bet: Mount St. Mary's moneyline (+110 at SIA)

The last time these two teams hooked up, Mount St. Mary's came away with a five-point win as they dominated the paint and shot 50% from the field. The only reason Canisius was able to keep it close, was because they doubled up on free throw attempts. I don't expect that to be the case tonight. The Mountaineers sit inside the Top 65 in field goal percentage and have a defense that rates out 100 spots better than the Griffins. I believe the wrong team is favored here and we are getting plus money on the better all-around team.

Best bet: Queen's University of Charlotte -1.5 (-110 at bet365)

This seems like an easy play given the short spread, opposite trends, and home/away splits of both sides. Queens is 10-3 at home while Kennesaw State is just 4-10 on the road, and the Royals have covered the spread in six of their last eight games. Meanwhile, the Owls have just two wins in their previous 10 contests while going an ugly 1-11-1 ATS in their last 13 games overall. The Royals also guard much better at home, where they possess an opponent EFG% of 49.9% compared to 56.7 EFG% in away contests.

Best bet: Under 137.5 (-114 at Pinnacle)

The Flyers’ biggest weapon is their poise from the perimeter, with Dayton averaging the 27th-most 3-point makes per contest. That average is pumped up by their sharp shooting at home, where they knocked down more than 10 triples. Away from home, however, Dayton makes just over eight shots from beyond the arc on 37.2% success (versus 41.1% at home). Let's not sell the Flyers' defense short, either. Dayton is No. 3 in defensive efficiency in the A-10 and does an extremely good job protecting the perimeter. It locks down outside shooters to 30.5% from beyond the arc on the road while giving up only 66.3 points as a visitor, which is a tough fit for Loyola Chicago. The Ramblers pick up almost 34% of their total offense from outside.

Best bet: Nick Davidson Over 14.5 points (+105 at bet365)

Nevada forward Nick Davidson is coming off an ugly performance on the road against Colorado State where he went 0-6 from the field. However, he should bounce back against a Fresno State side that is 222nd in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency. Keep in mind that before his off night against the Rams, Davidson had scored 19+ points five of his previous seven contests. He'll be facing a banged-up frontcourt that lost center Eduardo Boakye to a season-ending injury, while Fresno State's other big Enoch Boakye is questionable with an injury that has kept him out the last three games. In addition, Nevada's second-leading scorer Kenan Blackshear is questionable with an ankle injury, which could mean more field goal attempts for Davidson.

Best bet: Utah State -15.5 (-110 at bet365)

The Aggies are having a terrific season, sitting atop the highly-competitive Mountain West with a 11-4 record and going 12-1 at home while ranking in the Top 50 on both offense and defense according to KenPom. Meanwhile, the Falcons have gone just 2-16 straight up and 4-14 against the spread in their last 18 games. The Aggies crushed the Falcons by 28 points on the road when these teams met up in January, and with Air Force outside the Top 300 in adjusted defensive efficiency, another beatdown seems likely. The Falcons have occasionally been able to shock teams that overlook them (see last week's win against New Mexico who destroyed them earlier this season). However, the Aggies are coming off a game where they were almost upset as double-digit faves, so they should be dialed in and ready to roll.

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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 Houston Houston 24-3 1,540
2 Purdue Purdue 25-3 1,460
3 UConn UConn 25-3 1,459
4 Tennessee Tennessee 21-6 1,338
5 UConn Marquette 21-6 1,243
6 Arizona Arizona 21-6 1,188
7 Kansas Kansas 21-6 1,156
8 Iowa State Iowa State 21-6 1,155
9 North Carolina North Carolina 21-6 1,130
10 Duke Duke 21-6 976
11 Auburn Auburn 21-6 862
12 Clemson Creighton 20-8 738
13 Illinois Illinois 20-7 726
14 Alabama Alabama 19-8 695
15 Baylor Baylor 19-8 689
16 Kentucky Kentucky 19-8 649
17 Wisconsin Saint Mary's 23-6 646
18 NFC South Carolina 22-5 471
19 Wisconsin Washington State 21-7 361
20 Wisconsin San Diego State 21-7 305
21 Dayton  Dayton 21-5 261
22 Utah State Utah State 22-5 207
23 Utah State Gonzaga 22-6 184
24 Wisconsin Florida 19-8 140
25 South Florida South Florida 21-5 127

Team rankings as of March 1, 2024.

Biggest riser: Utah State moved up four spots to No. 22 after an impressive five-point win over San Diego State. The Aggies forced the Aztecs into 20 turnovers and held their opponents to just 15.8% shooting from downtown.

Biggest faller: Dayton dropped five spots to No. 21 following a shocking four-point loss to unranked George Mason. The Flyers have now lost two of their last four games and have fallen to third in the A-10.

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. 

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