With just about a month left to college basketball’s regular season, we’re starting to see some unranked teams make their moves and take advantage of a ranked team coming into their home. We saw it with Arkansas beating No. 1 Auburn on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the trend continued. SMU logged a big win to improve to 17-5 and 8-2 in the AAC with a two-point win over No. 6 Houston in a crazy ending that saw the Cougars take on their first conference loss. Oklahoma got another quality win, despite now being 4-7 in the Big 12, by running away from No. 9 Texas Tech down the stretch of what was a close game, winning 70-55. We also saw Rutgers pull off another home win against a ranked team by beating No. 16 Ohio State by two.
Tonight, Duke, Purdue, and Arizona face the challenge as top-10 teams facing unranked competition on the road. Will another favorite fall? Let’s take a look at how the best NCAAB bets for tonight shake out.
(7) Duke Blue Devils vs. Clemson Tigers
The Bet: Duke -6
No. 7 Duke admittedly got caught napping on Monday, falling at home to Virginia after a slow start, two days after winning by 20 at rival North Carolina. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski said that his team has to remain hungry even after they’ve eaten because their opponents will be just as hungry. With such veteran leadership, don’t expect a second-straight disappointing effort by the Blue Devils (19-4, 9-3 ACC). In fact, after their three previous losses this season, they have won the next game by double digits. Duke will also be motivated to keep pace with Notre Dame, as the two are tied in the loss column in the ACC standings, but the Blue Devils have a head-to-head victory over the Fighting Irish to give them the edge for a regular-season title.
The Blue Devils have a better offense (80 to 72 points-per-game average) and the defense is slightly better (65 points allowed vs. 67.7 for Clemson). Duke has won eight of the last 10 meetings but are 5-5 ATS in those games. That includes a two-point win at Cameron Indoor last month that saw the Tigers cover an 11.5-point spread. Clemson is also skidding a bit, losing six of their last eight and failing to cover in five of their previous seven games. Even though Clemson covered in their last meeting, we see Duke taking care of business tonight.
(4) Arizona Wildcats vs. Washington State Cougars
The Bet: Washington State +6
Sorry, Wildcats, but this is where we see the trend continuing tonight. And it doesn’t mean Arizona will lose, but we just expect they will be in a dogfight with a Washington State team that’s playing well and–like Oklahoma, Arkansas, and SMU–is a solid team that could use a win like this to boost its resume.
Wazoo is 14-7 on the year and 7-3 in the Pac-12 after embarking on a five-game winning streak. The Cougars lost by two at home to ranked USC and avenged a loss to Stanford earlier in the year by beating the Cardinal last week, 66-60.
Arizona, coming off home wins over UCLA and USC last week before winning and covering at rival Arizona State, is just 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games (4-1 straight up). The Wildcats have had plenty of success against Washington State, however, winning the last nine meetings in Pullman and going 7-3 ATS overall in their last 10 games.
The Wildcats have a big edge on offense, averaging 85 points per game compared to the Cougars’ 73, but Arizona has been held to 76 points or fewer in four of its last five games. In addition, Washington State’s defense has been great, keeping teams to 64 or under in their last five contests.
Arizona did score 91 last time out at Arizona State, but they were in a scoring slump prior to that, so taking on a hungry team in a hostile environment could keep the score a bit lower (each team has also gone under the over-under number in four of their last five games), so regardless of the outcome, we envision a close one, meaning take Washington State and the points.
(23) Murray State Racers vs. Tennessee State Tigers
The Bet: Murray State -14.5
Murray State is a team you’ve probably heard of in the NCAA tournament, as they have three first-round upset wins in the last decade (the latest being over Marquette in 2019). But the Racers are putting up an impressive regular season, having won 12-straight games and are undefeated in the Ohio Valley Conference.
The Racers (22-2, 12-0 OVC) two biggest non-conference games were a 71-58 loss at Auburn and a 74-72 win at Memphis–both coming in December. Murray State has rattled off 12 in a row since that loss to the Tigers, moving them into the AP top 25 poll.
Murray State plays a Tennessee State (10-14, 5-7 OVC) team that appears to be overmatched on both offense and defense. The Racers average 81 points per game and allow 63 PPG, while the Tigers are putting up 72 and allowing 71 per contest. The teams played last month in a game that the Racers won at home and covered a 20-point spread with a 67-44 win. Carlos Marshall Jr., Murray State’s leading scorer with 13 points per game, had 12 against the Tigers in that meeting.
Looking back further, the Racers have won nine of the last 10 meetings between the teams, going 7-2-1 against the spread in those contests. On the year, the Racers are 13-8-1 ATS compared to the Tigers’ ATS record of 9-12-1. In games at Tennessee State, Murray State has covered seven of the last eight times, so we like that trend to continue tonight.