I’ll be putting a lot of attention into working those numbers over the next week or so, as the NBA season stops for All-Star Weekend. For now, though, it’s time to focus on college basketball betting.
Late February is a premium time for hoops junkies, and I’ve got just the target for handicappers looking to take a Thursday dip into the NCAA odds market.
Stay up late for a hidden gem on CBS Sports Network with a familiar betting pattern.
College Basketball Betting Preview: Creighton (+1.5) at DePaul
It’s new Big East at old Big East on Thursday night, as fourth-place Creighton (16-8, 8-5) hopes to keep pace with the top of the conference during a road swing through Chicago at DePaul.
DePaul (12-12, 3-11) is not having the season it hoped for, in part thanks to a slew of tight losses that didn’t go its way. Of its 11 conference losses, five have been by five points or less. That includes both of its last two games – a two-point home loss to Butler, as well as a 3-point road overtime loss at No. 11 Providence.
Whereas DePaul is hoping to end a losing streak, the Blue Jays are hoping to keep their good February vibes going. Creighton is attracting a lot of public action on Thursday night – more on that later – in part because it’s won three of its four games so far this month. One of those was a win at No. 17 UConn on February 1.
You can bet that win will be near the top of Creighton’s resume with Selection Sunday now less than a month away. In Joe Lunardi’s most recent Bracketology update on ESPN, he has Creighton as one of the last four teams in the field.
But the Blue Jays have more immediate problems to worry about. Starting forward Arthur Kaluma (9ppg/5rpg/1apg) injured his knee in the second half of Creighton’s 54-52 win over Butler last week, and he’s expected to miss the remainder of the February schedule.
With Kaluma sidelined, freshman guard Trey Alexander has been inserted into the starting rotation in his place. This means that Creighton is running a shorter rotation with less bench support; it also means the offense is relying more heavily on jump shots and perimeter offense, thanks to a 3-guard lineup.
Since Kaluma’s injury, Creighton is 2-0 SU and ATS, but that’s mostly because it’s played back-to-back games against Georgetown (6-19, 0-14), the worst team in the Big East by a mile.
DePaul is in the complete opposite role. Leading scorer Javon Freeman-Liberty (21ppg/7rpg/3apg) missed a month’s worth of time with a groin injury, including the first matchup between the Blue Demons and Blue Jays. That game, played on Jan. 22, was a 60-47 win at Creighton.
The availability of Freeman-Liberty, contrasted against the short-handed nature of Creighton, is a major factor in determining how to bet this game.
NCAA Odds: How to Bet Creighton (+1.5) at DePaul
Creighton has all the looks of an overhyped underdog in this game, which is why DePaul -1.5 is one of the best college basketball bets of the day.
One of my favorite ways to attack NCAA basketball lines is to fade public underdogs. With Creighton pulling in more than 60 percent of spread tickets for this game, this certainly qualifies as a fade spot.
Sharp bettors agree with me, too. Per data from Action Network, DePaul is attracting more than 90 percent of the handle, despite the fact that only 38 percent of tickets favor the Blue Demons.
And, for what it’s worth, Depaul is 11-4 ATS in home games and 8-2 SU as a favorite.
Think about it this way: why is a team with three conference wins favored to win over a potential tournament team? Given the public rush to bet the underdog, this is a pretty obvious trap spot.
Creighton is a sell-high candidate after back-to-back covers against an abysmal Georgetown team. Back DePaul as the sharp favorite on Thursday night.
Bet: DePaul -1.5