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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks December 14

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published December 14, 2023
11 min read
Best College Basketball Bets Today

Two ranked Wisconsin teams (Wisconsin and Marquette) have “buy games” for Thursday night’s slate, which might not be jam-packed with action, but does give us a few enthralling squads to watch. Check out our best basketball picks today for the December 14, 2023 slate below!

Jacksonville State @ No. 23 Wisconsin

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PICK: Jacksonville State +20.5 (-110 at DraftKings)

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Big Ten media members weren’t too high on the Wisconsin Badgers before the start of the 2023-24 regular season; they ranked fifth in the Big Ten preseason poll. Other polls and preseason rankings even had the Badgers projected to finish as low as seventh in the Big Ten.

However, Wisconsin has had a really strong start to the year, winning seven of its first ten games, including matchups against preseason No. 4 Michigan State and now-No. 7 Marquette, and No. 22 Virginia. The Badgers’ three losses are all understandable, too, as they lost on the road to No. 1 Arizona and Providence, and dropped a home game to No. 12 Tennessee. Their strength of schedule ranks eighth in the nation thus far per KenPom.

Wisconsin has a healthy balance between returners and newcomers, bringing back Steven Crowl, Chucky Hepburn, Tyler Wahl, and Max Klesmit from last season’s 20-15 team. The two players who have helped catapult the Badgers from good to great, though, are St. Johns’s sophomore transfer, A.J. Storr, and freshman guard John Blackwell. Storr, in particular, has elevated this offense substantially; he is averaging roughly 14 points per game for an offense that takes their time (334th in adjusted tempo.)

As alluded to above, the biggest change for this Badgers team has been the efficiency on the offensive end of the floor. They jumped from 140th in adjusted offensive efficiency in the 2022-23 season to 13th so far in this campaign. Wisconsin isn’t just shooting the ball better, either; it ranks 43rd in offensive rebounding percentage and 46th in turnovers per game, despite playing against multiple extremely talented teams.

Will the Badgers bounce back after a 25-point loss to Arizona with a win against Jacksonville State in a “buy game?”

Believe it or not, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks play even slower than the Badgers (351st out of 362 teams in adjT.) This is notable, because a 19.5-point spread becomes even more challenging to cover when there are fewer possessions in a game. The Gamecocks are going to have no issues playing at a snail’s pace. 

Further, let’s look at the Gamecocks’ record and game results so far; they are 4-6, but have lost five of those six games by a combined 13 points. No, that is not a typo. Jacksonville State just as easily could be 6-4 or 7-3; it keeps games close, even in wins, due to its pace of play.

Wisconsin is a terrific team, but it doesn’t have the offensive firepower nor pace to blow Jacksonville State out.

St. Thomas (MN) @ No. 7 Marquette

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PICK: Over 139.5 (-110)

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Marquette has carried its momentum from the previous year into the 2023-24 regular season. The team currently holds the No. 8 position in the AP Poll and is ranked fifth in KenPom's adjustedEM after the first ten games of the season. The Golden Eagles have only dropped two games so far this year, with both losses coming against ranked teams: Purdue and Wisconsin. Their loss against now-No. 3 Purdue came by three points on a neutral floor, while Wisconsin was able to beat them by 11 points on its home floor. 

However, Marquette has strung together a 21-point win against No. 19 Texas, a 14-point win against No. 2 Kansas, and a seven-point win against No. 16 Illinois. This team is lethal on both ends of the floor and is extraordinarily well-coached, with Shaka Smart at the helm.

The Golden Eagles brought back almost every key piece from their Big East championship season, including Tyler Kolek, Kam Jones, Oso Ighodaro, David Joplin, Chase Ross, Stevie Mitchell, Ben Gold, and Sean Jones. The only player who departed was Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who was selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. 

Prosper, of course, was a high-impact player on both ends of the floor for Marquette, but his production has been absorbed, and then some, by all of the aforementioned players. As far as a true “copy and paste” roster from one season to the next, this is about as close as you will see to that. Additionally, Marquette is also one of only three teams (Purdue and Arizona) that ranks in the top 11 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency so far this season. 

Meanwhile, St. Thomas has a few players back from last season’s 19-14 team, including  second-leading scorer Parker Bjorklund (13.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg), as well as Kendall Blue, Brooks Allen, and Ahjany Lee. Luckily, the Tommies have been able to replace most of Andrew Rohde and Riley Miller’s scoring through senior D-3 All-American transfer Raheem Anthony and senior Drake Dobbs. 

So, what’s out best bet for this game between the St. Thomas Tommies and the Marquette Golden Eagles?

We love playing the Over at 139.5 in this game, despite the fact that the St. Thomas Tommies would be “Exhibit A, B, and C” for a demonstration on how to play “slow basketball.” The Tommies rank 359th (out of 362 teams) in adjusted tempo; Towson, Virginia, and Middle Tennessee are the only three teams in D-I that play at a slower pace. 

When comparing the Tommies’ rank (218th in KenPom’s adjEM) amongst other Marquette opponents, we can pool together three teams from this season: Northern Illinois (185th in adjEM), Rider (285th in adjEM), and Southern (239th in adjEM.) In those three games, the Over has hit with flying colors, as the point total average comes to 157, with Marquette accounting for an average of 93.3 of those points.

While St. Thomas is a slow basketball team, its 205th-ranked defense (adjD) stands little chance of slowing down the Golden Eagles, who don’t play the fastest brand of basketball, but don’t mind speeding the game up if it is advantageous to them. If the Tommies are forced to play faster, which they likely will be, then at least they can knock down three-pointers (108th in 3P%) to add to the point total.

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Andrew Norton

117 Articles

Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.

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