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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks March 9

Written by: Tanner Kern
Published March 9, 2024
8 min read
Wake Forest vs Duke Prediction

It’s the weekend before “Selection Sunday,” which means certain conferences are already in tournament mode while others are about to begin their own! In typical March fashion, we have multiple electric bouts, including three top-25 matchups and the greatest rivalry in college basketball. 

The three games we will be covering for our best college basketball picks today include the No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels versus the No. 9 Duke Blue Devils, the No. 15 Kentucky Wildcats versus the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers, and the No. 14 Kansas Jayhawks versus the No. 1 Houston Cougars. College basketball is about to ramp up!

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No. 7 North Carolina @ No. 9 Duke

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Duke -4.5 (-110)

This rivalry between Duke and North Carolina is arguably the greatest in American sports; it undoubtedly ranks in the top three or four, regardless of opinion or preference. The North Carolina Tar Heels protected their home floor in the earlier matchup this season, dropping 93 points against Duke at the Dean Smith Center. 

However, as the ACC regular season has progressed, the Blue Devils have continued to improve, logging eight wins in their past nine games since the loss at Chapel Hill. Both teams are ranked in the top ten in the A.P. Poll, and there are significant ACC regular season implications. 

In fact, if Duke can win at home and even the season series to 1-1, it will share a piece of the ACC regular season championship with North Carolina; however, if the Tar Heels win, they will secure the title outright heading into the conference tournaments!

North Carolina has dominated the ACC regular season outside of a five-game stretch where it dropped three games against Georgia Tech, Clemson, and Syracuse. Those were the only games the Tar Heels lost in conference play, too. The reigning National Champion Connecticut Huskies had a similar dry spell during the 2022-23 regular season before stringing together many wins heading into the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels weren’t able to keep Caleb Love, who transferred to Arizona after last season, but their core of Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis, as well as transfers Cormac Ryan and Harrison Ingram, is one of the most experienced and talented in the nation. 

Duke also returned its best players, including Kyle Filipowski, Tyrese Proctor, Jeremy Roach, and Mark Mitchell; it also signed five-star freshman combo guard Jared McCain, who will likely be a one-and-done prospect ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft. The Blue Devils are slightly different in play style this season, though. 

They leaned heavily on their defense last season because they would often be inconsistent offensively; however, this season, they are seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom, boasting one of the best offensive attacks in the nation.

As mentioned above, Duke has been on a tear recently, securing eight wins in nine games, with six being convincing, double-digit victories. In fact, the Blue Devils have the second-highest average scoring margin in the nation (+21.7) over their past three outings, trailing only (Arkansas) Little Rock. 

Further, their rebounding has been excellent in that span, ranking sixth in total rebounding rate nationally. In that nine-game stretch since playing UNC last, Duke has also held opponents to merely 27% shooting from behind the arc, an awe-inspiring number for any team during a sizable stretch. Offensively, Duke has been unstoppable, knocking down 49% of its shots from the floor and 38% of its three-point attempts. 

Teams that have such elite offensive attacks (seventh in adjEM) with so many scoring options (Filipowski, Proctor, Mitchell, McCain, and Roach) that can also rebound at such a high level and defend the three-point line are nearly impossible to beat. That’s where Duke is at right now as a squad. The Blue Devils are also on their home floor playing against their biggest rivals in a game that can win them a partial share of the ACC regular season title. Back Duke in this spot up to -6. 

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No. 15 Kentucky @ No. 4 Tennessee

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Kentucky +9 (-110)

Historically, the Kentucky Wildcats’ biggest rival has been the Louisville Cardinals, but there is no love lost between Kentucky and the Tennessee Volunteers; they do not like each other. And Kentucky will be looking to exact revenge on the Vols.

Earlier this season, the Tennessee Volunteers entered Lexington and beat the Wildcats at their own game: an offensive-centric, up-tempo matchup. In fact, Tennessee posted 103 points on a 49/40/73 shooting split in that game, getting tremendous performances from Zakai Zeigler and Josiah-Jordan James, who each scored 26 points. 

Zeigler also contributed an unbelievable 13 assists against the Wildcats. Interestingly enough, Dalton Knecht was the Vols’ third-leading scorer in their first matchup against UK, pouring in merely 16 points, which was his third-lowest outing over his past 16 games. In that stretch, Tennessee has put together a 13-3 record, with Knecht averaging roughly 26 points on 48% shooting from the field and 43% from behind the arc.

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AUTHOR

Tanner Kern

353 Articles

Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.

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