College basketball best bets for Thursday, 3/14: New Mexico seizes the moment against Boise State

New Mexico Lobos guard Donovan Dent (2) calls out a play against the Wyoming Cowboys during the second half at Arena-Auditorium.
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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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The college basketball regular season is finally complete and conference championship week is here! We’ve already seen plenty of madness on the hardwood this week and we still have nonstop action and marquee games for 4 more days before the reveal of the NCAA Tournament bracket on Selection Sunday.

While the college hoops market is as sharp as it has ever been, there are still a few good value bets of which to take advantage. Let’s take a look at my best bets for Thursday’s action, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for the biggest games of the day.

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New Mexico Lobos ML over Boise State Broncos (+105)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to New Mexico -1.5. 

It looked like New Mexico was going to be safely in the NCAA Tournament field a few weeks ago, but a 1-point loss to Air Force at home has suddenly put their at-large hopes in jeopardy heading into the Mountain West tournament. They’ll have a chance to potentially punch their ticket while exacting a bit of revenge against Boise State in this quarterfinal matchup, this time with the services of senior guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. Boise State’s frontcourt has been playing at an exceptionally high level — which certainly made an impact in the first two meetings between these teams — but the Lobos have the decided edge in the backcourt, which is often what I focus on in March. New Mexico will look to get out and run (5th in adjusted tempo per KenPom) while the Broncos (223rd in adjusted tempo) are more likely to try and grind this one out in the halfcourt. If the Lobos are able to set the pace of this contest and play on the front foot, it should be an uphill battle for this Boise State team.

The market has made bettors pay a premium for teams in must-win spots over the last few weeks, but that’s not what we’re seeing in this matchup (at the time of publishing). Maybe it’s due to the fact that Boise State swept the season series, but one of those wins required a terrific 35-point performance from Max Rice in a game where Boise State shot 49% from the field as a team. Given that this is essentially a must-win game for New Mexico in order to potentially secure an at-large berth, I expected the Lobos to be favored in what I have as New Mexico -1.5 on this neutral court in Las Vegas. However, given that the Lobos are underdogs to a solid but unspectacular Boise State team, it’s hard not to back Richard Pitino’s team in a prime situational spot.

Baylor Bears -3.5 over Cincinnati Bearcats (-110)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Baylor -5.5 

I’ve been high on this Baylor team all season long, backing them numerous times in this column throughout the last couple of months. Baylor struggled in close games at the onset of conference play, losing multiple contests by one possession back in January. However, there were indicators that suggested positive regression was coming for Scott Drew’s team, and it looks like the Bears are rounding into form at the right time.

It helps that Baylor has a significant rest advantage over a Cincinnati side that will be playing its third game in 3 days. The Bears have been a top-20 team at Barttorvik over the past month, and now they’ll finally have a fully healthy Langston Love in the lineup. The sophomore guard is a key piece in an already talented Baylor backcourt and I expect his impact to be felt considering he put up 14 points and played heavy minutes in the previous meeting between these teams back on January 13. The Bearcats have been a hot-and-cold bunch for the majority of Big 12 play, stumbling down the closing stretch before games against West Virginia and a depleted Kansas team breathed some life back into the team. However, that run of good fortune should end against a much better (and well-rested) opponent on Thursday in Kansas City.

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