For those fans who enjoy college basketball outside of the NCAA tournament, days like Thursday are among the highlights of the year.
Thursday has wall-to-wall basketball with 54 games listed on BetMGM's board. All of the big conference tournaments will be going, heading toward some auto bids in the NCAA tournament and figuring out which teams on the bubble will be keeping their season alive.
The best tournament this season, and most seasons, is the Big 12. Keep in mind that these are just quarterfinal games in the Big 12 tournament:
Baylor (-4.5) vs. Iowa State: Baylor has some great guards and got hot in Big 12 play, but stumbled late. Iowa State is capable of the upset.
Kansas (-4.5) vs. West Virginia: Kansas might be the best team in college basketball. It could also lose on Thursday. West Virginia is a strong team that should be comfortably be in the NCAA tournament field. KU should win but it might not be easy.
Texas (-6.5) vs. Oklahoma State: The Longhorns are facing an Oklahoma State team that beat Oklahoma on Wednesday with some great defense and is still looking to get a spot in the NCAA tournament field.
TCU (-2.5) vs. Kansas State: TCU is dealing with some issues, with center Eddie Lampkin reportedly stepping away from the team and citing mistreatment by coach Jamie Dixon. Given that and Kansas State's relative strength, I'll take the Wildcats.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
College hoops from morning to night
Thursday's games start at 11 a.m. Eastern time with a MAC quarterfinal and will be on your television for roughly 15 hours. Buckle up.
We won't go through all the games but here are some highlights:
Illinois (-3.5) vs. Penn State: Illinois is good enough to win the Big Ten tourney, or they could lose to the Nittany Lions. I'll take Penn State, who played Illinois well this season.
Virginia (-1.5) vs. North Carolina: If you buy in the Tar Heels making a run in the ACC tournament and saving their season in March, like last year, here's your game. I'll take Virginia.
Arkansas (-1.5) vs. Auburn: A fun SEC game between two flawed and somewhat disappointing teams. I'll ride with Arkansas, though they haven't quite turned a corner like they should have yet.
Villanova vs. Creighton (-5.5): A very interesting Big East game between a resurgent Villanova team and a good Creighton team. Creighton is my pick to win this tournament but I think Villanova keeps this one close.
UCLA (-8.5) vs. Colorado: UCLA's first test without injured Jaylen Clark. The Bruins should pound an inconsistent Colorado team, but I'll go with the Buffaloes due to a potential hangover for UCLA after losing one of its most valuable players.
NBA has 6 games
The NBA has a doubleheader on TNT tonight if college hoops isn't your thing, and it's pretty good. The Golden State Warriors play at the Memphis Grizzlies, and then the New York Knicks try to get hot again at the Sacramento Kings. The Warriors are favored by 2.5 points on the road and the Kings are 3.5-point home favorites.
Big days in golf and hockey
The Players Championship starts Thursday with a great field. Scottie Scheffler (+1000), Patrick Cantlay (+1200) and Jon Rahm (+1200) are the betting favorites. There are also 11 NHL games on a busy sports day.
What's the best bet?
I'll take Kansas State given the TCU off-court turmoil. Kansas State was capable of winning that game even if all was right with TCU.