College Basketball Best Bets: Spread Value In Duke Vs. Ohio State, Indiana Vs. Syracuse

Written By Eli Hershkovich on November 30, 2021

Among the six games in the 2021 ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday, No. 1 Duke at Ohio State and Indiana at Syracuse highlight the list. Let’s dissect my college basketball best bets for each matchup.

Click on the odds below to bet now. You can also continue the discussion in our betting community, as we break down all of the games throughout the week.

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Indiana Hoosiers at Syracuse Orange

This spread opened as Syracuse as a 1.5-point home favorite, and that number didn’t last long. It’s now shifted 4.5 points the other direction. But is the betting market overreacting?

Over Indiana’s first six contests, Mike Woodson’s team ranks No. 18 in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. That metric signifies the rating of a defense (or offense) on a points per possession (PPP) basis. The Hoosiers’ stellar play at that end has sparked their transition offense, generating a top-100 two-point scoring rate.

Nevertheless, they’ve faced just one power-five program — a St. John’s bunch that was overrated to begin the 2021-22 campaign. Enter the Orange, which are lacking respect in the market after failing to cover three of their last four games.

Jim Boeheim’s unit possesses a bevy of floor-spacers with his son Buddy Boeheim leading the way. Despite Indiana’s defense ranking No. 1 in effective field goal percentage (eFG%), giving 50% more credit for made three-pointers than traditional field goal percentage, it’s a product of the opposition failing to boast the necessary shooting to exploit its ball pressure.

If Syracuse exposes Indiana from behind the arc, that will allow for its 2-3 zone defense to be set. Considering the Hoosiers haven’t faced much of that scheme thus far, it could create some havoc and produce turnovers for a crew that’s struggling in that department. Indiana hasn’t been forced to rely on its three-point shooting either.

I’m willing to play against the market and back the home underdog. As for the total (O/U ), it might be a tad inflated with the Orange aiming to grind this one out defensively.

Eli’s Bet: Syracuse +3 (placed Tuesday morning at DraftKings Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Syracuse +2 or better
Best Available Line: Syracuse

Duke Blue Devils at Ohio State Buckeyes

This game could set up for a letdown from five-star freshman Paolo Banchero & Co. after knocking off Gonzaga on Friday. But even if their offense undergoes a sluggish start, their defense is in position to thwart the Buckeyes’ game plan.

The Buckeyes operate their attack through the 6-foot-7 E.J. Liddell, as he’s accruing a top-10 possession rate. Liddell represents the modern day big man, knocking down perimeter shots at a 40.9% clip. But Banchero’s 6-foot-10 frame and foot speed could disrupt his offensive prowess.

Moreover, the Blue Devils are surrendering the 21st-lowest percentage in near-proximity shots (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins), thanks to rim protectors Mark Williams and Theo John. Albeit Liddell and forward Zed Key’s finesse around the rim, toss out the Buckeyes’ top-20 efficiency in that category.

At the other end, Duke’s size advantage will also pose an issue for the Buckeyes on the glass. Williams constitutes a mammoth in that regard while OSU is tallying a bottom-50 defensive rebounding rate across Division I. Gifting second-chance opportunities isn’t a recipe for success.

There isn’t enough pregame value to back the Blue Devils, but consider a live bet if Duke becomes a road underdog in-game — were the game script to warrant it.

Eli’s College Basketball’s Best Bets: Pass
Best Available Line: Duke

Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

View all posts by Eli Hershkovich