Tuesday’s College Basketball Best Bets: Attacking LSU – Kentucky, Clemson – Virginia

Written By Eli Hershkovich on January 4, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

With conference play officially underway, there are plenty of intriguing matchups on Tuesday’s college basketball schedule. Here’s a breakdown of my college basketball best bets for a pair of contests, including No. 16 Kentucky at No. 21 LSU.

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

Kentucky Wildcats at LSU Tigers

After opening as a 1.5-point home favorite, the betting market shifted LSU to -3.5 before dipping back down. Overall, Kentucky is higher in my CBB power rankings, and I’ve recently bought into its national title futures.

Despite the Tigers’ 12-1 straight-up start, their defense has yielded an unsustainable three-point clip (26.2%). Not only is the Wildcats’ perimeter shooting coming around — highlighted by Kellan Grady’s emergence — but they also boast a top-10 Adjusted Offensive Efficiency because of their relentlessness on the glass.

John Calipari’s team boasts the highest offensive rebounding rate in college basketball, thanks to Oscar Tshiebwe representing a one-man wrecking crew. Moreover, Kentucky is accruing the third-highest second-chance conversion percentage against the average opponent. LSU possesses a size advantage, but its perimeter defense will be in scramble mode if Tshiebwe stays out of foul trouble.

At the other end, the Tigers are reliant on scoring in the paint via transition opportunities, notching the eighth-most near-proximity attempts (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins via Haslametrics). Although there’s a smaller sample size in comparison to last season, Calipari’s interior defense has improved thus far, surrendering the 79th-fewest attempts in that department.

As long as the Wildcats are efficient enough offensively, they should limit their opposition’s ability to dictate the tempo. The market is too high on Will Wade & Co.

  • Note: LSU freshman guard Brandon Murray (hamstring) is listed as questionable.

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

Virginia Cavaliers at Clemson Tigers

These two programs squared off on Dec. 22, and Clemson tallied a 17-point road win after closing as a 4.5-point underdog. But this spread is an overreaction, as Tony Bennett’s pack-line set-up was still in flux while acclimating new pieces.

Virginia’s unit appeared more connected in its victory at Syracuse following a nine-day layoff, allowing the Orange to shoot just 40.0% from inside the arc. When the ‘Hoos are clicking defensively, they’re forcing opponents to beat them from behind the arc.

The Tigers have accrued a top-105 three-point scoring rate, but I’m anticipating some regression given their 41.0% clip. Plus, this affair will be their first one since facing Virginia, so their offense could undergo some rust. In that matchup, they accrued a high conversion rate at the rim, which won’t translate to this game if Bennett’s group can play at its methodical tempo.

Unlike their opposition, the ‘Hoos haven’t demonstrated a collective ability to knock down long-range shots. But led by Kihei Clark (42.3%), they have the personnel to do just that. Considering the Tigers’ defense is most susceptible from that area, expect an improved performance from Virginia after going 6-of-22 in their first meeting.

Eli’s Bet: Virginia +4 (placed on Tuesday morning at FanDuel Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Virginia +3.5 or better
Best Available Line: Virginia

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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.

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