Wednesday College Basketball Best Bets: Michigan – Northwestern, VCU – Davidson

Written By Eli Hershkovich on January 26, 2022 - Last Updated on January 27, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

After a night in which No. 1 Auburn nearly fell at Missouri, Wednesday’s college basketball slate is set up to deliver a similar amount of excitement. Let’s dig into my college basketball best bets, featuring a pair of intriguing situational spots. These circumstances are driven by bounce-back, letdown, look-ahead or revenge opportunities.

Click on the odds below to place a bet.

In this COVID era, some of these wagers are contingent on player availability, so be sure to check back and follow me on Twitter. Continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect all of the games.

Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan Wolverines

In my latest college basketball power rankings, I dissected why Michigan made a jump near the top-30 programs. But this game presents a look-ahead spot for the Wolverines ⁠— with in-state rival Michigan State on deck.

While Northwestern’s interior defense struggled against Purdue on Sunday, few frontcourts are well-suited to handle Boilermakers center Zach Edey in the paint. Plus, the Wildcats are limiting opponents to a bottom-four post-up efficiency in Big Ten play.

As dominant as Hunter Dickinson has been during Michigan’s consecutive wins, Northwestern’s Pete Nance and Ryan Young should hold their own in the low-post. The Wildcats’ bigs also play a role in delivering a top-six rebounding rate at both ends (via ShotQuality), allowing them to maintain their uptempo offense.

On top of that, the Wolverines’ transition defense is bottom-five during their conference slate, and they struggle versus dribble penetration in particular. Chris Collins’ squad hasn’t been nearly efficient enough in that area — especially point guard Boo Buie — but it has the potential to get right in this affair.

Anticipate Northwestern hanging within a few possessions, aiming to rebound from six losses in its last seven games.

Eli’s Bet: Northwestern +8 (placed on Wednesday afternoon at DraftKings Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Northwestern +8 or better
Best Available Line: Northwestern

VCU Rams at Davidson Wildcats

Bob McKillop’s group tallied a two-point win over VCU as a 2.5-point road underdog on Jan. 18. It opened as a 4.5-point favorite this time around, which was a market overreaction. But is there still value in the Rams?

According to ShotQuality, Mike Rhoades’ bunch was expected to pull out a six-point victory in that meeting. Instead, VCU went 9 of 21 on layups, allowing Davidson to hang around in the final minutes. If the Rams’ attack is able to clean up their fast-break miscues, they’ll be in position to cover in the rematch.

For one, their pressure defense accrued 17 Wildcats turnovers — 10 of them via backcourt mates Foster Loyer and Michael Jones. Expect a similar game script to come to fruition, as VCU’s off-ball defense should frustrate Davidson’s motion offense once again.

Moreover, Davidson’s transition defense ranks bottom 100 in points per possession (PPP) across Division I. Despite Vince Williams Jr. & Co. struggling at the rim in the first matchup, their offense is much more in rhythm when it’s pushing the tempo off of their opponents’ mistakes.

As long as the Rams control pace, look for them to stay within striking distance. Let’s sell the Wildcats’ 15-game winning streak.

Eli’s Bet: VCU +4.5 (placed on Tuesday night at PointsBet Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: VCU +3.5 or better
Best Available Line: VCU

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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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