Following an upset-filled weekend of hoops, Tuesday’s college basketball action showcases more situational spots in conference play. These circumstances are driven by bounce-back, letdown, motivational or revenge opportunities. Here’s a breakdown of my college basketball best bets — highlighted by a top-25 SEC matchup.
Click on the odds below to place a wager.
In this COVID era, some of these wagers are contingent on the betting market and player availability, so be sure to check back and follow me on Twitter for the latest. You can also continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect all of the games throughout the week.
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DePaul Blue Demons at Marquette Golden Eagles
These two programs are heading in opposite directions for the time being, as the Golden Eagles have racked up consecutive wins in dominant fashion while the Blue Demons have dropped four straight games. Hence, the market is presenting a buy-low, sell-high spot.
Although I’m slightly concerned with how DePaul’s backcourt handle’s Marquette’s pressure defense, Shaka Smart’s crew is most susceptible inside the arc, surrendering a top-75 near-proximity field goal attempt (FGA) rate (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins via Haslametrics). If the Blue Demons are able to push the tempo and attack the paint with their athletic bigs, they’ll in turn minimize Marquette’s transition opportunities around the arc.
How can they control the pace? Tony Stubblefield’s squad boasts the 52nd-highest offensive rebounding rate while slotting into the top 115 at the other end. Meanwhile, Marquette has struggled to generate any consistency in either area.
Expect the Big East cellar dweller to bounce back and stay within two possessions.
Eli’s Bet: DePaul +7 (placed on Monday night at FanDuel Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: DePaul +6.5 or better
Best Available Line: DePaul
Oklahoma State Cowboys at West Virginia Mountaineers
After Saturday’s wire-to-wire win over the Longhorns, covering as a 2.5-point home underdog, the Cowboys moved up a bit in my college basketball power rankings. We’re going back to the well against an overvalued Mountaineers team.
Not only does Oklahoma State have a size edge, but it also relies on its interior scoring. Mike Boynton’s unit is accruing the 25th-highest near-proximity FGA rate in Division I, and the Mountaineers are allowing plenty of looks inside. They’re also giving up the eighth-most potential points scored off second-chance shots, so OSU’s ability to match WVU’s physicality on the glass will be an ongoing issue for the home team.
Moreover, the Mountaineers are struggling with their ball-screen defense — particularly on the perimeter. They’ve yet to be fully exposed at full strength, but the Wildcats began to do just that over the weekend, shooting 38.2% in a one-possession loss. The Pokes rarely aim to generate three-point shots, yet this area will be one to watch for if WVU starts to collapse on the dribble drive.
At the other end, the Pokes’ ball pressure is manufacturing the 11th-highest turnover rate. That could be troublesome for Mountaineers point guard Taz Sherman, who’s struggled to limit miscues against similar defensive set-ups.
Look for an uptempo Oklahoma State bunch to continue their improved play and hang within a possession. Keep in mind, West Virginia faces Kansas this weekend, so this matchup represents a potential look-ahead spot.
Eli’s Bet: Oklahoma State +4 (placed on Monday night at DraftKings Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Oklahoma State +3 or better
Best Available Line: Oklahoma State
No. 4 Auburn Tigers at No. 24 Alabama Crimson Tide
Nate Oats’ defense was exposed as a 14.5-point favorite at Missouri on Saturday, yielding 1.31 points per possession (PPP) in a six-point defeat.
As superior as the Tigers have appeared, they’ve exhibited their fair share of turnover woes in SEC play. Last season, the Tide pressured the ball much more than they’ve displayed thus far (77th-highest turnover rate), especially with former Alabama forward Herb Jones. Nevertheless, Oats still possesses the pieces with — led by Keon Ellis — to ramp things up on that side of the floor for an unexpected wrinkle.
Now, Bruce Pearl’s defense ranks top 10 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, accounting for the unit’s rating on a PPP basis via college basketball prognosticator Ken Pomeroy. Nevertheless, it’s conceding its highest shot rate from behind the arc. ShotQuality noted the Tide have expected positive three-point regression coming, and it could be right around the corner if transition opportunities arise.
In a desperation spot, anticipate Alabama’s best effort in a rivalry game against a top-five opponent.
Eli’s Bet: Alabama -1.5 (placed on Monday night at FanDuel Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Alabama -2.5 or better
Best Available Line: Alabama