College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 4 Top Selections for Tuesday, Including Alabama vs. Memphis
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With the first college semester coming to a close across the nation, this week is lighter than usual in college basketball.
Games are still being played, though, which means there is value to be had for bettors.
On Tuesday evening, we are eyeing three showdowns, including a much-anticipated battle between a struggling AAC team and a rising SEC squad.
Tuesday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Miami Ohio vs. Clemson
Clemson has the reputation as a hard-nosed defensive team under head coach Brad Brownell. His program has owned a top-30 adjusted defensive efficiency ranking in each of the last four years.
But this season, the Tigers currently are sitting at 85th in that category due to some recent lackluster performances. Through the first seven games of the season, the Tigers had held opponents to 61 points per game. Over the last three contests, they have allowed an average of 78 points.
Scoring surely won’t be easy for Miami (OH) in this matchup, as Brownell will focus on getting the intensity back on the defensive end of the court. Clemson doesn’t allow any easy buckets and forces opponents to use most of the shot clock before getting a contested look.
Miami (OH) takes 40% of its shot attempts from 3-point territory, but it connects on only 32.7% of them (205th nationally).
The two leading scorers for the Redhawks are guards Dae Dae Grant and Mekhi Lairy. Lairy checks in at 5-foot-8, 140 pounds, but he isn’t afraid to fire away from downtown. Clemson will be able to keep the duo in check with its ferocious perimeter defense.
Miami (OH) won’t find much success in the paint, either, due to its lack of size. Only two players who see significant minutes stand over 6-foot-6, with the tallest being Dalonte Brown at 6-foot-7. Clemson’s PJ Hall will tower over the Redhawks and be a true rim protector in this matchup.
With both teams playing with a tempo that ranks outside the top 250 in the nation, this game should turn into a half-court contest with minimal transition opportunities.
Clemson will get back to its defensive roots as it approaches conference play and keep the scoring well under the total.
Pick: Under 139 (Play to 137)
Sam Houston vs. North Texas
By D.J. James
North Texas has the second-slowest pace in all of college basketball, per KenPom. It’s 1-4-1 on hitting the over so far this season, while Sam Houston prefers a slower tempo, as well.
Sam Houston ranks 190th but also forces opponents to manage an average possession length of 17.7 seconds. North Texas takes 21.4 seconds on average on offense, so this is a concoction for plenty of inaction. Scoring will be at a premium.
Pace is not the only factor here. The Mean Green are not an efficient team whatsoever. Again, per KenPom, they have posted an effective field goal percentage of 47.6% this season, while Sam Houston is even worse at 44.9%.
North Texas is also horrid from beyond the arc. It’s made only 31.8% of its 3-pointers. Sam Houston hits 34.3% of shots from downtown, but it’s egregious inside the arc at 39.7%. Whatever effectiveness the Bearkats have from long range, they negate it with their lack of efficiency inside.
Finally, Sam Houston makes less than 60% of its free throws, so all signs point to an under in this game.
Given the pace of both teams and lack of overall offensive efficiency, it’s impossible to picture the total hitting any higher than 122.
Pick: Under 124 (Play to 121.5)
Alabama vs. Memphis
Everything I’m about to say might make me sound (and look) like an absolute sucker, but I don’t understand this line at all.
Memphis is in freefall. Penny Hardaway & Co. have lost four games in a row to four teams outside the KenPom top 50.
The Tigers are turning the ball over on a quarter of their positions this season, the eighth-highest rate in all of Division I. The one thing Memphis does well — aggressively attacking the rim and drawing fouls — is its biggest weakness on the other end of the floor.
Memphis has been hack-happy, allowing opponents to score over 23% of their points at the stripe (15th-most in the nation).
Hardaway was billed as the type of coach who will roll the balls out and let his talented players try to win games. Right now, that isn’t working, and the Tigers are not a good basketball team.
You know who is a good team? Alabama!
The Tide are one of the eight or 10 best teams in college basketball and their last two games were wins over teams also in the elite class of the sport: Gonzaga and Houston.
They play fast and aggressive and are built to outduel Memphis at its own game.
Memphis could get a home-court bump on its ugly blue floor at the FedEx Forum, but that didn’t help in a home loss to Murray State.
Alabama is a significantly better team than Memphis, and Nate Oats has a major leg up on Hardaway. Take the Tide.
Pick: Alabama -3.5 (Play to -6)
Alabama vs. Memphis
Alabama is a team that has now won two top-15 matchups against Gonzaga and Houston. Memphis is in the midst of a four-game losing streak. With a low spread, this seems like an easy decision, right?
That’s right, I’m going with Memphis. Plug your nose and pray to the high heavens because this may not be pretty.
Alabama is a fast-paced offensive juggernaut, one that relies on quality shots and can bury teams in an instant. It’s led by star junior Jaden Shackelford, who averages 19.2 points per game and at the 22nd-highest effective field goal percentage in the nation.
Shackelford is accompanied by guards Jahvon Quinerly — who is averaging 15.1 points per game and looking to get back on track from 3 after starting the season ice cold — and Keon Ellis.
Spacing out the floor with shooting production from its guards, Memphis will look to slow down the Tide with its press.
Forcing the ball out of Bama’s hands as it brings it up the court and daring the Tide to win with rushed shots should be exactly what Memphis needs to keep this close.
Memphis’ biggest Achilles’ heel is its turnover rate, as it has the ninth-worst mark in the nation. Luckily for the Tigers, Alabama does not pose a threat to cause turnovers.
If Memphis can generate some offense with a decrease in turnovers and play to its size advantage down low, then I may look to sprinkle some on a live play as well. This smells like an upset brewing.