College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 5 Top Picks for Tuesday, Including Georgia Tech vs. Duke

College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 5 Top Picks for Tuesday, Including Georgia Tech vs. Duke article feature image
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Photo by Lance King/Getty Images. Pictured: Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke)

Yesterday was Wisconsin’s coming out party, as the Badgers stunned Purdue on the road behind Johnny Davis’ 37 points.

Today, we may not see an elite individual performance like Davis’, but the slate is deeper, with multiple ranked teams playing critical conference road games.

With a full load of matchups on Tuesday, our staff offers up five best bets for five different high-level games.


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.

Game
Time
Pick
7 p.m. ET
Under 123
7 p.m. ET
Illinois -5.5
8 p.m. ET
Seton Hall -3.5
9 p.m. ET
Under 141
9 p.m. ET
Air Force +20
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.

Texas vs. Kansas State

Tuesday, Jan. 4
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Under 123

By D.J. James

Kansas State and Texas will duel in each team’s second Big 12 matchup of the season.

Markquis Nowell is currently out due to an illness, so KSU will be without one of its best scorers.

The larger story in this one is how slowly each of these teams play.

Kansas State is the quicker team and still ranks 237th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. The Wildcats are a tad faster on the offensive end at 16.8 seconds per possession, but they still force opponents to utilize 17.9 seconds per possession on defense.

They also rank 38th in defensive rebounding, so this will prevent extra scoring opportunities for the Longhorns.

Meanwhile, Texas is one of the slowest teams, with its litany of transfers from this past offseason. The Longhorns use up 18.2 seconds per possession on offense and 18.9 seconds per possession on defense. Like the Wildcats, they will make their opposition use the shot clock.

The Longhorns also rank second in turnover percentage on defense, so given how sloppy KSU plays sometimes, the Wildcats will need to keep it in check. As long as they force Texas to slow the ball down after a turnover, they will be in good shape.

Take the under in this game.

Pick: Under 123 (Play to 120)



Illinois vs. Minnesota

Tuesday, Jan. 4
7 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Illinois -5.5

By Keg.

Minnesota is 10-1 on the season, but I think this is due in large part to the fact that it has played eight teams ranked outside the top 100, per KenPom. The Gophers also have some serious issues when it comes to depth.

Just 14.9% of the total minutes for the Gophers come off of the bench, something that could be a serious issue for them against Illinois if they get into foul trouble. And foul trouble is more than just a possibility. Against the Illini, opposing teams are averaging 19 fouls per contest — the 43rd most in the nation.

Illinois, meanwhile, may be 9-3 on the season, but has played much tougher competition and has proven its ability to win on the road, knocking off Iowa, 87-83.

More importantly, it’s hard to see the Gophers having any answer for Kofi Cockburn. In two games last season, Cockburn totaled 55 points against Minnesota, while as a team the Illini outscored the Gophers by 60.

Minnesota is a better team this year, but I don’t think it’s 30 points better. And statistically, Minnesota is actually worse in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom, right now than they were at the end of last season.

I was able to grab Illinois as a 5.5-point favorite, but I would feel comfortable backing the Illini as high as a 7-point favorite.

Pick: Illinois -5.5 (Play to -7)

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Seton Hall vs. Butler

Tuesday, Jan. 4
8 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Seton Hall -3.5

By Shane McNichol

Kevin Willard’s Pirates have been battling COVID protocols in recent weeks. Seton Hall had a prime chance to knock off Villanova at home in Newark, but was forced to do so without its two best big men available.

The short-handed Pirates suffered a close loss and will likely not have those players ready for tonight’s trip to Hinkle Fieldhouse.

That shouldn’t sway you away from taking Seton Hall on the road. Unlike Villanova — which has an active and athletic frontline — Butler doesn’t have a roster built to take advantage of Seton Hall’s missing rim protectors and rebounders.

Secondly, Seton Hall has had some massive shooting luck this season, facing the ninth-lowest 3-point shooting percentage by opponents in the nation, a lowly 26%.

Butler is not the team to kick that regression into gear. The Bulldogs’ offense has been a mess, riddled with turnovers and bad shots.

Seton Hall is the better team, and has the scoring punch offensively to put away Butler on the road.

Pick: Seton Hall -3.5 (Play to -5)



Georgia Tech vs. Duke

Tuesday, Jan. 4
9 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Under 141

By Kody Malstrom

Plug your nose and pray something else is on TV that you might have money on because this is going to be an ugly one.

Coming off of an isolated two-week COVID rest, Duke is mostly intact for this home showdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Georgia Tech had itself a rest due to COVID as well, but played as recently as Sunday — a narrow loss to the Louisville Cardinals.

With potential rust on Duke’s end and tired legs on Georgia Tech’s end, we may see a slow-paced slugfest and enough bricks to build a shed in your backyard.

Georgia Tech’s offensive production primarily relies on the success of star guard Michael Devoe, who averages an ACC-leading 21.2 points per game. But when opponents properly scheme to take Devoe out of the game plan, the Yellow Jackets fall apart, as they struggle with scoring from other viable options.

Georgia Tech is one of the slower teams in basketball, so it will try to drastically turn the pace of this game to a halt. That’s a bit of a problem for Duke, which lacks a solid half-court offense.

While Duke is deep and possesses two studs who can score at will in Paolo Banchero and Wendell Moore Jr., when its offense is brought to a halt, it struggles to find scoring. Remember, the team is very streaky at shooting.

This plays into Georgia Tech’s hands, as the Jackets will look to drain the clock and then limit Duke’s fast-break chances.

I grabbed the under at 141 and would play this at no less than that.

Pick: Under 141



Air Force vs. Colorado State

Tuesday, Jan. 4
9 p.m. ET
Stadium
Air Force +20

By Kyle Remillard

Colorado State is undefeated on the season, winning all 10 of its matchups by an average margin of 15 points per game. The offense has averaged 83 points per night, which is top 10 in the nation.

The Rams will enter Mountain West play on Tuesday against Air Force in what will be the team’s first game since December 11th due to a prolonged COVID pause.

Air Force has improved significantly in the offseason, sitting with an 8-4 record on the season. The Falcons play a tricky zone defense that could cause issues for a Colorado State offense that hasn’t played in 24 days.

Air Force also plays at a snail’s pace that ranks 336th in the nation in terms of tempo. That slow playing style has led the Falcons to the 15th-ranked scoring defense, allowing less than 59 points per game.

The Falcons lost by 13 in both their matchups against Colorado State last season. This Air Force team has only gotten better since then, and are catching the Rams off-guard in this matchup.

The Falcons will be able to frustrate Colorado State’s high-powered offense and make this game ugly enough to cover as nearly 20-point underdogs.

Pick: Air Force +20 (Play to +18)



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