College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 7 Top Picks for Tuesday, Including Arizona vs. UCLA
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Mick Cronin & Jules Bernard (UCLA)
Beyond an overtime game between No. 13 Texas Tech and No. 5 Kansas, Monday evening was rather calm — by regular standards — in college basketball.
That won’t be the case on Tuesday, as the slate features a top-10 matchup in the Pac-12, a top-25 duel at the top of the Big Ten and more.
Our staff dives into the slate below by offering up seven (!) best bets to help you formulate your college hoops selections for Tuesday night.
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.|
Fordham vs. Dayton
Fordham is desperate for a victory coming off three conference losses in a row. The Rams have been playing hard recently and are 7-2 against the spread over their last nine games.
The program trailed Richmond by one point with seven minutes remaining before coming up short. Last game, the Rams led Davidson for most of the matchup before melting away a 13-point lead late in the second half.
Darius Quisenberry has become one of the elite scorers in the A-10, averaging 30 points over his last two games. Chuba Ohams is questionable for this matchup but is a force in the paint. Ohams is putting up 14 points and 11 rebounds while totaling 10 double-doubles this season.
Dayton looked vulnerable in its 50-49 loss to George Mason last time out. The Flyers scored just five points in the final eight minutes of regulation while shooting 31% from the field.
The Flyers have struggled all season with taking care of the basketball, averaging nearly 16 turnovers per game. They’ve played at one of the slowest paces in the country, which has led them to the 210th-ranked scoring offense in the nation.
Dayton was favored by only eight points against George Washington and 3.5 points against Duquesne. Now, it’s laying 13.5 against a Fordham team that is better than both of those programs.
The Rams are catching too many points in this spot and have been playing better basketball than their record perceives.
Pick: Fordham +13.5 (Play to +12)
Missouri State vs. Indiana State
By Doug Ziefel
The Missouri State Bears have all but taken control of the Missouri Valley Conference with a four-game win streak that’s most recent addition was Loyola Chicago. We will now get the surging Bears in a smash spot as they are facing a team that has gone in the exact opposite direction of late.
Indiana State is in the midst of a four-game losing streak that stemmed from the start of conference play. Its main issues are on the defensive end, where it ranks 154th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 248th in effective field goal percentage.
The disparity between these two teams is only amplified when you look at the Bears’ shooting numbers. Missouri State has been dynamite offensively, as it is 21st in adjusted offensive efficiency and 12th in effective field goal percentage.
That percentage is even more impressive when broken down. The Bears hold the 11th-best 3-point percentage in the country and are not lacking from inside the arc, ranking 34th from close range.
Their outside shooting could create a big swing for them with Indiana State having the 308th-worst 3-point percentage allowed.
It also seems that we are getting Missouri State at quite the road discount here. This is the first meeting between the two, and BartTorvik has it projected as a six-point spread.
Though, later in the season when Missouri State will host the second meeting, it’s projected to be 13-point favorites.
Take the Bears to roll in this one.
Pick: Missouri State -6 (Play to -7)
Kansas State vs. Baylor
By Alex Hinton
Baylor point guard James Akinjo has struggled of late, averaging 7.3 points while shooting 7-for-29 from the field in his last three games. He also missed the West Virginia game.
Sixth man LJ Cryer has picked up the slack.
We know Cryer can fill it up, but DraftKings is averaging a soft line for him. He’s averaging 13.9 points on the season, so an average game from him will do the job here. He’s hit this over in four of his last five games and had 14 points in each of the games he went over.
Cryer is averaging about 10 field goal attempts per game on the season, with six of them coming from beyond the arc. He’ll have the volume to get there, but he’s also efficient. Cryer is shooting 48.8% from the field and 47.5% from deep.
The Bears guard is averaging 26.8 minutes per game for the season, but he’s seen an uptick in minutes recently. In the last five games, he’s averaging 30.3 minutes and has played 29 minutes in the last four. Cryer will have plenty of opportunities to hit this prop.
Additionally, his team could use a win. Baylor had a 2-0 week with wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma last week. However, it dropped its previous two games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
It has hardly looked like the team that spent much of the season ranked No. 1 and had been previously undefeated.
Against a mediocre Kansas State squad, Baylor will be looking to re-establish its dominant form, and Cryer will be a big part of that.
Pick: LJ Cryer Over 12.5 Points (Play to 13.5)
Auburn vs. Missouri
By Mike Randle
It’s time for Auburn to stumble.
The Tigers have been flying high all season and are this week’s new No. 1 after three SEC wins over Mississippi, Georgia and Kentucky. Now, they travel to Missouri to face a Tigers team that is starting to play very well at home.
Head coach Cuonzo Martin’s team has started to gain midseason momentum after a 92-86 home upset over Alabama and a 78-53 throttling at Mississippi. Missouri also played well in a 67-64 home loss to Texas A&M and led Alabama, 63-49, in the second half on the road before losing late.
There are several statistical matchups that favor the Tigers from up north.
Auburn generates 32.7% of its points from deep, yet Missouri has held conference opponents to just 29.4% from beyond that arc, fourth-best among all SEC teams.
Missouri is also active on the interior, ranking top-75 in block percentage. Against Auburn’s intimidating defensive presence, it’s important for the Tigers to provide some sort of resistance near the basket.
Missouri’s up-tempo style will score points against Auburn and should keep it within this number. Mizzou’s home victory over Alabama was good preparation for this type of matchup.
Look for big games from junior forward Kobe Brown (13.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG) and Missouri’s bevy of guards.
The black and gold Tigers have started to improve their dismal 3-point shooting, and connected on 9-of-24 attempts (37.5%) from deep against Alabama. If they get a similar performance tonight, they should be able to cover a double-digit spread at home, even against the nation’s top team.
Pick: Missouri +13 (Play to +12)
Texas vs. TCU
Points will be hard to come by in this one, as shown by the low total of 121.5. Both TCU and Texas rank inside the top-20 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Going back to his days at Pitt, Jamie Dixon has always had tough and physical teams that guard hard and limit offenses to one shot a trip. This year’s group reminds me of one of those teams, with players like Emanuel Miller dominating the boards and contesting everything inside.
Memphis transfer Damion Baugh is one of the keys for the Horned Frogs on the offensive end. Baugh went for 23 points on 11-of-17 shooting in his last game out against Iowa State, and the Frogs were far more efficient as a result.
For Texas, it’s been pretty much the same script in most of its Big 12 contests. The Longhorns play really good team defense, but on the other end, everything in the half-court has been a struggle.
Marcus Carr needs to take better care of the ball, and Timmy Allen needs to start becoming more of a focal point on offense.
On Tuesday night with Texas as a short road favorite, I’m playing the Longhorns on the moneyline. This is a good matchup for Texas, as TCU does not do much from behind the arc, ranking 281st in 3-point percentage.
Expect Texas to clog the paint and make it hard for TCU to get anything easy at the rim.
When the Horns have the ball, I think they have a few more playmakers who can create their own shot, and Andrew Jones should get some good looks from the outside.
Give me Texas to get the road win, just less than a week before Beard heads west for his return to Lubbock.
Pick: Texas ML (-135) (Play to -145)
Texas vs. TCU
Texas has been unimpressive.
The Longhorns are now 4-3 in conference play, having dropped games to Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State.
In what should’ve been a bounce-back spot for Texas on Saturday against the Cowboys, the Longhorns came out flat. They also played flat the entire game, beating a largely inferior team by just five points.
Now, Beard travels to Fort Worth to take on a frisky TCU team with home games against Tennessee and (gulp…) Texas Tech on deck. This will be the first time these two have met this season, so I’m hoping Beard is sleeping on the 13-3 Horned Frogs.
Beard also hasn’t done anything away from home this year. The Longhorns are 1-5 straight up and against the spread on the road this season, and Beard has now failed to cover in five of his last seven road favorite opportunities.
Meanwhile, TCU has covered four straight and is 4-1 ATS as an underdog this season. The team is also coming home after playing three of its last four games on the road.
The Horned Frogs are defensively sound, ranking 15th in defensive efficiency and rebounding at a top-35 rate. Plus, I love how opportunistic they are on offense, ranking second in offensive rebounding rate. That latter stat could have an immediate impact, considering Texas is sub-180 nationally in defensive rebounding rate.
TCU also has size advantages at almost every position. I particularly love the backcourt matchup, wherein both Mike Miles and Damion Baugh rank above the 75th percentile in half-court PPP allowed.
I’m looking for them to give Marcus Carr and Courtney Ramey — who have combined for just a 104 ORtg this season — lots of issues.
It’s a gross handicap, especially considering we’re selling Texas very low. But KenPom makes this line TCU +1, while BartTorvik makes it TCU +0.3.
I also love betting home dogs, and this one I can’t resist.
Pick: TCU +2.5 (Play to +2)
Arizona vs. UCLA
Buckle your seatbelts for what’s lining up to be the Pac-12 Game of the Year. In a battle of top-10 opponents, Arizona heads to Pauley Pavilion to take on UCLA.
I snagged this line at its open of -2, and it has jumped a full point since. However, I still like it at -3.
Tommy Lloyd has a complete team here in Tucson. The Wildcats rank top-10 in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency, are the second-tallest team in the country and assist on two-thirds of all field goals made.
To take down Arizona, teams have to keep up offensively. The Cats love to push the pace — they are second in the country in tempo — and can score at will. Their worst scoring output this season? Oh, just 76 points.
UCLA, meanwhile, takes more time to get into its sets and doesn’t rush shots. Expectations have been set extremely high since going from a play-in game to a Final Four darling a season ago, with nearly the same exact roster returning aside from some slight tweaks.
The Bruins shoot the 3 well, and they don’t beat themselves up on the offensive end. They’re top-10 in turnover rate and rebound the ball extremely well. But that’s going to be a problem against an Arizona team that is extremely long and has three players at 6-foot-11 or taller.
It’ll be interesting to see Mick Cronin’s approach to combat the Wildcats’ size in the paint. Jaime Jaquez Jr. normally mans the four, but he’d draw Azuolas Tubelis (if the big man plays after an ankle injury). That would be a mismatch in the making.
If he goes big with Cody Riley and Myles Johnson, Arizona’s fast-paced offense should quickly break this Bruins defense apart.
To me, you’re getting Arizona at a discounted price because it’s a road game.
This is a National Championship contender that is stacked from top to bottom. The arsenal of scorers and suffocating defense should prove too much against a UCLA team that will be relying on Johnny Juzang too heavily to keep it in this game.
I also have yet to be wow’d by the Bruins this season, and I think they’ve gotten a bit lucky at times against lesser opponents. They’ll have to be perfect to beat the well-oiled machine that is Arizona, and that’s something I don’t see happening.
Take the Wildcats as three-point favorites to cap off your Tuesday night of hoops.