College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s Favorite Picks for Penn State vs. Ohio State, Wisconsin vs. Maryland, More (Wednesday, Jan. 27)
G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images. Pictured: Darryl Morsell.
- Wednesday's college basketball slate is packed with ranked matchups and conference games.
- Our staff broke down four games — two from the Big Ten, one from the SEC, and one from the Big East — and shared a betting pick for each game.
- Check out each individual breakdown complete with the pick below.
You’ve made it to Wednesday. But if you need something to get you through the rest of the week, college basketball is not a bad option.
Check out full breakdowns and picks for each individual game below and feel free to navigate to any game by using the table below.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
All listed odds have been updated as of Wednesday morning. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing on Wednesday morning.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Georgia vs. South Carolina
No one has had a tougher go in the COVID-19 era than South Carolina.
The Gamecocks played just two games in a 41-day span leading into a loss to LSU on Jan. 16. Head coach Frank Martin returned to the bench, but South Carolina has lost three straight since their most recent COVID-19 layoff.
Experienced role players such as Alanzo Frink and Jalyn McCreary have yet to return to the floor, and Frink will miss the rest of the season. As the Gamecocks try and overcome fatigue and conditioning, Georgia may be finding its marathon pace.
Tom Crean led Georgia to wins over Ole Miss and Kentucky before falling to Florida this past weekend.
The Bulldogs have a few key areas of strength, ranking 29th in offensive rebounding and 32nd in defensive turnover percentage.
Crean’s squad ranks 23rd in point distribution from 2-point range, putting the interior defense of South Carolina in the spotlight. The Gamecocks are a lowly 267th in 2-point defense, but it’s the free-throw line that may get this underdog to the window.
Georgia is just 180th in getting to the charity stripe, but South Carolina is 320th defensively in free-throw rate. The Bulldogs should find their way to the line early and often, and with a major advantage in offensive rebounds, there’s a clear path to an underdog cover.
Pick: Georgia +5
Penn State vs. Ohio State
Home-court advantage might not have as big of an impact on college basketball this season. Raucous crowds and screaming student sections won’t be a factor late in games.
Yet, teams are still clearly performing stronger in their home arena than they do on the road. Perhaps that has something to do with the rigors of traveling amidst COVID-19 restrictions, or maybe it’s just something that will always be baked into sports.
For Ohio State, there’s been a clear difference in home and road performance. The Buckeyes are 7-1 when playing at home and have clearly elevated on the defensive end when playing in the comfortable confines of Value City Arena.
This season, the Buckeyes have allowed 73 points per game on the road, compared to a paltry 62 points when playing in Columbus. Only one of Ohio State’s last five home games has topped 146.5 total points, with those five contests averaging 140.8 total points scored.
Penn State’s offense is a factor here as well, having performed much better in Happy Valley than on the road.
The Nittany Lions are scoring 82.4 points per game in home games decided in regulation, compared to just 67.5 points per game on the road. If Ohio State is going to win this game somewhat decisively as expected, it will do so with a smothering defensive performance that keeps this game below the total.
Pick: Under 146.5
St. John’s vs. DePaul
Tempo, tempo, tempo. That’s what you need to feel comfort backing an over north of 150 in college basketball.
The Johnnies play at the 12th-fastest tempo in all of college basketball while DePaul checks in at 56th. That’s a great pairing for an over.
The over has cashed in 69% of SJU games this season, comfortably cruising by the closing total by an average of 7.8 points per game. In its last five games against teams whose tempo cracks the top 100 nationally, over tickets are 5-0.
I actually had this total pegged at 158, which indicates that there’s at least two possessions worth of value in this spot. It could be an overcorrection by the market, stemming from DePaul’s low-scoring performances this month.
Six straight Blue Demon games have gone under, but all six have been played against opponents who love to play at a snail’s pace. As a group, those opponents’ average tempo would rank 257th in the nation.
The key here will be Javon Freeman-Liberty. The Valpo transfer is coming off his best game as a Blue Demon, and if he can crack 20 points and keep St. John’s interested for 40 minutes, I think this game will likely be played in the high 70s or low 80s.
Pick: Over 152.5
Wisconsin vs. Maryland
Wisconsin has responded with a winning streak after each loss this year, and I anticipate the same to occur tonight.
After laying an egg against Ohio State on Saturday, the Badgers look to get back to their winning ways against Maryland.
Wisconsin makes 37.8% of its 3-point attempts on average this year, but in its last game, only 7-of-28 shots went down from deep. Facing off against a Maryland team that ranks 258th in the country in defending the 3-ball, the Badgers should find some clean looks from the perimeter.
Head coach Greg Gard and this team pride themselves on being one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Badgers are the seventh-ranked defense in terms of adjusted efficiency and are keeping teams to just 40.5% shooting from the field this season.
After holding both Rutgers and Northwestern below 54 points, they allowed Ohio State to score 42 points in the second half last game. Gard preached that they need to get back to their defensive ways in this game.
Maryland has been a hit-or-miss team all season, sitting at 9-7 on the year and 3-6 in the Big Ten.
The Terrapins boast some big upset wins over Minnesota and Illinois earlier in the year, but they have also had some pretty embarrassing losses, such their 22-point defeat to Iowa and a 24-point loss to Michigan.
Wisconsin is looking to avenge one of its three Big Ten losses this season when it fell at home, 70-64.
This is a great spot bet for the Badgers who have answered the bell after each of its losses this season. I anticipate the same thing in this game.
Pick: Wisconsin -3