College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Wednesday, Including Tennessee vs. Alabama

College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Wednesday, Including Tennessee vs. Alabama article feature image
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Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jahvon Quinerly (Alabama)

Wednesday is the first true heavy slate since college basketball’s holiday break.

Most notably, the SEC begins conference play with four games, including two battles between top-25 squads on ESPN2.

With SEC play on his mind, Jim Root of Three Man Weave dove into both of those top-25 duels — and one other matchup between Western Illinois and Iowa — to help you form your betting card for Wednesday evening.

Check out Jim’s three best bets below.


Wednesday’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
Over 142
8 p.m. ET
Under 161.5
9 p.m. ET
Alabama -3
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.

LSU vs. Auburn

Wednesday, Dec. 29
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Over 142

I typically end up taking an under in these best bets articles. Let’s change up the narrative and try and over, shall we?

Two key elements fuel this pick. First off and most crucially, the pace should be excellent. Both LSU and Auburn rank in the top 100 of average possession length offensively, indicating their preferences to run when possible.

Against up-tempo opponents — Nebraska and UCF — Auburn had 75 and 79 possessions, respectively. LSU, meanwhile, has played over 70 possessions in all 12 games, except versus snails Texas State and Penn State. Expect both teams to be comfortable in a track meet.

The other key factor is LSU’s defense. The Tigers have absolutely suffocated opponents over whom they have a clear size and athleticism edge. That has vaulted them to the No. 1 ranking in defensive efficiency at both KenPom and Haslametrics (No. 2 at BartTorvik).

While I do buy the defense as an elite unit, the extent of that has become exaggerated by the competition. Will Wade is deploying full court pressure on nearly 30% of defensive possessions, per Synergy, a top-15 rate in the country.

That pressure, plus LSU’s overwhelming length, has swarmed lesser foes, leading to the Tigers ranking first nationally in steal rate and fourth in block rate.

Auburn is by far the best team LSU has played, though. This is the first top-50 team on the Tigers’ schedule, per KenPom, and it is also the Bayou Bengals’ first true road game. Home Auburn should be less prone to miscues against the pressure, resulting in an uptick in efficiency.

This number has already taken some money (it opened at 140), but I like it up to 144.

Pick: Over 142 (Play to 144)



Western Illinois vs. Iowa

Wednesday, Dec. 29
8 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network +
Under 161.5

I could not resist. I had to mix in an under!

Obviously, this total is sky high, and it makes sense. Both teams are top 50 in tempo, and both are better on offense than defense. Digging a little deeper into the matchup has me optimistic that it will stay under such a lofty number, however.

Most importantly, Western Illinois is not necessarily as fast as its numbers might suggest. Offensively, the Leathernecks’ average possession length is just 209th in the country.

Instead, their tempo is inflated by their defensive APL, which is third in the entire country. That is heavily schedule-based: seven of WIU’s 13 opponents rank in the top 119 in offensive APL. Of course, Iowa is yet another turbo team, but WIU should make a concerted effort to keep the tempo reasonable.

Additionally, two aspects of WIU’s defense makes me think it can somewhat limit the Hawkeyes’ supernova attack. First, the Leathernecks run opponents off of the 3-point line, ranking fourth nationally in defensive 3PA rate. Iowa has multiple lethal perimeter threats, so that is vital.

Second, WIU’s 2P% defense is actually impressive for a Summit team — a league notorious for its porous defenses. Coach Rob Jeter often deploys two 6-foot-10 forwards at the same time in Tamell Pearson and Luka Barisic.

While neither is a shot-blocker, the sheer size of that duo makes finishing at the rim difficult.

Betting the under between these two offenses will not be an enjoyable experience, but remember, even a 90-70 final score makes this one a winner.

Pick: Under 161.5 (Play to 158)



Tennessee vs. Alabama

Wednesday, Dec. 29
9 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Alabama -3

Alabama has gone from “national darling” to “hit the panic button” in record time. The Tide drew national love after crushing Gonzaga and beating Houston in back-to-back contests.

Since, though, Nate Oats’ team has fallen at Memphis and to Davidson in Birmingham, inviting criticism and questions.

Tennessee, on the other hand, vaulted up into the collective hoops conscience by scraping out a victory over undefeated Arizona. The Vols got up early and held on for dear life, eventually getting enough clutch buckets to secure a nationally-televised four-point win.

That means, folks, we have an old-fashioned “buy low, sell high” situation on our hands! We love those, and we love them even more when the “buy low” team is as good as Alabama is.

From a matchup lens, Alabama should be able to control tempo. The Tide’s potent backcourt excels at this, with lightning bolts Jahvon Quinerly and JD Davison both intent on pushing at every opportunity. The Tide are far more comfortable in a wide-open game.

Transition equals 3-point opportunities and chances to play downhill.

Alabama’s offense is heavy on the triple and transition drives, where Quinerly, Davison, Keon Ellis and Jaden Shackelford thrive. Look no further than the Gonzaga game to see how deadly Alabama can be when allowed (and even encouraged) to run.

Concerns revolve around Alabama’s defensive rebounding and interior defense. John Fulkerson just went ballistic against Arizona’s vaunted frontline, and he and Olivier Nkamhoua could feast against a thin Tide frontcourt.

Charles Bediako needs to stay out of foul trouble, and the Tide’s small-ball lineups must battle against the larger Vols.

Alabama also struggled with Memphis’ disruptive defense, and Tennessee can pose similar challenges. But the venue is crucial here — instead of the Tide facing down a raucous environment, they can feed off of their own crowd’s fervor.

The Tide have been bet up to -3, and that’s where I would draw the line, but hopefully the market has settled at this point.

Pick: Alabama -3



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