New Year’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Notre Dame-Virginia Tech, Marquette-St. John’s

New Year’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Notre Dame-Virginia Tech, Marquette-St. John’s article feature image

Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Isaiah Wilkins

We’re inching closer to the most wonderful time of the college basketball season: Conference play. Notre Dame travels to No. 10 Virginia Tech to kick the new year off on Tuesday, followed by No. 16 Marquette’s matchup against St. John’s.

Which sides deliver the most value? Let’s breakdown the matchups.

>> All odds as of Monday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Virginia Tech Hokies

  • Spread: Virginia Tech -11
  • Over/Under: 141.5
  • Time: 1 p.m. ET

The Fighting Irish (6-7 against the spread) were turning a corner in their upset win over Purdue on Dec. 15, but do-it-all guard Rex Pflueger tore his ACL and shifted their fortunes. Things won’t get easier in Blacksburg with the Hokies (9-3 ATS) owning the 27th-lowest Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (93.2 opponents’ points per 100 possessions) in the country.

Not many programs can pressure the ball like Buzz Williams’ crew, sitting No. 5 in opponents’ turnover rate. And while Notre Dame owns the fourth-lowest turnover percentage (13.2%) in Division I, Virginia Tech’s suffocating defense will force the Irish into some difficult shots.

They rank No. 215 in effective field goal percentage (49.8%) while posting a mere 0.98 PPP against winless Coppin State on Saturday.

At the other end, the Hokies’ slow-paced attack has generated the fifth-highest Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (117.1 points per 100 possessions) in college basketball, led by its second-ranked eFG% (60.9%). Look for Virginia Tech to generate fastbreak opportunities off missed shots and open up its perimeter offense as a result.

The Hokies’ leading scorer Nickeil Alexander-Walker (18.5 points per game) — who has seen his eFG% increase by 8.6 percentage points — should be able to exploit the Irish from deep. He’s listed as probable with an ankle injury.

The Hokies are 14-7 (66.7%) ATS as a favorite dating back to last regular season. They’ll continue that success on Tuesday afternoon.

THE PICK: Virginia Tech -11

Marquette Golden Eagles at St. John’s Red Storm

  • Spread: Marquette -1
  • Over/Under: 156
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: FS1

Chris Mullin’s bunch (5-8 ATS) were hosed in their first loss on Saturday, with the refs inadvertently blowing their whistle on an inbounds play, giving Seton Hall another opportunity for its eventual game-winner. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Red Storm were bound for regression after an average non-conference schedule.

The Golden Eagles (8-4-1 ATS) pop up on their slate at the perfect time, manufacturing the 45th-best AdjD (95.0 opponents’ points per possession) in DI. Steve Wojciechowski has finally turned this defense around, and it stems from its ability to switch at multiple positions.

With St. John’s 16th-ranked 3-point shooting (39.8%) produced by lots of isolation ball and drive and kicks, Marquette has the prime personnel to stick with it.

Offensively, 35.8% of the Golden Eagles’ scoring has been amassed from behind the arc while the Red Storm have been inconsistent with their 3-point defense (33.9%). Joey and Sam Hauser — two of their underrated defensive pieces — are shooting 42.9% and 42.0% on 3s, respectively, and their ability to play inside-out should give St. John’s fits, given its lack of size in this affair.

Moreover, the Hauser brothers have helped deliver the 17th- and 89th-highest defensive and offensive rebounding rate in the country, respectively. They’ll play a crucial role in holding the Red Storm to just one possession, and the opposition has struggled mightily in that department via the 20th-lowest offensive rebounding percentage.

Marquette is 13-10 (56.5%) ATS when it’s been favored since the beginning the 2017-18 regular season. Let’s keep this trend rolling.

THE PICK: Golden Eagles -1