College Basketball Betting Odds & Picks: Stuckey’s Favorite Spots for Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 18-19)
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Texas Tech’s home floor at United Supermarkets Arena.
Below, you will find my favorite situational spot on the board for both Tuesday and Wednesday, along with quick thoughts on some other intriguing matchups.
There are obviously no lines out yet for Wednesday, so make sure you follow along in the Action Network App if you want to know what I end up betting.
9 p.m. ET in Lubbock, Texas, on ESPNU
One of the best spots of the week features the Red Raiders coming off a loss at Kansas State in a revenge spot against an Iowa State team fresh off an emotional home win over Texas.
When these two teams met earlier this month in Ames, Texas Tech did not have either Kevin McCullar or Terrence Shannon available. Behind some Hilton Magic, the Clones jumped out to a 19-6 lead but still had to hold on for dear life in an eventual four-point victory after scoring just two points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
In fact, Texas Tech had only seven players total available for that first meeting, and two eventually fouled out. With a shell of a roster that shot 3-of-17 from 3 and 6-of-15 from the line, the Red Raiders still had a lead with two minutes to go in regulation.
Well, McCullar has since returned, and Shannon got his first game action in a while under his belt on Saturday. I expect him to look much better after shaking the rust off in Manhattan.
Unless Gabe Kalscheur goes bonkers from 3 again as he did against Texas, I don’t see many paths to consistent success for this Iowa State offense in the half-court.
Iowa State does possess an excellent half-court defense, but it’s also been quite fortunate from a shot quality perspective. Opponents won’t continue to shoot 27.1% from beyond the arc, which ranks 10th in the country.
The Cyclones rank in the 99th percentile in points per possession allowed on open jumpers despite ranking 287th in the percentage of unguarded jumpers allowed, per Synergy.
In a matchup of two elite defenses, I’ll take the slightly better offense that’s now at full strength in a good situational spot in Lubbock with one of the nation’s best home-court advantages.
- It’s a desperation spot for Eastern Kentucky (-5.5) after starting out 0-4 in league play in its first year in the Atlantic Sun. It’s also a very good matchup on paper. EKU shoots 3s and presses at top-five rates nationally. That could spell trouble against a Lipscomb team that ranks outside the top 300 in turnover rate and 3P defense. That said, if Lipscomb can handle the press, it could be a layup drill for big man Ahsan Asadullah against EKU’s poor post defense. This one should be a track meet.
- VCU (-2) has a great situational spot at home after suffering a 20-point blowout at St. Bonaventure. You should get the Rams’ best effort here against a Davidson team that owns the nation’s longest winning streak of 13 games. This is the definition of strength-on-strength when Davidson has the ball in the half-court. The Wildcats offense ranks first nationally in points per possession scored in the half-court (1.058), while VCU ranks No. 1 in points per possession allowed (0.707). The complete opposite is true when VCU has the ball. I think VCU’s home-court advantage is the difference here in a matchup where the home team has come out on top in each of the past five meetings. Plus, Davidson eventually will miss a contested 3 this season.
- A shorthanded Northwestern (+2) club had a potentially season-saving win at Michigan State on Saturday. Can it keep the momentum going at home against a streaking Wisconsin team? I actually like the matchup for the Wildcats defense and think they can have some success in transition against a putrid Badgers transition defense. Wisconsin may also come out a little flat with a major showdown against Michigan State on Friday night in Madison. However, I think head coach Chris Collins needs Pete Nance back. Keep an eye out for the status of Northwestern’s leading scorer and rebounder who missed last game with an ankle injury.
- In the ACC, Duke (-5) heads to Florida for only its third true road game (1-1) of the season. Keep an eye on the status of Malik Osborne (11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds) for Florida State. He didn’t play last game for the ‘Noles with an ankle injury, and head coach Leonard Hamilton hinted he would likely not suit up. It is worth mentioning Duke has held ACC opponents to a league-best (and completely unsustainable) 24.4% from distance.
7 p.m. ET in Valparaiso, Indiana, on ESPN+
Let’s go to the Valley for my favorite spot on Wednesday.
This is a major revenge spot for Valpo, which lost by 27 when these two teams met in Cedar Falls earlier this month. That started a four-game slide for the Beacons, who now sit at 1-5 in the conference.
However, they’ve been fairly unlucky with five of their 10 losses either coming in overtime or by three points or less in regulation. That includes a double-overtime loss on the road at first-place Loyola Chicago last week.
Meanwhile, Northern Iowa has won five straight to catapult into second place in the Valley with a 5-1 league record. However, those wins have not come easy of late. Just take a look at the past three victories:
- 85-84 at Missouri State
- 80-74 vs. a shorthanded Indiana State in overtime
- 69-68 at Southern Illinois
That’s three straight wins when the Panthers were either tied or led by one at the end of regulation. Now, they have to get up for a trip to Valpo to take on a team they recently blew out with a showdown against Drake on deck. Tough spot.
Valpo is much better than its record and advanced metrics show, especially when you consider Wisconsin transfer Kobe King missed the first nine games of the season. The Beacons will also have Thomas Kithier for this matchup. The Michigan State transfer missed the first meeting between these two teams.
This is a good buy-low, sell-high chance in a decent situational spot. I also like to fade Northern Iowa as a favorite and play it as a dog since it’s such a high variance team. The Panthers shoot a ton of treys (58th) and allow even more (357th).
Now, if the shots aren’t falling for Valpo, it could be a long night as UNI should clean up the defensive glass, but I have a sneaking suspicion they will be falling on Wednesday night.
- It’s probably time to sell Wake Forest (-2.5) in a very tough situational spot after an upset win over Virginia on the road to end a long head-to-head losing streak against the ‘Hoos. Now, the Demon Deacons have to get up for a second straight road game against reeling Georgia Tech before a big home game against North Carolina. I think the Tech zone can create some issues for the Wake offense. The ACC has been an enigma this year outside of the top two teams, Duke and UNC. In ACC games not involving those two, the underdog has gone 24-9-1 ATS (72.7%), covering by an average margin of just under six points.
- It’s a fascinating spot for Alabama (-4) at home against LSU. The Tide have lost three straight but receive a chance to get right at home against a Tigers squad they beat three times last year, including a victory in the SEC Championship. I’m sure LSU has had this game circled, so I’m sure you’ll get its best effort, especially after a home loss on Saturday. However, there’s a reason Alabama blew it out twice in the regular season. This is just a very good matchup for Alabama, as LSU will allow plenty of looks from deep (350th), which is where Alabama wants to live (30th). The Tigers also won’t kill a vulnerable Alabama interior defense in the post. It will likely come down to 3P shooting variance for Alabama, and LSU’s defense still has some major negative regression coming in that regard.
- The game of the week will come on Saturday as Kentucky (-7.5) heads to Auburn in an SEC showdown of two legit national title contenders. However, each has another game to play first. Will either get caught looking ahead? It might not matter for Auburn, which gets a horrendous Georgia team at home — although you may see an inflated price. Meanwhile, Kentucky has the much greater risk of getting caught flat-footed in College Station against a Texas A&M club that remains undefeated in league play. It’s a tough spot for Cal’s Cats after putting up 107 on Tennessee with a trip to first-place Auburn looming.
- Can Oklahoma State (-5) back up its shocking upset at Baylor with a home win over a TCU squad that swept the Cowboys last year? For what it’s worth, I’m really looking to fade the Pokes in poor situational spots this season since they are banned from the NCAA Tournament.
- It might be a good time to invest in Virginia (-3.5) off a loss again. The Cavaliers head to Pittsburgh in a very favorable matchup. The Panthers want to feed John Hugley inside, but that simply won’t work against Tony Bennett’s pack line. Virginia only beat Pittsburgh by one at home earlier this year, but Pitt shot an uncharacteristic 8-of-16 from 3 (293rd on season at 30.4%), while UVA finished 4-of-19. Along those lines, UVA likely has some major 3-point regression coming on both ends. During league play, ACC opponents have shot 39.6% from deep, while UVA sits at only 30.4%. This one won’t be pretty.
- If you were ever going to get a best effort from Louisville (-7.5), it’s here after an embarrassing, lifeless loss at Pittsburgh, which marked its third-straight defeat. The Cardinals will get a very beatable opponent in Boston College, fresh off an upset win as double-digit underdogs at Clemson. I’m just not sure I have the stomach.