College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 5 Tuesday Best Bets (January 21, 2020)

College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 5 Tuesday Best Bets (January 21, 2020) article feature image

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Marquette Golden Eagles guard Markus Howard (0).

  • Need Tuesday college basketball betting picks? Our staff whittled down the card to one favorite bet each for January 21.
  • Whether you're looking for a MAC favorite to bounce back or an SEC home favorite to keep rolling, we've got you covered.
  • Get our experts' college basketball picks below.

What Tuesday’s college basketball slate lacks in volume it more than makes up for in quality.

It features a handful of compelling Big East, SEC, Big Ten and even MAC matchups — five of which we’ve covered below.

Here are our staff’s five best college basketball bets for Tuesday.

Tuesday College Basketball Picks

Odds as of Tuesday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.

Collin Wilson

  • Odds: Akron -4 at Miami Ohio
  • Over/Under: 149
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN+

We may be getting a discount here on the MAC’s best team, Akron.

After winning five straight conference games without much resistance, Akron was caught off guard against Toledo. The Zips held a comfortable halftime lead at home before Toledo’s Marreon Jackson scored 16 consecutive points. Toledo would shoot 57.7% from beyond the arc and hit 16 of 18 free throws.

Despite Akron shooting 50% from 3-point territory, the Zips would take their first conference loss.

You should not confuse Toledo with Miami of Ohio. The Redhawks are outside the top 300 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Specifically, Miami of Ohio is 319th in defending the perimeter, an area the Akron offense has feasted. The Zips are No. 9 in the nation in 3-point percentage with a 3-point distribution rank of 26th.

Akron has not met an unfriendly hoop yet with a 5-0 against the spread mark on the road. Not only are the Zips covering away from home, they have done so eclipsing the spread by an average of 12.7 points.

Akron is led by five seniors that account for 82% of their total points. This team likes to be on the road, losing only to West Virginia and Louisville by a combined 16 points.

Expect Akron to push tempo and fire as many 3-pointers as possible in a bounce back game against Miami of Ohio.

Pick: Akron -4

Mike Randle

  • Odds: Kentucky -11.5 vs. Georgia
  • Over/Under: 145
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

Kentucky (13-4) is starting to find its rhythm, having won six of their last seven games. The Wildcats have won nine straight games at Rupp Arena including three in a row over No. 3 Louisville, Missouri, and Alabama.

Georgia (11-6) has battled as a young team under second-year coach Tom Crean. The Bulldogs are 1-3 in conference play including 0-2 on the road, and have failed to cover in three of their past four games.

Kentucky and head coach John Calipari have the advantage of beating this Georgia team on Jan. 7. The Wildcats tallied a 78-69 road win, outscoring the Bulldogs by 12 over the last 10 minutes, despite shooting an uncharacteristic 50% (10 of 20) from the free-throw line. As a team, Kentucky shoots 76.8% which ranks 24th overall in the country.

Georgia is coming off a 32-point blowout loss at Mississippi State and now plays at one of the most difficult road venues in the country. Freshman Anthony Edwards (19.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.2 apg) has been incredible but has become a somewhat inefficient volume shooter over his past five games, averaging only 36.6% (30 of 82) from the field.

The Bulldogs are one of the youngest teams in the country with a team experience average of just 1.18 years (314th), not ideal in a tough SEC road environment.

This should be a comfortable Kentucky win, with an unlikely improvement from such a young Georgia team in just 13 days.

Pick: Kentucky -11.5

Michael Calabrese

  • Odds: Maryland -7 at Northwestern
  • Over/Under: 130.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: FS1

Despite Maryland’s 14-4 SU record, including wins over Marquette, Indiana and Ohio State, the Terps have earned a reputation as a very poor road team this season. They are 0-4 SU in their four road trips and an equally putrid 0-3-1 ATS. It is worth noting that all four losses came to teams ranked in the top 40 of the NCAA’s NET rankings.

Waiting for the Terps in Evanston is a Northwestern team that has lived up, or more precisely down, to preseason predictions. Picked last in the Big Ten preseason poll, the Cats are off to a 6-11 start straight up and a matching 6-11 record against the spread.

If it weren’t for the Cats’ last performance at Illinois, this would seem like a line to jump on immediately. Northwestern drew within two points of the 24th-ranked Fightin’ Illini in the final minute, before falling by four points in Champaign.

Two stats really stuck out for Northwestern in that game — its 42.1% shooting from 3-point range and five turnovers on the night. Chris Collins’ team flat out stinks from long range normally, and five turnovers, even for a team that protects the ball well, is a performance unlikely to repeat itself.

Maryland enters tonight’s matchup averaging 50 points per game in its last three. This is just another reason for the discounted spread in this spot.

Pick: Maryland -7


  • Odds: Purdue -6 vs. Illinois
  • Over/Under: 126.5
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

My favorite bet may end up being Ole Miss at anything over +7, but I want to confirm the health of a couple of key Rebels players before I fire in that one.

The one game I do like is Purdue at home where it’s been a much different team all season. The Boilermakers have plenty of underwhelming results away from their friendly confines, but have some impressive results at Mackey Arena, including a pair of 29-point wins over Virginia and Michigan State.

Speaking of blowout wins, these teams recently met in Champaign where Illinois absolutely smoked Purdue 63-37. Coming off of a loss, Matt Painter should have his troops ready to avenge that embarrassing loss in front of a lively crowd.

Meanwhile, the Illini have won four straight and may come out feeling a little too comfortable for this one. Give me Purdue 1H and game.

Pick: Purdue -3 1H, -6 Full Game

Eli Hershkovich

  • Odds: Marquette -8.5 vs. St. John’s
  • Over/Under: 151.5
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: FS1

I’ll say it again. Bet on bad teams. It’s where college hoops’ value lies.

Even though St. John’s has lost five of its past six games outright, it’s covered three straight, including Saturday’s three-point loss against Seton Hall.

The Golden Eagles are overvalued following consecutive wins (vs. Xavier, at Georgetown), and St. John’s presents the style of play to take advantage.

The Red Storm’s defense is led by their perimeter ball-pressure, generating the 17th-highest turnover rate in college basketball. Expect an extra aggressive Johnnies’ backcourt after blowing a double-digit lead vs. Seton Hall. That should help bother Marquette star Marcus Howard.

If St. John’s defense allows it to control tempo and speed up Marquette at the other end, it’ll expose the Golden Eagles’ biggest liabilities: interior defense and staying out of foul trouble.

St. John’s has manufactured the 25th-highest 2-point scoring rate and 97th-highest free-throw rate, respectively, in Division I. Expect Johnnies senior Mustapha Heron and Co. to take advantage of Marquette and an inflated line as a result.

Pick: St. John’s +8.5

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