Our Staff’s 6 Favorite Under-the-Radar College Basketball Bets for Wednesday
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA. Pictured: St. Bonaventure guard Kyle lofton
- While not covered as much nationally, smaller conference games can arguably provide more value for college basketball bettors.
- For those bettors interested in some of the non-marquee games, check out our six favorite under-the-radar sides for Wednesday.
Before you know it, you’ll be betting on the likes of Longwood in the afternoon at work during conference tournaments, so there’s no better time than now to start familiarizing yourself with some of the smaller conference teams and mid-majors of the world.
Fire up your ESPN+ and check out our six favorite bets for Wednesday night, starting off with some Missouri Valley action. And for those of you that need your major conference action, we do have an angle for a more under-the-radar game in the SEC between Vanderbilt and Florida. Let’s get to it.
>> All odds as of 11 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and win probabilities on your bets.
Stuckey: Illinois State -1.5 (vs. Missouri State)
7 p.m. ET on ESPN+
As I mentioned in today’s situational piece, I think this is a great spot to back the Redbirds, who will be seeking revenge for one of the most bitter losses of the season. This is a veteran Illinois State squad that I expect to make a push late in the season through Arch Madness after failing to meet preseason expectations so far.
This game also has major implications for Illinois State’s chances at a bye in the conference tournament. And while Missouri State is battling for first place in the conference, it could get caught looking ahead to a weekend matchup with Drake in a game that could potentially decide the league’s regular season champ.
Seniors Milik Yarbrough and Phil Fayne will do enough in a grinder to get this done at home.
Mike Randle: St. Bonaventure -6 (vs. Duquesne)
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+
St. Bonaventure is very quietly starting to make some noise in the Atlantic 10. After struggling to start the year without seniors Courtney Stockard (15.9 ppg) and LaDarien Griffin (10.4 ppg) (who were recovering from injuries), the Bonnies have since turned it around.
With a now fully healthy roster, they have won five of their last six games and covered three of their last four.
The Bonnies have the second-best adjusted effective efficiency rating in conference games and are best in blocks per game. That will limit a Duquesne offense that shoots only 31.9% from deep and shoots less than 70% (69.1%) from the free throw line.
They already won 51-49 at Duquesne on Feb. 6 — in a game they only shot 11.8% (2 of 17) from beyond the arc. I expect the Bonnies to use their suffocating defense and legit home-court advantage to complete the sweep of the Dukes en route to their fifth straight victory.
Eli Hershkovich: Valparaiso-Bradley Under 128
8 p.m. ET on ESPN+
The two Missouri Valley programs squared off on Jan. 8, as the Crusaders notched a 61-50 win while the under easily hit (128). The first meeting isn’t always a sign of how the second game will play out, but the metrics hint at another rock fight.
Bradley and Valpo not only each rank below-average in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (points per 100 possessions), but both also operate at a sluggish pace. In fact, the Crusaders have the 51st-lowest Adjusted Tempo in Division (65.3 possessions per 40 minutes) with the Braves sitting just 14 spots higher.
I expect both teams to struggle offensively with their limited possessions, as each squad possesses a top-four Adjusted Defensive Efficiency in league play. They can also each take away each other’s respective strengths. For one, Valpo has produced the MVC’s highest two-point scoring rate (56.0%), but Bradley has held its conference opponents to the third-lowest scoring percentage (48.7%) from that vicinity.
And at the other end, the Braves’ perimeter attack has come alive in league play, generating the second-highest 3-point clip (39.2%). However, the Crusaders have held MVC foes to the third-lowest 3-point percentage (33.8%) and the fifth-lowest scoring rate (30.4%) from that area.
Brace yourselves for a defensive slugfest between two teams that have combined to go under in 64% of their games this season.
Steve Petrella: Northern Iowa +1.5 (vs. Loyola)
8 p.m. ET on ESPN+
This Northern Iowa team has found its form in the last few weeks, winning four straight, all by at least 11 points. Loyola Chicago has lost three of its last four, so you’re not getting much of a discount on NIU here.
But I think this Panthers team that’s posted stellar defensive efficiency numbers in its last four can contain a struggling Loyola offense. Its perimeter defense has been especially good, which will be much needed against a Ramblers team that ranked 68th in 3-point percentage but has cooled off as of late.
Take NIU in a good home environment that’s among the 100 best in the country, per KenPom.
Ken Barkley: Florida-Vanderbilt Under 129
9 p.m. ET on SECN
I expect the second meeting between these teams to go at least somewhat like the first (despite being played on Vanderbilt’s weirdly-large court).
If you’re looking for the worst major conference team, the Commodores are certainly a candidate. Meanwhile, Florida is surging, mostly due to its intensity on defense, which now ranks third in the conference in efficiency. In their last four games, the Gators have allowed the following point totals in regulation:
- 64 (LSU scored more in OT)
- 57 (first meeting with Vanderbilt)
With an offense as atrocious as Vanderbilt’s, there shouldn’t be any surprises the second time around. I expect Florida head coach Mike White and his staff to have the Commodores scouted perfectly.
It also doesn’t hurt that both teams have played extremely slow during conference play.
I would lay the 4.5 with Florida if I had to, but that’s not a number I really want to stomach on the road with such a low total.; there may just be too few possessions. Instead, I’ll take the under and watch something else on TV during the time slot.
For the purposes of specificity, I would bet this down to 125.
John Ewing: Wyoming +18 (at Fresno State)
10 p.m. ET on MTN
Wyoming is 6-21 on the season and is one of the worst teams in college basketball, ranking 320th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin. The Cowboys have also been nearly as bad against the spread with an 8-17 (32%) mark.
Oddsmakers opened Wyoming as an 18-point underdog against Fresno State (19-8 straight up, 16-9 ATS). Not many bettors will play this game, but those that do will likely lay the points with the Bulldogs. However, history suggests that bad ATS teams, like Wyoming, hold value when facing a conference opponent with a winning ATS record. You can find the system at Bet Labs.
It’s never easy backing one of the worst teams in college hoops, but this line is just a little inflated.
Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.