Saturday’s College Basketball Betting Previews: Texas Tech-Kansas, Nebraska-Illinois
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jarrett Culver (23), Dedric Lawson (1).
For most, this weekend is all about Super Bowl 53. But there’s no reason to forget about college basketball, as 17 ranked teams take center stage for an action-packed slate.
Among them, No. 16 Texas Tech travels to No. 11 Kansas for a critical Big 12 showdown. But before that one, Illinois and Nebraska square off in a duel of struggling Big 10 teams.
Which teams present more value in these two matchups? Let’s break them down.
>> All odds as of Friday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NCAAB odds and track your bets.
Betting Odds: Nebraska Cornhuskers at Illinois Fighting Illini
- Spread: Nebraska -4
- Over/Under: 144.5
- Time: 2:15 p.m. ET
- TV: Big Ten Network
Not only have the Cornhuskers (10-8 against the spread) failed to cover in seven of their past eight games, but they also lost their second-leading scorer Isaac Copeland Jr. (14.0 points per game) for the season to a torn ACL.
Copeland’s prowess for spacing the floor and switching on ball ball screens gave Nebraska loads of versatility, and the Fighting Illini (8-13 ATS) should be able to take advantage of his absence via their small-ball lineup. They’ve averaged 1.10 points per possession in their past two games against Maryland and Minnesota, respectively.
Illinois thrives off pushing the ball in transition (39th-ranked Adjusted Tempo) with its spread offense.
It should have success controlling the pace in this one, as Nebraska has regressed on the glass, producing the lowest- and fifth-lowest defensive and offensive rebounding rates in Big Ten play, respectively.
Moreover, the Cornhuskers have been the most susceptible inside the perimeter, with their opponents stringing together the 15th-highest scoring rate in that area. Expect the Illini to boast an edge in that vicinity from Trent Frazier (14.8 ppg) and Ayo Dosunmu’s (13.8 ppg) ball penetration.
According to our Bet Labs data, Illinois is 4-7 (36.4%) ATS as a single-digit dog this season. But don’t let that fool you, as Brad Underwood’s crew has covered in four of its past eight games with its improved play.
THE PICK: Illini +4
Betting Odds: Texas Tech Red Raiders at Kansas Jayhawks
- Spread: Kansas -4
- Over/Under: 133
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
The Jayhawks (8-13 ATS) have dropped five straight games ATS, including two consecutive outright losses. On the flip side, the Red Raiders (7-13-1 ATS) have failed to cover in four of their pass five contests, snapping that skid in an 84-65 win over TCU on Monday.
This affair will come down to pace, as Kansas owns the the 28th-shortest average possession length (15.7 seconds) in the country while Texas Tech sits at No. 219 in that department (17.7 seconds).
When Kansas’ offense is rolling, it’s attacking the rim at ease in transition. The Jayhawks own the 34th-highest scoring rate (54.9%) from inside the arc, along with amassing the highest two-point field goal percentage (52.2%) in Big 12 play.
But the Red Raiders’ ball pressure is set up to limit it from getting into the lane, especially with the 6-foot-9 Dedric Lawson (19.2 ppg), as their opponents have combined to notch the 93rd-lowest scoring percentage (47.1%) from two-point land.
To make matters worse, Kansas has totaled the third-highest turnover rate (19.8%) in league play. Jayhawks guards Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes and Lagerald Vick have all been plagued by miscues, and Texas Tech has generated the sixth-highest opponents’ turnover rate (23.8%) in the nation, led by its wings Jarrett Culver and Matt Mooney.
Moreover, with the Jayhawks’ lack of size minus Udoka Azubuike (hand) and Silvio De Sousa (ineligible), the Red Raiders’ ninth-highest block rate (15.4%) in college basketball should offer another advantage within pace.
At the other end, Kansas has struggled defending bigger ball handlers. Look for the 6-foot-6 Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech’s leading scorer (18.5 ppg) while collecting the 100th-highest assist rate (28.8%) among individual DI players, to have his way offensively.
With Kansas going 4-8 ATS in the vaunted Allen Fieldhouse this season, the Red Raiders make for a fine play as a road dog.
THE PICK: Texas Tech +4