College Basketball Odds & Picks: Calabrese’s 2 Favorite Bets for Monday, Jan. 17
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: Antonio Rizzuto (Towson)
Each week, to coincide with the release of the Monday edition of the Big Bets On Campus college basketball podcast, I’ll be sharing my top two plays.
To kick things off, I’m targeting a pair of mid-major contests on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday slate.
Towson vs. William & Mary
This game opened at 13 and has moved down to 10.5, influenced by the status of Terry Nolan Jr. and Jason Gibson. Both guards are questionable for this one, but it should be noted that Towson (12-5 SU, 13-4 ATS) played well without them on Saturday at Elon.
But this game is as much about Towson’s consistent play on the road (7-1 ATS) as it is about William & Mary’s unsustainable luck as of late. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
The Tribe started the season in an uncontrolled nose dive, opening their campaign 1-12 SU. This team has spent most of the season getting shellacked by opposing teams because they’re so sloppy with the basketball.
William & Mary is one of the worst teams with the basketball I’ve seen this year. The Tribe are 343rd in assist to turnover ratio nationally, and they turn it over 18 times per game.
Making matters worse is that W&M is also routinely getting manhandled on the glass. Towson, on the other hand, is a great offensive rebounding team, and it doesn’t rely on turning teams over.
So, how has W&M covered three games in a row, including two outright wins? Luck.
Despite checking in at 341st in KenPom’s ratings, the Tribe sport the 92nd luck rating nationally. In recent games, they saw Hofstra shoot 6-for-34 from 3-point range, Northeastern fire up brick after brick en route to a 5-for-19 night from deep and then, they themselves came alive hitting 12 3s in a close loss to James Madison.
I believe this recent run has baked five to six points of value into this point spread.
Whether Nolan Jr. or Gibson — or both — suit up tonight, I’m confident that Cam Holden can carry the Tigers once again.
The two-time transfer (JUCO, UT-Martin) has been a revelation for a team that hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since Larry Johnson was in college.
Holden has posted a double-double in 40% of his games as a Tiger, and he’ll be able to chip in enough points and rebounds to clear this spread of 10.5 tonight in Williamsburg.
Pick: Towson -10.5
Prairie View A&M vs. Alcorn State
The casual gambler usually flies right by the SWAC for a lot of reasons: a lack of televised games, putrid overall records and zero marquee players to place their confidence in. These are just a few reasons the ticket volume on SWAC games remains so low.
Personally, I love this conference and I am not scared off by the overall records of most of the teams.
Athletic budgets in this league are financed by taking difficult non-conference games, most of the time halfway across the country, to keep their coffers fed.
Alcorn State was no different this year, getting waxed by not one but two AP No. 1 teams (Gonzaga, Baylor). Just for good measure, the Braves traveled to Houston as well, dropping that game 77-45.
All of that is noise, really just athletic department fundraising. Because since the Braves turned their attention to SWAC play, they’re 4-0. That’s the number I care about. That’s 4-0 SU and ATS.
Defensively, they’re playing very well in-conference, holding opponents to 63 points per game on 39% shooting from the field and 28% shooting from deep.
And then there’s the offensive balance. Alcorn State has nine players that average between six and 10 points per game.
PVAM is one of the worst defensive teams in the nation, surrendering a hair under 85 points per game. The Panthers are off to a brutal start to their season (1-12 SU, 5-8 ATS) and haven’t been able to replace point guard Cam Mack.
Mack led the team with 7.7 assists last season, guiding them to an undefeated SWAC campaign and the conference crown.
This team is adrift without him. How bad is it? The Panthers have the second-worst assist to turnover ratio in the nation.
I’ll take the hot team at home against a former SWAC power going through the motions.
Pick: Alcorn State -4