College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our 8 Best Bets, Including Saint Louis vs. Memphis
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After a Monday that consisted of two upsets in the Gavitt Tipoff Games and a stunner in Columbia, Missouri, the second week of the college basketball season rolls on with a top-25 matchup and an in-state rivalry game.
In addition to Virginia vs. Houston and Creighton vs. Nebraska, there are some quality mid-major games on the slate on Tuesday night that could offer up some value. Also, don’t forget about Emoni Bates and Memphis, as they take on Saint Louis.
Our staff dives into a strong Tuesday evening slate to provide their eight best bets to help you earn some cash.
Tuesday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Creighton vs. Nebraska
By Mike Randle
Creighton has dominated this heated intrastate rivalry, winning nine of the past 10 matchups. Nebraska’s lone win came two years ago at home, 94-75.
The Cornhuskers have an excellent chance to change that streak in this matchup, though.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg enters his third season with the program’s best recruiting class in the modern era.
Freshman Bryce McGowens headlines that class as the highest recruit in school history. McGowens was just named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after 25 and 29 points in two games this past week.
Hoiberg also scored in the transfer portal with Arizona State guard Alonzo Verge Jr., who has inherited the role as floor general. Verge tallied 13 points, seven rebounds and four steals in the Cornhuskers’ 74-65 win over Sam Houston State.
Nebraska also brings 6-foot-11 Eduardo Andre, who provides an interior presence that helps solve Nebraska’s main weakness. The Cornhuskers allowed 56 rebounds (including 23 offensive rebounds) to Western Illinois in their opening 75-74 loss at home.
Rebounding is certainly not a strength of Creighton and the Bluejays have also struggled with overall offensive efficiency. Creighton is shooting just 18.2% from 3 and 65.7% from the foul line.
The Creighton roster needs to replace over 53 points per game from last year’s Sweet 16 team, and the Bluejays are still developing an identity with a strong freshman class and average veteran talent.
Nebraska’s fan base will be ready and the Cornhuskers’ athleticism and defensive pressure will stifle Creighton.
I’m taking Nebraska and laying the 2.5, with the public dropping the line from 3. The Cornhuskers will get a rare win in this big rivalry.
Pick: Nebraska -2.5 (Play to -3.5)
Creighton vs. Nebraska
The smart money is smashing the over in this game. While the over is receiving only 50% of the tickets, it’s also pulling in over 90% of the handle.
However, the line hasn’t moved too much, meaning there’s still good value in the 145.5 number.
But there are other, actual basketball-related reasons I like this over.
We know Fred Hoiberg’s squad is going to run at a fast pace, as Nebraska has ranked inside the top 35 in pace in all three seasons he’s been here. That hasn’t translated into points yet, but they’re due for some 3-point regression (5-for-20 vs. Western Illinois, 4-for-22 vs. Sam Houston State).
Plus, Bryce McGowens can drop 30 on any given night. The five-star freshman — the first in Nebraska history — has already dropped 25 and 29 on the season, getting to the line 21 times in that span.
While Greg McDermott’s squads don’t run-and-gun as much, we know the Bluejays will try and chuck 3s. The Creighton squad is due for some major shooting regression as well, only shooting 18.2% from 3 and 56.7% from the line in its first two games.
Both teams won’t miss this much for the rest of the season, and water should find its level tonight. The last three matchups between these two have gone over and I’m expecting this game to play in the high 70s.
Pick: Over 145.5 (Play to 146.5)
Hofstra vs. Iona
Hofstra has been without star guard Jalen Ray to start the season, but all reports are indicating that he will make his season debut on Tuesday night. That is huge for Hofstra because Ray is one of the best mid-major guards in college basketball.
Ray averaged 19.9 points per game, shot 42% from the field and took 29.3% of Hofstra’s shots a season ago. So, to say he will have an impact tonight will be putting it lightly.
He also will be able to score at will on Iona’s man-to-man defense that can’t stop anyone in isolation. The Gaels are allowing 1.11 PPP in isolation plays through their first two games, so Ray will be able to take the Iona guards off the dribble all game long. Ray was the best isolation player last season in the CAA, putting up 1.39 PPP and shooting 57% off of iso plays, per Synergy.
Hofstra is fantastic at scoring inside as well, as its shooting 60% from inside the arc through its first two games. That isn’t a big change from last season, when Hofstra was 89th in 2-point FG%.
Iona allowed Appalachian State and Harvard to shoot 55.4% from inside the arc and KenPom has it ranked 224th in defensive efficiency. I think Hofstra will be able to score at will tonight.
With Ray back, KenPom has Iona only projected at -3, so I think there is some value on the Pride at +7.
Pick: Hofstra +7 (Play to +5)
James Madison vs. Eastern Kentucky
Two undefeated teams will match up in Richmond on Tuesday night as James Madison takes on Eastern Kentucky on the road.
Head coach Mark Byington returned four starters from last year’s CAA regular-season champion squad and had a fantastic offseason after his first year at JMU.
Byington was able to bring in four players with experience at winning Division I programs, and I expect the Dukes to compete once again for the CAA championship.
However, I think the Eastern Kentucky Colonels are far and away a better team and this spread is considerably lower than where I expected it to be. Eastern Kentucky returned three starters and is off to a hot start this season after winning outright against Milwaukee as a five-point underdog.
James Madison also plays at a top-50 pace in the country and rarely sees a team that plays faster than it does. However, the Colonels are one of the few, currently ranked sixth in tempo, per KenPom. It’s a small sample size, but head coach A.W. Hamilton has proven in the past his dedication to a fast pace.
I’m taking Eastern Kentucky at -3.5 and I would bet them as high as -6.
Pick: Eastern Kentucky -3.5 (Play to -6)
Virginia vs. Houston
By D.J. James
Houston and Virginia aligning for an early-season tip off is every college basketball fan’s dream (or nightmare if you hate slow games).
That is exactly what is in store here. Houston and UVA run two of the NCAA’s slowest offenses, and we get to watch this three games into the season.
UVA dropped an early game against Navy but bounced back against Radford. They rank 358th this season in adjusted tempo, per KenPom.
Their defense is their strong suit, as they’ve allowed just 118 points through two games.
They will need it to limit Kyler Edwards and Marcus Sasser in the backcourt. Virginia has Armaan Franklin, Kihei Clark and Reece Beekman, who combined for 15 steals in the first two games. They should neutralize Houston’s strong suit.
Houston is similar. It ranked 341st in adjusted tempo and will allow teams to use up almost the entire shot clock, with 19.0 seconds per possession.
Considering that Houston has a top-10 defensive efficiency, this bodes well for the season. Edwards and J’Wan Roberts are incredible defenders and should provide a strong balance, both at the guard position and on the block.
There is too much defense in this game, so take the under at 123 and play it to 121.
Pick: Under 123 (Play to 121)
Virginia vs. Houston
This line was as high as 8.5 before being bet down to its current number, which far exceeds where it should be. Computer projections project this game to be more in Houston’s favor, with KenPom predicting a nine-point win and Bart Torvik seeing an eight-point margin.
Houston is a top-10 team in college basketball, returning many key pieces from a Final Four squad last season.
Virginia is a team in flux, trying to rebuild on the fly. The Hoos are searching for an offensive identity early in the season.
In a home loss to Navy, Virginia scored just 0.91 points per possession. Virginia bounced back in a win over a bad Radford team, driven by five made 3-pointers from Armaan Franklin. The Indiana transfer is not the type of player that can be expected to carry the load offensively for Tony Bennett.
That is particularly true in a road game against Houston, one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars will once again be tenacious guarding the ball on the perimeter. Virginia doesn’t have the creators to survive that kind of defensive pressure.
The Cavs can keep it close if Houston has a cold shooting night, but in their home gym, expect the Cougars to pull away and collect this crucial power conference win for their resume.
Pick: Houston -5.5 (Play to -8.5)
High Point vs. Notre Dame
I’m backing the Irish to win big at home against High Point on Tuesday night.
Notre Dame quietly possesses one of the oldest and most experienced rosters in the country. Now, it is a nucleus of guys that haven’t exactly won all that much together, but after taking some punches the last couple of seasons, this group is determined to break through in 2021-22.
One newcomer that will really help bolster the Fighting Irish’s front line is Yale transfer Paul Atkinson Jr. Atkinson gives Notre Dame a true interior defender, something the Irish really lacked last season with Juwan Durham. Atkinson is also the ideal complement to Nate Laszewski on the offensive end.
Notre Dame beat Cal State Northridge 68-52 in its opener, with Prentiss Hubb, Cormac Ryan and Laszewski combining to go 0-of-11 from 3. I think you’ll see those guys come out firing tonight, as all are capable shooters from distance.
High Point was competitive at Northwestern in the first half before allowing 61 points to the Wildcats after the intermission. I don’t think the Panthers are equipped defensively to slow down Notre Dame’s perimeter attack.
It’s always a little bit uneasy laying a big number in early non-conference college hoops, but I think this Notre Dame team will come out motivated today after a bit of a sluggish opening win.
I’m laying the 20 and I would play it up to 22.
Pick: Notre Dame -20 (Play to -22)
Saint Louis vs. Memphis
Memphis is highly touted as the favorite to win the American Athletic Conference for a good reason. Penny Hardaway brought in one of the top high school recruiting classes in the nation, led by 6-foot-9 Emoni Bates.
Through two games, Bates has lived up to the hype, averaging 16 points and four rebounds.
He hasn’t faced the stiffest of competition yet — Memphis has squared off against 296th-ranked Tennessee Tech followed by 343rd-ranked North Carolina Central — but he helped the Tigers take care of business.
Memphis is shooting 64% from the field (eighth nationally) while holding opponents to just 35.8% (fifth nationally).
Tuesday, the Tigers will match up against a Saint Louis team that is trying to pick up the pieces after a tough 2020 season.
Saint Louis was left out of the NCAA Tournament after COVID absolutely destroyed its season. The Billikens had to halt basketball operations from December 23rd to January 26th.
Travis Ford’s program is without the “Big Three” of last year, as Javonte Perkins suffered a preseason injury and Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French have graduated. The three averaged a combined 40.8 points, 21.4 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game last season.
Though the Billikens are 3-0, the best opponent they’ve faced is 339th-ranked Central Arkansas.
Memphis won 10 of its final 13 games last season thanks to the most efficient defense in the country, according to KenPom. Through two games Penny Hardaway has kept that same energy and the Tigers currently rank third in defensive efficiency.
Saint Louis is going to struggle to score the basketball with so many new faces on the court. We should see the star recruits for Memphis unleashed for the first time in this game.