College Basketball Odds & Picks: Calabrese’s 2 Best Bets for Monday, Feb. 7
Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Malachi Smith (Chattanooga)
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.
This week, I’ve circled a SoCon matchup between a pair of teams set to face one another for the second time in less than three days, and a SWAC battle featuring the most mistake-prone squad in the entire country.
Chattanooga vs. Mercer
File this one under college basketball scheduling oddities, but the Mocs and Bears are meeting up for the second time in 55 hours.
On Saturday, UTC used a strong second half performance to pull away from Mercer at home. The 145 total points scored in the Mocs’ 77-68 victory is one of the reasons why I have this game circled.
Trying to figure out why this matchup would open under 140, I uncovered other reasons to like the over in this spot.
Mercer is one of the best mid-majors from a shooting perspective at home, connecting on 55.3% of its attempts from the field. Chattanooga shoots the 49th-best percentage from the field (52.3%) on the road in the entire country.
Malachi Smith and David Jean-Baptiste provide the Mocs with steady scoring out of their backcourt, pumping in 36 points per game. The duo also shoots better than 40% from long range.
From a motivation perspective, UTC needs to keep winning to maintain its razor thin margin (.5 game) in the SoCon. The Mocs may be forced to play this game without the services of Kansas transfer Silvio De Sousa, but that may only increase the chances that this game is played in the upper 140s.
De Sousa has been a disruptive force on the interior, turning away 1.2 shots per game this season. Mercer’s Felipe Haase was a clear beneficiary of De Sousa’s absence on Saturday, pouring in 17 points. If Haase isn’t checked by De Sousa tonight, I expect another big game from the Chilean-import.
And finally, I love backing overs when both teams can take advantage of the charity stripe.
Both the Mocs and Bears shoot 77% or better from the line, ranking inside the top-30 nationally. Hopefully that translates to a high-scoring final minute in this one.
Pick: Over 138 (Play to 140.5)
Prairie View A&M vs. Florida A&M
The Rattlers haven’t punched a ticket to the Big Dance since 2007, but they’re certainly a worthy contender to win the SWAC’s automatic bid this season.
Sitting a 7-3 in league play and a game out of first place, FAMU can’t afford to stumble down the stretch.
Everything went wrong for the Rattlers in their last game, a 12-point defeat at the hands of Texas Southern. FAMU missed 10 foul shots and turned the ball over 16 times.
I love FAMU to bounce back against a PVAM squad that is a shell of its former self. Last season, the Panthers completed a perfect conference regular season, only to fall short in the SWAC title game.
Despite returning its leading scorer (Jawaun Daniels), PVAM has fallen off of a cliff in 2022. The 4-14 (4-6 SWAC) Panthers are scoring five fewer points per game, have experienced a two percentage point drop in their shooting from the field and are one of the most turnover-prone teams in all of college hoops (17.8 TO, 358th).
Florida A&M owns one of the best interior defenses in the SWAC, and can absolutely take advantage of PVAM’s turnover issues.
This game will really come down to MJ Randolph. The four-year starter is the heart and soul of the Rattlers and is averaging close to 21 points per game in conference play.
He’s always around the basket and gets to the line more often than any other top-scoring option in the SWAC. He averages eight foul shot attempts per game during conference home games.
Prairie View A&M fouls teams at a super high clip (22.6 FPG, 356th), generating the most foul shot attempts per game in the entire country (27.6 FTA, 358th). Randolph should get 10+ in this one, leading to another monster performance.
Pick: Florida A&M -2 (Play to -3.5)