College Basketball Odds & Picks: Calabrese’s 2 Top Bets for Monday, Jan. 24
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Tavaras Hardy (Loyola MD)
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 headed to Patriot League country before returning to my roots with a CAA play.
Loyola (MD) vs. Colgate
Since 2015, Colgate is far and away the best home favorite in the Patriot League. The Raiders have covered as a home favorite 64% of the time. That puts the ‘Gaters in the top 3% of all CBB teams nationally during that time span.
But this year’s Colgate team isn’t nearly as good as recent iterations. Matt Langel entered this season on a 82-36 run overall, including a dominant 39-16 four-year stretch against Patriot League foes. This season, Colgate is just 7-10 SU and 6-10 ATS.
The Raiders have struggled to replace the steady hand of Jordan Burns. The four-year starter at point guard made their offense go, and his absence has brought the high-scoring Raiders back down to earth.
Colgate is scoring 12 fewer points per game here in 2022 and outside of Nelly Cummings (16.7 PPG), it hasn’t found consistent scoring from its starting lineup.
Some of these offensive shortcomings have been masked by the Raiders’ schedule. Colgate has been on a steady diet of lousy teams lately, facing off against Lehigh, Army and Bucknell in recent games. Suffice to say, the Raiders haven’t really been tested in about three weeks.
Defensively, Colgate doesn’t do much to throw teams off their game. The Raiders don’t create turnovers, give up loads of open looks from 3-point range and they don’t crash the glass.
Can Loyola take advantage of these weaknesses as big dog? Absolutely. The Greyhounds are one of the best defensive rebounding mid-majors, thanks in small part to their Serbian Twins (Ilic) and Golden Dike.
Tavaras Hardy has a winning formula going for Loyola. The Greyhounds are tops in the Patriot League in turnover margin, and third in both rebounding and field goal percentage defense.
This Loyola team also features the league’s leading scorer in the league in Cam Spencer (19.4 PPG).
It doesn’t hurt that they’ve also been damn good on the road (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS last 5), notching a pair of outright upsets in recent weeks.
My power rankings call for this game to be in the seven- to eight-point range, so I’m jumping on this big number.
Pick: Loyola (MD) +11
UNC Wilmington vs. Northeastern
The Huskies were picked to finish second in the CAA by the media back in October, garnering seven of the 36 first-place votes. Jahmyl Telfort and Shaquille Walters were both tapped as second-team All-CAA selections at guard.
Things were looking up in Boston’s South End.
Then Walters missed nearly a month, and NE suffered a pair of one-possession losses and an overtime defeat to Delaware at home. Sitting at 0-7 in the CAA, it’s clear NE is better than its record, but enough to warrant it laying points to a red-hot UNCW team? I don’t think so.
For all of the promise NE had, UNCW has actually made it happen here in 2022. The Seahawks have won eight in a row, four of those games coming on the road. Last week alone, UNCW won three road games over CAA teams with winning conference records.
And the Seahawks did it with a different leading scorer in each contest. Jaylen Sims continues to be a driving force for UNCW, leading the team in scoring and rebounding (13.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG).
Since the CAA adopted its current 10-team conference tournament format in 2015, no team has ever won four games in four days to make the NCAA Tournament.
That’s what NE is staring at right now.
The Huskies are 3.5 games back of the sixth-place team with just 10 games to play. Given their performance against Hofstra in the last game (22-point defeat), I think it’s safe to say they’ve raised the white flag on the season.
Any early setback against UNCW and I’m banking on the Huskies packing it in altogether. I’ll take the hot team that is playing really well on the road against a rudderless team expected to play in front of a hundred spectators on Monday night.
Pick: UNC Wilmington ML (+115)