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College Basketball Odds, Picks: Keg’s ‘Bottom of the Barrel’ ACC/Big Ten Challenge Best Bets

College Basketball Odds, Picks: Keg’s ‘Bottom of the Barrel’ ACC/Big Ten Challenge Best Bets article feature image
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Nathan Laine/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is one of my earliest memories of college basketball. Seeing the tide turn in 2008-2010 is when I really started to keep up with the sport on a more serious level.

Sadly, not only is this year’s edition of the Challenge likely the last of its kind, the level of basketball doesn’t consist of the same powerhouse showdowns that it once had.

And before you come at me for that, take a good look at some of the matchups.

Clutch your Power Five pearls all you want, but here’s how I’m betting some of the worst matchups we’ll see in this Challenge from Monday through Wednesday.


Bottom of the Barrel ACC/Big Ten Challenge Picks

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that Keg is targeting from the ACC/Big Ten Challenge this week. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
7 p.m. ET (Mon.)
Under 127 or Better
9 p.m. ET (Mon.)
Under 124 or Better
7 p.m. ET (Tue.)
Maryland -12 or Better
9 p.m. ET (Tue.)
Iowa -15 or Better
7:15 p.m. ET (Wed.)
Purdue -20 or Better
9:15 p.m. ET (Wed.)
Under 127 or Better
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.

Minnesota vs. Virginia Tech

Monday, Nov. 28
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Under 127 or Better

Our first matchup of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge will see the Gophers head to Blacksburg to square off with the Hokies. Minnesota is 4-2 on the season while Virginia Tech is 6-1 (with its only loss coming to one of my favorite teams this year, Charleston).

Virginia Tech is the better team here — I don’t think anyone’s arguing that. This will be a massive step up in competition for Minnesota, too.

However, I’m not sure you could pay me to take this Hokies team as a favorite of anything higher than maybe three points against anyone.

Virginia Tech has not covered a spread since its second game of the season against Lehigh. Outside of Penn State, it’s faced mostly inferior competition, which has padded its numbers. And it’s still struggled against that competition.

Instead, I’ll be backing the under in this matchup. Both of these teams boast an Adjusted Tempo outside the top 300. Not to mention, I think this number opened a little high. I was able to grab under 130.5, but I would feel comfortable taking it as low as 127.


Pitt vs. Northwestern

Monday, Nov. 28
9 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Under 124 or Better

The only other ACC/Big Ten Challenge game taking place on Monday will be the Pitt Panthers taking on the Northwestern Wildcats.

While Pitt may be 4-3 on the season, it has yet to beat a team ranked better than 296th by KenPom.

Northwestern, meanwhile, could very well have one of the best defensive units in the country. The Wildcats are holding opponents to just 51.7 points per game so far this season, as well as allowing teams to hit just 37.6% on 2-point shots and 26.3% from beyond the arc.

Despite their elite defense — which I expect to give Pitt serious problems — the question is: can the Wildcats do enough on the offensive end to cover the eight-point spread?

Northwestern ranks 306th when it comes to effective field goal percentage. It’s also outside the top 200 when it comes to 3-point percentage.

And even though the Wildcats aren’t necessarily a team lacking height, they rank 315th when it comes to block percentage, with 12.5% of offensive possessions ending via a block.

I don’t think I can rely on either of these teams to score, but I do trust Northwestern’s defense to control this game. I’ll be backing the under here at any number 124 or better.


Maryland vs. Louisville

Tuesday, Nov. 29
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Maryland -12 or Better

The Louisville Cardinals are one of nine teams that have yet to cover a spread this season, which should help you understand why I struggle to find positive things to mention about this team.

The Cardinals have been okay when it comes to limiting team’s offensive rebounds, holding opponents to just 23.7%. That could actually play a meaningful role against a Terrapins team that ranks in the 99th percentile when it comes to second-chance points per game (16.7 per contest).

However, that one individual metric likely won’t be enough to overcome Maryland. It’s literally the only meaningful positive stat I could find for this Louisville team.

Maryland has yet to lose a game, and it’s faced some decent competition, including Saint Louis and Miami (FL). I don’t see the Terps taking their first loss of the season to this lowly Louisville team.

The Terrapins are holding teams to an average of 61.3 points per game and outscoring them by an average of 21.3 points per game. I’ll be comfortable backing Maryland as high as a 12-point favorite over Louisville.

Pick: Maryland -12 or Better



Georgia Tech vs. Iowa

Tuesday, Nov. 29
9 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Iowa -15 or Better

Georgia Tech actually looked impressive and kept it close against Utah — though I believe that was due in large part to Utah’s slow pace and that the Utes aren’t a very productive scoring offense themselves.

Iowa, on the other hand, ranks 51st when it comes to Adjusted Tempo and is seventh in the country when it comes to Adjusted Efficiency on offense, per KenPom.

Georgia Tech does have a solid defense, holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of just 43.6% so far this season. But it didn’t make much of a difference against Marquette, a fast-paced team whose offense, while solid, still doesn’t compare to Iowa’s.

I’ll be backing the Hawkeyes as high as a 15-point favorite at home against the Yellow Jackets.

Pick: Iowa -15 or Better

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Purdue vs. Florida State

Wednesday, Nov. 30
7:15 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Purdue -20 or Better

Purdue? Why would Purdue be in a bottom of the barrel piece after it just beat Gonzaga and Duke in a single weekend?

Because Florida State is bad enough for the both of them that’s why.

Florida State ranks 274th among all Division I teams with an average scoring margin of -8.1. The Noles are 301st when it comes to total rebounds allowed and 208th in shooting percentage.

They are surprisingly not that bad on defense, though, holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 49.7%.

One of Florida State’s few positive stats as a team so far this year has been its ability to score and defend in the paint. That’s due in large part to it being the second-tallest team in college basketball in average height.

The Seminoles also have been noticeably decent when it comes to limiting and defending corner 3s.

Purdue’s Zach Edey is 7-foot-4 and is posting an effective field goal percentage of 63.1%. Purdue, as a team, ranks in the 84th percentile when it comes to corner 3-attempts and is in the 97th percentile when it comes to corner 3 field goal percentage (54.5%).

With Purdue likely to nullify one of the few things that Florida State does well, it should be interesting to see just how big of a line we get on this game. The Seminoles lost to Nebraska by 17 in their last game.

I would back Purdue at essentially any number we get here, but I assume it opens up somewhere between 13-17.

I’d back the Boilermakers as high as a 20-point favorite before I even begin to consider the line being too high.

Pick: Purdue -20 or Better


Boston College vs. Nebraska

Wednesday, Nov. 30
9:15 p.m. ET
ESPNU
Under 127 or Better

Wednesday night’s meeting between Boston College and Nebraska is the one true bottom of the barrel matchup of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. This is only meeting in which both teams are ranked outside the top 100, per KenPom.

Nebraska’s best win this season comes against another ACC foe in Florida State, which isn’t really worth bragging about right now. Outside of Florida State, the Huskers have not beaten a team inside the top 300, per KenPom.

Boston College might’ve lost games to both Tarleton State and Maine, but it has a lot better resume than Nebraska, thanks to wins against Wyoming, Rhode Island and George Mason.

Both of these teams present solid defenses, as they’ve both held their opponents to less than 65 points per game on average so far this season.

However, they also both rank outside the top 200 when it comes to scoring, as neither team currently averages more than 68 points per game.

I expect this to be a slow, low-scoring rock fight, which is why I’ll be looking to back the under in this game at any number 127 or better.

Pick: Under 127 or Better

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