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College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 4 Top Picks for Tuesday

College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 4 Top Picks for Tuesday article feature image
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Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyree Appleby (Wake Forest)

We have a special college basketball slate on Tuesday, one that includes Kansas taking on Kansas State and Texas facing Iowa State.

With that in mind, our staff has four best bets, with two SEC battles, a matchup featuring the No. 1 team in the country and a game featuring the top team in the ACC standings on tap.

Dive in now to get the top college basketball odds and picks for Tuesday’s loaded slate.


Tuesday’s 4 College Basketball Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Tuesday’s slate of games. 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
Mississippi State +6.5
7 p.m. ET
Under 149
9 p.m. ET
Wake Forest -2
9 p.m. ET
Georgia +10
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.

Tennessee vs. Mississippi State

Tuesday, Jan. 17
7 p.m. ET
ESPN2
Mississippi State +6.5

By BJ Cunningham

These teams just played against each other about two weeks ago, and Tennessee absolutely shot the lights out. It hit 77% from the floor, including 12-of-21 from behind the arc to win, 87-53.

I think shooting regression came Saturday against Kentucky. In the game against Mississippi State, only two of the Vols’ 21 3-pointers attempted qualified as an ”open” 3-point shot.

In fact, ShotQuality had Mississippi State winning the game by two points.

Photo by ShotQuality

Mississippi State is due for so much positive regression, as it’s currently 1-4 in the SEC but won the ShotQuality matchup in every single one of those five games.

The Bulldogs went 0-for-18 from behind the arc against Auburn on Saturday and are shooting 28.8% from deep from the season.

I understand Tennessee is the best defensive team in the country, per KenPom, but Mississippi State can’t continue to shoot this poorly from the floor. The Bulldogs are also shooting 61.9% from the free-throw line, which is one of the worst marks in the country.

Tennessee really isn’t that great on offense, which was on display against Kentucky this weekend. The Volunteers are shooting 33.5% from behind the arc while ranking 144th in effective field goal percentage and 263rd in turnover percentage.

That’s big against Mississippi State, which is a top-10 team at forcing turnovers defensively.

This is ugly, but I like the Bulldogs to exact some revenge in Starkville.

Pick: Mississippi State +6.5 (Play to +5.5)

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Houston vs. Tulane

Tuesday, Jan. 17
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Under 149

By D.J. James

The Houston Cougars are the only team in the country ranked in the top 10 in both Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, per KenPom.

They have gone 10-8 to the under this season, so there may eventually be more of a trend with their defense.

The Cougars rank 334th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom, as well. They hold opponents to 18.2 seconds per possession on defense and hold the ball themselves on offense for an average of 18.8 seconds per possession.

Now, one of their issues this season has been on the defensive glass, where they rank 203rd in offensive rebounding percentage allowed. But on Tuesday, they play the Tulane Green Wave, who rank 358th in offensive rebounding percentage.

One area of concern for a defensive-focused game is that Tulane ranks 192nd in defensive rebounding percentage, while the Cougars rank third in offensive rebounding percentage.

This says that Houston should get some second chances.

Now, Houston holds opponents to 25.1% on 3-pointers and 41.6% on 2s. Tulane shoots 34% from deep and 54.6% from inside the arc, which means this portion of the Green Wave’s game should be greatly restricted in this matchup.

Houston doesn’t necessarily get out in transition often, but it does turn opponents over 24% of the time. Luckily for under backers, Tulane turns it over just 14.1% of the time, ranking fourth in the NCAA.

Since the Cougars foul often due to their aggressive defensive setup, the Green Wave should be able to score from the line. About 22% of their points come from the charity stripe, as they shoot 82.1% from there.

Otherwise, look for Houston to control the tempo in a lower-scoring matchup.


Clemson vs. Wake Forest

Tuesday, Jan. 17
9 p.m. ET
ACC Network Extra
Wake Forest -2

By Mike McNamara

Winston-Salem is where Clemson’s undefeated and magical start to ACC play comes to an end.

Brad Brownell’s team has been the surprise in the conference, and it’s a credit to players like PJ Hall and Hunter Tyson who have stuck with the program.

The Tigers have been fortunate, however, with some of the close games they’ve pulled out. This is a good basketball team that will make the NCAA tournament, but I’m still not anywhere near convinced Clemson is the best in the ACC.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest is really starting to click offensively and enters this one as winners of three in a row.

Tyree Appleby was a huge pickup by Steve Forbes in the transfer portal, and he should be able to score it and also create for others against a mediocre Clemson defense.

The Demon Deacons are one of the best offensive teams in the conference, with shooters on the perimeter and Andrew Carr starting to carve out a big role on the inside.

The students will be back from break and should really fill Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum with the top dog coming to town.

I think Wake gets what it wants offensively for much of the night, as the Tigers fail to keep pace.

Pick: Wake Forest -2 (Play to -3)


Georgia vs. Kentucky

Tuesday, Jan. 17
9 p.m. ET
ESPN
Georgia +10

By Brett Pund

After the crucial victory at No. 9 Tennessee over the weekend, Kentucky went from being at rock bottom to everyone saying the Wildcats are back.

However, I think this judgement has come a little too fast, which is why I’m backing Georgia to cover at Rupp Arena on Tuesday night.

Not only was there a major swing in the media and public, but we have seen a massive adjustment in the market. Head coach John Calipari’s team has gone from an 11-point underdog in Knoxville, Tennessee, to now needing to cover as a double-digit favorite.

Yes, I understand there’s a drop in talent going from the Volunteers to the Bulldogs, but do we really think it’s worth a swing of 20-plus points? This is still a Georgia team that has beaten Auburn in SEC play.

Mike White’s squad is also very strong defensively, ranking inside the top 50 in AdjD (45th), eFG% (32nd) and 3-point shooting defense (8th), according to Bart Torvik.

The Bulldogs are going to get stops, but it will come down to keeping the Wildcats off the offensive glass.

The oddsmakers are also asking a Kentucky team that ranks outside the top 275 in free-throw shooting to close out a victory late.

I’m not buying it, so give me Georgia to keep this one close.

Pick: Georgia +10 (Play to +8)


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