College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: 3 Best Bets for Wednesday, Including Pitt vs. Wake Forest
Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Mucius (Wake Forest)
We’ve reached the mid-week point of the first week of February, and in college basketball tonight, there’s plenty of must-see television in the Big Ten and Big East.
But for the sake of this piece and for the value of bettors, we’re turning our attention to two ACC games and a mid-major affair in the WAC.
Today’s three best bets are courtesy of Ky McKeon of Three Man Weave.
Wednesday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent the top 3 matchups that Three Man Weave is targeting from Wednesday’s college basketball 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.|
Chicago State vs. Abilene Christian
As much as I’ve loved the revival (relative term) of Chicago State basketball, tonight’s matchup with Abilene Christian poses a major problem for the upstart Cougars.
For starters, the travel alone is going to a pain in the side of CSU. As far as I can tell from my two seconds of internet scouring, there are no direct commercial flights from Chicago to Abilene. And since I have shared a Southwest flight with the CSU basketball team before, I know they’re flying commercial.
So, CSU will have at least one stop on its way to Abilene, which might be one more than its defense will have against the Wildcats all night.
ACU has struggled offensively this season, but CSU is literally the worst defensive team in the WAC. Opposing teams are pouring in 1.172 PPP against the Cougars in league play, an astronomical number.
ACU relentlessly attacks the rim on offense and looks to get out in transition. Chicago State isn’t awful at stopping penetration, but it is at stopping transition.
There should be plenty of transition chances for ACU tonight via turnovers. The Cats lead the country in defensive turnover rate, while the Cougars (also a cat, but a different kind of cat) rank 345th in offensive turnover rate.
If you remember the Abilene tournament team from last year, this one executes the exact same style of play defensively; current ACU head coach Brette Tanner has seamlessly picked up the mantle from current UTEP head coach Joe Golding.
ACU’s in-conference defensive struggles this season have stemmed from a lack of size and simple outside shooting misfortune. The Wildcats are the smallest team in America, and Tanner will often play five-guard lineups.
They can get away with that against CSU, which is also one of the smallest teams in the country.
As for shooting, ACU is allowing nearly 40% from deep in league play. In a conference where the average team shoots 33% from deep, the 23rd-“best” mark out of 32 conferences, that is an extreme outlier.
Look for that 3-point shooting defense to start to regress to the mean tonight against a CSU squad not exactly known for its shooting.
Abilene by 20.
Pick: Abilene Christian -18 (Play to -19)
Florida State vs. Clemson
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton is hopeful star guards Caleb Mills and RayQuan Evans can play today. That’s the linchpin holding this bet together. If the pair is in, the Noles are an excellent wager. If not, maybe look elsewhere.
Two recent losses have tanked Florida State’s analytical rankings. Since last week, FSU has dropped 25 spots in KenPom following an ugly loss at Georgia Tech and a double-digit defeat against Virginia Tech (no Evans or Mills in this game).
That’s not indicative of this team’s true nature. Two games don’t erase an otherwise respectable season. FSU is well-coached, littered with talent and now undervalued in the market.
The Noles have plenty of lineup versatility to defend Clemson’s inverted bigs, PJ Hall and Hunter Tyson.
Their shooting ability makes them a difficult matchup for most teams, but Hamilton has an infinite amount of size on his roster, so switching wings onto the forwards when they float on the perimeter shouldn’t be an issue.
FSU should live at the free-throw line tonight. The Noles lead the ACC in FT rate while Clemson is second-to-last in FT rate allowed.
Hamilton should flex the muscles of the biggest roster in America and make life difficult for Clemson’s ball-handlers. FSU’s starting backcourt goes 6-foot-5, 6-foot-4, 6-foot-7 and its bench goes 6-foot-6, 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7. Length and athleticism should overwhelm the Tigers.
From a motivational angle, FSU needs this win to stay in the tourney conversation. The ACC is down across the board this season, and quality win opportunities are dwindling.
While the Noles would rather catch Clemson on the road, the Tigers are not infallible at home. Boston College took down Clemson in Littlejohn just two weeks ago. And while Florida State has been better at home this season, it still has three ACC road wins on its resume.
The Noles are capable of covering the spread and winning the game outright.
Pick: Florida State +3.5 (Play to +3)
Pitt vs. Wake Forest
Pitt has been a train wreck all season, while Wake Forest is on the verge of its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2017. Thankfully, we aren’t forced to bet a side on any game, nor am I recommending that tonight.
Instead, I’m looking at the total in this one.
Ithiel Horton was supposed to be one of Pitt’s most important players this season, particularly on offense. Legal trouble (the whole process has been nuts, take a Google) has kept Horton out of the lineup for most of the season, but it appears he’s fully back in the fold.
Horton has played two games this season, one on Jan. 5 against Louisville and one against Boston College last Sunday. The Louisville game soared over the 132-point total, while the BC game missed an over win by the hook (125 points on a 125.5-point line).
In the other 19 games this season, Pitt is 7-12 toward the under.
The point is, Horton is enormous for Pitt’s offense and makes it more likely to cover hit the over. The total today remains low as books have yet to fully adjust for Horton’s impact.
On the other side of the ball, it helps to have a team in Wake Forest that boasts the fastest offense in ACC play. The Demon Deacons want to run the floor and put up points in a hurry. Wake’s last four contests have gone over.
Coincidentally, that coincides with another player returning to the lineup — former ETSU transfer Damari Monsanto. Monsanto has played only in each of Wake’s last four games. He’s a boon to the Deacons’ offense in a similar vein to Horton.
Keep it simple. Avoid the side in the game, and take the over.