College Basketball Odds, Picks & Best Bets: Our Staff’s 4 Top Picks for Wednesday’s Games
Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ace Baldwin (VCU)
There’s no time for a Champions Classic hangover.
Not only do we have No. 2 Gonzaga traveling to Austin to face No. 11 Texas on Wednesday, but the Legends Classic begins in Brooklyn, and there’s also plenty of betting value on the board.
So, with that in mind, our staff is diving into four Wednesday games to provide four best bets. Get your college basketball betting card set now.
Wednesday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s 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.|
Sacred Heart vs. UMass Lowell
This line is a tad inflated, so I’d recommend keeping this bet slightly smaller (.4 to .75 units) and not playing the River Hawks at anything worse than -12.5.
However, I can’t talk myself off the River Hawks in this spot.
MALO walked into the RAC last Saturday and covered against Rutgers, losing by eight as 13.5-point underdogs. The River Hawks scrapped and clawed against a good Big Ten team on the road.
Meanwhile, Sacred Heart lost by 38 to Rutgers on the same court only two days prior.
The Pioneers then eked out a home victory over KenPom No. 336 Columbia, winning by three as 4.5-point dogs last Sunday.
That’s the same Columbia team that UMass Lowell beat by 27 in New York.
Now the two teams meet in Lowell while the River Hawks have an extra day of rest and are looking for a bounce-back win.
I smell a blowout.
The River Hawks are happy to blow out opponents, too. They won their first two games by a combined 92 points.
UMass Lowell is my favorite pick to win the America East this season. Pat Duquette returns 75% of the team’s minutes from last season — including Defensive Player of the Year favorite Max Brooks — and gets back 2021 AmEast Tournament hero Connor Withers, who lost last season to injury.
MALO’s 3.02 average years of D-I experience is 16th nationally.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers lost their top two scorers and are integrating an entirely new backcourt. All three of their starting guards are transfers.
Finally, MALO matches up well stylistically with Sacred Heart. Anthony Latina-led teams like to launch 3s, while Duquette-led defenses run opponents off the 3-point line.
Meanwhile, the severely undersized Pioneers frontcourt will stand no chance against Brooks and St. Bonaventure transfer Abdoul Karim Coulibaly (averaging 15/11 with a block per game). Sacred Heart finished 318th in 2-point defense last season and ranks 260th through three games this season.
This line was hammered once it opened at MALO -12, pushing it up to -14 before the market bought back. So, while the number seems slightly inflated, I believe the market is telling us Hawks -12.5 or better is the right side.
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Michigan vs. Pitt
By D.J. James
Michigan suddenly went from being one of the slower-paced Big Ten teams to suddenly faster in 2022-2023. However, this is partially due to playing Eastern Michigan, a run-and-gun team full of transfers in one of its two games.
The Wolverines will take on the Pitt Panthers — who have a tendency to slow the game to their pace — Wednesday night in the Legends Classic.
Pitt ranks 255th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. Last season, Michigan ranked 203rd (currently 103rd this year). That was more of their game, so the Wolverines should revert to that style while facing a similarly-schemed opponent.
Pitt immensely struggles in terms of taking care of the ball — it has turned it over on 23.3% of possessions. Luckily for the Panthers, the Wolverines rank 264th in defensive turnover percentage.
Building off of that, though, Michigan defends both inside and out very well. Opponents are only shooting 26.4% on 3s and 43.9% on 2s.
Pitt does something similar. It’s holding opponents to 27.5% from outside the arc and 49.4% from inside. On 2s, it will obviously be a tall task guarding Hunter Dickinson, but Federiko Federiko comes in at seven-feet tall with 2.5 blocks per game.
Jorge Diaz Graham is 6-foot-11 off the bench and Blake Hinson plays strong at the forward position, as well. They have the tools to at least clog up the lane and force Michigan to shoot from the outside.
Michigan is only shooting around 29% from 3-point range, so this is a good formula for the under.
Pick: Under 141.5 (Play to 139)
Eastern Illinois vs. Ohio State
By Doug Ziefel
Yes, Eastern Illinois is one of the worst teams in the country, but all we need it to do is participate offensively. The Buckeyes should be able to score almost at will. Eastern Illinois ranks 212th in effective field goal percentage allowed.
On top of that, Ohio State should have many second chances, as the Buckeyes rank third in offensive rebounding rate, while Eastern Illinois has done a terrible job of boxing out thus far.
This game is expected to be a rout, with the Buckeyes entering as 30-point favorites. They should be able to outperform their listed team total of 81.5 and get closer to 90 in this one.
That means we only need about 45 points from Eastern Illinois, which is a mark it has hit in every game this season. So, take the over and enjoy Ohio State lighting up the scoreboard.
VCU vs. Arizona State
The Rams have leaned on their havoc-creating defense that features full-court pressure. As a result, VCU finished seventh in defensive efficiency ranking last year.
Not much has changed this season, as VCU held its first two opponents below 56 points.
Mike Rhoades’ defense has forced turnovers on 33% of its defensive possessions, which ranks fourth in the nation. The defense should dominate an Arizona State group that ranks 272nd nationally in turnover percentage through three games.
Arizona State also has leaned on its defense that ranks 43rd in defensive efficiency. Though it dropped its last matchup against Texas Southern, that was by no fault of the defense.
Bobby Hurley’s offense ranks outside the top 200 nationally in 3-point percentage (31%), 2-point percentage (44%) and free throw percentage (64%) this season.
This matchup is poised to be a defensive battle with two hard-nosed defenses that will make buckets hard to come by.
For that reason, I’m backing the under in this matchup that will be highlighted by turnovers and one-and-done possessions.