College Basketball Odds, Picks: Stuckey’s 7 Spots for Saturday (Jan. 21)
Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Lynn Kidd (Virginia Tech)
Every week late at night after the final college basketball game is complete on Thursday night, I go through the entire Saturday slate and circle every spot I fancy on the surface after I update my power ratings.
Then, once lines come out on Friday night, I start to cross some of those off depending on the value I show and/or particular matchup worries (ex. Oklahoma State's turnover issues against Iowa State).
Below, you will find my seven favorite spots that made it through those first round of cuts as almost certain wagers.
My primary goal is to just help push you one way or the other on a game you were considering, so hopefully you can find something insightful.
Good luck with whatever you decide to bet on.
YTD: 4-1 +2.9 units
1 ET on CBS
Since both teams are coming off a loss, this is more of an auto play on TCU as an underdog than any sort of situational spot.
This Horned Frogs corps has gone 14-5-1 ATS as an underdog over the past two seasons and generally thrives in this role. There's just too much talent and athleticism to not fancy them catching 7.5 against pretty much anybody on any court at any time.
I also believe they match up quite well with the Jayhawks. This game features two elite transition offenses (and defenses), but I'll take Mike Miles Jr. and company over just about everybody in a transition fest, which this will likely turn into.
TCU should also be able to get to the rim and control the offensive glass, which are two areas of relative vulnerability for Kansas.
The Jayhawks likely pull this out, but I believe it will be close throughout. The TCU physicality and experience should prove uber-valuable here.
For what it’s worth, these teams split their regular season series last year, with the Horned Frogs only losing by four in Lawrence, even with Miles in extreme foul trouble throughout.
2 ET on ABC
Arizona hit a bit of a rough patch after starting out red hot to start the season, but I loved what I saw the other night in a blowout win over USC after head coach Tommy Lloyd made a few lineup tweaks.
I believe this is the perfect time to ride the Wildcats, while selling high on a UCLA team that is certainly very good, but also has benefited from a very favorable Pac-12 schedule to date.
I have these teams power rated almost equally, so I happily will take the Wildcats at a coin flip in front of what should be a raucous home crowd.
Plus, part of their recent struggles came as a result of poor shooting luck. In conference play, they are shooting just 29% from beyond the arc, but the quality of shots suggest those should start falling.
Also, from a matchup perspective, Arizona has a rock solid pick-and-roll defense, which should serve it well against the bread and butter of the UCLA offense.
And on the other side of the ball, Arizona's bigs should have ample opportunities to exploit UCLA's vulnerable post defense, especially if Adem Bona gets in foul trouble.
2 ET on ESPN2
It's almost do-or-die time for the Red Raiders, who currently sit at 0-6 in the Big 12. They certainly have issues on both ends (turnovers on offense, too many blown assignments on defense), but it's not like they haven't been competitive in the loaded Big 12, outside of a blowout loss to Iowa State.
Just take a look at their other five losses in league play:
- at TCU by six
- vs. Kansas by three
- vs. Oklahoma by five (in OT)
- at Texas by two
- vs. Baylor by seven
Plus, they recently added transfer big man Fardaws Aimaq to the mix. He's a bit of a liability on the defensive end, but gives them some much needed offensive punch.
Plus, this is a good spot to sell high on Kansas State after a rare victory over in-state rival Kansas earlier this week.
The Wildcats (who also have Iowa State on deck) deserve credit for pulling that game out, but they certainly benefited from ice-cold shooting at the line and from beyond the arc by the visiting Jayhawks.
Negative shooting regression certainly looms for the Wildcats, who have benefited from some good fortune on their opponents' open looks, per Synergy.
Meanwhile, the complete opposite is true for the Texas Tech offense, which hasn't been able to hit wide-open jumpers.
4 ET on ESPN
Forget the Vols shooting 8-of-9 from 3 in the second half against Mississippi State the other night — despite poor shot selection; it's actually the defense that is running extremely lucky.
For the season, Tennessee opponents are shooting a paltry 21.7% from 3-point range. For comparison, Norfolk State holds the single-season record at 25.3%, which it set back in 2005.
Per Synergy, teams are scoring only 0.743 Points per Possession on unguarded jumpers against the Vols. That leads the country for a team that also gives those up at an average rate on a national scale. The shots will eventually start falling against them.
Additionally, almost all of LSU's struggles on the defensive end have come in pick-and-roll defense and in transition. Well, that might not hurt as much here against the Vols, who don't really run and run PnR at one of the lowest frequencies in the country.
Lastly, it's also worth mentioning Tennessee will likely be without Santiago Vescovi once again. That likely means Zakai Zeigler needs to play 40 minutes at point guard for a second straight game, which could lead to all kinds of problems.
4 ET on ESPN2
This is your sandwich spot of the day.
Oklahoma is coming off of a loss against rival Oklahoma State and could really use this win for its tournament resume. Meanwhile, Baylor comes into Norman after a road win at Texas Tech, with a huge date with Kansas looming on Monday.
Baylor has unbelievable guards who are always capable of winning any game on their own, but the defense has issues this season that Oklahoma can exploit here.
This will likely be a super competitive game, but catching 1/1.5 with the spot likely makes this a wager for me.
5 ET on ESPN+
This line opened way too high compared to my projections, so it jumped right out, especially since I had this spot circled.
Texas State is coming off two consecutive losses, while Louisiana is riding high after five straight victories. This will mark Louisiana's fourth straight road game. That's less than ideal for a team with no bench.
The Bobcats will also be out for revenge after getting upset as the top overall seed by Louisiana in the Sun Belt Tournament last season. They likely have had this date circled a few extra times on the calendar.
Focusing on the on-court matchup, Texas State has a dreadful offense, but Louisiana doesn't really guard anybody.
On the other end of the floor, the Bobcats can turn ULL over and are strong on the defensive glass, which is a necessity against the Ragin' Cajuns.
6 ET on ESPN2
This is one of my favorite bets of the past few weeks. I'm buying low on the Hokies after six straight losses, including one to this Clemson team they will look to avenge.
They got starting guard Hunter Cattoor back last game against Virginia. He's critically important and should be much sharper in his second game back.
This is also a very experienced team that had a similar slow start to ACC play last season before getting red hot right around this exact point in the schedule.
Meanwhile, Clemson could be without starting point guard Chase Hunter for a second straight game. That would be bad news with shooting guard Alex Hemenway already out due to injury.
The inexperienced depth behind Hunter has not fared well so far this season.
I also don't mind selling Clemson here even after a loss. I think the Tigers have been a bit fortunate in a number of areas. They played Duke without Jeremy Roach and got very fortunate against Pittsburgh in a comeback victory.
This is an improved squad, but one that still lost at South Carolina and on a neutral court against reeling Loyola Chicago.
Virginia Tech will barely have any turnovers in this game and its 3s will eventually start falling in ACC play. That's a promising thought ahead of this particular matchup since Clemson allows a very high frequency of 3-point attempts.
The Hokies also rarely allow any opportunities in transition, which is an area Clemson has excelled in this season. They also grade out very well in post defense — another requirement against the tremendous Tigers frontcourt.