NCAA Basketball Odds & Picks: How to Bet Tuesday’s College Hoops Slate
Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images. Pictured: Rutgers basketball team.
- It's a big night for college basketball.
- Three Power Five Conferences boast three of the best matchups of the night in the Big Ten's Rutgers vs. Purdue, the ACC's Florida State vs. Clemson, and the SEC's LSU vs. Texas A&M.
- Our college basketball staff broke down all of those games and shared a betting pick for each.
It’s a great night for college basketball.
Our college hoops staff broke down three of the night’s top games from three different conferences, including the SEC’s Texas A&M vs. LSU game, the ACC’s Florida State vs. Clemson, and the Big Ten’s Purdue vs. Rutgers.
So, when you’re done watching the Cheez-It Bowl and need something else to get you through the night, we have you covered. Then, when these games wrap up, flip over to the Alamo Bowl for some more college sports fun.
Check out each of the three college hoops game breakdowns below complete with betting analysis and a pick.
How to Bet Tuesday’s College Basketball Slate
Here’s a rundown of our favorite betting spots on Tuesday’s slate of games:
All listed odds have been updated as of Monday night and via DraftKings. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown 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.
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Texas A&M vs. LSU
Texas A&M opens up SEC play on Tuesday when it heads to Baton Rouge to take on LSU.
Texas A&M has taken care of business against lesser opponents so far this season but failed its biggest test against TCU. Buzz Williams is looking to improve his squad from ranking 131st in the final KenPom standings last year.
To do that, he will need to address a few key areas of concern on offense for the Aggies to be considered an above-average SEC squad.
The Tigers should be one of the better teams in the SEC again behind Cameron Thomas and Trendon Watford, as they’re ranked inside the top 10 in offensive efficiency, per KenPom.
When LSU has the ball
The Tigers rank sixth in offensive efficiency, and much of that can be attributed to Thomas and Watford. Thomas joined a starting lineup that returned three starters who averaged double figures last season, and he’s now leading the pack with 22.8 points per game.
The reason LSU is so good offensively is that it’s absolutely been shooting the lights out. The Tigers rank 11th in effective field goal percentage and are hitting shots at a ridiculous 62.9% clip from inside the arc.
Defensively, Texas A&M has drastically improved from last season, but it still has a long way to go. The Aggies rank 46th in defensive efficiency and are below the NCAA average in defending opponents’ shots.
However, where they’ve excelled is in turning opponents over, as they own the ninth-highest turnover rate in the country. LSU does a really good job of taking care of the ball, so the Aggies may have some difficulty on defense.
When Texas A&M has the ball
The reason the Aggies struggled on offense last year was that they didn’t have consistent point guard play and lacked a consistent go-to scorer.
Those issues haven’t been addressed going into 2020, which has led to Texas A&M ranking 114th in offensive efficiency. The biggest area for concern on offense right now is taking care of the ball. The Aggies turn the ball over on 25.2% of their possessions, which is the second-worst rate of any Power Five school in the country.
Another huge area concern is almost 28% of their points are coming from the free-throw line, which is the seventh-highest percentage in the country. Relying on points from the charity strike is not sustainable, so the Aggies are going to have to shoot the ball a lot better if they’re going to hang with LSU’s offense.
The Tigers have not been good on defense, but they’ve excelled at defending the 3-ball, allowing only 27.9% to opponents through their first six games. Texas A&M shoots a low percentage from 3, so it may struggle offensively on Tuesday night.
How to Play It
LSU should be able to outpace Texas A&M, but it’s dealing with a few missing pieces at the moment.
Its unquestioned leader, Javonte Smart, missed the last game against Nicholls State due to COVID-19 protocols. If he’s unable to go on Tuesday, I have a hard time seeing how LSU is going to find consistency on both ends of the floor.
Smart is worth about 2.5 points to the spread in my projections, so if he’s unable to go, I’ll have the Tigers projected as only -3.03 favorites at home.
Therefore, I think there’s some value on the Aggies at +7.5, but that’s only if Smart is unable to play.
Pick: Texas A&M +7.5 (down to +6) (if Javonte Smart is out).
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Florida State vs. Clemson
by Pat McMahon
A pair of the ACC’s top teams clash on Tuesday night as Florida State travels to Clemson. Old school basketball fans will be excited for this matchup, as the two clubs play very hard and are among the nation’s best defensively.
Florida State comes into this game at 5-1 and ranked 18th in the AP Poll. The Seminoles suffered a surprising home loss to UCF on Dec. 19, but they do boast several quality wins as well.
Despite losing two lottery picks, Leonard Hamilton did a great job reloading and has a team capable of competing for another ACC regular-season title.
Clemson is 6-1 and got off to a hot start, already defeating four Power Five opponents. The Tigers dropped their ACC opener to Virginia Tech but get a great opportunity to knock off the Seminoles at home after eight days of rest.
Florida State Seminoles
Hamilton has quietly been one of the best coaches in college basketball over the last decade. He continues to recruit at a high level and picks up players who fit his style of play. Not many programs can lose two lottery picks and still field a top-25 team that is a contender in a major conference, but Hamilton has the Seminoles at that level.
This year’s Florida State squad has all of the trademark Hamilton qualities. Most notably, it’s very deep and balanced. Nine Florida State players are averaging double-digit minutes, and MJ Walker is the only player averaging more than 30 minutes per game.
The Seminoles have found plenty of success on both ends of the floor. They rank 31st in adjusted offensive efficiency and 29th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
Much of Florida State’s defensive success can be attributed to superior length and athleticism. The starting guards, Walker and Anthony Polite, stand 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively. Scottie Barnes, at 6-foot-9, is more of a true guard but starts at the three and can guard just about any position thanks to his length and athletic ability.
Hamilton has a strong four-man rotation in the frontcourt with each player standing at least 6-foot-8 and center Balsa Koprivica being the tallest, at 7-foot-1.
The offense is led by Walker and the five-star freshman Barnes. Walker has stepped into a bigger role with the departures of Trent Forrest and Devin Vassell, and he’s exceeded expectations early. He’s scoring 16 points per game on 42% shooting from 3 and 92% from the stripe, numbers that will put him on an All-ACC team if he keeps it up for the remainder of the season.
Barnes is putting up just shy of 11 points per game, but what’s been really impressive is the ability he’s shown as a distributor. Barnes is leading the team in assists at 4.2 per game and is a nightmare to defend when he’s the lead facilitator.
His one weakness early on has been outside shooting. Barnes is making only 26.7% of his 3-point attempts on the year. The Tigers will look to exploit that by keeping Barnes out of the lane and forcing him to beat them with jump shots.
Brad Brownell has done a great job of assembling the current Clemson roster, which is one of the best he’s had in his 11 years at the school.
Brownell has compiled a nice mix of veteran and young talent to work with. The Tigers are also one of the deeper teams in the ACC, with an 11-man rotation and no player averaging more than 27 minutes per contest.
This depth plays a big role in Clemson’s success on defense, where it ranks second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.
The Tigers own the third-best scoring defense in college basketball, surrendering just 53.4 points per game. They’re suffocating opposing offenses, holding the opposition to 37% from the field and 28% from 3-point range.
These numbers are even more impressive when factoring in Clemson’s schedule, as it’s already faced five major conference opponents in its first seven games.
Preseason first-team All-ACC forward Aamir Simms is one of the best interior scorers in the conference. He leads the way for the Tigers offensively, posting 12.1 points per game on 59.6% shooting.
Brownell has the luxury of a roster with two very good point guards to utilize. Al-Amir Dawes and Fordham transfer Nick Honor are both playing at a high level and are often on the floor together in order to get the most out of their talent. Both can score and distribute the rock, and Honor is an excellent outside shooter.
As a team, the Tigers are nothing special from the outside, making 34% of their shots from distance. If Honor and Clyde Trapp don’t see their shots falling early, it could be a long night for the Clemson offense.
How to Play It
This is an important early league game, as both clubs have what it takes to contend for the conference crown. With Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina all appearing to have down seasons, Florida State looks like the best team in the league, and Clemson isn’t too far behind.
I’m expecting a close game throughout, and the spread feels about right with Clemson a small favorite at home.
I do see value on the under with a pair of elite defenses clashing and neither offense playing in a hurry. At 131 points, the total is fairly low, but I don’t think it’s quite low enough. The first team to 60 should come out with the win.
Pick: Under 131.5 (down to 129)
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Purdue vs. Rutgers
by Mike Randle
Purdue travels to Rutgers on Tuesday for each team’s fourth Big Ten game this season.
The Boilermakers have struggled in their two previous road games, blowing a 20-point lead at Miami and losing by 15 at Iowa. Meanwhile, Rutgers enters this game 6-1 with five home wins, including an impressive 91-88 victory over Illinois.
Which team will move to 3-1 in Big Ten play?
Head coach Matt Painter enters his 16th year in West Lafayette without a dominant scorer.
In the past, the Boilermakers relied on dynamic players like Caleb Swanigan and Carsen Edwards to provide the majority of the scoring, while relying on role players and shooters to balance their lineup. This season, they are very much a “whole is greater than the sum of the parts” team.
The foundation piece is 6-foot-10, 265-pound big man Trevion Williams. The junior big man has scored in double-figures in five straight games, including a 30-point, 11-rebound performance against Indiana State.
Junior Sasha Stefanovic (11.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 50.9% 3-point) is a lights-out shooter but is only averaging six points per game and 30% (3-of-10) from 3 in Purdue’s two true road games.
Freshman guard Brandon Newman (10.1 PPG, 44.2% 3-point) scored a game-high 17 points in the Boilermakers’ 73-70 home win over Maryland. Junior guard Eric Hunter (12.8 PPG, 3.5 APG) looks completely healthy from an early-season knee injury and has averaged 17 PPG in Purdue’s last two wins.
The early season production of 7-foot-4, 285-pound freshman Zach Edey has slowed, with six or fewer points in three of the past four games. With Rutgers’ up-tempo style (114th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom), Edey’s efficiency will again be limited.
Purdue always plays strong defense and again ranks inside the top 40 in defensive efficiency. But it struggles to find consistent offensive options on the road, and the huge blown lead to an undermanned Miami team looms large.
At home against Maryland, the Boilermakers generated 40 of their 73 points from Williams’ interior moves and 3-pointers (10-of-22). Their only path to success in this game is to play superior defense and get hot from deep, which will be tough against a similar defensive-minded Rutgers team.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
It is hard not to be impressed by Rutgers’ start to the 2020-2021 season.
Predicted to finish fifth in the Big Ten preseason poll, the Scarlet Knights enter this game ranked 11th in the country with wins at Maryland and at home over Illinois. They were also beating Ohio State, 59-51, on the road with eight minutes before center Myles Johnson fouled out.
Head coach Steve Pikiell’s group is a legitimate top-20 team.
Their offense starts with junior Ron Harper Jr. The 6-foot-6 guard is the seventh-leading scorer in the country at 23.4 points per game. He’s shooting a blistering 50% (25-of-50) from 3 while adding 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
Harper is joined by senior Jacob Young (15.9 ppg) and junior Montez Mathis (14.3 ppg). Young is a great facilitator (5.6 ppg) and superior defender (2.4 steals), but took a rough fall in the loss to Ohio State and needed to be helped to the locker room.
Oh my goodness. Jacob Young lands hard after attempting a dunk. pic.twitter.com/IfACEInRba
— Brian Fonseca (@briannnnf) December 23, 2020
However, Young did practice on Monday and is expected to play.
The key to this game is 6-foot-11, 255-pound center Myles Johnson. With freshman Cliff Omoruyi out indefinitely with a knee injury, Johnson will need to stay out of foul trouble.
Rutgers was outscored, 29-9, by Ohio State after Johnson fouled out. Omoruyi has not practiced since the injury and has been ruled out for this game.
Rutgers should get a boost with the return of 6-foot-7 freshman Mawot Mag, who missed the team’s first three conference games after injuring his ankle in practice. Mag will provide much-needed depth with three rebounds per game in just 11 minutes.
Senior guard Geo Baker is getting back into form after a high ankle sprain and has averaged over 30 minutes per game in the three games since his return. He was the first Scarlet Knight to be named preseason All-Big Ten since they joined the conference in 2014.
Rutgers’ calling card is defense, and few teams can match the Scarlet Knights’ efficiency under Pikiell. Over the past four seasons, Rutgers has ranked 28th, 46th, sixth, and 15th this year on the defensive side of the ball.
The Knights excel at defending 3-pointers, holding opponents to just 30.5% from beyond the arc. That is especially important against a Purdue team that generates 36.8% of their points from 3, 45th-most in the country.
How to Play It
This line opened at Rutgers -4 but has been bet down to 3.5 due to the injury uncertainty.
The absence of Omoruyi hurts Rutgers’ depth, but the return of Mag, Pikiell’s defense and its success at the RAC should be enough to overcome Purdue.
I expect another poor road shooting performance from Purdue, with the Scarlet Knights’ defense limiting Williams inside. I’m backing Rutgers and laying the 3.5 points at home in what projects to be a comfortable home win.
Pick: Rutgers -3.5 (down to -4)