College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s Favorite Picks for Memphis vs. SMU, Belmont vs. Austin Peay, More (Thursday, Jan. 28)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images. Pictured: Feron Hunt (1) and Landers Nolley II (3).
- College basketball is heating up ahead of conference tournaments, making things even more intense.
- With that in mind, our staff broke down four of their favorite games on Thursday's slate.
- Check out each pick complete with a full breakdown below.
The college basketball world is getting to that point in the season when teams start making moves in preparation for conference tournaments — and ultimately the NCAA Tournament.
That makes things even more fun when it comes to betting the sport.
Check out full breakdowns and picks for each individual game below and feel free to navigate to any game by using the table below.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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UNC Asheville vs. Winthrop
Winthrop is a perfect 15-0 on the season, mainly due to the fact that it has by far the best offense in the Big South.
In conference play, the Eagles are averaging 1.12 points per possession and over 80 points a game, as they play the fifth-fastest tempo in the country, per KenPom.
They shoot the lights out from everywhere on the floor, hitting at over 36% from 3-point range and 65.2% on shot attempts at the rim, per Hoop Math.
UNC Asheville’s defense has gotten shredded the last three games by Gardner Webb and Radford, allowing over 1.10 points per possession. The Eagles should be able to score at will tonight as Asheville allows over 50% from inside the arc and 58.7% on shot attempts at the rim.
UNC Asheville is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the Big South, knocking them down at 37% in conference play. It also shoots from deep on over 40% of its shot attempts, which leads to a lot of high-scoring games.
The Bulldogs can also get to the rim with the best of them, as they’re shooting 54.2% from 2-point range and over 60% on shot attempts at the rim, so they should be able to keep up with Winthrop’s offense.
The Eagles have been dominating their opponents on defense in conference play, allowing only 0.94 points per possession. But UNC Asheville is going to be one of the best offenses they’ve seen in a while.
Plus, with how fast of a tempo Winthrop plays, if the Bulldogs get down early they’re going to be forced into a track meet with the Eagles.
I have this total projected at 160.57, so I think there’s good value on the over at 154 points.
Pick: Over 154
Memphis vs. SMU
SMU heads home looking to get revenge for its loss to Memphis on Tuesday night.
SMU jumped out to a 26-13 lead against Memphis in its last matchup before being outscored, 44-66, for the remainder of the game. SMU gets a chance to avenge that loss on Thursday night at home.
Kendric Davis is the leader of this SMU offense, averaging 18.3 points, 7.6 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game this year. He really struggled in the game on Tuesday, shooting just 4-of-14 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3-point range.
The Mustangs have a well-balanced offense with five players averaging double-digit scoring per game. This is one of the most efficient offenses in the country, as it scores 112.5 points per 100 offensive possessions, ranking 28th in the country.
Penny Hardaway’s squad, meanwhile, has been riding its defense to keep it in games. The Tigers average 88.5 points per every 100 defensive possessions this season, ranking fifth in the country.
The Achilles’ heel to this team is turnovers and missed free throws, and it ranks last in both categories in the AAC. Memphis is shooting 60.9% from the free-throw line this season, good for 340th in the country.
The Tigers turn the ball over on 21.1% of their offensive possessions, and 14.0% of those are non-steal turnovers, which emphasizes the carelessness of the basketball.
Memphis has benefited from an easy schedule thus far, having played no opponents ranked inside the top 50 this season.
These self-inflicting mistakes that Memphis makes will come back to haunt it in this matchup.
SMU will capitalize on the turnovers and won’t let another 13-point lead get away from it this time around. Davis should bounce back in a big way in this game after struggling in Tuesday night’s loss, and I believe SMU is a strong play at home tonight.
This game opened at -3 but has been bet up to -4.5 already at some spots and looks to continue trending upward.
Pick: SMU -3.5
Morehead State vs. Jacksonville State
By Mike Randle
I’m targeting regression for a Morehead State team that has won and covered seven straight games.
The Eagles have the best defense in Ohio Valley Conference play but narrowly escaped with a 56-55 home win over Jacksonville State on Jan. 9. The Gamecocks shot just 26% (6-of-23) from 3-point range and 68% (11-of-16) from the free-throw line in that loss.
Both numbers are significantly lower than their averages in OVC play. Morehead State struggles mightily on offense, ranking 284th overall in 3-point (30.3%) and 302nd in free throw accuracy (65.2%).
Jacksonville State is coming off two huge road wins at Murray State and Austin Peay.
Momentum is with the Gamecocks, and their inside-outside game of 6-foot-10 Brandon Huffman (10.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and versatile Darian Adams (14.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.7 apg) will lead the Gamecocks in a revenge spot.
Pick: Jacksonville State -4.5 or better
Belmont vs. Austin Peay
It’s been a disappointing start to the year for Austin Peay — a team I had much higher hopes for.
The Governors have two star players in Jordyn Adams and Terry Taylor, who each tested the NBA waters after last season. However, it just hasn’t worked out so far this year.
That said, I think this is the time to buy low on them at home against first-place Belmont.
Yes, the Bruins have raced out to an impressive 16-1 start, but they’ve played one of the 10 easiest schedules in the nation. Per my most recent power ratings, they have yet to beat a single top-150 team.
Since I make this line Belmont -3.6, I’ll happily roll with the home dog here, hoping the shots eventually fall for the Governors, who are overdue for some positive shooting regression, sitting at 29% from deep on the season.
Pick: Austin Peay +5 or better