Tuesday College Basketball Betting: Baylor-Iowa State, Rhode Island-VCU

Tuesday College Basketball Betting: Baylor-Iowa State, Rhode Island-VCU article feature image

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyrese Haliburton

The old adage is “guards win in March.”

On Tuesday, two guard-heavy teams look to continue their winning ways en route to a conference championship.

Let’s examine Iowa State hosting Baylor and VCU hosting Rhode Island.

>> All odds as of 9 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and win probabilities on your bets.

Baylor Bears at Iowa State Cyclones

  • Spread: Iowa State -8.5
  • Over/Under: 143
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN2

Baylor (16-9) has overachieved for much of the season. Despite being predicted ninth in the Big 12 preseason poll, the Bears currently sit at 7-5 in conference play and picked up a win against Iowa State in January. Baylor is 12-6-2 overall against the spread but has failed to cover in their last four games.

Iowa State (19-6) is very much alive for the Big 12 regular season title, currently at 8-4 and just one game behind Kansas State. The Cyclones have won six of their last seven games, and are coming off a big 78-64 win at Kansas State on Saturday. They are 14-8 overall ATS and should be 6-1 ATS in Big 12 road games.

Baylor has regressed back to its preseason expectations during February. The Bears have lost three of their last four games while battling key injuries. Leading scorer Makai Mason (15.6 ppg) has missed two of the last three and sharpshooter King McClure (9.9 ppg, 39.2% 3P) has missed the last three games. Both are questionable for Tuesday’s game in Ames.

Coach Scott Drew has done a wonderful job since losing forward Tristan Clark (14.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg) to a knee injury in early January. However, the Bears efficiency on the interior has suffered. Baylor ranks last in conference play in defensive rebounding and has been blocked on offense the most of any Big 12 team.

The critical weakness is the Bears rank eighth in the conference against the 3-pointer, allowing opponents to shoot 35.9%. In its last two road games, Baylor has allowed opponents (Texas and Texas Tech) to shoot 41% (20 of 49) from beyond the arc. Neither of those opponents is as efficient from deep as the Cyclones.

Iowa State has won Big 12 road games at difficult venues and has demonstrated superb efficiency on both sides of the ball.  The Cyclones rank 10th overall in offensive efficiency and 34th in defensive efficiency. They are not only second best in the conference in 3-point accuracy, but they rank second in defending the 3P as well.

Iowa State does not give their opponents second chances, ranking first in the Big 12 in offensive turnover percentage. They also are shooting 74.8% from the free throw line, second-best in conference play.

This is a completely different matchup for the Jan. 8 game. Baylor will be without Clark and potentially McClure and Mason. Iowa State has been great ATS at home and the Bears’ poor 3P defense will be a huge advantage for the Cyclones. “Hilton Magic” will cast a spell on Baylor, giving Iowa State an easy home cover.

The Pick: Iowa State -8.5

Rhode Island Rams at VCU Rams

  • Spread: VCU -8.5
  • Over/Under: 134
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

Rhode Island (12-12) is only 5-7 in the Atlantic 10 conference and is on a three-game losing streak. The Rams beat VCU 71-65 at home on Jan. 23, but have lost their last three road conference games. Rhody is only 7-14 overall against the spread, including 3-9 on the road.

VCU  (19-6) is tied atop the conference standings with Davidson at 10-2, and is on a six-game winning streak. It’s 12-1 at home with a perfect 5-0 record in conference play. VCU is one of the best teams in the country ATS with a 16-7 overall record.

Rhode Island won that first matchup against VCU based on two things:

  • Free Throw Shooting: Rhody shot 76.9% (20-26) from the foul line, yet is ranked 297th in the country in free throw percentage (67.1%). In their last two road games, the Rams have shot 41.9% (13-31) from the charity stripe.
  • 3P Defense:  VCU shot just 16.7% (2 of 12) from beyond the arc in their first meeting, despite Rhode Island rankings dead last in A10 conference play at defending the 3P.  While VCU struggled with 3P efficiency early in the season, over its last three games it is shooting 40.3% (27 of 67) from deep.

These are two teams trending in opposite directions, and VCU has clear motivation in a payback home game. VCU needs to keep pace with Davidson (which it already lost to) atop the conference standings. VCU now ranks as the sixth best overall team in adjusted defensive efficiency while Rhode Island ranks in the bottom half of conference teams in turnovers.

In their last three home games, VCU has won by 21, 16, and 18 points respectively. Look for a similar result against Rhode Island.

The Pick: VCU -8.5