Wednesday College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 4 Best Bets (January 29, 2020)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Stevens
Key matchups across the Big 12, Big East and Big Ten highlight Wednesday’s deep college basketball slate.
To boil it down, our staff has boiled down the card to one favorite play each, including Penn State vs. Indiana and Alabama vs. LSU.
Let’s get to it.
College Basketball Betting Picks
Odds as of Wednesday morning and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
- Odds: Baylor -4.5 at Iowa State
- Over/Under: 143
- Time: 9 pm ET
- TV: FS1
The Cyclones (10-9 against the spread) have lost seven of their past eight games straight-up, but there’s value in the home dog.
Iowa State dropped its previous meeting at Baylor on Jan. 15, as the Bears dominated the offensive glass to the tune of a 45-33 rebounding edge overall. While Baylor is “slightly undersized” in this matchup, its gang rebounding efforts on that end of the floor amounts to a rebounding advantage in itself.
But the Cyclones have shown an improvement in that department in their past couple games, and it should carry over into a revenge spot against the Bears.
On top of that, I’m expecting a bounce-back effort via Iowa State star Tyrese Haliburton after forcing his shot from the perimeter in their previous matchup. Baylor is letting up the highest percentage of its opponents’ production from inside the arc (51.8%), and the Cyclones are tallying the 100th-highest 2-point scoring rate (52.8%).
At the other end, expect the Bears to regress from behind the arc after shooting 47.8% in that department at Florida on Saturday.
Pick: Iowa State +4.5
- Odds: Dayton -8.5 at Duquesne
- Over/Under: 140
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS Sports Network
Something has to give in Pittsburgh when Duquesne hosts red-hot Dayton. The Dukes have tallied five straight unders against the Flyers, who have five straight overs.
Duquesne does run one of the slower tempos in the Atlantic 10 — that pace, plus one of the best shot blocking defenses in the nation will be the plan of execution on Wednesday evening.
Dayton has moved from dark-horse national contenders to a legitimate play to win it all. The Flyers are 18-2 and undefeated in conference play thanks to one Obi Toppin, a favorite to win the Naismith College Player of the Year. The Dukes may be up to the task of limiting Toppin, who is top 25 in the nation in true shooting percentage.
Fresh off two road losses, the Dukes will look for home cooking against Dayton on a consecutive road trip. The Flyers get the majority of their points from inside the arc, ranking No. 1 in the nation in effective field goal percentage. Duquesne ranks No. 2 in the Atlantic 10 for defensive field goal efficiency, presenting the toughest challenge so far to Dayton. More importantly, the Dukes are No. 5 in the nation in defensive block percentage
Dayton allowed Richmond to shoot 53% from beyond the arc in the Flyers most recent game. If Duquesne continues to rely on 3-pointers for points, it may find similar success in getting points on the board.
Look for the Dukes to be the more desperate team off two consecutive losses, slowing the pace of play and relying on defense to create offense for the cover.
Pick: Duquesne +8.5
- Odds: Alabama at LSU -5
- Over/Under: 161.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
We’re now approaching the portion of the season where relevancy is superseding recency. Teams have a body of work straight-up and ATS, and some have clear situational trends that have emerged for or against them. Alabama, now 12-7 overall and 4-2 in SEC play, has proven to be a wise investment for gamblers as a dog. The Crimson Tide are 5-1 when catching points.
Conversely, LSU is just 5-6 as a home favorite this season. Additionally, in the Tigers’ last four games against unranked opponents, the Bayou Bengals margin of victory has been three points per game. They’re playing with fire.
Alabama, once left for dead after an 8-7 start, has now won four straight including a blowout victory over in-state rival Auburn. During the Tide’s mini-run, they’ve solidified their position as one of the nation’s most dynamic offenses. They ranked top 10 nationally in points per game, made 3-pointers, total rebounds and foul shots attempted.
The rebounding angle is particularly important in this matchup because LSU has considered rebounding an edge in every game this year, but cannot make that claim at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center tonight.
Overall, LSU has been much more difficult to nail down. The Tigers could easily have dropped a handful of games in the last two weeks, but continue to thrive down the stretch in games thanks to the steady hand of Skylar Mays.
The key in this spot is to shop around for the best number you can get, because points have come at a premium in the last few LSU games. I would play this at 3.5 or better.
Pick: Alabama +5
- Odds: Penn State -5.5
- Over/Under: 143
- Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
- TV: BTN
Penn State (14-5) returns home to the Bryce Jordan Center to face an Indiana team that has played above its talent level all season.
The Hoosiers (15-5) suffered a 77-76 last-second loss at home against Maryland, and will now will try to reverse their road woes at one of the toughest home court advantages in the Big Ten. Penn State is 10-1 at home this year, with an average margin of victory of 20 points per game.
Indiana’s defense in conference play has been near the bottom in almost every major category. The Hoosiers rank 10th in 3P% defense, 11th in effective field goal percentage and 2P%, and 12th in defensive turnover percentage.
On offense, they rank fourth-worst in offensive turnover percentage, and will be facing a that thrives in that department (third in conference).
Another huge obstacle for Indiana to overcome in this Big Ten road battle is their abysmal free throw shooting. On the season, the Hoosiers rank 257th with a 67.7% average from the charity stripe, which is even worse (65.7%) in conference play.
Penn State rarely turns the ball over, ranking 36th best among all teams in offensive turnover percentage, and third best in conference play. The Nittany Lions offense is perfectly balanced, relying on 3P shooting for 30% of their total points, and 2P field goals for 51.4% of their points.
The Hoosiers are much less balanced on offense, generating 56.1% of their points from inside the arc, 37th most in the country. This will go directly against the strength of the Penn State defense, which rates 16th best overall in limiting opponents from inside the arc allowing just a 42.8% average.
Indiana is only 1-3 ATS on the road, with a spread differential of -35. Penn State’s veteran team is comprised of four starters from last season, which will help them earn a comfortable home court win against a young Indiana team ripe for negative regression.
Pick: Penn State -5.5