College basketball best bets today
With the Super Bowl here in Las Vegas, it has been a busy week and there has been a lot going on. Today’s college basketball article got off to a little bit of a late start, so I’ve moved the cut-off back to 4 p.m. ET for when I start looking at games so that this has a decent amount of lead time for everybody to check out the college basketball best bets today.
I am participating in this year’s Circa College Hoops Challenge. I’ve gone with four of the five picks in today’s article (one started earlier than 4 p.m. ET), but here are the standings and the picks from the other contestants.
I know you’re here for college basketball, but be sure to check out our Super Bowl LVIII Hub with all of our content in advance of the Big Game and our Super Bowl Betting Guide with tons of picks and prop bets.
Check the latest college basketball odds for legal U.S. sportsbooks across the country and our Vegas odds if you share a state with us here at VSiN. Also, give the college basketball betting splits a look for these or any other college basketball games today have your interest. Check out the Tracking Sheet for this season’s results and our college basketball home page for more CBB content.
Here are five college basketball best bets today.
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publish.
4 p.m. ET
The Spartans were kind to me the other night when I had three Big South best bets on the board, but I’m looking to go against the boys from Spartanburg tonight. UNC Asheville is in town and the Bulldogs have been racking up the wins in conference play. Their only losses are road defeats at High Point and Gardner-Webb. USC Upstate is racked over 100 spots lower than G-W and about 160 spots lower than High Point.
The Bulldogs could be in a mild letdown spot after beating Winthrop and High Point at home, but they still have ground to make up in the standings, so I think they are focused for this standalone road game here.
Asheville is first in eFG% offense and second in eFG% defense in conference play. What I really like here is that they are shooting the 3 at 39.7% to lead the league and rank second in 3P% against at 31.3%. USC Upstate shoots 3s at the highest rate in the Big South and is only shooting 30.3%, which ranks eighth. They are also eighth in 3P% defense at 35.9%.
The Spartans have done really well on 2-point shots in conference play, but Asheville is third in 2P% and first in Block%.
The Bulldogs haven’t won by margin often, but they are stepping down in class in a big way here. This is a pretty solid conference overall and this will be just their second game against a team ranked lower than 205th per Bart Torvik since Jan. 6. They beat USC Upstate by 28 in the first meeting and I expect another nice dub here.
Pick: UNC Asheville -4.5
4:45 p.m. ET
We’ve got a traditional college basketball handicap for me in this one that is based in shot selection. Tennessee State has a 42.8% shot share on Close Twos per Torvik, which ranks just outside the top 50 nationally. Meanwhile, SEMO State ranks in the bottom 50 at just 30.4%. Both defenses allow a lot of chances at the rim, but it is Tennessee State who has the offensive structure to make it happen.
The Tigers do have a higher 19.2% TO% on offense, but their 19.5% TO% on defense ranks in the top 60, whereas SEMO State is around the national average in TO%. I could see the Tigers grabbing some extra possessions here.
In terms of conference-only stats, Tennessee State is third in eFG% offense and second in eFG% defense, while SEMO State checks in eighth and seventh, respectively. SEMO State is a jump-shot dominant team, including just a 29.5% 3P% and a mid-range shot share of 35.1%.
Tennessee State gets to the rim more, gets to the line at a much higher rate, and plays better defense. I’ll take that combo in a short favorite role.
Pick: Tennessee State -3.5
5 p.m. ET
McNeese State has been one of the top stories in college basketball this season and they get a big-time test today against Texas A&M Corpus Christ. The Islanders are the top team in the Southland Conference when it comes to adjusted defensive efficiency and eFG% defense. They are second in 2P% defense and fourth in 3P% defense.
They are also second in TO% on offense and defense in league action. The rub here is that they haven’t been very efficient scoring the basketball, but they are trending up and have scored well over a point per possession in each of their last three games.
McNeese does boast the top offense in this conference and they’ve sped up a bit in conference play, but a lot of that has to do with the pace of their opponents in this league. I don’t think Texas A&M CC will want to run here. I don’t see McNeese forcing a ton of turnovers, as their 26% TO% on defense might suggest. Texas A&M CC takes better care of the ball than that.
So, I think this is actually a slower-paced game, which helps the underdog. It’s harder to blow a team out when the possessions are limited a little bit. McNeese won the first game 62-61 in a game they trailed by 18 points that the Islanders gave away late.
This is the game that the Islanders have had circled ever since. I don’t know if they win, but I think they get the cover.
Pick: Texas A&M Corpus Christi +11
7 p.m. ET
I haven’t been playing a whole lot of big favorites recently, but I’ve got one here in the Big West that I like quite a bit. This is a pace war game between Cal Poly and Long Beach, in that Long Beach ranks 20th in adjusted tempo and Cal Poly ranks 292nd. The Beach has a TO% of 19.2% on defense and Cal Poly has a TO% of 19.4% on offense, so I think we get some extra possessions out of the favorite here and they speed up the game.
Cal Poly has allowed a 44.6% shot share on Close Twos, which ranks as the 12th-highest mark in college basketball. This season, Long Beach only has a 36.4% shot share, which is pretty close to the national average, but they typically love to get the ball inside. They are finishing at a 64.2% clip, so I think they will use that to their advantage here.
The Beach also has a huge advantage on the offensive glass, as Cal Poly is 337th in OREB% against and LBSU is in the top 60 in OREB% on offense. Furthermore, Cal Poly is 352nd in the nation in 2P% because they take a lot of mid-range jumpers and can’t finish at the rim.
Cal Poly sells out to protect the 3-point line. Opponents only have a 29.6% 3P Rate against them and are only shooting 33.5%, which is around the national average, but Long Beach doesn’t take a lot of 3s anyway.
Lastly, opponents do have to shoot 3s on Long Beach. Their 3P Rate against is 46.3%, one of the highest in the nation. Cal Poly is on the road and also only shoots 31.4% from 3. All in all, I think this game has blowout written all over it with a healthy Long Beach State team that head coach Dan Monson said “has the highest ceiling in the conference”.
Pick: Long Beach State -14
10 p.m. ET
We’ve got a late one in Provo tonight between Kansas State and BYU. The Cougars continue to grade well in a lot of metrics, but their conference performances have left something to be desired, as they come in 4-5 in Big 12 play.
It was a pattern in football and I think it’s something of a pattern in basketball that the newcomers to the conference have struggled with the entrenched members. This Kansas State team isn’t as good as last year’s, but I don’t think they’re worthy of being a double-digit dog here.
In terms of conference-only numbers, BYU is third in eFG% and fourth in adjusted offensive efficiency. They are dead last in TO% on defense, which matters here against a Kansas State team whose biggest issue has been turning the ball over at a 22.9% clip. When the Wildcats have been able to maintain the ball, they’re in the middle of the pack in eFG% and actually rank third in 2P%.
The Wildcats are also tops in eFG% defense and 3P% defense. Jerome Tang’s teams play with high energy. They’re not the biggest dog in the fight, but there’s a lot of fight in that dog and have had some really big defensive performances at times.
BYU ranks pretty average in a lot of defensive metrics, except for TO% and they are third in 2P% defense, but they’ve allowed at least a point per possession in seven of their nine Big 12 games and at least 1.1 PPP in four of the last five.
I think the strength of schedule in conference is catching up with them and I think they’ll struggle to blow out a respectable Kansas State team.
Pick: Kansas State +11