College Basketball Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday December 19

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College basketball expert picks and predictions

After a light start to the week, things ramp up a little on the college basketball hardwood with 41 games on Tuesday. We’ve also got a few better teams and better games to consider, but most of the card is made up of low and mid-major teams. Wednesday will be stronger when it comes to household names, but we’ll work with what we’ve got for this evening.

 

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Here are some thoughts on the December 19 card (odds from DraftKings):

Northeastern Huskies (-4.5, 140) at Central Connecticut Blue Devils

7 p.m. ET

Northeastern will be a team to closely monitor in CAA play. Bill Coen’s squad has played the 81st-ranked schedule per Bart Torvik and the 126th per Ken Pomeroy. Defensively, the Huskies have had their issues. They rank 297th in adjusted defensive efficiency per Torvik and 277th per KenPom, but they have faced a lot of really good offensive teams and they struggle to force turnovers, which has really hurt in terms of the efficiency metrics.

However, they’ve been a really solid offense in spite of the tough schedule. This is a group that ranks 75th in eFG% offense and 42nd in 2P%. Against a formidable set of foes, the Huskies have a 46.1% shot share on Close Twos, which ranks 17th in the nation. I would fully expect their defensive numbers to improve as the strength of schedule decreases and what we’ve seen offensively is a good sign going forward.

Central Connecticut is a big step down in class. The Blue Devils have played a far worse schedule by comparison, but rank in the 280s for both Torvik and Pomeroy. They are inefficient on both ends of the floor and can’t get to the free throw line with regularity. They also don’t get offensive rebounds, so they aren’t able to steal possessions and points. They’ve had at least one point per possession three times this season against lower-division Framingham State, Army, and Holy Cross, both of whom rank deep into the 300s per the rankings sites.

This is a good spot for Northeastern to step down in class a bit and improve upon those defensive numbers, while still keeping the offensive output high.

Pick: Northeastern -4.5

Lindenwood Lions at Missouri State Bears (-17.5, 142.5)

8 p.m. ET

I haven’t been eager to lay big numbers so far, but I think this is a good spot to do so with Missouri State. The veteran Bears are a well-coached team under Dana Ford and they’ve dropped three of their last four games, so I expect a good effort here. They are really stepping down in class for this game, as Lindenwood is the first team ranked in the 300s that they’ve played since around Thanksgiving and just the second of the season.

Lindenwood has only played three good opponents to this point and gave up 1.183, 1.402, and 1.106 points per possession to Nebraska, Iowa State, and Air Force. This will be the highest-ranked opponent that they have faced since losing by 55 points to Iowa State in the second game of the season.

Both teams are pretty similar in tempo and I think we’ll see this game played into the low 70s in possessions. Missouri State has a 41.2% shot share on Close Twos that ranks 81st. Lindenwood has a 28.9% shot share that ranks 337th. What the Lions do offensively is settle for a lot of mid-range jumpers and they aren’t particularly good at shooting them. Conversely, Missouri State mostly avoids them and over 83% of their shot attempts are at the rim or beyond the arc.

Lindenwood is 352nd in the nation in 2P% and 278th in 3P%. Missouri State is 131st and 163rd, respectively, but they’ve played a much stiffer schedule. I also like that the Bears rank in the top 40 in both 2P% and 3P% defense. On every possession, Missouri State has an advantage at both ends of the floor. I wish they forced a few more turnovers, but they’re still 60th in adjusted defensive efficiency with the 359th-ranked TO% in the nation. I don’t see Lindenwood making many shots here.

Pick: Missouri State -17.5

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