Baylor and Duke, the top two teams in men’s college basketball so far this year, fended off conference challenges from Oklahoma and Georgia Tech, respectively, on Tuesday, as the top-10 teams in action all were victorious in league play on Tuesday. In the top matchup of the night, No. 21 LSU shook off a loss at Auburn last week to defeat No. 16 Kentucky 65-60, cementing the Tigers as a team to watch in the SEC this year.
Wednesday’s action sees one matchup between top 25 teams and a host of other fun contests across the country as we dive into the best NCAAB odds for men’s college basketball for Jan. 5.
(25) Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. (11) Iowa State Cyclones
The Bet: Iowa State -2.5
Two ranked teams that started the year without high expectations meet tonight in Ames, Iowa, as No. 25 Texas Tech opens Big 12 play at No. 11 Iowa State, who is 0-1 in league play after playing valiantly against Baylor but falling 77-72 at home on Saturday.
Iowa State (12-1) lost to the Bears after an impressive run through non-conference play, beating Oregon State, Iowa, Creighton, Xavier, and Memphis in the early months of the season. More impressively, all of but one of the 12 wins were by double digits, leading to a 9-4 record against the spread. Izaiah Brockington leads the team with 17 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per contest.
Texas Tech has also been surprising at 10-2 but are 6-6 against the spread. Their only two losses are to ranked teams–Gonzaga and Providence–and they own an overtime win over Tennessee on a neutral court, but those are their only three games against power-conference teams. They are also embarking on a tough stretch where they play at the Cyclones then host No. 6 Kansas on Saturday and play at No. 1 Baylor next Tuesday.
Both teams have top-ranked defenses, allowing 58 points per game. The Red Raiders’ offense is scoring five more per contest at 78 PPG, but in games against power-conference teams, they scored 68 against Providence and were in the 50s against Tennessee and Gonzaga. The step-up in competition along with Iowa State playing at home and desperate not to start 0-2 in league play should lead to a comfortable win for the Cyclones.
(15) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Florida Gators
The Bet: Florida -2
We were feeling good about our pick of Tennessee over Alabama last week until the Vols went cold over the last six minutes, losing by five as three-point underdogs. Undaunted, we’re backing the Gators tonight in their SEC opener against the Crimson Tide.
After an undefeated start, a top-15 ranking, and a buzzer-beating win over Ohio State, Florida (9-3) lost to Oklahoma, Texas Southern, and Maryland in a span of five games but won their last two before embarking on a two-week break. Colin Castleton leads Florida with 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. The Gators’ offense is scoring 74 points per game, well behind Alabama’s 82 per contest, but Florida has a big edge defensively, allowing 60 points per game compared to the Tide’s 73 points-allowed average.
The Tide (10-3, 1-0 SEC) own non-conference wins over Gonzaga and Houston, but they lost to Iona in Orlando and at Memphis last month, along with a home loss to Davidson. They pulled out a 73-68 win over the Vols last Wednesday. Alabama is 6-7 against the spread this year (1-4 ATS in their last five), while Florida is 7-5 ATS.
While the Tide have covered in their last five games at Florida, the Gators are 7-3 straight-up in the last 10 in the series. Alabama is also 1-6 ATS on the road dating back to last year, while the Gators are 6-1 straight up and 5-2 ATS at home this season. Alabama is surely talented but has played with fire and been burnt several times already this season, and we see a Gators win and cover here by the slimmest of margins.
Syracuse Orange vs. Miami Hurricanes
The Bet: Under 155.5
After a shaky start to the season that included losses to UCF, Dayton, and Alabama in November, Miami (11-3) has won seven-straight games and has started the ACC schedule well, going 3-0 in league play. They host a Syracuse (7-6) team that won its ACC opener at Florida State last month but fell at home to Virginia on Saturday to go to 1-1 in league play.
The Orange is allowing an uncharacteristic 75 points per game, but they have held teams below that total in five of their last six games. While they are also scoring 78 points per game, but of their games in ACC play have only seen Syracuse total in the 60s. In addition, these teams have played more defensive-oriented battles in recent years, as only one of the last 10 meetings have gone over the over-under total.
A key to scoring against Syracuse is utilizing the 3-point shot, and Miami is doing so at a 35% clip, and Syracuse is totaling more rebounds than Miami, which could limit their second-chance opportunities. The Hurricanes have gone over the total in five-straight games, but the number of 155.5 is quite high, as both teams would have to score in the high 70s to surpass that total.