College Basketball Picks January 4: Our Best Bets including Kentucky vs LSU and Virginia vs Clemson

By Sidelines   January 4, 2022 

College Basketball Picks January 4: Our Best Bets including Kentucky vs LSU and Virginia vs Clemson

A frenzied start to the season with holiday tournaments and top-five non-conference matchups got things underway in November, and while December had an intriguing contest or two, it’s generally the lull of the college basketball season, and that was the case even more due to so many games being postponed or canceled due to COVID-19. With January here, however, we can really dig into the schedule, as it’s mostly conference play from here on out, and with the nature of the NCAA Tournament the way it is, every team has a chance to have their moments in March.

But tourney time is a long ways away, so let’s see what we have on tap for tonight in our best bets for men’s college basketball odds.

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Clemson Tigers

The Bet: Clemson -4

Clemson Tigers forward Naz Bohannon (33) drives to the basket as Virginia Cavaliers guard Igor Milicic Jr. (24) defends during the first half at John Paul Jones Arena | Sidelines
Dec 22, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Naz Bohannon (33) drives to the basket as Virginia Cavaliers guard Igor Milicic Jr. (24) defends during the first half at John Paul Jones Arena. Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson comes off a two-week layoff to take on Virginia–again–after the Tigers defeated the Hoos in their last game, 67-50, in Charlottesville. Tonight’s contest is in Littlejohn Coliseum, and the Cavaliers are coming in off a road win at Syracuse on New Year’s Day.

Virginia’s run under head coach Tony Bennett has always been focused on defense, and that’s no different this year, with the Cavs allowing 57 points per game. They gave up 67 to the Tigers, who are averaging 75 on the year, compared to UVA’s 63-point scoring average.

The Tigers (9-4, 1-1 ACC) have scored higher than Virginia’s scoring average in each of their last seven games, and they have won four straight coming into this one. In last month’s win at Virginia, Hunter Tyson led Clemson with 17 points, and he’s averaging 12 on the season. Their leading scorer is P.J. Hall with 14.4 PPG. Reece Beekman is averaging 6.8 PPG but had 20 against Clemson. That win by the Tigers was their first over Virginia in 13 tries.

With that win coming on the road, we expect Clemson to do more of the same at home, where they are 6-0 and 5-1 against the spread. Virginia got their first road win in three tries when they beat Syracuse on Saturday, but the Orange has one of the worst defenses in the ACC. Virginia is also just 5-8 ATS this year, while Clemson is 9-4 ATS overall. Littlejohn isn’t an easy place to play, so we see Clemson getting a cover here.

Florida State Seminoles vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The Bet: Wake Forest -1.5

Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Jake LaRavia (0) dribbles against Louisville Cardinals guard Dre Davis (14) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center | Sidelines
Dec 29, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Jake LaRavia (0) dribbles against Louisville Cardinals guard Dre Davis (14) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Seminoles (7-4, 1-1 ACC) have been one of the better teams in the ACC in recent years, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Leonard Hamilton’s bunch this year, even though they own a modest two-game winning streak after winning by two at North Carolina State on New Year’s Day. Wake Forest, meantime, is 11-3 but just 1-2 in the ACC after losing two road games at Miami and Louisville.

The Demon Deacons return home to face Florida State, and they have been solid this year at Joel Coliseum. Wake is 8-0 at home (6-2 against the spread), outscoring teams by an average of 84-64. They are also second in scoring in the ACC with 80.5 points per game, compared to FSU’s 75 per contest. Both teams are just about even defensively, allowing in the high 60s.

Wake Forest is led by Alondes Williams, who is averaging 20 points per game and has scored over 50% of the team’s field goals over its last five games. Malik Osborne leads the Noles with 12.5 points and seven rebounds per contest.

FSU is 1-2 on the road this year but 0-3 against the spread. Overall, FSU has covered in just one of its last six games. That inconsistency away from home won’t serve them well tonight against a prolific shooter and an opponent that plays well on its home floor.

(16) Kentucky Wildcats vs. (21) LSU Tigers

The Bet: Over 142

Kentucky Wildcats guard Davion Mintz (10) shoots the ball during the second half against the High Point Panthers at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center | Sidelines
Dec 31, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Davion Mintz (10) shoots the ball during the second half against the High Point Panthers at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky is always a wild card, so we’re staying away from this game that sees LSU as two-point favorites coming off their first loss of the season, which took place last Wednesday at Auburn. The Tigers (12-1, 0-1 SEC) should be motivated to come out strong at home against a tough opponent to try and avoid an 0-2 start in SEC play.

The Wildcats (11-2, 1-0 SEC) lost their only true road game of the year, 66-62 at Notre Dame, but have been on fire since, winning and covering in four-straight games and scoring in the 90s in three of those four contests. LSU is averaging 77 points per game but scored just 55 at Auburn thanks to a poor shooting night. The Tigers had 10 more shots than Auburn but still lost by 15.

LSU likes to slow things down at home and rely on defense, but with the way the Wildcats are playing on offense, this could very easily turn into a shootout, and both teams scoring in the low 70s will be enough to push the total over the betting number.

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