The top 10 of the AP poll has been a dangerous place to be this season, just ask Memphis. Once ranked ninth, the Tigers lost four games in a row. But they broke that losing streak in a big way last night, winning as home underdogs over No. 6 Alabama, who has lost twice this year while ranked in the top 10.
It’s a somewhat light night in college basketball, but two top-10 teams (both located in Southern California) are in action, and there are always best bets when you look for them. Let’s take a look at tonight’s action.
UC-Irvine Anteaters vs. (10) USC Trojans
The Bet: USC -11
While UCLA gets the headlines, USC has quietly started the 2021-22 season at 10-0 and has reached the top 10 in the AP poll. While the Trojans do not own any wins over ranked teams this year, they are taking care of opponents with relative ease at home (winning every game by double digits) and winning tough games on the road as well, narrowly beating Temple and Washington State. Isaiah Mobley is averaging 14.7 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game so far this year for USC, and in their last five games, the junior is putting up 18.4 PPG.
The Anteaters (5-2) are known for their defense, as they are allowing 54.6 points per game, which is fourth in Division 1. This will be UC-Irvine’s toughest test by far, however, as they have played mostly smaller schools in California. Their two losses are at New Mexico State in their opener and then their last time out at Fresno State on Saturday.
The Trojans are allowing seven more points than UC-Irvine but scoring six more on average. In addition, USC has outscored opponents by an average of 88-64 in their five home games this year. Given that all of USC’s home games have been won by enough to cover this spread, we’re sticking with the Trojans to get the job done at home in this non-conference matchup.
Akron Zips vs. Wright State Raiders
The Bet: Akron +4
Wright State is playing just their second home game of the season, where they are 1-0 despite a 2-6 record overall. The Raiders, however, are four-point favorites over the Zips (6-3) and are led by two big scorers. Grant Basile is averaging 18.8 points and 9.1 rebounds on the year while Tanner Holden has scored 19.8 PPG and 5.6 RPG. Wright State’s defense has been an issue this season, as they are allowing 80 points per game. In the two games where they held opponents under 74 points, they were able to be victorious.
Sophomore Enrique Freeman averages 13.6 points per game and 11.7 rebounds per game. Ali Ali runs the point and averages 12 points per game and has dropped an average of five assists per game over his last three contests.
The Zips lost their only away game this year, but it was by just one point to Ohio State. Akron is also on a four-game winning streak, while Wright State has dropped six of seven after winning their opener. The Raiders are also 1-6 against the spread this season, and Akron is 4-3 ATS. While the Zips play a slower pace, they are allowing 60 points per game (a whole 20 points fewer than Wright State), so despite Akron being on the road, we like them to win outright. You can play it safe and take them at +4, or if you’re bold, take Akron on the moneyline at +150.
Morehead State Eagles vs. (22) Xavier Musketeers
The Bet: Xavier -15
Xavier, now in the Big East, has always been a mid-major-type team to play very well in NCAAB men’s college basketball, and this year is no exception. The Musketeers are ranked No. 22 in the country and are 9-1 on the season, with their only loss being to unbeaten Iowa State in the NIT Tip-Off Tournament. They own wins over Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, and most recently, a 20-point win over crosstown rival Cincinnati. They are led by Paul Scruggs, Nate Johnson, and Adam Kunkel, who have accounted for 43% of Xavier’s points this season.
Morehead State (6-4) will be facing their second ranked team this year after losing 77-54 at Auburn in their season opener. The Eagles are just 1-4 on the road this year, and a key will be the performance of Ta’lon Cooper, who has either made or assisted in nearly half of Morehead State’s field goals over the last three games, racking up 26 assists in that span.
Xavier, who is 7-0 at home this year and winning there by an average of 23 points, is a 15-point favorite here. The Musketeers, however, are one of the better teams against the spread, going 8-2 ATS so far this year, while Morehead State is 3-5 ATS. Dating back to last year, the Eagles are 1-7 ATS on the road in their last eight games. Xavier, meanwhile, has covered in five-straight games and is 6-0 ATS in their last six home games. They have won their last four home games by at least 20 points each, and Morehead State doesn’t seem to present that much of a challenge to the point where that trend continuing would be in question.
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