The oddsmakers were pretty dead-on Wednesday night, leaving us with some tense moments down the stretch for our best bets. Florida covered by four over North Florida, Indiana just missed a cover at Wisconsin, and West Virginia covered over UConn by just a half-point to give us a stressful night, but a winning one at 2-1.
Tonight, our eyes shift to New Jersey for two intriguing matchups and their implications for NCAAB odds. Purdue plays at the No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 Poll for the first time in school history, as they play their first true road game of the season at Big Ten foe Rutgers. Not too far away in Newark, the Big East-Big 12 Battle continues with No. 7 Texas visiting No. 23 Seton Hall. Even in mid-December, there’s always some good college basketball taking place, so let’s take a look at tonight’s NCAAB best bets for December 9.
(1) Purdue Boilermakers vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Bet: Purdue -12.5
After some rare consistency with Gonzaga last year, the No. 1 ranking has already found its way to its third team of the season. After the Bulldogs lost to Duke two weeks ago, the Blue Devils lost their first game at the top spot, and now Purdue takes its shot at No. 1 when they visit Big Ten opponent Rutgers (4-4) as 12.5-point favorites.
Don’t expect the Boilermakers (8-0) to get complacent at No. 1, having earned the spot for the first time in school history. At the same time, Rutgers hasn’t done much to show that they will be able to make a run at Purdue here despite being at home. Both teams are giving up around 65 points per game, but the Boilermakers are scoring 90.5 points per game, whereas Rutgers is only putting up 65.9 per contest. It’s the second-ranked scoring offense in the nation against No. 269. Purdue is also far more efficient on offense, scoring at a 53% clip with Rutgers at 39%.
Rutgers did get a win over Clemson in its previous home game but lost by 25 at Illinois on the road last Friday. Prior to that, three-straight non-conference losses to UMass, Lafayette (at home), and DePaul.
Looking at the teams’ results against the spread, Purdue is 6-2 ATS this season, but Rutgers is an ugly 1-7 ATS, including 1-4 ATS at home. Even though they were neutral-site contests and not true road games, Purdue is 2-0 ATS away from West Lafayette.
No. 1-ranked teams are supposed to take care of business on the road against a lesser opponent. Purdue isn’t here by a fluke, as they’ve beaten Villanova, Iowa, Florida State, and North Carolina already this season. We like the Boilermakers to easily cover in their debut atop the polls.
(7) Texas Longhorns vs. (23) Seton Hall Pirates
The Bet: Seton Hall on the Moneyline (Pick’em)
The Big East-Big 12 Battle entertained us on Wednesday night, as UConn and West Virginia went toe to toe in Morgantown before the Mountaineers pulled out the win. Tonight, we are expecting another fun one with seventh-ranked Texas (6-1) visiting a Seton Hall (7-1) team that’s ranked 23rd in the nation and has faced some tough tests so far this season.
There’s no doubt that the Longhorns are a talented team and are sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 55.3 points per game. The Pirates are allowing 62 per game but have a six-point advantage in offense, scoring 82.5 points per game compared to 76.6 for Texas. Timmy Allen is averaging 13 points per game for the Longhorns’ balanced offense, while Jared Rhoden is the key to the Pirates offense, putting up 15.4 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per contest.
The line on this game is even, so besides home-court advantage, we like the Pirates because of a November stretch that showed they can hang with some of the better teams in the country. Before Seton Hall was ranked, they went into Michigan and beat the Wolverines by two. Following that was a three-point loss against Ohio State on the neutral court at the Fort Myers Tip-Off. As far as their performance at home, Seton Hall is 5-0 (4-1 ATS) at the Prudential Center this year. Texas’s only game against a team that’s not a mid-major was an 86-74 loss as seven-point underdogs at then-No. 1 Gonzaga during the first week of the regular season. They’ve stayed at home ever since, winning six games and amassing a 4-2 ATS record there.
The Pirates are no pushover, and the home team has been performing well in these inter-conference matchups so far this season, so we like Seton Hall to just get by Texas.
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. (17) Iowa State Cyclones
The Bet: Iowa State +5.5
Two teams playing good basketball so far this year in the nation’s heartland meet in their annual non-conference rivalry game, as Iowa State (8-0) puts its perfect record on the line against an Iowa (7-2) team that started 7-0 but lost two straight games. Despite that, the Hawkeyes are 5.5-point favorites at the No. 17 Cyclones.
Iowa has won the last three games in this rivalry but come in licking their wounds a bit. After a nice showing in a seven-point loss at Purdue last week to cover, the Hawkeyes fell to Illinois as 3.5-point favorites at home, 87-83.
The Cyclones haven’t faced as stiff of competition, but they did defeat Xavier and Memphis in the NIT Tip-Off to win that tournament two weeks ago in Brooklyn. Memphis was unbeaten at the time and ranked No. 9 in the country before they fell off a bit.
The Hawkeyes are averaging 90 points per game and don’t mind getting into shootouts with teams. Iowa State may have trouble keeping up, as they’re scoring just 75 per contest, but their defense is only allowing 60 per game, while Iowa is giving up 70 per contest. This is a big key to the game, as Iowa is averaging 78 points per game over its last three contests—all of which have been against power-conference teams.
While Iowa has overwhelmed their in-state rivals in recent years, the Cyclones are on a nice run, and while it may not be enough to win this game, Iowa State getting 5.5 points almost feels like too much of a gift. Normally, we’re wary of lines that seem tilted too far in one direction, but we’re going to happily take the points tonight.