RADFORD @ WINTHROP -8
While a lot of eyes will be on Duke vs. FSU at 7 pm EST tonight, Winthrop and Radford will be facing off in a matchup of the top two teams in the Big South. That may sound funny at first, but money counts just the same in Vegas odds for the best college basketball picks tonight.
There’s a lot to like about Winthrop in this game. First, Winthrop is heading into this one on a fourteen-game winning streak. They are 12-0 in conference play and will be looking to keep that record unblemished tonight against the Highlanders.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched a ton (any) of Big South basketball this season, but thankfully the Internet allows me to find out just about everything I need to know about these two teams. The stat that really caught my eye when reading up on these two teams was Winthrop’s record ATS this season. Winthrop is 16-7 ATS this year (69.6%), which ties them for the 9th best in the country. They are not only beating teams but also beating them and covering the spread in the process.
Another reason I’m leaning Winthrop is their scoring attack. They are tied for 20th in the nation in PPG with 77.6. That average bumps up to 83.1 when they are playing at home, which is good for 12th in all of college basketball. This game is being played at the Winthrop Coliseum, aka the Cameron Indoor of the Big South. On the other side of the coin, Radford is tied for 111th in the country in opponents’ PPG this season. I expect Winthrop to exploit this difference and put some points on the board.
The line on this game opened at Winthrop -8, and I’ve seen it down to -7.5 in some places at the time of this writing. Winthrop’s average margin of victory this season is 11 points. While Radford is the second-best team in their conference, they are just .500 on the road this year. I like Winthrop to cover this one at home.
THE PICK: WINTHROP -8
BAYLOR @ TEXAS, O/U 128.5
For the second of our best college basketball picks tonight, we’ll go to one of the major conferences. We have a rivalry game in the Big 12 with Texas hosting #1-ranked Baylor on ESPN.
At the risk of being the least popular kid in school, I’m going to advise you to take the under here. I get it, unders are not nearly as much fun to bet on as overs. Think about this – Texas brings up the ball after a defensive rebound, runs a few high screens, tosses a few passes while searching for the right look, drains the shot clock down to 3, shoots a long-contested 2, and bricks it off the back iron. Isn’t that exciting?! No? Just me? Okay, moving on…
Neither of these teams is particularly high-scoring. When they faced off earlier this season, the final score was 59-44, 103 total points. While I don’t necessarily expect that to happen again, I don’t think it’s out the realm of possibility. Baylor is 4th in the country in opponents’ PPG, allowing only 59 points on average to their opponents this year.
A big stat I like to look at when picking over/unders is the number of points that teams let up via the three-pointer per game. It may seem silly, but every point counts when gambling and three-pointers are your enemies when taking an under. Both teams rank towards the top in the nation in opponents’ points from three-pointers, with Texas ranked #6 and Baylor ranked #42. Look for fewer points from a long distance in this one.
Games have gone under more than they have gone over for both teams this season. For Baylor, the under is 12-10 this year. For Texas, it’s 14-9. The fact that they are playing this game at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin works in our favor here. The Longhorns let up 4.5 fewer PPG when playing on their home court this season. They are also the home underdog in this game, and to win, they will likely have to do a good job of controlling the pace. That typically plays in favor of the under.
THE PICK: UNDER 128.5