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College Basketball Gambling Primer Presented By PointsBet: January 4, Welcome To Conference Play

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YTD: 66-57-4 (Don't care for this cold streak one bit. Don't care for it at all) 


Creighton +5.5

Over 154 Georgia/Memphis

Penn State -2.5

Marquette -1

Louisville -6.5

Virginia Tech +7

Kansas -9.5

Under 150 Florida/Alabama

Over 127.5 Texas A&M/Arkansas

Utah State -2.5

Notes: Conference play is officially here. For those curious of how I tend to figure out what bets I like, I use a handful of stats from KenPom and Synergy then combine it with what I know about the teams and spots. Is it truly scientific? Absolutely not. But it's how I go about it's worked so far, especially this year with teams pretty much all the same. I'm writing this up at 9am and the lines come from our friends at PointsBet so if anything changes in terms of people out, whatever, I'll update it or put it out on Twitter. 

I actually think this is the best and most intriguing game of the day. I love both of these rosters with Creighton's three guards and Butler's wings. Kamar Baldwin is a little banged up and while he's likely going to play I'm curious to see if he's hampered at all chasing these dudes around screens. The one thing about Butler's defense is they give up a decent amount of looks from three though they defend it well. However, it's worth noting that teams are shooting 10% worse from three this year from last year. Is that going to balance out or is there some sort of new defensive technique being used? This game will have a good idea on that. As for Creighton, there might not be a better coach in America than McDermott at getting his guys into offensive sets and adjusting how he uses those. 

Pick: Creighton +5.5

So this was supposed to be the battle between James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards but we all know what happened with Wiseman. Two important things here. Both teams play fast and both force turnovers a ton. There will be free points in this game, especially because Memphis fouls a lot and draws a ton of fouls. This is the type of game we could see potential No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards be, well, No. 1 pick like he did in the second half against Michigan State.

Pick: Over 154

Did you know this is one of the two games between ranked teams? Welcome to college basketball in 2020. Now do I wish this game was at Bryce Jordan instead of the Palestra? Absolutely. But there still will be a million Penn State fans there and we've seen them play and win a big game there before. I understand why they do this Palestra game (the Roman Catholic pipeline helps, plus Christmas break) but it's still so weird to do it for a conference game. This is just game 3 for Iowa without Jordan Bohannon and we could see it really come into play here. Mike Watkins is a ridiculously good defensive center and he'll have Garza. The difference Myles Dread/Myreon Jones/Lamar Stevens can take advantage in the backcourt. 

Pick: Penn State -2.5

This is a ridiculously important game for both teams here. Nova has to go to Creighton on Tuesday and Marquette is coming off the bad loss to Creighton. Here's what I'm curious to see - how does Nova defend Markus Howard? Against Kansas they put Saddiq Bey on Devon Dotson and I wouldn't be surprised to see them do that here. Do they hide Collin Gillespie on Sacar Anim? The difference for Marquette is they can let Koby McEwen handle the ball and let Howard run off a million screens off the ball, something Nova switches. 

Pick: Marquette -1

This actually isn't a great matchup for Louisville. FSU is a great defensive team and can throw a bunch of bodies on Jordan Nwora. I've talked about Nwora before - he's a hell of a player, but he doesn't beat people off the dribble. This is where he can actually take advantage in this game. Nwora gets his buckets through cuts and out of offensive sets, there's a chance he can take advantage of FSU's aggressive defense to get to his spot for jumpers. I'm playing the fact that Louisville is playing at home, the first time after losing to Kentucky and Chris Mack having plenty of time to gameplan. This is an important, IMPORTANT game for what we view Louisville as. 

Pick: Louisville -6.5

I know Braxton Key is playing for Virginia again, but do you honestly trust this offense? I know, I know. The defense is silly. But VT is a different look since you have to chase around a bunch of guards and wings. You're giving me 7 points in a game with limited possessions and I mean limited possessions? I'll take my chances. 

Pick: Virginia Tech +7

This game in Phog Allen? We've seen Kansas get a friendly whistle in this series at home before and that's so important in this game. Udoka Azubuike is awesome at drawing fouls, which is the key here because WVU has bigs that can matchup with him. WVU isn't Press Virginia anymore but they still force turnovers, so there's a chance they are able to stay within the number the entire game strictly because of that + the fact that they are a top-15 defense. I'm just banking on that Phog Allen whistle. 

Pick: Kansas -9.5

I get that Alabama wants to play fast on both sides on the ball. But you know who doesn't want to do that? Florida. They want to make you work defensively, running that 1-3-1 zone with Scottie Lewis up top and also the man they typically run. I wish Florida would run more offensively because that's where they are at their best and since we're sitting on a Florida future that'd be preferred. The fact this game is at Florida too makes me feel like they'll dictate tempo even more. 

Pick: Under 150

Let's stick with a total in the SEC here. Arkansas is off to a hell of a start under Eric Mussleman and a lot of that has to do with their defense. Speaking of which, here's the stat that I'm looking at. Arkansas is 16th in the country at forcing turnovers and A&M is 313th in turning the ball over. That's screaming free points for Arkansas. There will be a bunch of threes in this game as both teams want to shoot a ton, it's just a matter of getting some to fall. 

Pick: Over 127.5

Why the hell is San Diego State, one of the last undefeated teams in the country getting 2.5 points on the road? Because that line stinks, especially with Neemis Queta being a gametime decision. I think he plays so I'm going to get this bet in now and then adjust if I have to. Utah State is coming off of one of the ugliest shooting games I've ever seen against UNLV, so I'm playing the spot here. Sam Merrill has to shoot the ball better. Another key for me is SDSU does foul a ton and there are very few teams in the country better at drawing fouls than Utah State. 

Pick: Utah State -2.5