After a 5-1 NFL we are back for an early slate of Tuesday night college basketball. We started the college basketball start weeks ago with a 4-1 Thanksgiving Day. There are three solid college basketball picks on the card so let’s get right to them.
Clemson at Virginia Tech
Spread: Virginia Tech -2
One of my favorite games on the slate this afternoon. Clemson has arguably one of the strongest collections of wins in the country beating Mississippi State, Purdue, Alabama, and Maryland all by nine points or more. They have been able to do this based on their suffocating defense that ranks 2nd in defensive efficiency. Clemson reminds me alot of San Diego State from last year, and I believe the Tigers are the best defensive team in the entire country. On the other hand, Virginia Tech is still overvalued due to their fluky win against Villanova where they shot 10-20 from three. Virginia Tech shooting numbers have normalized, and they struggled against an above average Penn State defense. Clemson has excellent size and length doing and are doing a great job of defending the perimeter. Virginia Tech should struggle to score again in this one. The wrong team is favored, and I believe Clemson walks away with another strong resume win.
The pick Clemson +2
Loyola-Chicago at Wisconsin
Spread: Wisconsin (-9)
The Ramblers burst onto the scene when they made their miraculous Final Four run in the 2018 tournament. Porter Moser now has his best and deepest team since that city-shaking run to the Final Four, returning everyone of substance from a team that finished second in the MVC. You can say the same about Wisconsin, who returned everyone from a Big Ten regular season contender.
However, the Badgers have simply not looked impressive to me all season long. This will be Chicago first test, and the Badgers' toughest opponent since Marquette. Both teams play a similar style of basketball, slow, spaced out, gritty man to man defense, and they have guys that can step up in any spot. Overall should be a fun game to watch.
Simply giving the Ramblers nine points is ludicrous, and you can make an argument the Ramblers' roster is not far behind Wisconsin talent-wise. Loyola’s star center Cameron Kutwig is an All-American caliber player, Lucas Johnson is one of the best on ball defenders in the country, and they have the best trio of sharp shooters in Tate Hall, Marquise Kennedy, and Keith Clemmons.
Loyola is shooting 41 percent from three this year, they rank four in defensive rebounding percentage, and they have the least amount of turnovers in the country.
If the Ramblers get in rhythm, I believe they win this one outright. Give me Loyola and the points.
Loyola Chicago +9 and ML sprinkle +370
Indiana State at Saint Louis
Spread: Saint Louis -13.5
Saint Louis is the best team in college basketball that nobody is talking about. They return 10 contributors from a tournament laden team that won 23 games last year and lost to Dayton by a combined seven points in two matchups. On top of that, Saint Louis is one of the most improved teams from last year. The Billikens struggled in two major areas last season: three point shooting and free throws- they shot 55% from the line as a team. This season they are shooting 46.5 percent from 3 (fifth in the country) and are shooting 77.5 percent from the free throw line, a dramatic 20 percent improvement. While improving their shooting, they are still one of the best rebounding teams in the country.
Now they will face an Indiana State team that ranks 307th in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Indiana State struggled with non D1 opponent Truman State, the game was tied with 12:48 to play, and were dominated on the boards against Purdue.
Saint Louis has Final Four aspirations (no hyperbole) and every game is a statement game.
Pick Saint Louis to run Indiana State out of the gym.
The pick: Saint Louis -13.5
Wichita State at Tulsa
Spread: Tulsa -1.5
The Shockers have been the surprise of the year for me. Despite the early season firing of defamed coach Gregg Marshall, Covid Issues to begin the season, and a myriad of transfers, the Shockers have been competitive against tough competition. Oklahoma State needed a game winning buzzer beater to beat the Shockers. A short handed Shockers hung around with a Mizzou team that we now know is pretty damn good.
The Shockers will have the most talented players on the floor with UConn transfer Alterique Gilbert and Tyson Etienne on the floor at all times. Etienne has averaged 19 points a game while Gilbert is not far behind with 15. Tulsa is a bad basketball team and they are overvalued after overachieving last year.
The Golden Hurricane rank 273rd in offensive turnover percentage and they can’t shoot, averaging just 27.3 percent from three. The Shockers have a strong perimeter defense and they ranked eighth in overall defensive efficiency last year.
The market and public are low on the Shockers after a chaotic off season.
But we are getting the more talented team with plus money. Take the Shockers.
The pick: Wichita State +1.5