It’s feast week and that means instead of sweating your dear Grandmother making an inappropriate joke at the dinner table, you can sweat college basketball games and see if Vegas has the stones to make the Virginia Cavaliers’ over/under low enough. For those of you in Nevada, Mississippi, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island please feel free to fade these picks as they’re likely terrible and could cost you actual dollars. For the rest of us in the degenerate backwoods, use these to brag to your friends or gain an edge with your offshore book.
Unfortunately, most college basketball lines don’t come out until the day of the game, so I’ll be using the game prediction from Ken Pomeroy for lines and over/unders (unless I have access to the Vegas line, in that case I’ll provide both). Check back the day of the game to see if there is any value to be had.
Now, onto the picks:
Duke vs. Auburn
KP: Duke -6, O/U 158
Vegas: Duke -10, O/U 161
Finally the Duke Blue Devils get a test from a top-ten team (the Kentucky game doesn’t count) when they take on the Auburn Tigers. Auburn is good—really good. They’re experienced with Bryce Brown, Jared Harper, and Anfernee McLemore and have talent with Chuma Okeke and Austin Wiley. I see this as a high scoring game, and while it won’t shock me to see Auburn pull the upset, I think Duke gets the win. Ten is a lot of points and if the number goes much higher, Auburn might be the play. However I like the total more than the spread. (Eds. note: the line has already been bet up to 164.)
Pick: Over 161
Louisville vs. Tennessee
KP: Louisville +7, O/U 145
I don’t know what to make of Louisville this season. Of the Cardinals playing the most minutes so far, only VJ King played more than 38% of the team’s minutes a season ago. Going up against a veteran Top-Ten team led by reigning SEC Player of the Year Grant Williams is not exactly easing into the year. This game has come down a point from +8 on Ken Pom and it will be interesting to see where the actual line falls, but I’ll take the Vols to cover.
Pick: Tennessee -7
Virginia vs. Middle Tennessee
KP: Virginia -18, O/U 134
I generally shy away from betting Virginia against the spread since the Hoos’ win margins can be so unpredictable. With the pace being so slow, you’d expect the Hoos to have close games, but that can’t be further from the truth as Virginia tends to run away with games more often than they’re given credit for. However, the over/under is always a source of value with Virginia as long as you can stomach rooting for less scoring. And I think that’s the key. The public can’t stand sweating the under, so Virginia totals always tend to be a little higher than they should be. In this game, I lean to the under at 134, as the implied final score is 76-58. Middle Tennessee will provide a more formidable test than Virginia has faced all year, so 76 for the Hoos seems a bit high. And 58 points against Virginia’s defense is a tall task for anyone, much less an inexperienced team playing in a hotel ballroom. One other note to keep an eye on is the health of Jack Salt. If he plays, I love the under. If he sits, I think Virginia is a little more offensive minded (not better necessarily) and the under becomes a little less enticing. Another note about Virginia games to keep in in mind as the season goes along. If you like the under, bet it as soon as the line comes out. If you like the over, wait, as almost inevitably the total will be bet down.
Pick: Under 134
Boston College vs. Loyola Chicago
KP: Boston College +2, O/U 140
The Ramblers are back after their Final Four run a season. Clayton Custer, Marques Townes, and Cameron Krutwig all return for Loyola Chicago as they face off against the Boston College Eagles in the Fort Myers Tip-Off. While Loyola Chicago is a solid team, I prefer the ACC squad at this point in the year. Especially one led by one of the best players in the country, Ky Bowman. Between Bowman and the Eagles’ size and rebounding advantage down low, give me Boston College and the points.
Pick: Boston College +2
North Carolina vs. Texas
KP: North Carolina -7, O/U 151
I’m pretty excited about this game as North Carolina has looked liked one of the best teams in the country and Texas is a team that I want to see do well. The key here will be for UNC to limit the turnovers caused by the Havoc defense. On the year, Texas ranks 40th in the country in steal percentage on defense while UNC ranks 214th in steals percentage given up on offense. It’ll be the strength of UNC’s offense against Texas’ top-ten defense. And for that reason, I think this one stays close, so I’ll take the points with Texas. This game will also be one to watch for when the line comes out as the number on UNC could open higher.
Pick: Texas +7
Season Total: ATS (0-0), O/U (0-0), Total (0-0)