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College basketball odds and betting picks for Tuesday (1/11)

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The 2021-22 college basketball season is in full swing, and conference play provides matchups between the top teams in the country. Below is my analysis and favorite bets for Tuesday’s slate.

 

Alabama vs. Auburn

(Line: Alabama -2.5, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Alabama continues to be plagued by inconsistent play, while Auburn is on a complete tear since that double-overtime thriller in Atlantis against UConn, winners of 11 straight. You can’t get a better situational spot here for the Tide coming off an embarrassing loss against the worst team in the conference while coming back home for a huge matchup against one of the best teams in the nation. Yet, the matchup isn’t the best for Alabama, as they have shown a glaring weakness defending the paint and rebounding the ball, which Auburn will fully exploit through the duo of Walker Kessler and Jabari Smith. The Tide are one of the highest variance teams in the country, as their offense is predicated around 3-point shooting, and they are due for some positive regression. Betting on 3-point shooting luck is not smart, and I will be putting my money behind the team with the schematic advantage and more ways to win.

Auburn’s hot streak has revolved around the high-level play of their interior, which ranks 7th in 2pt% defense, and being the top team nationally in blocking shots. The combination of North Carolina import Walker Kessler and stud freshman Jabari Walker has made it impossible for opposing players to score at the rim against the Tigers. Alabama struggles mightily to defend the paint (ranking 228th in 2pt% defense) and cleaning up the glass (247th in defensive rebounding %), which is where Kessler and Walker should have a ton of success. Nate Oats derives his offense around analytics, and the Tide take mid-range jump shots at one of the lowest clips in the country, which means they are either taking threes or attacking the rim. As mentioned, it’s extremely hard to score at the rim against Auburn, so I think we see Alabama continue to jack threes in this one (currently 32rd in 3pt FGA). Although Alabama does have the advantage in the backcourt, the rise of KD Johnson and Wendell Green should be able to at least compete, and it’s hard for me to back a team that will be so reliant on the 3-point line. Auburn has more paths to victory, and I like getting a possession here in the market.

The Pick: Auburn +2.5

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Marquette vs DePaul

(Line: Marquette -7.5, DraftKings Sportsbook)

This is the definition of a sell-high/buy-low spot with Marquette coming off two blowout ceiling performance wins and DePaul being losers of four straight. I have these two teams fairly close in the power rankings (1.5-point difference) which would indicate that this line should be capped at around 5 being played in Milwaukee. Variance is the essence of college basketball, and being able to block out the short-term noise and determine trends versus variance is a very important skill to have when gambling on the sport. I think these two Big East foes are way closer, and I love getting this many points here.

Shaka Smart has brought his patented “havoc” style defense over to the Golden Eagles, which wants to speed opposing teams up, make them uncomfortable and force turnovers. This actually plays into DePaul’s strengths, as they strive in transition ranking 46th in tempo and 29th in average possession length on offense. DePaul has also been fairly good at taking care of the ball this year, only turning the ball over on 17% of their possessions (77th nationally). The biggest area where Marquette struggles is defending the rim and cleaning up the glass, as they give up shots at the rim at one of the highest clips in the country, atypical of a Shaka Smart defense. Kur Kuath, Oso Ighofdaro and Justin Lewis have been solid at protecting the rim, but it will be tough keeping stud lead guard Javon Freeman-Liberty out of transition and rising star David Jones off the glass. Mean reversion is inevitable for both squads, and I like the spot and the matchup for it to happen here. I’ll be taking the Blue Demons on the road getting too many points.

The Pick: DePaul +7.5

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