College basketball odds and betting picks for Wednesday (12/29)


The 2021-22 college basketball season is in full swing, and conference play is starting up with matchups between some of the top teams in the country. Below is my analysis and favorite bets for Wednesday’s slate.



Tennessee vs. Alabama

(Line: Alabama -2, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Life was good for Alabama after back-to-back wins over Gonzaga and Houston in early December. But as we all well know, nothing lasts forever in college basketball, and things have taken a turn for the worse as the Tide are losers of two of their last three to an underachieving Memphis team and a three-point barrage from Davidson. Due to their fast tempo and high percentage of shots taken from three (46%), we should expect to see a ton of variance from this Alabama squad (especially since their defense isn’t as stout as last year) which makes them a bit tricky to figure out from a betting perspective. Yet, in a home matchup against Tennessee, who just came off an emotional win, I expect to see some positive regression.

Tennessee’s defense is elite, specifically on the interior protecting the rim — we just saw them wall off the paint against a very good Arizona team. The good news for Alabama is that they are strictly perimeter-oriented, and Tennessee’s defense does allow teams to shoot over them from three at a high clip (211th in 3pt FGA defense). Where Alabama has been exposed all year is at the rim where they allow opponents to 51% from two-point-range (228th nationally). More good news for the Tide is that Tennessee doesn’t score at the rim at a high clip (not expecting another career game from John Fulkerson) and rely on the playmaking ability of freshman point guard Kennedy Chandler and jump shooting from Santiago Vescovi. This game has all the makings of a perimeter battle where it will come down to Chandler attacking in the PnR against Alabama’s four-headed perimeter attack creating open three-point looks. Tennessee has been playing at a much faster tempo this year, and I think that plays into Alabama’s hands. The Tide have shot 30% from three over their past three games, and I think we see some positive regression there at home, so I’ll be backing Alabama in this one. 

The Pick: Alabama -2

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LSU vs. Auburn

(Line: Auburn -4, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Both teams are off to electric starts this season as LSU remains unbeaten headed into SEC play while Auburn only has one blemish on their record, a double-overtime thriller against a very good UConn team. Will Wade seems to have finally figured out that defense is important in the game of basketball as LSU has taken a massive leap from 124th nationally a year ago to currently sitting as the No. 1 defense in the country per KenPom. LSU’s unreal improvement stems behind a more perimeter pressure and trapping oriented scheme anchored by the trio of Efton Reid, Darius Days and Tari Eason allowing nothing at the rim. The question will be can Auburn breakdown the LSU pressure and knock down open looks from three (LSU allows 49% of opponents’ shots to come from the three-point line, 353rd nationally).

The first thing you need to avoid against LSU is live ball turnovers, and ball hawks Xavier Pinson, Eric Gaines and Brandon Murray cause turnovers at a rate of 27% (eighth nationally) and quickly convert them to points on the other end. Auburn should be to handle the LSU pressure as they rarely turn the ball over, ranking 16th nationally in turnover percentage offense. On the defensive end, Auburn is stout at protecting the rim themselves behind the Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler block party, which ranks second nationally in block percentage. This is where LSU likes to run the offense through Eason and Days, as they only shoot 32% from three-point range. Auburn should be able to take care of the ball and limit live ball turnovers and with a Swiss Army knife like Jabari Smith roaming around, I think Auburn has way more paths to score offensively then LSU does (their best player Tari Eason is also dealing with back spasms) and LSU drops their first true away game.

The Pick: Auburn -4

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