Betting Value in Rivalry Tilts Thursday

Jay Pryce

Thursday, December 7, 2017 1:32 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 1:32 PM UTC

The college basketball schedule Thursday is light, but we uncovered some betting value in these two rivalry matchups: Drexel at La Salle and Iowa at Iowa State. Get your free picks here.

Drexel vs La Salle (-9)

The Dragons (4-4 SU, 2-2 ATS) ride a two-game win streak into Tom Gola Arena seeking to reverse years of abuse by the Explorers. La Salle is 22-5 all-time in the series, but Drexel has claimed three of the last four meetings.

Second-year head coach Zach Spiker has the Dragons flying fast. They rank 164 in KenPom’s tempo ratings, a figure likely to keep dropping. The newly installed up-tempo offense finished 68th quickest in the country last year, scoring 74.9 points per game. It was their highest team scoring average since joining the CAA in the 2001-02 season. Drexel posts 75.6 per night currently.

Spiker has five players averaging double figures, led by junior guard Tramaine Isabell. The 6-foot-1, do-it-all transfer tops the conference with 22.0 points per game and is fourth in rebounds (9.1). He is one of seven new faces on the squad helping to exceed expectations. The media picked Drexel to finish second to last in CAA preseason polling.

La Salle (5-4 SU, 3-6 ATS) spent last week in Northern Ireland participating in the inaugural Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic. It split a pair of games, beating Holy Cross 58-54, but falling 67-60 to another CAA outfit Towson. Hybrid guard/forward B.J. Johnson earned All-Tournament honors, averaging 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Johnson’s 21.6-point season average ranks second in the A-10 behind Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge (21.7). His modus operandi is penetrating the hoop:

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Nice spin move by BJ Johnson inside! La Salle leads Fordham 23-16 with 3:25 left in the first half

— La Salle Basketball (@LaSalleMBB) March 4, 2017

La Salle topped Drexel 89-78 in this matchup last season. Shooting 54.2 percent from the floor, five Explorers reached double figures in the scoring column. The defeat is one of 15 Drexel has taken in its last 20 against A-10 opponents.

Spiker has the Dragons headed in the right direction, though. Last year’s meeting was in late November; the team still adjusting to his new systems. It appears the players have caught on. Drexel shocked Houston 84-80 earlier this season as 13.5-point underdogs and routed Rider 89-77 last time out while catching 5 points on the oddsboard. Another competitive effort will follow Thursday night.

LaSalle is 10-6 SU, yet 3-8 ATS in the last three years at home versus non-conference opponents. The program is not talented enough to blow the doors off opponents, winning by double digits just three times in this span. Both teams are carried by single scorers (Isabell, Johnson), and each defense will lock in to slow the respective stars down. Poor shooting will plague both offenses as a result. Drexel does enough to stay close. Take the 9 points with the Dragons.

Free NCAAB Picks: Drexel +9Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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Iowa vs Iowa State (-6.5)

Iowa’s (4-5 SU, 1-4 ATS) defense is always suspect under head coach Fran McCaffery, but the seven-year leader can foster some outstanding shooters. This squad is a perfect example. The Hawkeye’s top seven scorers are all underclassmen with sophomore Tyler Cook leading the bunch with 14.6 points per game. They score 108.7 points per 100 possessions, 75th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rankings. Much of this comes from second-chance options due to offensive rebounding. Eight Iowa players measure 6-foot-8 or taller.

Iowa State (5-2 SU, 2-5 ATS) is even more effective scoring, posting 111.4 points per 100 possessions (48th). The team is led by its guard trio of Nick Weiler-Babb, Donovan Jackson, and Lindell Wigginton. They combine for 59.7 percent of the Cyclone’s scoring (45.8 points per game) and have put up 20 points or more eight times individually. Like the Hawkeyes, defense is the weak link. The Cyclones yield a 52.1 percent opponent effective field goal rate.

McCaffery goes to the Iowa bench early and often to maximize energy levels and freshness, rotating 11 players averaging 12 minutes or more per game. Iowa regularly ranks near the top nationally in bench scoring as a result, coming in at 23rd currently. This makes scouting individual players a tough and tiresome task. Iowa State’s defense needs all the added game planning it can get. Look for Iowa to target successful mismatches offensively. McCaffery will quickly snuff some out.

The Cyclones backcourt is too much to handle, however. They will have it easy against a young and less athletic Hawkeyes perimeter defense. Expect plenty of points in this one. The ‘over’ is 7-3 when McCaffery’s Hawkeyes square off against Big 12 foes. In six with a game total of 150 or greater, all but one surpassed the mark. Cyclones win 85-79 and the ‘over’ 152 hits easy. Make the latter your best bet.

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 152Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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