Cashing With Three Winners On Saturday's College Hoops Action

Rainman M.

Saturday, December 23, 2017 2:36 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 2:36 PM UTC

Three favored teams look safe from an upset. Sweeten up your Saturday by combo-betting Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina to win.

Wake Forest (7-4) hosts No. 21 Tennessee (8-2) at 12:30 PM ET. The Vols are favored by 1.5 points.

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This is Tennessee’s toughest road opponent to date. However, today’s situation merits the least concern for backers of the road team: Wake Forest’s students are on winter break and are consequently unlikely
to pack the arena and create a difficult atmosphere for Tennessee.

Another good reason to back Tennessee on the road is that a good defense is known to travel well. Tennessee’s defense ranks 18th in efficiency despite facing the 52nd toughest schedule in terms of offenses faced. For instance, they held Purdue’s 7th-most efficient offense to 75 points on neutral territory, despite the game having gone to overtime.

Wake Forest lacks the playmakers to score reliably against Tennessee’s defense. The Deacons rank 230rd in field goal to assist ratio, meaning that their half court offense struggles despite facing the 222nd-toughest strength of schedule in terms of defenses faced. Their main problem is giving the ball away. They rank 205th in turnovers allowed and 184th in steals allowed and are vulnerable to Tennessee’s ravenous defense that ranks 17th in turnovers forced and 69th in steal percentage.

Tennessee’s main source of scoring will come from behind the arc. The Vols rank 51st in three-point percentage thanks to two players who are completing over 40% of their threes and small forward Jordan Bowden, who ranks 8th with 56.8% completion from three. The Vols will get sundry shooting opportunities from Wake Forest’s abysmal perimeter defense that ranks 324th in three pointers allowed per field goals allowed.

Expect Tennessee to win in a relatively quiet stadium behind a superior defense, a better turnover margin, and its three-point shooting ability.

No. 5 North Carolina (10-2) plays Ohio State (10-3) at 1:30 ET in neutral New Orleans. The Tar Heels are favored by 6.5 points.

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UNC is in an awesome betting situation. They haven’t lost back-to-back games since February 2016 and are a consistent bounce-back team, having won their last 10 games after a loss. The Tar Heels are coming off an embarrassing upset loss at home. They were probably hung over after winning a tight game at Tennessee.

They won’t allow Ohio State to be comfortable on offense. The Buckeyes have the 59th-highest point distribution from inside the arc. But UNC is difficult to score against thanks to its size and physicality in the interior. UNC ranks 90th in height, 17th in opposing two-point percentage and 10th in defensive rebounding.

Offensively, UNC prefers to score in the interior. They have the 43rd-highest point distribution from two, thanks especially to three important shot-takers who make over 55% of their two-pointers. Two of those players, center Luke Maye and shooting guard Kenny Williams, are also versatile. Maye ranks 152nd in three-point completion percentage, Williams 25th.

North Carolina has achieved its offensive and defensive numbers despite facing a strength of schedule that ranks over 100 places higher than that of Ohio State. The better-tested Tar Heels are primed to bounce back with its dominance inside and the versatility of its scorers.

Missouri (10-2) plays Illinois (8-5) at 8 ET in the annual rivalry game played in neutral St. Louis. The Tigers are favored by 4 points.

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Illinois is a fade-worthy team because they are still winless (0-4) away from home and winless against teams ranked in KenPom’s top 100 (0-5). Missouri ranks 47th.

The main reason for Illinois’ struggles in tougher betting situations is its relatively heavy reliance on freshmen. The Illini rank 311th in experience. Freshman point guard Trent Frazier epitomizes Illinois’ difficulties: His KenPom offensive rating drops 30 points against top-50 opponents.

The Illini have yet to prove themselves offensively. They rank 144th in offensive efficiency against a schedule that ranks 229th in defensive quality. Their most involved players struggle with ball security. So they rank 216th in turnover percentage allowed. They also lack reliable shooters. They have 5 players with over 30 attempts from three. Four of them are completing less than 33% of their threes.

Missouri can use its playmaking abilities and size inside to run away with the game. Their half-court offense is ranked 24th behind the guard ability of Jordan Geist, who ranks 278th in assist rate. Three players complete more than 57% of their two-pointers and can be effective against a relatively small Illinois lineup.

The new-look Illini continue to be fade-worthy away from home and against difficult opponents. Missouri boasts a well-tested and well-sized half-court offense. Geist has typically been an awesome bounce-back player throughout his career. Missouri, including Geist, couldn’t be better prepared against its second-consecutive high-pressure defense.

Free NCAAB Pick: Parlay Tennessee, UNC, Missouri on the ML
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
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