It is impossible to top yesterday’s slate that included a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown, but Wednesday has plenty of intriguing action to whet our appetite for college basketball picks.
Today’s post analyzes one of the high-profile games in the NIT Season Tip-Off and two first-round matchups in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Here are my top picks for Wednesday’s college basketball schedule (Odds via DraftKings; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Top College Basketball Picks
Loyola-Chicago +2.5 (-110) vs. Michigan State ★★★
VCU-Syracuse Under 133 (-110) ★★★★
Virginia Tech +1.5 (-110) vs. Memphis ★★★★★
College Basketball Picks and Predictions
Loyola-Chicago +2.5 (-110)
While most bettors will analyze metrics and player matchups in deciding which team is the right side in this matchup, one should look no further than an exciting coaching storyline at play. Former Michigan State star Drew Valentine is the head coach of Loyola-Chicago, taking over after Porter Moser departed for Oklahoma.
Valentine played a pivotal role in making the Ramblers the household name they currently are, serving as the team’s defensive coordinator that led Division I in scoring defense (56.1 points per game allowed) last year. While Spartans head coach Tom Izzo has thrown several new wrinkles into his playbook since Valentine’s playing days, Valentine’s familiarity with Izzo’s system should not go unnoticed.
In their last six neutral site games, the Ramblers are 5-1 against the spread, while Michigan State has covered the spread in one of their previous nine games at a neutral site. The wrong team is favored in this matchup in our top college basketball picks.
VCU-Syracuse Under 133 (-110)
We like the Under in this non-conference battle despite one of these two teams coming off one of the worst defensive performances of the season. Jim Boeheim’s team has played Colgate 17 times since 2003-04, and it was not until their last game that Colgate topped 59 points. The Syracuse zone allowed 100 points in a stunning loss to the Raiders, and there is little doubt Boeheim spent the last four days re-teaching the basics of his zone principles.
Though VCU had three days to prepare for Syracuse’s zone, their length is hard to replicate. In addition, the Rams have been one of the most disappointing offensive teams in the country, averaging 50.8 ppg despite playing just one team from a Power Five conference. Furthermore, the Rams are turning the ball over at an alarming rate (27.2% of their possessions). Nevertheless, they have survived with a 2-2 record on the strength of a defense that ranks in the top 17 in both 2-point and 3-point percentage allowed.
The Under has cashed in VCU’s last five games, and the Rams should be in for another offensive struggle tonight.
Virginia Tech +1.5 (-110)
Many will be shocked at this low spread given Memphis’ top-10 ranking, but Virginia Tech is ready to establish itself as a team that can contend with Duke for an ACC championship. The Hokies’ duo of Keve Aluma and Justyn Mutts makes up one of the most underrated frontcourts in the country, and Wofford transfer Storm Murphy has stepped in seamlessly, running the show for Mike Young’s complex offense.
With all due respect to Memphis coach Penny Hardaway’s recruiting abilities, he is not the Xs-and-Os guy that Young is. The Tigers have performed well with an effective field-goal percentage on offense and defense that ranks in the top 12 in the country. However, Memphis’ top two scorers, Jalen Duren and Emoni Bates, are both freshmen and will be outclassed by the experience of the Hokies’ big men.
The Hokies have covered the spread in each of their last five games, and they will make it six straight tonight.
College basketball picks made 11/23/2021 at 9:47 p.m. ET