NCAA Basketball Picks: Tuesday's Most Valuable Dogs On The College Hoops Slate

Darin Zank

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 5:22 PM UTC

Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015 5:22 PM UTC

College hoops offers up a lengthy slate of games to play with Tuesday night, and this handicapper actually had to trim a list of potential underdog NCAA basketball picks. Here's our top three.


Cyclones in Cincy
Iowa State, coming off an upset loss to in-state rival Northern Iowa, hits the road for what should be a good Midwestern battle at Cincinnati.

The Cyclones (9-1 SU, 4-3 ATS) started this season 9-0, including that crazy come-from-behind win over rival Iowa. But last time out they lost to the sharpshooting Panthers 81-79. ISU shot 53 percent from the floor, but NIU shot 58 percent, and a ridiculous 13-for-22 from 3-point land.

However, from our handicapping standpoint, we like backing teams that just ran into buzz-saws like that their next times out, simply based on the law of averages.

The Bearcats (10-2 SU, 3-5 ATS), meanwhile, have lost two games this season, to Butler and Xavier. Last time out they won at VCU 69-63. UC only shot 36 percent, but hit 30-of-35 from the line.

Cincinnati plays the great defense, but Iowa State can play a little D, too, holding opponents to 41 percent shooting on the season. At the other end of the court the Cyclones are shooting 52 percent. In expectation of a bounce-back effort, we like Iowa State for the first of our free NCAA Basketball picks for Tuesday, getting 4.5 points at 5Dimes.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa State +4.5
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


Cal Against the Cavs
California (9-2 SU, 4-7 ATS), a winner of five games in a row, heads cross-country to take on Virginia.

The Bears just blew out Coppin State Saturday 84-51. Cal led by 21 at the half, and pulled away for the cover at -32. On the day the Bears shot 47 percent, while holding the Eagles to just 24 percent.

On the season Coach Martin's crew is holding opponents to just 38 percent shooting from the floor, while doing a good job on the boards. The Bears are becoming hard to deal with, like those Purdue team Martin used to play for.

The Cavs (9-1 SU, 5-3 ATS) meanwhile, have won eight in a row, following Saturday's 86-75 victory over Villanova. And just before that they beat West Virginia 70-54. In fact, Virginia is a combined 53-for-89 from the floor over its last two games, covering both.

These two teams are similar in style, tough defensively, cautious on offense, which could create a grinder. And it's nice having points in your pocket when 60 points might win the game.

The NCAA Basketball odds on this contest opened with Virginia favored by at least 12 points, but as of this writing that line was dropping. We'll get down early, before it drops much more, with the Bears getting 11.5 points at BookMaker.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: California +11.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


South Dakota in Sin City
South Dakota, provider of an outright victory as an underdog pick for this handicapper last week, will go off as a big dog again Tuesday night at UNLV.

The Coyotes (7-5 SU, 5-4 ATS) recently won five games in a row, then lost a game to Cal-Bakersfield. But we then bet South Dakota on the rebound next time out at Milwaukee, and they came through, outlasting the Panthers in double-overtime 92-91 as nine-point dogs. The Coyotes then suffered the almost-inevitable letdown next time out, falling behind by 19 points at the half Saturday against Illinois, on their way to a 91-79 defeat.

Wonderful. That just sets South Dakota up for another bounce-back play this Tuesday night.

UNLV (8-4 SU, 7-4 ATS), meanwhile, has lost three of its last four games, including an 82-70 defeat at Arizona Saturday. But we don't consider the Rebels candidates for a bounce-back play Tuesday night, because they performed about as expected last time out; they lost by 12, while getting 11.

UNLV plays better defense than the Coyotes, but South Dakota is more efficient on offense. Also, neither team dominates on the boards, and the Rebs are without leading rebounder Stephen Zimmerman, who's down with a thigh injury.

We'll take the Coyotes, getting 12 points at 5Dimes.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: South Dakota +12
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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