State Rivalries Serve Up Value In Hoops Wednesday: Alabama & Illinois State on top ATS

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 1:39 PM UTC

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018 1:39 PM UTC

A pair of heated rivalries features in or top college basketball picks Wednesday, as No. 17 Auburn travel to Alabama in the basketball edition of the Iron Bowl and Bradley tussle with Illinois State in the I-74 series.

No. 17 Auburn (-1.5) at Alabama

Alabama (11-6 SU, 8-7 ATS) will be shorthanded in the basketball version of the Iron Bowl Wednesday. Starting forward Donta Hall is out following wrist surgery last week. The 6-foot-9 junior is the primary force in the paint for head coach Avery Johnson, averaging 11.5 points, and a team-leading 7.2 rebounds per game. Defense is Hall’s specialty, totaling 39 blocks on the year, also tops for the Crimson Tide.

Bama owns one of the best defenses in the SEC, ranking second in opponent scoring (65.2) and field-goal percentage (36.4) in conference. Johnson floods the box with bodies, forcing tough shots outside. Only 26.8 percent of opponent attempts are at the rim, the fewest of any SEC unit.

Since taking over in 2015, Alabama has allowed just five of 21 conference opponents to put up more than their projected team total in the betting market while defending Coleman Coliseum. The ‘under’ is 15-6 overall, a 132.5 final score staying 5.3 points below a 137.7 average total. The 156 game total set by oddsmakers for tonight’s matchup is the highest in this span.

Always a pleasure catching up with @CoachAvery6!

On the Alabama/Auburn rivalry:

"When I first arrived I didn't quite understand it Paul. But, I understand it now"

Catch the game LIVE Wednesday night at 7et on @SECNetwork

— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) January 16, 2018

Auburn (16-1 SU, 1-4 ATS) is the only unbeaten team left in SEC play. It is 4-0 SU and ATS, winning each by 8 points or more. Covering the number is aided by the fact opponents are hitting just 25 percent of their 3-point attempts. War Eagle ranks 45th in the country in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, yet yielded a 36.4 opponent 3-point rate prior to conference play.

This Bruce Pearl squad is all-out offense. It runs a modified flex scheme that is fast and looks to counter first before setting up into structured plays. It ranks 16th in adjusted efficiency and 23rd in tempo nationally. Its 86.5 points per game average is the second-highest in school history.

Only Florida is better than the Crimson Tide at getting back on defense in the SEC, allowing just 18 percent of total field goal attempts in transition. Auburn’s scoring effectiveness will suffer as it is forced into more halfcourt sets. Hall’s absence will hurt down low, but that means Johnson’s men will huddle around the hoop even more. Bama wins as a small underdog (+1.5). Take the Tide straight up for your NCAAB picks as they tame the Tigers.

Free Pick: Alabama on the ML
Best Lines are at Pinny +109[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3336091, "sportsbooksIds":[238,169,19,227,43], "LineTypeId":2, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]Bradley at Illinois State (-2)

The I-74 rivalry between Illinois State (9-9 SU, 6-8 ATS) and Bradley (13-6 SU, 9-6 ATS) is storied and intense. This is the 125th meeting between the two schools. The Redbirds have dominated the series recently, going 15-2 SU (7-10 ATS) since January 2009. Six of these victories have been by just 4 points or less.

Illinois State, expected to challenge for the Missouri Conference title, has dropped two in a row in conference play entering the matchup. This has happened six times before in the abovementioned span, four times under head coach Dan Muller’s leadership. Fixing the defense is a top priority in this spot. It has held the Braves to 52.3 points per game under these conditions, a whopping 9.3 less per game than the market projected. The ‘under’ is a perfect 6-0, the final tally staying 18.7 points south of a 129 average total. Lean the bet tonight. Defense is Bradley’s specialty, too, ranking 44th in adjusted efficiency.

The top pick is to lay the 2 points with Illinois State. Muller has too many weapons on offense. The Redbirds are one of two D-1 programs to have three players rank in the top 5 in scoring in their conference. Milik Yarbrough (16.9 ppg), Keyshawn Evans (16.6 ppg) and Phil Fayne (16.9) are all capable of taking over a game. Can’t double team each with just five defenders. Bradley will struggle to reach 60 points, especially with a raucous student body back on campus after a month away. Redbirds fly.

Free Pick: Illinois State -2
Best Lines are at 5Dimes (-105)[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3343730, "sportsbooksIds":[19,169,93,180,139], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
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