CBB early week betting preview: Arizona to pass Pac-12 test
Saturday was another solid day for our picks, going 5-1 against the spread to continue a positive stretch.
The early week doesn't bring much in terms of betting value, but four matchups stand out above the rest as we look to keep the hot streak rolling.
Virginia Tech @ North Carolina (-6, 141.5)
Jan. 24, 8 p.m. ET
North Carolina's defense got absolutely torched last week, allowing 91.5 points per game in two losses. The Tar Heels now host a Virginia Tech team that plays a methodical and efficient offensive game that should be able to pick them apart.
On the other side, the Hokies have done a tremendous job limiting transition opportunities for their opponents, possessing the nation's second-longest defensive possession length, per KenPom. This will force the Tar Heels to execute in the halfcourt against a Virginia Tech defense allowing teams to shoot just 27.9% from deep.
Expect the Hokies to stay close in a must-win game to stay competitive in the ACC.
Pick: Virginia Tech +5 or better
Arizona State @ USC (-13, 134)
Jan. 24, 11 p.m.
Arizona State is highly dependent on 2-pointers, with the team ranking in the bottom 25 nationally in 3-point percentage and free throws attempted. Unsurprisingly, the Sun Devils are only 1-7 in games where they shoot below 46% from inside the arc, averaging just 57 points in those contests.
In a nightmare matchup, USC ranks second in the country allowing opponents to shoot just 39.9% from inside the line. However, the Trojans' interior attack should also be relatively held in check by a decent 2-point defense on the other side. With both teams having to rely on outside jumpers, this total should stay low.
Pick: Under 132 or better
Wright State @ Northern Kentucky (-1, 147)
Jan. 25, 7 p.m.
After a brutal first month of the season, Wright State is back in elite form, starting Horizon League play with an 8-2 record. The Raiders specialize in scoring near the basket and at the free-throw line, led by big man Grant Basile.
Northern Kentucky is having a down year, particularly on the interior on both offense and defense. The Norse have had eight instances this season where they've shot below 50% from inside the arc while allowing opponents to shoot over 50%, going 1-7 in those games. Wright State is the more proven roster, which will help them take down a conference foe on the road.
Pick: Wright State -3 or better
Arizona (-2, 152) @ UCLA
Jan. 25, 11 p.m.
Arizona's high-powered, unselfish offense should also cause problems for a Bruins team that isn't overly athletic on the perimeter. UCLA ranks in just the fifth percentile in transition defense, per Synergy Sports, while the Wildcats rank near the top of the country in fast-break points.
Especially considering Tuesday's game will be played without fans, Arizona should have no trouble winning handily against the Pac-12's preseason favorites.
Pick: Arizona -6 or better