College Basketball Week 2: Betting Guide

Published on 11/18/2021
By Jack Fitzpatrick
Emoni Bates drives past Tennessee Tech Defender
© Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

College basketball is in full swing already. Plenty of bad beats, upsets and buzzer beats in just the first seven days with so much more to come. 

Before diving into this week’s picks a quick review of last week’s picks is necessary. 

Kansas took down Michigan St. and covered the 4.5 point spread with absolute ease. 

Alabama is picking up where it left off last season covering the spread in both of the games and winning by an average of 22.5 points. 

I picked Kentucky (+1) against Duke and was high on the Wildcats. I was so high on the Wildcats I added another 2 units on them before tip off and Duke ended up showing why they were ranked higher in the preseason and won by 8. 

Cincinnati and Wes Miller covered the spread with ease and there was no worry for all 40 minutes. 

Pitt (-10.5) was boat raced by The Citadel and made me look stupid. Not the best. 

Overall after week 1: 3-2

Let’s get to this week’s picks, instead of just a boring five games I am picking SIX games including two mid major matchups that I am really excited about. 

Marquee Matchups:

No. 25 Virginia (+8.5) at No. 15 Houston

Both of these teams had lackluster starts to their seasons. UVA lost at home to Navy while Houston was taken to OT against Hofstra, however they did escape with the win. Neither of these teams have been amazing to start and Houston’s offensive stats have been inflated by a beatdown of Rice on Friday. 

These teams are some of the slowest in the nation. Virginia ranks deadlast in adjusted tempo according to KenPom and Houston is the 16th slowest. If you wanted to bet the under as well on this game there may not even be enough possessions to score 123 combined points. 

Tony Bennett is 73-43 against the spread over the course of his career after two non-conference games and I think he can cover again. UVA isn’t a national title contender this year and will flirt with being ranked and unranked all season, but I don’t think Houston is nearly 9 points better than the Cavaliers. 

Give me Tony Bennett and the points in a slow paced game. 

Saint Louis (+11.5) at No. 12 Memphis 

This is the first real basketball game for either of these teams. Memphis has padded their schedule with Tennessee Tech and NC Central to start while Saint Louis has played Central Arkansas, Harris-Stowe (an NAIA school) and Eastern Illinois. 

Our simulations at like Memphis to win but only by 8 and our simulations give the edge to Saint Louis to cover this game. 

I think freshman stud, Emoni Bates, will come up big for Memphis but the speed of his first true collegiate basketball game will make an impact. On the other side, Jordan Nesbitt will provide needed scoring and rebounding for the Billikens against his former team. 

These teams in terms of point differential and strength of schedule are nearly identical. Memphis just turns the ball over… a lot. The Billikens have a +12 turnover differential in three games and Memphis has just +2 in two games. If Memphis can’t hold onto the ball with consistency, Saint Louis can make them pay and keep this game closer than it should be. 

Saint Louis is 6-1 against the spread after they covered a double digit spread over the last two seasons and I believe these are two evenly matched teams and 11.5 points is just too many to lay here this early in the season. Especially when both of these teams haven’t played true basketball games. 

Give me the Billikens +11.5. 

South Alabama at No. 14 Alabama (-23.5)

23.5 points is a lot. 

Like a lot. 

But Alabama can nail threes and they win games by an average of 22.5 points which is close to that magic 23.5 number. Our powerline makes the line -24, which makes me feel more confident in this pick. Alabama has shot nearly 50% from the field this season, 35.6% from deep and their defense has done a solid job at shutting down opponents, especially from deep.

Alabama is 6-1 against the spread over the last two seasons when they are double digit home favorites. There really isn’t much to make me think Alabama will lose their first game against the spread in this one. 

Give me Alabama and all the points. 

No. 19 UNC (-12.5) at College of Charleston

You’re telling me I can get the Tar Heels at -12.5 against a middle of the road CAA team? I am hammering that every time! 

This is the first road test of the season for UNC, and the first road game for its new head coach Hubert Davis. The Tar Heels are coming off two wins by an average margin of victory of 11.5 points while the College of Charleston won its first three games by an average of 16 points. 

UNC struggled with turnovers in the first two games and on the season they have a -1 differential. The Tar Heels have an elite offense, shooting 52% from the field and 40% from deep, the only problem is they just turn the ball over too much. 

They average just over 70 possessions per game compared to the 85 Charleston has. Charleston might have the ability to keep this game close if they can continue to turn over UNC but if they can’t do that, UNC may run away with it. 

Charleston is 2-7 against the spread over the last two seasons vs. winning teams. The Cougars aren’t used to playing top end talent in the CAA and I think it will show. They also have a slight turnover problem on the season as well, so they won’t even be able to capitalize on UNC’s turnover woes. 

Give me UNC -12.5 in a game that could get ugly if the Tar Heels don’t turn it over. 

Mid Major showdowns 

Georgia State at Richmond (-6)

Richmond is a solid team year in and year out in the Atlantic 10 and has started this season 1-1 with a win over NC Central and a 11 point loss at a neutral court against an Utah State team who will be in the mix all season out in the Mountain West. 

Georgia State has taken down vaunted Brewton-Parker by 60 and handled Northeastern with ease. 

Since there isn’t a huge sample to go off of this season, looking back at the 2020-21 year Georgia State had one of the worst defenses in the nation, allowing 72.7 points per game but made up for it with a top 20 offense. Looking at this season it seems that their offensive abilities have transferred over and their defense just hasn’t been tested against Brewton-Parker and a slow tempo Northeastern team. 

Richmond has had its test in Utah State, going toe to toe with the Aggies for the majority of that game. Grant Golden, the Spiders’ big man who can shoot, and Jacob Gilyard are providing great offensive output alongside Tyler Burton, all of whom average double figures scoring this season. 

The Spiders are going to be a good team in the Atlantic 10 with a majority of the team returning after last season. Their offensive threats will put a strain on a rebuilding Georgia State defense and Richmond will come away with a win. 

Give me Richmond -6. 

James Madison (ML) at Eastern Kentucky

Give me the underdog to win outright. 

James Madison is +3 in this one and I am bullish on the Dukes this season. They lost their star player in Matt Lewis to the NBA draft but they retooled with plenty of top end mid major transfers. 

Takal Molson from Seton Hall, Chuck Falden from Winthrop, Alonzo Sule from Texas State and Tyree Ihenacho from North Dakota (hasn’t played yet this season) now team up with an already solid core of Jalen Hodge, Vado Morse, Justin Amadi and others. 

JMU opened the season beating an NAIA school by 95 points and backed that up with a gritty defensive win vs. ODU and covered the spread in the process. JMU has shooters that aren’t afraid to jack up shots and plenty of talent outside the paint. The weakness for the Dukes is height and size in the post. They somewhat make up for that in athleticism but teams can beat them up down low and it will show in the rebound margin. 

Eastern Kentucky isn’t a team built to win from this inside out. The Colonels are a team that will run with JMU and not bang down low. 

The Colonels have played just one player 6’10 or taller this season and he averages just 3.7 rebounds per game and 6.7 points per game. Half of Eastern Kentucky’s shots this season have been from beyond the arc and that plays into JMU’s strength. 

Our simulations like JMU to win this game 75-74, and I agree with that. JMU didn’t shoot all that well against ODU but they showed a level of defense that hasn’t been seen in Harrisonburg, VA for quite some time. I trust JMU to slow down EKU if its shots aren’t falling a lot more than I trust EKU’s defense to do that. 

Give me the Dukes (+135) to win OUTRIGHT and start the season 3-0. 

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