Disclaimer: I hate betting favorites and love finding value in the underdogs for my NBA and NCAA basketball picks.
With a strong slate of 19 games including some of the top ranked teams in the nation, Tuesday offers up a wealth of underdog options ripe for the picking. As always, the goal of this series is to identify those diamond in the rough picks that offer high risk, but high reward.
Underdog NCAA Basketball Picks
Georgia Bulldogs vs Arkansas Razorbacks – 7:00pm ET
Georgia and Arkansas meet for the first time on the year. Sitting at 10-9 and 11-8 respectively, both teams have had up and down seasons while struggling in SEC play.
Georgia comes into the matchup off of a win against Texas in the Big 12/SEC showdown on Sunday. While they sit at just 10-9 on the year, the Texas win showcased just how good Georgia can be when firing on all cylinders. Although Texas is far from a ranked opponent, they have a number of quality wins under their belt and are a tough matchup.
At their best, Georgia plays a high energy brand of basketball and attacks the rim with authority. They love to get out and run in transition and use their superior athleticism to their advantage. They get beat when teams force them away from the rim and into taking contested deep 2’s and 3’s.
Arkansas is coming off of a close loss to defensive juggernaut Texas Tech in the Big 12/SEC showdown from Sunday. Arkansas is a defensive minded team but has the tendency to be lured into high-tempo shootouts when they struggle to get a few stops in a row.
Led by Daniel Gafford, the Razorbacks crash the offensive glass hard and look to pick up ugly second chance points by outworking their opponents. Similar to Georgia in their makeup, they don’t possess a ton of shooting prowess and instead rely on superior athleticism to pick up their wins.
Considering these two teams are fairly similar in their overall build, this should be an interesting matchup. Arkansas definitely has an edge down low with Gafford, but the Bulldogs don’t rely on a singular rebounder and instead rebound the ball well as a team. If Georgia can limit Arkansas on the glass, the Bulldogs will have a great shot at the road upset.
Underdog NCAA Basketball Pick: Georgia Bulldogs (TBA)
Kentucky Wildcats vs Vanderbilt Commodores – 9:00pm ET
Kentucky and Vanderbilt have met up once before on the season, with Kentucky winning by 9 points on their home court.
Kentucky comes into the matchup scorching hot and playing some of the best basketball in the nation. Despite not having a singular standout scorer, John Calipari once again has put together one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the nation.
Like most traditional Calipari squads, the Wildcats are a defensive minded squad first and foremost. However, they offer a much steadier hand from deep than in years past which has opened up a new dimension for the Wildcat offense.
Vanderbilt on the other hand comes into the matchup as one of the worst teams in the SEC. Since losing Darius Garland early on, the Commodores have not looked like the same team in the slightest.
Without the dynamic playmaking and 3 point shooting of Garland, the Commodores on paper lack the offensive firepower to consistently hang with teams. However, the Commodores somehow find themselves able to keep pace with top ranked teams (even on the road).
This game has all the makings of a classic trap game for Kentucky. Meanwhile Vanderbilt has been a slightly better team than their record would indicate and have already shown that they can keep a game with Kentucky close (on the road no less). Look for Vanderbilt to pull off one of the bigger upsets on the year this time around.
Underdog NCAA Basketball Pick: Vanderbilt Commodores (TBA)
Pittsburgh Panthers vs Clemson Tigers – 9:00pm ET
Pitt heads into the matchup on the heels of three consecutive losses to some of the best programs in the ACC. Led by Xavier Johnson, the Panthers had shown to be a tough out for even the best teams in the nation prior to their skid.
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The Panthers are an unspectacular team built to grind out slow and ugly wins against ACC teams loaded to the gills with talent. However unspectacular their play might be, it is effective as they have been able to consistently play better teams down to the wire and even pick up some quality wins.
Clemson hasn’t been much better on the year so far. Struggling in conference play after dominating their weak out of conference opponents, Clemson is a team that looks a lot better on paper than it actually is on the court.
Senior Marcquise Reed is the heart and soul of the Clemson team and posts one of the most well rounded stat lines across the NCAA. However, if Reed goes quiet, so do the Tigers. With only two other players averaging above 10 points per game, the Tigers will need his scoring punch in order to pull out the victory at home.
Both teams are struggling right now, but at least Pitt had shown the ability to previously hang with some of the best teams in the nation. On the other hand, Clemson has been blown out against any halfway decent team the ACC has thrown their way and that trend should continue. Pitt is better than they look and should be able to grind out a road win here.
Underdog NCAA Basketball Pick: Pittsburgh Panthers (TBA)
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