The calendar has flipped to 2024, and the college basketball action is heating up with conference play in full swing.
ACC and Big Ten action dominate the card on Tuesday's college hoops slate with a high level Mountain West matchup as well. Top 10 North Carolina travels to Pitt for its first true road test of the season, will the Tar Heels offense travel? What about Wake Forest, who plays Boston College in its first ACC game?
Lastly, the night cap goes out west for a Mountain West showdown between Colorado State and New Mexico in a battle of two of the most prolific offenses in the mid-major ranks.
Here's our best bets for Tuesday's card:
College basketball season long record: 33-24-2 (+6.49U)
Best College Basketball Bets for Tuesday, Jan. 2nd
- North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh (+4.5)
- Wake Forest vs. Boston College (+1.5)
- New Mexico vs. Colorado State (-3.5)
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North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh Prediction and Pick
North Carolina has played in plenty of high level games already this season on a neutral floor, but there is something to be said for the fact that the Tar Heels have not played in a true road environment all season.
The team takes the trip to Pitt on Tuesday night, who is a tough matchup for the Tar Heels.
On defense, Pitt's compact defense that is 62nd in average shot proximity (the higher the ranking the further away the average shot comes from), which can offset UNC's ability to pound the ball inside with Armando Bacot. Further, the team is in the top 100 in terms of limiting transition opportunities, which will force UNC to operate in the half court.
Meanwhile, Pitt should get plenty of open looks against the Tar Heels' lackluster defense that doesn't put pressure on the ball (bottom half of the country in turnover percentage) and allows opponents to put up 1.07 points per possession on catch and shoot three-point shots according to ShotQuality, the 338th mark in the country.
Pitt is a solid 3-point shooting team, 35% from three on a top 40 rate, and some of UNC's underlying defensive concerns can come to fruition in its first true road game.
I'll happily grab a few possessions with the Panthers.
PICK: Pitt +4.5
Wake Forest vs. Boston College Prediction and Pick
We are following a similar line of thinking with backing an ACC home underdog in Boston College, who hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday night in Chestnut Hill.
The Demon Deacons have played one true road game this season, an 80-77 loss at Georgia on Nov. 10. Overall, including neutral site games, Wake Forest is 1-3 away from home with its lone win against Towson.
It's not just the home/road splits (or lack thereof) for Wake Forest, it's the matchup.
BC should eat on the interior with seven footer Quinten Post, who is averaging 18 points and eight rebounds this season, against a lackluster Wake Forest defense. Steve Forbes' group is 195th in defending at the rim this season and is actually getting a favorable bonuce, due a 4% increase in field goal percentage allowed at the cup, per SQ.
I like the home underdog to get it done in ACC play.
PICK: Boston College +1.5
New Mexico vs. Colorado State Prediction and Pick
This game should have fireworks with elite guard play on both sides with Colorado State's Isaiah Stevens matching up against the finally healthy trio of Donovan Dent, Jamal Mashburn and Jaelen House.
Both guards should eat in favorable matchups for both offenses, Colorado State's motion offense that features plenty of cutting should feast while New Mexico's pick-and-roll offense should generate plenty of looks.
The Rams are 26th in SQ's points per possession off of cuts while the Lobos are 228th in that same metric.
This should be a back-and-forth affair, but I'll side with the home team to pull away and get the cover. New Mexico has played two true road games, losing by 14 at Saint Mary's and went the distance with a bottom 100 KenPom Team in New Mexico State, winning by one.
While the Lobos should get clean looks against Colorado State's drop coverage, I'm not sure how reliable a jump shooting team will be on the road against a disciplined defense. Colorado State doesn't allow many shots at the rim, top 10 in shots allowed at the cup, and I'll bank on some middies going awry for the road team setting up for a Rams cover.
PICK: Colorado State -3.5
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.
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