We are limited to only a handful of college basketball games on Monday, but two stand out from the pack on ESPN with Houston traveling to Texas and Duke heading to Virginia Tech.
There will be heightened attention on the two Big Monday Games with Houston's defense taking center stage, the best in the country by a wide margin. The team will face Texas, who has been inconsistent in Big 12 play but has shown an ability to get hot from beyond the arc. Will that play out on Monday at home?
The game prior will see Duke, who escaped a home win against Clemson, hit the road to face Virginia Tech, who is looking to make a push for an NCAA Tournament bid on the heels of three straight wins. Can the team score a signature victory on Monday at Cassell Coliseum?
Here's my two bets for Monday's college hoops slate:
Best College Basketball Bets Today, January 30th
- Duke vs. Virginia Tech (+3)
- Houston (-5.5) vs. Texas
Duke vs. Virginia Tech Prediction and Pick
Virginia Tech's offense has been on point in all conference play, leading the ACC in effective field goal percentage while shooting over 39% from beyond the arc. The team has been sloppy with the ball, 14th in ACC turnover percentage, but Duke doesn't pressure the ball at a high rate, so I don't believe the Blue Devils defense is going to force the Hokies offense into an uncomfortable position.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils have been flirting with disaster in ACC play, losing at home to Pitt and squeaking out a home win against Clemson. The offense grades out as the best according to KenPom in terms of adjusted efficiency in league play behind 39% three-point shooting and the lowest turnover percentage, but the team is struggling on the interior. The Blue Devils are seventh in offensive rebounding rate in ACC games and 11th in two-point percentage.
Mike Young's Hokies play a compact defense that forces isolations, but the team has solid rim protection with the likes of Lynn Kidd roaming the paint. I believe Duke, who lost in Blacksburg last season under then first-year head coach Jon Scheyer, may struggle on a quick turnaround after playing Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Devils lack someone that can create easy buckets often still, and that can be exposed on the road. I'll take the Hokies to keep this within a possession.
PICK: Virginia Tech +3
Houston vs. Texas Prediction and Pick
The Cougars are off a dominant beat down of Kansas State at home on Saturday while Texas travels back from the altitude of Provo, Utah after being outclassed on the road.
Texas will have its hands full with the best defense in the country, which is ahead by a staggering margin. Houston is turning opponents over on 26% of its possessions while allowing an effective field goal percentage of 41%. Teams simply don't score on this Houston team, the team has allowed more than 65 points just four times in 20 games this season.
I struggle to see Texas getting much going on offense Monday against this defense while the Houston offense can dominate on the offensive glass en route to out-pacing the Longhorns. Texas is bottom half of the country in defensive rebounding rate while Houston is the fifth-best team in the country on the offensive glass, grabbing nearly 40% of its misses.
Texas' offense has shot well from beyond the arc in league play, hitting 39% of its three-point attempts, which will be there against the nasty Houston interior that lets up nothing inside, but I don't trust the ball handling of Texas to get clean looks against Houston. The Cougars are allowing the eighth fewest catch-and-shoot three-point shots, per ShotQuality, of which Texas is generating a top 10 points per possession mark.
On the other side, this Texas defense is subpar for the elite standard of the Big 12, ranking last in effective field goal percentage allowed and also fouling at a high rate. Given the physical nature of Houston, I expect many whistles and for Houston to take care of business on the road.
PICK: Houston -5
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.