Top College Basketball Picks Today (Back Lack of Scoring in Defensive-Minded Big 12, Big Ten Battles)

Dec 17, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Purdue Boilermakers guard Braden Smith (3) celebrates with center Zach Edey.
Dec 17, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Purdue Boilermakers guard Braden Smith (3) celebrates with center Zach Edey. / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Monday's college basketball slate flies somewhat under-the-radar this evening with several big time college football bowl games wrapping up, along with the best Monday Night Football matchup of the year.

However, if you like tough defensive basketball without many points likely to be scored (I don't, personally), you may want to consider placing wagers on both matchups to make the pain-staking lack of offense a bit more enjoyable!

For tonight, I'm focusing my two best bets around two games featuring very fundamentally sound defenses, that like to generate a lot of pressure on that side of the ball; and could end up going back-and-forth in a rock fight all evening.

Here are my two favorite bets on the board for Monday, January 2:

College Basketball Picks and Predictions Today

  • West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State UNDER 140.5 (-110)
  • Rutgers vs. Purdue UNDER 131.5 (-110)

West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State Odds, Prediction and Pick

I came away really impressed with Oklahoma State on the defensive end in their last game on the road vs. the No. 4 ranked Kansas Jayhawks, who fell just short in a 69-67 defeat after dominating KU by 15 in the first half.

The scoring proved to be their downfall in the second half, scoring just 22 points while KU played much better. However, the 69 points scored by KU tied for the second-lowest amount they've scored all season.

For the Cowboys, the 69 points scored was the most they've given up since an 82-78 victory vs. DePaul back on November 20. They rank 18th in KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency, and have the seventh-best opponent field goal percentage allowed in the country at 42.7%.

As for West Virginia, the Mountaineers offense has been sensational; ranking 26th-best in adjusted offensive efficiency, but I can't help but wonder if some of their good fortune doesn't hold up tonight on the road.

Since conference play began, the Mountaineers rank seventh in the Big 12 in efficiency, eighth in 3-point percentage, and ninth in free throw shooting. Meanwhile, their defense has stepped up, only allowing teams to shoot 18.8% from three-point range since Big 12 play began.

I'll back the lack of points from Gallagher Iba Arena on this "Big Monday" matchup.

Rutgers vs. Purdue Odds, Prediction and Pick

The Boilers remain undefeated on the season, but will face a tenacious Rutgers defense at home that could pull off the upset. However, oddsmakers and the sharps don't seem to agree, pushing the line in favor of Purdue throughout the day.

Purdue has been a remarkably efficient offense for quite some time under Matt Painter; coming in fifth in the country in adjusted efficiency, but their defense has been outstanding all year as well; ranking 24th in adjusted defense.

Rutgers, on the other hand, only plays defense. The Scarlet Knights know their identity as a ferocious, tough, defensive oriented roster that will force teams to take bad shots and take away the basketball through turnovers. On defense this year, Rutgers ranks third in adjusted defensive efficiency, fourth in opponent effective field goal percentage, 10th in turnover percentage, and have limited teams to shooting just 24.6% from downtown.

While the movement towards Purdue makes me want to lay the points with the Boilermakers, I've seen this movie too many times from Rutgers to feel comfortable laying that big of a number. Both teams also operate at a very slow pace, especially the home team; ranked 305th in the nation in average possession length.

131.5 is not a lot of points, especially for a very solid offense like Purdue, but Rutgers is going to be a pain in the ass defensively and play into the slow nature of tonight's affair. I'll back the under once again.

Follow all of Ben's betting plays in real-time HERE!

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.