This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
With another active Tuesday in college basketball on tap, Steve Peralta returns to preview some select matchups and submit his best bets for the day.
Texas A&M at Arkansas
Texas A&M is on quite a run, winning nine of its last 10 games, including seven of eight conference games. During that span, the Aggies have swept Florida, won at Auburn and crushed Missouri by 18 points. The key to the Aggies' success this past month stems from its excellent play on both ends of the court. During conference play, Texas A&M ranks third in the SEC in offensive efficiency, fourth in defensive efficiency, second in offensive rebounding rate, third in defensive rebounding rate, second in two-point field goal percentage and third in two-point field goal percentage allowed. In short, this team is playing great basketball in nearly every facet of the game. Texas A&M is also 11-6 against the spread in its last 17 games, continually improving over the past couple of months.
Arkansas, meanwhile, has struggled ever since the conference season tipped off. The Razorbacks have lost six of their last nine games and generally haven't played very well outside of a pair of recent wins against Mississippi and LSU, neither of which qualified as a quality victory, per KenPom. Against SEC competition, Arkansas ranks around league average in offensive and defensive efficiency, however, there are a couple of areas where the stats are alarming. First, Arkansas has the worst offensive non-steal turnover percentage in the SEC, meaning the team is committing a high number of "unforced" errors. Arkansas' other red flag is its inability to defend without committing fouls. Since conference season started, Arkansas has the highest defensive three-throw attempt rate in the SEC, which is bad enough by itself, but the problem is compounded by the fact that Texas A&M has the highest offensive free-throw attempt rate in the conference.
Looking at the past month, Texas A&M is clearly making a run for March. Only time will tell if it makes the final cut, but if the Aggies can sustain this current level of play, then there won't be much doubt come Selection Sunday. The Razorbacks are a talented bunch, and coach Musselman always seems to have his teams ready, but it's hard to ignore the numbers that Texas A&M has put up against league competition, facing many of the same opponents that Arkansas has already played. Road games are never easy, but Texas A&M appears poised to keep this one close. I'm taking the points in a game that will likely be decided in the closing minute.
College Basketball Best Bet: Texas A&M +3.5
Clemson at Boston College
Clemson is having an incredible season thus far, entering Tuesday with an 18-4 record and winning 10 of 11 conference games. The record by itself is nice, but it's more impressive when considering the Tigers' overall resume. Clemson has had eight opportunities at earning a quality victory, per KenPom, and it's won six of them, collecting wins over teams such as Penn State, Duke and Pittsburgh. Clemson has played consistently well all season long, has yet to lose back-to-back games and has arguably played even better in recent weeks. During conference play, Clemson has the best defensive efficiency rating among ACC teams, including the best effective field goal percentage allowed and best two-point field goal percentage allowed. The Tigers are also playing relatively well on the other end of the court, making the highest percentage of two-point shots and the highest percentage of free-throw attempts during league competition. Considering it owns the best percentages inside the arc on both ends of the court, it's no surprise that Clemson is sitting alone atop the ACC standings.
Boston College, on the other hand, is having one of its typical seasons, hovering near the bottom of the ACC. The Eagles haven't posted a winning conference record since 2011, so this is par for the course over the past decade. As one might expect, Boston College is playing among the worst in the conference against ACC opponents, recording bottom-four efficiency ratings on both ends of the court. This data speaks for itself, although a more concerning trend is that the Eagles simply have not shown they're capable of competing with superior opponents. Boston College has had nine opportunities at earning a quality victory, per KenPom, and the Eagles won just one of them, a home game against Virginia Tech (and the Eagles needed overtime to do it). Outside of that game, Boston College has just three other conference wins, a sweep over Notre Dame and a home victory over Louisville, three of the easiest ACC matchups you'll find this year.
Overall, these two teams are not close to being on the same level. Clemson is gunning for a regular season conference championship, while Boston College is once again dwelling near the bottom of the ACC standings. Clemson has already won several road conference games, so they should be ready to play. Given a line that's not too big, I'm rolling with Clemson in this matchup.
College Basketball Best Bet: Clemson -4
Kansas State at Kansas
By now, most college hoops fans are aware of Kansas State's phenomenal season, one that has seen the Wildcats take down the likes of Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas, just to name a few. It's worth pointing out that Kansas State dropped 116 points in Austin and then put up 97 points in Waco (with overtime), so it doesn't seem to matter where the Wildcats play -- they're going to get their points. During conference play, Kansas State has the second-highest offensive efficiency rating in the Big 12 and the highest effective field goal percentage. And these numbers are no accident. Led by star seniors Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, the Wildcats have the sixth-highest assist rate among all D1 teams, so they are consistently finding open teammates for the best shots possible.
Kansas is similarly having a great season, hardly a surprise considering this has seemingly been the case since the invention of basketball. That being said, Kansas has been vulnerable over the past few weeks. The Jayhawks recently snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating Kentucky in their most recent game, however, Kansas gave indications it might drop a few games prior to its skid. Before losing to Kansas State on Jan. 17, Kansas had won its first five conference games, although four of those were decided by four points or fewer. The Jayhawks' opponents had opportunities at game-winning or game-tying shots in the final seconds in multiple instances and the ball bounced in favor of Kansas each time. The Jayhawks' luck seemingly regressed a bit during their three-game losing streak, although luck didn't play a part in the debacle on January 21, when TCU trounced Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, 83-60, Kansas' second-largest loss at home under coach Self.
Ultimately, both of these teams appear on track for high-stakes action down the road. Both teams have had several impressive performances and already defeated several elite opponents, so not much separates the two aside from slight differences in efficiency ratings. Considering how close the previous game was, and how competitive each team has played all season long, I'm expecting another game that comes down to the final shot. I'm taking the points.
College Basketball Best Bet: Kansas State +7
Tuesday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Tuesday:
- Texas A&M +3.5
- Clemson -4
- Kansas State +7
For up-to-date information on the latest college basketball odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the College Basketball odds page on RotoWire.
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