This column is off to a strong start, finishing 3-1 last week in the first edition of the 2019-20 season college basketball gambling post. As the new year approaches and conference play is right around the corner, this is the last weekend of predominantly non-conference matchups and an unusual bigger card on Sunday than Saturday. While handicapping games gets easier in conference play as teams are more familiar with each other and there’s a bigger sample size of data to work with, you can still always find value in a few matchups on a day featuring so many games. Here are my five favorite gambling picks for Sunday, featuring a nice mix of favorites, underdogs, overs and unders.
Liberty/LSU OVER 135, 1:30 p.m. SEC Network
LSU is an up tempo team that knows how to put the ball in the hoop, boasting a top 25 scoring offense averaging 82 points per game. Liberty can score the rock themselves, yet this total is on the lower side due to the Flames second ranked scoring defense nationally. However, Liberty’s 52 points per game against average is heavily skewed by two games against non division one opponents as well as four contests against very bottom tier division one teams. LSU is their most talented opponent to date, and the Tigers should be able to control the tempo and turn this into a high scoring affair.
Marshall (+7) vs. Duquesne, 2:30 p.m.
I think this line is inflated because of Duquesne’s early season success. The only thing the casual fan knows about either of these teams is that the Dukes were one of the final four unbeaten teams in college basketball before falling to UAB in the St. Pete Shootout last week. However, when you take a closer look at Duquesne’s resume, you’ll see that the Dukes have played an incredibly soft schedule and don’t have anything close to resembling a quality win to show for their 10-0 start. The Thundering Herd’s 5-7 record is a little deceiving, as Marshall has been able to hang tough with the likes of Notre Dame, Florida, and Northern Iowa. Expect Marshall to show up ready to play and keep this one close or even win outright.
VCU (-15.5) vs. Loyola (MD), 5:00 p.m. NBCSN
This year’s version of VCU basketball is a typical Rams team that is deep and athletic and causes havoc for the opposition on defense. They’ve also challenged themselves in the non-conference games, and the result is a 9-3 record including a couple of heartbreaking losses to Purdue and Tennessee in the Emerald Coast Classic. VCU will have a huge speed and depth advantage over Loyola in the backcourt, which should allow the Rams to cause a lot of turnovers and a bunch of other problems for the Greyhounds. With the Rams coming off a loss at Wichita State and Loyola riding a five game winning streak, there’s some recency bias keeping this line down and creating some value for VCU bettors. The Rams should be a 20-22 point favorite here and I think they roll at home.
Arkansas (+4.5) and UNDER 140 at Indiana, 6:00 p.m. BTN
Both teams are off to impressive starts this season and have just one loss. While Indiana is 9-0 at Assembly Hall thus far including an impressive win over Florida State, I think Arkansas will be able to give them some problems. Eric Mussleman’s club can really defend; the Razorbacks currently rank 17th in the nation in scoring defense surrendering just 59.5 points per game. The Hoosiers have struggled scoring against quality competition, putting up just 62 and 57 in close wins over Notre Dame and Uconn, and 64 in their loss to Wisconsin. Arkansas has some issues of their own offensively, but I expect them to come in and control the pace to make this a close, low-scoring affair.
Continue to check out our site and Pat McMahon’s Twitter Page for college basketball gambling advice and picks going forward!