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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks January 19

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published January 19, 2024
6 min read
Best College Basketball Bets Today January 19

For Friday night’s college basketball slate, we still have two captivating games: the Indiana Hoosiers versus the No. 11 Wisconsin Badgers and the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels versus the Colorado State Rams. Find our best college basketball picks for these two matchups below, including an analysis of why we are backing them!

Indiana @ No. 11 Wisconsin

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook. Bet $5 and get $200 in Bonus Bets at DraftKings!

PICK: Wisconsin -11 (-112)

What a nightmare season so far for the Indiana Hoosiers, despite a 12-6 overall record and a 4-3 start to Big Ten play. That might be an overly dramatic statement from the outside looking in, but some of these recent losses are nightmarish. Indiana’s most recent game was a 21-point loss at home to rival Purdue, while it has also dropped bouts on the road to Nebraska and Rutgers. Those are far from good losses, especially for a team with three former five-star players starting in their frontcourt.

Even though the Hoosiers lost four of their past five scorers from last season, including All-American and Indiana legend Trayce Jackson-Davis, they were able to bring back enough talent, sign a five-star forward, and snag a five-star center in the transfer portal. They should not be as poor as they are during this campaign. 

As alluded to above, the Hoosiers have a star-studded frontcourt featuring 7-foot Kel’el Ware, 6-foot-9 Malik Reneau, and 6-foot-8 Mackenzie Mgbako; they average roughly 40 points and 19 rebounds together, but there are some glaring issues, including their consistency on the glass. 

As a matter of fact, they are 310th in the nation (out of 362 teams) in total rebounding rate in their past three games. While one of those games was against one of the best teams in the nation (Purdue), the other two games were versus Minnesota and Rutgers. That is a horrendous and glaring statistic.

Indiana also has not gotten consistent guard play, especially from sixth-year senior Xavier Johnson, who has gotten two flagrant fouls in the team’s past two games, evidencing his visible frustration. Johnson has averaged just 7.7 points and 2.1 assists per game on merely 37.9% shooting from the field. Trey Galloway has also played below his capabilities, shooting 28.8% from deep just one season after knocking down 46.2% of his attempts.

Of course, none of this should come as a shock, as Indiana ranks 351st in the nation in 3PAs per game and 160th in 3P%. Head coach Mike Woodson’s offensive strategy is to score as many points in the paint as possible, even at the expense of adequate half-court movement, a huge contributing factor to why they are struggling offensively. 

Meanwhile, Wisconsin has exceeded even the biggest optimist’s expectations this season, climbing to No. 11 in the A.P. Poll!

The Badgers were an inconsistent team last season, relying heavily on Chucky Hepburn to facilitate and score for them; however, Hepburn is in a much more natural role in the 2023-24 campaign, creating for others (8.0 PPG, 4.0 APG, and 3.1 RPG) instead of being forced to look for scoring opportunities first. 

As a matter of fact, Hepburn is now the sixth-leading scorer for the Badgers, as A.J. Storr, Steven Crowl, Tyler Wahl, John Blackwell, and Max Klesmit all average more points per game. The drastic offensive improvement from returners like Crowl, Wahl, and Klesmit has aided this Badgers offense, which now ranks sixth in the nation in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency. 

Besides improved individual scoring and overall team shooting, the Badgers have also taken considerable strides in more minor (but not less important) facets of the game, like protecting the ball (30th in turnovers per game) and offensive rebounding (62nd in OReb%.) Those are improvements that can take a team from good to great.

For this matchup, Indiana could be in trouble. The Hoosiers have lost their past two road games by an average of 12.5 points, and those opponents (Nebraska and Rutgers) are far inferior to this Wisconsin squad. With IU’s defensive rebounding struggles and Wisky’s offensive rebounding prowess, there should be a double-digit deficit for the Hoosiers on the glass.

Additionally, the Badgers are 9-1 on their home floor, with their only loss coming to No. 6 Tennessee, a legitimate championship contender this season. They should handle the Hoosiers, a team that has lost 19 straight road games against the Badgers, dating back to 2000.

UNLV @ Colorado State

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook. Head over to DraftKings Sportsbook to place your bets.

PICK: Colorado State -6.5 (-110)

Colorado State looks every bit the part of an NCAA Tournament darkhorse after the first half of the 2023-24 regular season, holding a 14-3 record with wins over No. 18 Creighton, Colorado (34th in KenPom’s adjEM), and New Mexico (32nd in adjEM.) The Rams’ losses are not bad either, as road losses to Boise State and No. 16 Utah State and a home loss to St. Mary’s (12th in adjD) are all justified. 

Colorado State is led by senior guard Isaiah Stevens, who has averaged 17.1 points and 7.2 assists (third in the country) per game on 51.7% shooting from the field, 46.7% from three, and 80.3% from the charity stripe this season for the Rams. Besides his outrageously efficient scoring, Stevens also averages merely 2.6 turnovers per game, giving him just shy of a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio; he ranks eighth in the nation in that statistic amongst players who have recorded at least 100 assists this season!

Other key contributors for the Rams are Nique Clifford and Patrick Cartier, who boast shooting splits of 59/50/85 and 60/48/80, respectively. These three make up a three-headed offensive monster that is one of the most efficient trios in the nation, as evidenced by the team’s ranking of 19th in adjusted offensive efficiency and third in shooting percentage.

It has been a roller-coaster season for the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels; they are 9-7 this season with double-digit wins over No. 18 Creighton and New Mexico but losses to LMU and Southern. To be fair, the Runnin’ Rebels have had a challenging schedule thus far. They have had the 24th-hardest schedule per KenPom’s strength of schedule rating. Further, several losses have ended in a single possession deficit, including against No. 16 Utah State, St. Mary’s, and LMU. 

The Runnin’ Rebels are a well-balanced offensive team, rostering five players that average double-digits: Luis Rodriguez, Kalib Boone, Dedan Thomas Jr., Keylan Boone, and Jalen Hill all average ten or more points per game. UNLV ranks 43rd in adjO essentially because it scarcely turns the ball over. As a matter of fact, it ranks 27th in the nation in turnovers per game (9.9), and that number has dropped even lower (eight turnovers per game) in its past three games.

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Andrew Norton

Sports Betting Analyst

Expertise:
NCAAB
Betting Picks
Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.
Nationality: American
Education: Bachelor of Arts
Favourite Sportsbook: FanDuel Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: BetMGM Casino
Experience:
5 years
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