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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks January 27

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published January 27, 2024
8 min read
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It is a Saturday during conference season, so there is a truckload of ranked games, rivalries, and NCAA Tournament bubble implications! Find our best college basketball picks today, including the Indiana Hoosiers versus the No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini and the No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks versus the No. 23 Iowa State Cyclones!

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No. 7 Kansas @ No. 23 Iowa State

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Iowa State ML (-192)

Another year, another great season for the Kansas Jayhawks. It should not come as a surprise, though, considering who they were able to return (Kevin McCullar Jr., K.J. Adams Jr., and Dajuan Harris Jr.), who they signed (Elmarko Jackson, Johnny Furphy), and were able to bring in through the transfer portal (Hunter Dickinson, Parker Braun, and Nick Timberlake.) 

Kansas enters this Big 12 matchup against a hard-nosed Iowa State team with a 16-3 record, including a 4-2 record in conference play. The Jayhawks have some incredibly impressive wins this season: their most significant wins have come against No. 1 UConn, No. 5 Tennessee, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 11 Oklahoma, Indiana (on the road), and TCU.

Kansas has had a few blips this season, including on the road against a West Virginia team that is 7-11 this season and on the road against UCF. Still, this team has a championship pedigree, and even though KenPom does not rank them as favorably (17th in adjEM), there is no denying they can win on any given night.

On the other side, the Iowa State Cyclones are only a few years removed from their worst season ever (2-22, 0-18 in the Big 12 in 2021), but they quickly righted the ship (program), making an impressive run in the NCAA Tournament the following year! 

Now, Iowa State is again a competitor in the Big 12, especially with its hounding defense that ranks third in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric behind only Houston and Tennessee. That is some excellent company.

The only relative weakness with this Cyclones team is on offense. Still, they have performed well on that end of the floor on their home floor. For example, Iowa State only ranks 53rd in adjusted offensive efficiency, but it shoots the 42nd-highest eFG% and 47th-highest 3P% in the nation at home. 

The Cyclones haven’t played the most demanding schedule in the country by any stretch of the imagination, but they have faced three ranked teams in just their past six games.

Iowa State also ramps up its defensive effort at home, holding most opponents to sub-30% three-point shooting while forcing nearly 20 turnovers per game. 

The Cyclones also rank 36th in defensive rebounding percentage at Hilton Coliseum, bringing down a significant portion (78.9%) of their opponent’s misses—no second-chance points for the Jayhawks in this game! Iowa State has yet to lose at home, boasting a 12-0 record; it is one of the best home teams this season! 

Indiana @ No. 10 Illinois

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Illinois -14 (-110)

The Indiana Hoosiers are potentially headed down a slippery slope right now; they are 1-3 in their past four games and now have to go on the road to face the No. 10 Illinois Fighting Illini. If they don’t get things under control quickly, their NCAA Tournament hopes could be dashed despite having three five-star players (Malik Reneau, Kel’el Ware, and Mackenzie Mgbako) in their starting lineup. 

Indiana has had two players ejected in the past four games; head coach Mike Woodson might be losing the locker room. At least, that is the general discourse amongst Hoosier fanatics.

It was apparent that Indiana would suffer a significant drop-off after all-time Hoosier great Trayce Jackson-Davis declared for the 2023 NBA Draft. However, it wasn’t just TJD that departed: Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Tamar Bates, and Jordan Geronimo either left for the draft, transferred or graduated. 

Regardless, Indiana returned three key contributors: seniors Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway and the aforementioned Reneau. The Hoosiers brought in former five-star 7-foot center Kel’el Ware and signed freshman five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako, so they were able to replenish a lot of the talent lost. 

Unfortunately, this Hoosiers team has not meshed well with one another; they rank 94th in adjusted efficiency margin and are merely 12-7 overall. And they have gotten lucky to be 12-7. 

As a matter of fact, Indiana ranks ninth in KenPom’s “Luck” metric, indicating that it has squeaked out several wins that it should not have had. Look no further than the Hoosiers’ one-point win against Morehead State at home, six-point win against FGCU at home, and eight-point win against Army at home. 

Meanwhile, after missing the past month for the Illinois Fighting Illini, Terrence Shannon Jr. returned to the floor to a distasteful, to say the least, standing ovation; it was far from the finest moment for the Fighting Illini’s fan base. Unfortunately, to analyze this game properly, we must include Shannon Jr.’s on-court ability in the equation. 

This season, he has averaged 20.5 points per game on a 50/37/78 shooting split, which makes him one of the most efficient players in the Big Ten. When the Fighting Illini can lean on him for primary scoring, their secondary scorers like Marcus Domask and Coleman Hawkins become more efficient. They are already a dangerous offensive unit, but Quincy Guerrier, Luke Goode, and Justin Harmon are also excellent complementary pieces.

So far this season, Illinois ranks tenth in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin, including the seventh-ranked offense (adjO.) Even still, the Fighting Illini aren’t an elite shooting team; they rank 66th in eFG% and 146th in 3P% in the nation. So, how are they as effective as they are on the offensive end of the floor?

The biggest reason for Illinois’ offensive success is its rebounding on that end of the floor; it ranks 17th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, pulling down its misses 35% of the time. 

That will be a significant issue for the Indiana Hoosiers, a team that can match their height and size but not their intensity and effort on the glass. Indiana has had problems on the defensive glass this season, ranking 202nd in defensive rebounding percentage.

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Andrew Norton

117 Articles

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.

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