It may be only December, but there are quite a few conference games on the Tuesday NCAA Basketball slate, and we are here with our three best bets of the day.
These are value-based bets based on our proprietary model, so not all the plays will involve major conferences. That is not the case on Tuesday, though, as our three best bets are all star-studded, with two Big Ten contests and the marquee non-conference North Carolina against Connecticut matchup.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans
Tuesday, December 05, 2023 – 07:00 PM ET at Jack Breslin Student Events Center
In the Big Ten opener for both teams, we think this is an important game for what is commonly viewed as a disappointing 4-3 Michigan State team so far, and we expect the Spartans to rise to the challenge at home with a handy win over Wisconsin.
Fine Since Opener
The Spartans may have been a bit overrated to begin the year, and they were immediately fed a dose of humility with a shocking opening loss here at home to James Madison. Now we think the pendulum has swung however, with too many people writing Starty off already at 4-3, despite the last two losses being to Duke and Arizona on neutral courts.
This is still a team rated 19th overall on Kenpom while ranking seventh in the country in defensive efficiency, as well as a commendable 65th in offensive efficiency at 111.5 points per 100 possessions. All four of the team’s wins have been by at least 20 points. The issue has been losing to the best teams they have faced, but this is a prime chance to change that narrative.
That is because Wisconsin comes in at 6-2 and is rated four spots higher than Michigan State at 15th, making this somewhat of a statement game for the Spartans. And despite the Badgers being ranked a fine 24th in defensive efficiency themselves, we actually see a bigger disparity in these two defenses than that.
This is because MSU is ranked seventh in eFG% allowed, while Wisconsin is ranked 210th. The biggest key to this game should be the Spartans’ ability to take advantage of a Wisconsin interior defense ranked 207th in 2-point percentage allowed at a generous 51.0%, with the Badgers’ 7’0” center Steven Crowl surprisingly grading out as a defensive liability.
Michigan State can change its narrative for the entire season with a conference-opening win, and we look for the Spartans to have enough inside success offensively to secure that needed win comfortably.
Predicted Score: Michigan State 73 – Wisconsin 63
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Connecticut Huskies
Tuesday, December 05, 2023 – 09:00 PM ET at Madison Square Garden
Climbing the Ranks
North Carolina has been climbing the ranks so far this season, both on Kenpom (now 12th overall) and our personal rankings (10th), as the Heels are 7-1 with their only loss coming by two points in overtime to Villanova in the Bahamas, and we thought yesterday’s opening line for this game of Connecticut –3 was a fair one.
However, the Huskies have received overwhelming support with UNC now at +6, and we are more than happy to fade the public at that number. The Tar Heels have yet to be stopped offensively this season, ranking fifth in the country in efficiency, and while we respect UConn being ranked 16th defensively, remember that North Carolina scored 100 points against a Tennessee defense ranked second in efficiency.
Now the Huskies rank one spot above the Heels in offensive efficiency in fourth, but while North Carolina proved its worth against Tennessee, Connecticut had yet to face a team ranked in the top 40 in defensive efficiency until suffering its first loss at Kansas last game, while being held to 65 points.
The significance of that is North Carolina is also in the top 40 defensively in 35th grading out at 97.1 points per 100 possessions allowed. If the Heels continue to play defense like that, while scoring 80 points every game, they can be a very intriguing dark horse when it comes time for the NCAA Tournament.
Now we have all the respect in the world for the defending national champions from Connecticut and they deserve to be one of the favorites to repeat this season, but this line has gotten a bit out of hand in our opinion so take the points.
Predicted Score: Connecticut 80 – North Carolina 79
NCAAB Pick: North Carolina +6 (–108) at Heritage Sports
Indiana Hoosiers vs. Michigan Wolverines
Tuesday, December 05, 2023 – 09:00 PM ET at Crisler Center
In another Big Ten conference opener, we are betting a 4-4 Michigan team as a decided favorite over 6-1 Indiana.
Need to Slow Bleeding
Michigan has lost four of its last five games since starting the year 3-0, a streak that began with a bad loss here at home to Long Beach State. So this is a big game in terms of stopping the bleeding with conference play kicking off, and to be fair, the last three losses were all to top 50 Kenpom teams.
Indiana is not of that ilk this season, currently ranking 69th. So we expect the Wolverines to take out some frustration on the Hoosiers tonight. Michigan is ranked 20th in offensive efficiency and 18th in eFG%, and they should have little trouble scoring points against an Indiana defense ranked 79th in eFG% allowed while facing an easier schedule than Michigan has.
Yes, But Against Who?
Now, this may look like a weird line on the surface when looking at just the records of these teams, and the only Indiana loss was an acceptable one against Connecticut. However, the bigger issue with the Hoosiers is, who have they beaten?
Prior to their last game, the highest-rated Kenpom team Indiana had beaten for their first five wins was 129th-ranked Wright State. They finally added a top 100 win for their sixth triumph on Friday, by beating 70th-ranked Maryland at home, but it is not as if that was an earth-shattering win either. So, the Hoosiers still have a lot to prove now going on the road to face a 49th rated Michigan team.
We will back the better (despite the records) and more desperate Wolverines at home here as they figure to right the ship against a Hoosiers team yet to defeat anyone of note.
Predicted Score: Michigan 83 – Indiana 71
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.