This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
Several compelling conference matchups once again fill the college basketball slate, and Steve Peralta is here to preview some select games and offer up his best bets of the day.
Florida at Texas A&M
Florida is currently riding a three-game win streak, its longest of the season. The Gators rank No. 44 in KenPom's overall efficiency standings, a respectable slot although their performances against quality opponents suggest they might slide down as conference competition heats up. Florida has had nine opportunities at securing a quality victory, per KenPom, and its lost seven of them, including the a Jan. 4 ga,e when the Gators hosted Texas A&M and lost 66-63.
Texas A&M, meanwhile, has won its last six games, including all four against conference opponents. In addition to already beating Florida on the road, Texas A&M also defeated Missouri in convincing fashion, 82-64 -- noteworthy considering that Missouri has had a good season thus far. As far as Wednesday's matchup goes, Texas A&M has a few advantages. First, the Aggies are proving to be an elite rebounding team, posting the highest rebounding rates in the SEC on both offense and defense during conference play. This is helpful against any team, although it's even more relevant against Florida, which has been lacking in rebounding lately. Against conference opponents, Florida ranks last in the SEC in offensive rebounding and 11th on the defensive end. Additionally, Texas A&M brings a balanced attack to the court, ranking first in the conference in offensive efficiency and third on the defensive end. Florida is fine on defense, coming in at fourth, but its offense is lagging a bit behind at 9th in conference. It's also committing an alarming number of turnovers, ranking last in the SEC in offensive turnover rate. Texas A&M ranks third in defensive turnover rate, so the Aggies have a good chance at winning the turnover battle.
Looking at the bottom line, Texas A&M is the more balanced team and has already defeated Florida in their first matchup on the road. I'm backing the home team in this one.
College Basketball Best Bet: Texas A&M -3.5
Arkansas at Missouri
Arkansas was looking sharp before the New Year but has since come back down to earth. Prior to conference season, the Razorbacks were 11-1, but now they're 1-4 against SEC teams, losing their last three consecutive games. Arkansas has had trouble on the road, still searching for its first road win of the season. It lost by 13 points in each of its last two road games, first at Auburn then at Vanderbilt, so it hasn't exactly come close to winning away from home. Arkansas' only conference win of the season actually came against Missouri, when it hosted the Tigers on Jan. 4. Missouri jumped out to a 34-27 lead at halftime, but ultimately ran out of gas on the road.
The Tigers also haven't had much luck on the road but are unbeaten at home against the SEC, including a notable 89-75 victory over Kentucky. And before dominating Kentucky, Missouri had just destroyed Illinois at a neutral site, 93-71, so the Tigers have demonstrated that they're capable of defeating talented teams on multiple occasions. The key in Wednesday's matchup is Missouri's offense. Both teams haven't been very stout defensively during conference season, but Missouri takes the clear edge when it comes to offense. During conference play, Missouri ranks fifth in the SEC in offensive efficiency, while Arkansas ranks 10th. Additionally, Missouri is almost a sure bet to win the turnover margin. The Tigers have had the lowest offensive turnover rate among SEC teams during conference season, while Arkansas is tied for the second-lowest defensive turnover rate. Similarly, Missouri has the second-highest defensive turnover rate in the SEC, while Arkansas ranks 10th in offensive turnover rate.
Despite its three-game losing streak, Arkansas is undoubtedly a tough team to beat. That being said, Missouri has already proven that it's more than capable of beating a team like Arkansas. Given a short line, I'll take the home team.
College Basketball Best Bet: Missouri -2
Oregon at California
You'd be hard pressed to find a team that's more inconsistent than Oregon. The Ducks haven't won back-to-back games in over a month, and they've had a propensity to dominate teams or get dominated themselves. In its previous road trip, the Ducks lost by 17 at Colorado, then won by 10 at Utah. Then, in its following home stand, Oregon got crushed by Arizona State, 90-73, before handing Arizona its worst loss of the season, 87-68. If Oregon continues this current pattern, then it's liable to get beaten handily at Berkeley.
For much of the season, California has been fighting to avoid the distinction of being the worst team in the Pac-12. It has succeeded so far in conference play, already winning two conference games and playing its best basketball of the season. In its previous two home games, California set a new season-high in scoring in each game, first scoring 80 points against Colorado then dropping 92 points on Stanford. It didn't quite have the same luck when it traveled to the state of Washington, dropping both games to the resident teams, although it did take the Huskies into overtime before losing by a score of 81-78.
Since conference play started, both Oregon and California have performed much better on the offensive end. Oregon ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in offensive efficiency, while California ranks seventh. In the same span of conference games, Oregon ranks ninth defensively, while Cal ranks tenth. The Golden Bears have been particularly susceptible to inside scoring, allowing conference opponents to make 56 percent of two-point field goals -- the second-worst percentage allowed in the Pac-12. That isn't a good sign in this matchup, as Oregon is making over 56 percent of two-point field goals, the highest percentage in the conference. Considering the way these two teams are scoring and defending lately, a high-scoring game seems highly probable. I'm on the over.
College Basketball Best Bet: Over 131.5
Wednesday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Wednesday:
- Texas A&M -3.5
- Missouri -2
- Oregon at California - Over 131.5
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