Thursday, January 27 2022

Hey everyone, it’s Chris Bengel here on a glorious Tuesday — one we’ve all been waiting for. College basketball is finally back.

College basketball season has always been one of my favorites times of the year. My childhood was filled up with memories of University of Maryland basketball and the friendly confines of Cole Field House. I will never forget the image of Juan Dixon tossing the basketball to the top of the Georgia Dome and hearing Terps legendary announcer Johnny Holliday say, “The kids have done it.”

College hoops has always been a sport that has been a lot of fun to watch and even more fun to bet on. Sure, you’ve got your marquee matchups featuring the Dukes, North Carolinas and Gonzagas of the world. But for me, there’s nothing that beats sweating out a good spread bet of a mid-major school like Davidson or Drake. Hopefully we’ll have more success than pain as the 2021-22 college basketball campaign gets underway.

Let’s get to the picks, which do have some basketball flavor.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

🏀 Bucks vs. 76ers, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT

Latest Odds: Milwaukee Bucks -6

The Pick: Bucks -5.5 (-110): This pick pains me a bit being a Sixers fan, but there’s money to be made here. The Sixers have been hit hard by COVID-19 in recent weeks. Philadelphia is already without Ben Simmons, but now the team is missing Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe due to COVID-19 protocols. The Sixers put together an impressive effort against the Knicks last night, but playing shorthanded on the second night of a back-to-back is just too much.

I realize the Bucks haven’t exactly looked like the defending NBA champions. This is a team that has lost five of their last six games, but they are finally starting to get healthy. Milwaukee recently got point guard Jrue Holiday back in the lineup and that will make a world of difference. Giannis Antetokounmpo also should be able to feast at times since Embiid won’t be out there. The Bucks should be able to win this one fairly comfortably with the Sixers being shorthanded.

Key Trend: The 76ers are 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine games as an underdog

💰 The Picks


🏀 Kansas at Michigan State, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds: Under 141

The Pick: Under 140.5 (-110) — Forecasting season openers in college basketball is often difficult due to teams having new rosters and chemistry being something that takes time to develop. For those reasons, I feel great about the under in this one. Kansas is expected to be one of the top teams in the country this season as they’ve added a whole new crop of talent. The Jayhawks added Arizona State transfer Remy Martin (19.1 points-per-game last season) and Drake transfer Joseph Yesufu (12.8 points-per-game) to the mix and should make the Jayhawks even more dominant.

On the other hand, Michigan State lost two of their top scorers from last season in Aaron Henry and Joshua Langford. Even with those two in the fold last year, the Spartans were eliminated in their First Four matchup against UCLA. Their highest returning scorer from last season is forward Joey Hauser, who averaged just 9.7 points per contest. I just don’t see there being enough firepower for Michigan State to put up a ton of points in this one. 

Key Trend: The Jayhawks are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games as a favorite

🏒 Hurricanes vs. Lightning, 7 p.m. | TV: NHL.TV

Latest Odds: Carolina Hurricanes +1.5

The Pick: Hurricanes (+105) — This is a battle of two teams that will definitely be contending for the Stanley Cup when the postseason rolls around. The Hurricanes have been one of the most dominant teams in the league early on this season. This is a group that started off 9-0 before being defeated by the Florida Panthers on Saturday. 

Carolina averages 3.9 goals-per-game and goaltender Frederik Andersen has been nothing short of brilliant with his 1.83 goals-against-average. In six of their 10 games, the Hurricanes have scored at least four goals, so I’m extremely confident that the Hurricanes can take down the defending Stanley Cup champions. It also doesn’t hurt that you’re getting some juice on the money line as well.

Meanwhile, the Lightning didn’t get off to the best start this season. It is worth noting that they have won four of their last five games, which factors into them being favored. Now, Tampa Bay did beat Carolina in three of their five regular season meetings last year. However, the Hurricanes didn’t have Andersen in net in any of those games. In six of Andersen’s nine start this season, he’s surrendered two or fewer goals. I just don’t see the Lightning being able to score a ton on Andersen.

Key Trend: The Hurricanes are 10-3 in their last 13 games after scoring two goals or less in their previous game



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