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Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports
Odds and Ends

College Basketball Best Bets for Jan. 13: Oklahoma St, Irvine

by Thomas Casale
Updated On: January 13, 2022, 9:32 am ET

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After backing home teams all week, I take to the road on Thursday. I'm fading Texas Tech as a big home favorite after two emotional wins and laying the points with UC Irvine on the road in Hawaii.


Odds are opening lines courtesy of PointsBet


Oklahoma State Cowboys (+9) at Texas Tech Red Raiders



I'm backing Oklahoma State catching nine points on the road. This is a strictly a spot play for me with Texas Tech coming off two huge wins over Kansas and Baylor this past week. I think it's going to be tough for the Red Raiders to be sky high emotionally after those two games to cover a big number on Thursday. 



Oklahoma State upset Texas on Saturday but comes into this matchup losing five of seven. The Cowboys do play excellent defense though, ranking 12th in defensive efficiency. With Texas Tech still expected to be without Terrance Shannon Jr. for this game, my hope is the Cowboys can turn this into a low-scoring rock fight. 


Key Metric: Oklahoma State's two-point defense


There aren't a lot of metrics that favor Oklahoma State in this matchup but one area that signals they can keep it close is two-point defense. Texas Tech scores a majority of its points from inside the arc, ranking 18th in two-point field goal percentage and 80th in two-point scoring rate.


This plays right into the Cowboys' strength. Oklahoma State ranks 15th in two-point field goal percentage defense and 29th in mid-range field goal percentage, according to Haslametrics. 


Turnovers will likely play a key role in this game too. Both teams rank Top 15 in creating turnovers and both tend to be sloppy with the basketball. Oklahoma State's offense ranks 307th in turnover percentage, while Texas Tech ranks 257th.


One edge the Cowboys have here is converting those turnovers into points. Oklahoma State ranks seventh in the country when it comes to scoring potential quick points off steals.


There's no question Texas Tech comes in red-hot but again, these are college kids coming off two massive wins. Can they get up for a third time in five days to cover nine points against a good defensive Oklahoma State team? I'm betting they don't. I'd back the Cowboys at +8 or higher. 


Pick: Oklahoma State +9


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UC Irvine Anteaters (-6) at Hawaii Rainbow Warriors


One team I'm expecting to go on a run soon is UC Irvine. The Anteaters have only played 10 games because of COVID pauses, but I still believe UC Irvine is the best team in the Big West Conference. Irvine has four losses on the year but three came against KenPom Top 100 teams, so the 6-4 record is a little deceiving. 


Hawaii's record is also deceiving. The Rainbow Warriors are 5-5 but all their wins are against teams that rank 245th or worse on KenPom. So, on paper, this looks like a pretty even matchup. However, the reality is UC Irvine has faced the eighth toughest schedule in the country, while Hawaii's strength of schedule ranks 300th. 


Key Metric: UC Irvine's defensive efficiency


UC Irvine has a major edge defensively. The Anteaters' defense ranks 45th in efficiency, 11th in effective field percentage, 13th in three-point percentage, and 24th in two-point percentage. Meanwhile, Hawaii ranks 258th in defensive efficiency. Considering one team has played a much tougher schedule, this is a key metric to consider in this matchup.


Haslametrics predicts Hawaii will shoot 37.1% from the field and 29.6% from three-point range in this game. If those numbers even come close, UC Irvine should easily cover the six points on the road. 


UC Irvine also has the best player on the floor in 6-9 forward Collin Welp (15.4 PPG). He will have little trouble slicing through a Hawaii defense that ranks 233rd in defensive field goal percentage. And you can bet Welp remembers what happened the last time these two teams met...



The Anteaters' edge on the defensive end and in the paint should lead to a double-digit win. I make UC Irvine -9 and think we are getting a lot of value because the Anteaters have played just one game since Dec. 19. I'd bet UC Irvine up to -8. 


Pick: UC Irvine -6


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Thomas Casale

Thomas Casale started watching CBB during the heyday of the Big East with Pearl Washington, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin. He's been betting on college hoops for over 30 years and loves finding value in the futures market. Follow Thomas on Twitter, where he'll be complaining about the 2-3 zone, @TheTomCasale.