NCAA Basketball Tuesday Betting Preview: Back Kansas as a Rare Underdog

SI Gambling analyst Roy Larking breaks down two matchups from the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences on his Tuesday college basketball betting card.

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No. 5 Illinois at Michigan State

Big Ten Conference rivals meet when Illinois visits Michigan State tonight. Game time for the Fighting Illini vs. Spartans contest is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich. This is the first and only regular season meeting between these teams this year. Michigan State swept the season series last year as the Spartans won 70–69 in Illinois and 76-56 at home. The Fighting Illini enter this match on a seven-game winning streak while the Spartans are 3­–5 during their last eight games.

Illinois (16–5, 12–3 Big Ten) is playing a second straight road game after they crushed Minnesota 94–63 on Saturday. The Fighting Illini led 48–33 at halftime and covered as 4-point road favorites. Prior to that, Illinois failed to cover as 13.5-point favorites during a 73–66 win at home on Feb. 16 against Northwestern. Including a neutral site loss to Baylor, Illinois is 6–3 straight up and 5–4 against the spread during road games this season. The Fighting Illini rank second in the Big Ten standings behind Michigan.

Michigan State (11–9, 5–9 Big Ten) returns home following a 78–71 win at Indiana on Saturday. The Spartans trailed 30–26 at halftime, but outscored the Hosiers 52–41 in the second half and won as 7-point underdogs on the road. Prior to that, Michigan State lost 75–65 as 5-point underdogs on the road against Purdue and were blasted 88–58 by No. 15 Iowa as 4-point dogs at home. The Spartans are 3–3 straight up versus Big Ten opponents at home this season but they are just 1–5 against the spread as hosts.

Ranked eighth in the nation, Illinois is shooting 50.7% from the field and average 81.8 ppg. Ayo Dosunmu (21.2) and Kofi Cockburn (17.6) are the leading scorers for Illinois. Michigan State is well off that pace as they are shooting 42.4% from the field and average 70.8 ppg. Aaron Henry (15.0) and Joey Hauser (10.2) lead the Spartans attack on offense. The numbers are closer on defense as the Fighting Illini are allowing 68.6 ppg while the Spartans are giving up 71.7 ppg. Lay the points and back Illinois to cover.

Pick: Illinois Fighting Illini -6 (-113) at DraftKings

Betting Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook – Game Time 7:00 p.m. ET

Betting Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook – Game Time 7:00 p.m. ET

Bet on College Basketball All Season at DraftKings

No. 17 Kansas at No. 14 Texas

Meeting for the second time this season, Kansas visits Texas in Big 12 Conference action tonight. Tipoff for the Jayhawks vs. Longhorns contest is slated for 9:00 p.m. ET at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. Kansas entered the first meeting ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25 but were trounced 84–59 by Texas as 4.5-point favorites at home. The Jayhawks swept the season series last year as they posted a 69–58 win at home and a 66–57 victory in Texas. Kansas has won 13 of the last 15 meetings in this series.

Kansas (17–7, 11–5 Big 12) has moved past a mid-season slump and enter this contest on a five-game winning streak. Following a 91–79 loss, to No. 17 West Virginia on Feb. 6, the Jayhawks’ streak of 231 consecutive weeks being ranked in the AP Top 25 ended. Kansas responded with a 78–66 win against No. 23 Oklahoma State as 6.5-point favorites at home on Feb. 8. The Jayhawks head to Texas following a 67–61 win at home against No. 15 Texas Tech as 2-point favorites in their last game on Saturday.

Texas (13–6, 7–5 Big 12) began the season at 10–1 but have lost five of their last eight games. The Longhorns are playing a third straight home game following an 84–82 loss to No. 13 West Virginia on Saturday. Texas had a 62–43 lead, early in the second half, but the Mountaineers went on a 41–20 run and won outright as -2.5 underdogs. Prior to that, the Longhorns defeated TCU 70–55 and covered as 11.5-point chalk at home. The Longhorns have lost four straight contests against AP Top 25 ranked Big 12 opponents.

Theses teams have similar numbers at both ends of the court. Texas has a slight edge on offense as they are averaging 75.7 ppg and have four starters who are averaging double-digit points per game. Kansas is scoring 73.7 ppg and their starting five are all averaging double-digit points. The Jayhawks have a slight edge on defense as they are allowing 66.0 ppg while the Longhorns are giving up 68.5 ppg. Kansas is playing with a ton of confidence and may win outright. Take the points and back the Jayhawks.

Pick: Kansas Jayhawks +2.5 (-109) at DraftKings

Betting Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook – Game Time 9:00 p.m. ET

Betting Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook – Game Time 9:00 p.m. ET

2020–21 NCAA Basketball Betting Record: 25-19 ATS


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