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Free Picks: NCAA College Basketball Best Bets 1/5/22
Kelsey Kremer/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Free Picks: NCAA College Basketball Best Bets 1/5/22

No.25 TEXAS TECH 10-2 (0-0) at IOWA STATE 12-1 (0-1)

This is a matchup featuring two ranked teams from the Big 12 that is arguably the best conference in the country. Both clubs are similar, with first year coaches, excellent defensive teams, and winning with a bunch of transfers.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders have played a schedule that is a bit sketchy. Their best win is against 18th-ranked Tennessee, and they don’t have to apologize for their two losses against Providence and Gonzaga. But, there isn’t any other big names on their resume’. They have seven players averaging between 8 and 14 points per game, but leading scorer, Terrence Shannon is expected to miss this game. However, the strength of the Tech team is their defense. They are holding teams to 37.6% shooting and it is hard for opponents to get inside the paint for high percentage shots.

Iowa State: The Cyclones are one of the surprise teams in the Big 12 and the country. They are coming off of a 2020-21 season that was one of the worst in Iowa State history. First year coach, T.J. Otzelberger has rebuilt this team with a smothering defense that has held opponents to 58 points and 38% field goal percentage per game. They have good wins over Xavier, Memphis, Creighton, and Iowa. They lost last Saturday to No.1 ranked Baylor but took them down to the wire, despite shooting 1 for 14 from the 3-point line.

Iowa State is a 2.5-point favorite. This is a must win game for Iowa State because they have already lost a home game and this would make two conference losses in Ames. They are hard to beat in Hilton Coliseum and I’m questioning the Tech schedule.

Best Bet: Iowa State -2.5

SYRACUSE 7-6 (1-1) at MIAMI 11-3 (3-0)

This is an ACC matchup that pits a struggling basketball school, (Syracuse), against a football school, (Miami). In this case, the football school has more talent than the basketball school, but sometimes that doesn’t matter.

Syracuse: The Orangemen are led by the Boeheim brothers who happen to be the coach’s sons. They are averaging 35 points between them and are the keys to the Syracuse offense. They are coming off a disappointing 74-69 loss to Virginia, and Coach Boeheim was not happy with his team’s performance. They are going to be ready for this game, you can bet on that. They have lost six games but, as usual, they play a difficult schedule and they have good wins over Indiana and Florida State.

Miami: The Hurricanes have won seven straight games, including 3 ACC games. They are coming off a 92-84 win over Wake Forest and are starting to roll offensively after a slow start to the season They are led in scoring by Kameron McGusty (18.3 pts. per game) and Isaiah Wong (16.5 pts.). The problem for them is how will they deal with the Syracuse 2-3 zone defense. They have struggled with it before and that is a worry.

Miami is a 2-point favorite. Anytime I can get a good team on it’s home floor with a spread as small as this one, I have to take it. I can see an upset in this game and won’t be shocked if it happens. But I’m banking on the home team and the small spread.

Best Bet: Miami -2

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