The 2021-22 college basketball season is upon us, and the nonconference schedule is loaded with matchups between the top teams in the country. Below is my analysis and favorite bets for Tuesday’s slate.

 

 

Duke vs. Ohio State

(Line: Duke -3, Total: 148.5, DraftKings Sportsbook)

The Blue Devils are the talk of college basketball this week after exploiting some favorable matchups and defeating the seemingly immortal Gonzaga Bulldogs (as we predicted), pushing them up to the No. 1 ranking in the country. Duke is the real deal, led by the sensational play of the two blue-chip freshmen, Paolo Banchero and Trevor Keels, along with the emergence of Wendell Moore as a leader (and maybe most improved player in the country) and Mark Williams as a rim protector. Yet, traveling to Columbus will be no easy task in this letdown spot after coming off the high of the Gonzaga win. The Buckeyes may prove to cause some matchup issues behind the play of their dynamic stud forward EJ Liddell.

After finishing 82nd in defensive efficiency per KenPom a season ago (everyone saw the meltdown against Oral Roberts in March), Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann has taken on a new defensive philosophy. The Buckeyes have established a more “no help” stance on defense, running teams off the three-point line and forcing more 1-on-1 isolation situations hoping it leads to tough contested jumpers. It certainly is a work in progress for Ohio State as they’ve been able to force 26% of opponents’ shots to come from jump shots off the dribble (eighth nationally), yet they’ve been giving them up at a clip of 1.112 points per possession (not good). What is interesting to me is that, outside of Banchero, Duke is not an isolation-heavy team as they assist on 59% of their field goals. This could leave Duke in many uncomfortable situations on offense relying on the dribble drive of Moore, Keels and Roach. The main focus of the matchup will be dynamo Liddell going against Banchero. What sticks out to me is Liddell has developed his game to be able to score from anywhere and can avoid shot blocker Mark Williams at the rim (we saw that against Colin Castleton in the Florida game). Furthermore, Liddell forces 8 fouls per 40 minutes on his opposing defender, which doesn’t bode well for Duke’s best isolation scorer Banchero, who will get the defensive assignment. Columbus will be rocking with No. 1 Duke in the house, and I think Liddell wins the matchups inside along with maturing Buckeye defense led by Kyle Young making Duke a bit uncomfortable. I’m taking the home dog.

The Pick: Ohio State +3

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Purdue vs. Florida State

(Line: Purdue -11, Total: 142.5, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Purdue is off to a great start to the season after knocking off both Villanova and UNC at Mohegan Sun, leading them to an undefeated 6-0 record. What sticks out right away for the Boilermakers is their massive size with the combination of Zach Edey and Trevion Williams making up the scariest frontcourt in America. But Purdue’s ceiling is fully on the shoulders of dynamic sophomore guard Jaden Ivey, who has shined when the lights were the brightest. Florida State will come into Mackey with an up-and-down start the season still trying to figure out their offensive identity. But what Florida State can do is match Purdue’s size and their athleticism could make the Boilermakers a bit uncomfortable.

Under Leonard Hamilton, the Noles have prided themselves on relentless defensive pressure for 40 minutes, with deep rotations and lengthy athletes. They force a ton of turnovers (ninth nationally) by gambling on defense (fifth in steals, 10th in blocks), so opponents must play with poise and take care of the ball. What’s a little concerning for Purdue is the fact that they really don’t have a true point guard. Ivey is a great playmaker off the ball, but how will he handle the FSU pressure? Overall, Purdue isn’t the best at taking care of the ball as they rank 102nd nationally in turnover percentage. Yet, what is most concerning about the Boilermakers is their inability to guard the pick and roll. With Malik Osbourne’s newfound offensive aggression, Edey and Williams could have some problems guarding the Noles on the perimeter. Offensively, Florida State certainly are a work in progress. Specifically, it’s their own turnovers that plague them ranking 252nd nationally in turnover percentage. The good news for Florida State is that Purdue rarely turns opponents over ranking towards the bottom in the country (320th). Mackey is an extremely difficult place to play, but I think Florida State can matchup with Purdue’s size and they’re defensive pressure can wear on the Purdue back court enough to make this game competitive. Baring FSU letting up a massive number of offensive rebounds, I like them to cover the double-digit spread.

The Pick: Florida State +11