With the Christmas break wrapping up, most conferences are getting into their conference play. We feature a couple of those conference matchups this week, along with a top-5 team getting one more non-conference game in.
Notre Dame vs. Pittsburgh: Pick Under 127
(Tip 8 p.m. ET)
What the Fighting Irish like to do is set up their offense for success, and they’ve done that with the 29th adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom. They are a methodical offensive team that finds the right opportunities along with taking advantage of the clock, and that’s why they have one of the slowest tempos in the country (274th). Their losses this season have resulted from bad shooting and not being able to out-rebound their opponent due to lack of size.
The Pitt offense has shown to be its weak point as they’re shooting just 45.5% inside the arc, 29.3% from beyond, and 65.7% from the line. What helps them contend is defense, as they’re holding opponents to 33% from downtown, which is Notre Dame’s strong point. The Panthers are another slow-paced team, ranking 334th, so you can bet this game will drag.
With both teams playing a slower tempo and Pitts’s ability to guard Notre Dame’s strongest point on offense, they should be able to stay under the total, even as low as it is.
North Alabama vs. Gonzaga: Pick Gonzaga -32.5
(Tip 5 p.m. ET)
Gonzaga continues to be one of the better offensive teams in the country as their 119.5 adjusted offensive efficiency is No. 2, according to KenPom. Drew Timme, who averages 17.1 points per game, and Chet Holmgren, at 13.3 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game, are getting the Bulldogs ready for another run at the title.
They’re hosting North Alabama, who has done well defensively against the lower-tier teams by allowing 50 points or fewer in four games this year, but it wasn’t against a high-caliber team like Gonzaga. The two better teams the Lions have faced (UCF and Auburn) each put up at least 70 points. Auburn, who is tenth in adjusted defensive efficiency, allowed just 44 points. This should be an absolute smash game for the Zags.
Fresno State vs. Boise State: Pick Fresno State +4.5
(Tip 9 p.m. ET)
The Broncos are hot as they come into this game with a six-game winning streak, which includes a victory over Washington State. They’ve had to grind out a couple of those wins, but their defense has done really well, allowing the 17th fewest points per game in the country (58.5). They would be a much better team if they didn’t struggle on offense by shooting just over 50% this season, which is the 238th scoring offense.
You can say the same things when it comes to Fresno State. Their defense has been outstanding this season, as their 54.9 points allowed per game is third-best in the country, but the offense has been abysmal with 66.5 points per game, which is 282nd in the nation.
This game should be low-scoring, and both will play each other tough defensively, although the offenses will make them look much better. This year, Fresno State has done well as a dog against the spread with three wins, including two straight up. Being so evenly matched, you’d expect this to be a one-possession game.
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