This article is part of our CBB Betting series.
Illinois +1 vs. Arizona
This most likely will be a tight game, but I think Illinois will win. While both sides are mostly even, Illinois has an edge when it comes to rebounding, ranking higher than Arizona in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates. Additionally, Illinois is far more battle-tested at this point in the season. Arizona looked sharp beating Michigan on a neutral court, but that was the only tough opponent it has faced all season. The next toughest opponent, Wichita State, took Arizona to overtime, also on a neutral court. Furthermore, Arizona has only played one road game this season, at Oregon State, the worst team in the Pac-12. Illinois, on the other hand, has played multiple road games against solid opponents, earning a hard-fought victory at Iowa in its most recent game. This is a close matchup, but ultimately I think the home-court advantage and the rebounding edge will be the winning difference for the Illini.
Minnesota at Michigan Under 134½
Michigan has the 11th-best defense in the country, per KenPom's adjusted efficiency ratings, and faces a Minnesota offense that's ranked No. 125, one of the lowest offensive rankings in the Big Ten. On the other side of the court, while Minnesota's defense isn't as high as Michigan's, it's still somewhat stout, ranking No. 61 in the country. Given this matchup, and Minnesota's slow pace, it seems all but certain the Gophers will slow the game and limit the number of possessions for the potent Wolverines offense. And although Michigan's overall offensive numbers are great, the Wolverines have struggled to score at various points this season. In late November, Michigan scored only 62 points against Arizona and in its very next game, at home against Tarleton State, scored 65 points. Then, on Dec. 1, Michigan scored just 51 points at North Carolina. There's always a chance Michigan spoils the under by scoring too much, but I'm trusting its defense will do its job and keep the score low enough for the under to hit.
Cincinnati at Xavier Under 134½
Both teams have adjusted defensive ratings that rank top-38 in the country, so off the bat, I like our chances for the under. Not only that, but both teams rank top-12 in terms of two-point field goal percentage allowed. Looking at the offense, Cincinnati hasn't been great, ranking No. 137 in the country in terms of adjusted efficiency rating, which would hypothetically rank dead last in the Big East conference. This is usually an intense intra-city rivalry game, so I think both defenses will battle it out for supremacy, ultimately keeping the lid on the game.
Houston +1½ vs. Alabama
Alabama impressed a week ago defeating Gonzaga, but the numbers in this matchup argue that Houston is the better team. Houston has a higher adjusted efficiency rating than Alabama when matched up on both sides of the court, suggesting the game is more likely to play out in Houston's favor over the long run. Alabama's defense is ranked No. 23 in the country, which is great, but it's noticeably vulnerable against two-point shots, allowing opponents to make 50.2 percent of shots inside the arc. This is great news for the Cougars because they make 57 percent of two-point field goals this season, the 19th highest rate in the country. And if the two-point advantage isn't enough, Houston is also making three-pointers at a higher rate than Alabama this year. All in all, while this game looks even, the various specific matchup advantages should give Houston a hard-earned victory.