Wild Card Wednesday: Best Bets for December 21

The best way to sum up Tuesday: Illness took down Duke. The Blue Devils were supposed to come in healthy, but holiday sickness knocked Duke down to a seven-man rotation. And that tore apart the Blue Devils’ defense, allowing Wake Forest to score 81 points after scoring just 57 at Rutgers.

That’s bad for yesterday, but it could be good to file away for Jan. 31. If Duke is at full strength, Wake’s line in Cameron might be highly inflated. Having a double matchup in conference play means bettors can sometimes gain an edge in the return game. Hopefully, that will happen there.

But we’ve got a ways to go until we can use that information. For now, it’s time to bounce back. Here are my plays for December 21.

STONEHILL +7.5, -110

Valparaiso has proven itself a money sinkhole this year. The Beacons have covered just once this season, as the line keeps getting set too high for this team. Stonehill has a serious rebounding weakness, but Valparaiso likely won’t exploit it. The Beacons don’t get a lot of second-chance points, and they don’t defend the deep shot well. The Skyhawks can shoot it, and if they get time, they’ll hang around.

ST. THOMAS -6, -110

This line seems low. North Dakota State’s defense has gotten shredded for most of the year, which is why the Bison have just one win over DI competition. Meanwhile, St. Thomas shot well three nights in a row and has played consistent basketball at the offensive end. As long as the Tommies avoid the Montanas (their two worst games were losses to Montana and Montana State), they’ve proven one of the better low-major DI squads in 2022. They should handle NDSU at home.

ROBERT MORRIS -8.5, -110

Andy Toole’s efforts to build Robert Morris into a higher-level mid-major are starting to bear fruit. The Colonials went from top of the heap in the NEC to a bottom-feeder in the Horizon League, but that’s starting to change. They now get one of their former league foes, and things aren’t nearly as rosy at Saint Francis. The Red Flash own just one DI win, and it came against Hartford, which shouldn’t even count given the Hawks’ D3 transition. They haven’t come within double digits of a DI team in a month. Given Robert Morris’ huge edge on the offensive glass, that shouldn’t change here.


When Haslam sees a dud, I see opportunity. Erik Haslam’s one of the best in the business at analytics, and his ratings are one of the first things I check when analyzing college basketball. Any game he labels as a zero-star game usually means an edge, and it should happen again here. Anything over 60 is an adventure for Binghamton against a good defense, and Niagara plays defense well. The Purple Eagles love to slow things down, which should keep Binghamton under its number.

GEORGIA TECH +2.5, -110

The Yellow Jackets tend to play their best basketball in Atlanta, and Clemson’s too dependent on the 3-point shot. The Tigers need to hit from outside to succeed, and defending the 3 is one thing the Jackets do quite well. If Tech can play good defense, the Jackets should stick close.

SOUTH ALABAMA -4.5, -110

The Jaguars need to keep the ball on the ground, and I think they can. South Alabama excels at time of possession, and that’s what you have to do to keep Western Kentucky from lighting up the scoreboard. A middling run defense should mean big holes for Carter Bradley, and that should keep the clock running and keep the Jaguars ahead of the Hilltoppers.

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