This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
The Jan. 7 college hoops slate is a big one. DraftKings is using nine games for its contests, while FanDuel is going with ten. Eight games are overlapping, so that mean's there only one DK exclusive: Miami at Louisville. The Cardinals are projected to score around 78 points so this is certainly one to consider for DK players. On the other side, FanDuel has two exclusive games: Tennessee at Missouri and Houston at Temple. The former is likely to be a slow, defensive battle so it warrants less consideration. The latter is slightly more appealing given that Temple prefers playing at a faster pace.
The two most attractive games for DFS are the two Big East matchups (Villanova/Creighton and Providence/Marquette), while the two least attractive games are the Big 12 matchups (Baylor/TTU and TCU/KSU). Most of the other conference matchups should be close games with average scoring outputs expected (around 135-140 points). One key game to monitor throughout the day is Kentucky/Georgia, specifically because Ashton Hagans is questionable to play after suffering an ankle injury in Kentucky's game this past Saturday. Hagans leads Kentucky in minutes played and possessions used so his absence would be a game-changer. The latest reports are indicating that he'll suit up but there's always a risk of less playing time or ineffectiveness if the injury bothers him.
Markus Howard, G, Marquette ($8,600 DK, $8,300 FD)
If you follow college hoops then you already know all about Markus Howard. He will no doubt put up a ton of fantasy points. The question is, as always, will it be enough to cover his price tag? Howard's matchup is far from easy considering that Providence is ranked top 45 in defensive efficiency. That being said, Providence allowed Florida to score 83 points earlier in the season, so it wouldn't be surprising if picking Howard pays off.
Alpha Diallo, G, Providence ($8,400 DK, $7,900 FD)
Diallo frequently appears on the top players list, and for good reason. He averages over 30 fantasy points per game and frequently scores over 40. He arguably had his worst game of the season on this past Saturday against DePaul so I'm thinking Diallo will bounce back. The special part about Diallo's game is that he makes plays on both sides of the ball and is therefore nearly matchup-proof. I would strongly consider taking him.
Desmond Bane, G, TCU ($8,500 DK, $7,600 FD)
Bane plays over 35 minutes per game and takes over 24 percent of his team's shots while on the court. These are respectable numbers, but tonight he's going against a Kansas State team that is ranked top 40 in defensive efficiency. I'm firmly passing on him in DraftKings contests.
Kerry Blackshear Jr., F, Florida ($8,000 DK, $7,800 FD)
Blackshear averages around 30 fantasy points per game while only playing in 28 minutes per game. At first glance, it's impressive efficiency, but it turns out that Blackshear commits 4.6 fouls per 40 minutes so it seems that foul trouble often prevents him from getting additional playing time. Tonight's matchup isn't a major hurdle but South Carolina's defense can be stingy in any given game. All things considered, I'm firmly passing on Blackshear in FanDuel contests.
The Providence/Marquette matchup has the second highest o/u total on the slate so there's a decent chance these two players benefit from a higher scoring game.
Ohio State spreads playing time around and Kyle Young is doubtful for the game. I'm expecting these three players to see extra minutes if Young doesn't suit up.
Izaiah Brockington, G, Penn State ($4,600 DK, $5,200 FD)
The sixth man for the Nittany Lions, Brockington scored a career-high 23 points on this past Saturday against Iowa. He has one of the highest usage rates on the team.
Jacob Young, G, Rutgers ($4,400 DK, $4,300 FD)
Young has the highest usage rate on his team but only plays 20 minutes per game. That number shoud go up considering that starting point guard Geo Baker is out indefinitely with a left thumb injury.
GAME TO TARGET
Villanova at Creighton (-3), o/u 147.5, 9pm ET
Both teams are ranked top 16 in offensive efficiency, neither team is ranked top 80 in defensive efficiency, and Creighton likes to push the pace – all the makings of a high scoring affair.
Breaking down the Wildcats, they have a tight seven-man rotation with four players having usage rates above 20 percent: Collin Gillespie ($7,000 DK, $6,100 FD), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl ($7,600 DK, $5,700 FD), Saddiq Bey ($7,200 DK, $5,900 FD), and sixth man Justin Moore ($5,300 DK, $5,000 FD). Gillespie is their point guard so he might be able to rack up a few extra assists if the total goes over. Robinson-Earl might benefit from this matchup as well, as he's Villanova's leading rebounder and Creighton is ranked last in the Big East in offensive rebounding. The latter two players (Bey and Moore) both excel at scoring, so they figure to have a part in the high point total. A value play for the wildcats could be fifth starter Cole Swider ($4,900 DK, $4,400 FD), an elite shooter having made 26-of-56 three pointers this season.
For the home team, it's hard to go wrong with: Marcus Zegarowski ($8,200 DK, $6,700 FD), Ty-Shon Alexander ($7,700 DK, $6,800 FD), or Mitch Ballock ($7,300, $6,100 FD). All three players are elite volume shooters (above 37+ percent from beyond the arc) and easily play the most minutes on the team. Zegarowski, the point guard, is the most expensive Bluejay, while Ballock is slightly cheaper because his usage rate is below 20 percent. Christian Bishop ($5,500 DK, $4,500 FD) is also someone to consider as he plays 22 minutes per game while leading the team in blocks. This is noteable because Villanova has been susceptible to blocked shots this season, ranking 287th in blocked shot percentage (per KenPom). Denzel Mahoney ($5,600 DK, $4,300 FD) is a new X-factor for the Bluejays, as he recently started his Creighton career with four straight games with double-digit points before only scoring six against Butler last Saturday. His minutes have been unpredictable but he has the highest usage rate on the team when he's on the court.
GAME TO FADE
TCU at Kansas State (-1), o/u 127, 9pm ET
This game features the lowest o/u total on the common slate of games, and for obvious reasons. Both teams play at slow paces while relying on their defenses to carry them to victory (both teams are ranked top 40 in defensive efficiency).
If you're determined to take someone in this game, Id' start with the better offense which belongs to the road team. Desmond Bane ($8,500 DK, $7,600 FD) was already discussed, but Kevin Samuel ($7,800 DK, $6,900 FD) is another option as he leads the team in rebounds while averaging almost 3 blocks per game. I should also mention RJ Nembhard ($7,200 DK, $6,200 FD) because he scored 31 points this past Saturday against Iowa St. If you're really in the mood to gamble, take a look at PJ Fuller ($4,300 DK, $4,200 FD). The freshman averages only 17 minutes per game but has one of the highest usage rates on the entire team.
Examining the home team, we have a Kansas State squad that is ranked last in the Big 12 in offensive efficiency. And it won't be easy going against TCU's defense. If you're determined to take a Wildcat, the only three passable options are: Cartier Diarra ($7,900 DK, $6,800 FD), Xavier Sneed ($7,300 DK, $6,600 FD), or Makol Mawien ($5,200 DK, $4,600 FD). These three players lead the team in usage rate and no one else on the team is above 20 percent.
Miami at Louisville (-13.5), o/u 142.5, 7pm ET
Louisville is expected to score 78 points against a team that just allowed 95 points to Duke. The Cardinals don't play as fast as the Blue Devils but that might not matter given that the Hurricanes have the worst defensive efficiency in the ACC. Jordan Nwora ($8,200) should be a popular pick and I'm surprised he wasn't one of the "Top Players," but that could play to our advantage assuming he plays up to his standard. Dwayne Sutton ($6,400) and Steven Enoch ($5,900) are also likely to benefit from the soft matchup, with the former having a higher ceiling thanks to more playing time. If you're looking for value, then I'd strongly consider: Malik Williams ($5,100), Ryan McMahon ($4,400), Darius Perry ($4,300).
The Hurricanes are going against one of the best defenses in the country so I wouldn't recommend them. I would be remiss if I didn't note that Miami is actually ranked top 20 in offensive efficiency so there's a chance that they overcome the tough matchup. If you still believe in Miami in this spot, then your best options are Kameron McGusty ($6,500), Chris Lykes ($6,400), or Dejan Vasiljevic ($6,000).
Houston (-1.5) at Temple, o/u 136.5, 7pm ET
This should be a tight game, and lower scoring given that Temple boasts the 22nd best defense in the country (per KenPom). With that in mind, there's a chance the scoring will escalate because Temple prefers playing at a faster pace and also because Houston's offense is ranked 13th in the country.
For the road team, Quentin Grimes ($6,300), leads the team in minutes played and has a usage rate around 23 percent. Nate Hinton ($7,200) is a rebounding machine and plays the second-most minutes on the team. Fabian White ($4,900) could provide value as a regular starter with a usage rate above 23 percent. DeJon Jarreau ($4,400) is another potential value play thanks to high usage and assist rates. Similarly, Caleb Mills ($4,600) takes 32 percent of his team's shots when he's on the court so there's a chance he'll contribute as well.
For the Owls, Nate Pierre-Louis ($6,700) and Quinton Rose ($6,200) are your primary options as Temple's most significant contributors. Alani Moore ($4,700) and J.P. Moorman ($4,400) both have lower usage rates on the team but have started every game this season and should see more minutes than anyone else outside of Pierre-Louis and Rose.
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