CBB Picks: Trust Baylor, Kentucky to Keep Winning Streaks Alive

Tuesday marks the unofficial start of the college basketball season.

College football is down to its final two games and the NFL is one week away from the end of the regular season.

Conference play heats up in earnest in January and we are going to get fantastic matchups on a daily basis from now until the first week of March.

The two-month marathon begins with some intriguing clashes in the SEC and Big 12. The Baylor Bears will put their No. 1 ranking on the line at home against the Oklahoma Sooners and the Kentucky Wildcats will try to stay hot against a LSU Tigers team in need of a victory.

The Kansas Jayhawks and Auburn Tigers are also in action across a fascinating Tuesday slate.

Below are my best bets for the Tuesday slate. Let's start the year off on a good note.

CBB Tuesday Picks

Overall Record: 67-81-1

Auburn (-9) at South Carolina (6:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Auburn delivered a statement in its SEC opener against LSU.

The Tigers held LSU to 55 points and Will Wade's team opened the game with one point in eight minutes.

Auburn ranks fifth in defensive adjusted efficiency and 10th in two-point defense on KenPom. The Tigers' defense should translate for Tuesday's trip to South Carolina.

The Gamecocks put together a solid 9-3 start, but there will be a distinct gap in talent on the floor against Auburn's top-rated recruits and NBA lottery prospect in Jabari Smith.

A win on the road on Tuesday may lead me to some Auburn futures, but we will revisit that later this week.

Oklahoma at Baylor (-12) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Baylor is playing at a level that few teams will reach this season.

The Bears rank in the top five in both offensive and defensive adjusted efficiency on KenPom and they have answered every challenge thrown at them so far. Baylor opened the Big 12 gauntlet with a road win over Iowa State.

Scott Drew's team is a deserving double-digit favorite against Oklahoma. The Sooners can be competitive since they have the second-best two-point offense in Division 1, but Baylor's defense can take away that advantage and make life miserable for 40 minutes in Waco.

Kentucky (+106) at LSU (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Kentucky is playing with one of the highest levels of confidence in the country.

The Wildcats steamrolled through their last four opponents and averaged 92 points in that span. LSU is coming off a deflating loss on the road at Auburn.

The Tigers have plenty of motivation to bounce back with a statement win at home, but that could be difficult against an offense that can do little wrong right now.

LSU has potential to slow down Kentucky since it gives up 55.5 points per game, but Kentucky ranks in the Top 25 in six different defensive metrics on KenPom. The Wildcats are capable of cancelling out LSU's biggest strength to earn a big road win in SEC play.

Holy Cross at Loyola (MD) (-10.5) (7 p.m. ET)

Holy Cross is ranked 348th on KenPom and it has some of the worst metrics across the board.

If you put the metrics aside, the Crusaders are one of the worst teams to gamble on. They are 2-9 against the spread.

Loyola (MD) is not a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination, but the Greyhounds are reliable enough to win by 11 or more points against one of the worst teams in Division 1.

Central Arkansas at Eastern Kentucky (Over 161.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

The highest over/under on the board is a product of two Top 30 tempo teams and a Central Arkansas defense that is brutal at best.

Central Arkansas allowed 85 points or more on eight occasions this season and the Over is 6-1 in its last seven games.

Eastern Kentucky's offense should feast on the Bears' porous defense. EKU ranks eighth in adjusted tempo on KenPom and it scored at least 75 points in each of its six victories against Division 1 opponents.

Texas A&M (-6) at Georgia (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)

Georgia is very bad.

Whatever the polar opposite is of Georgia football, that is UGA basketball under Tom Crean.

Georgia is coming off a 17-point home loss to Gardner-Webb and now it has to open SEC play against Texas A&M's tough defense.

The Aggies give up 11.4 fewer points per game and they average close to seven more points per game on the offensive side of the hardwood.

The number could be up to 10 and I'd take Texas A&M on the road here.

Kansas at Oklahoma State (+6.5) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Playing on the road in the Big 12 is hard.

Kansas faces a potential trap on Tuesday night in Stillwater against an Oklahoma State team that will treat the game as one of a few "Super Bowl" style games because it is not eligible for the NCAA tournament.

The Cowboys should put all of their energy into the home games against Kansas, Baylor and others because they will count as their biggest games of the season.

Oklahoma State's recent losses to Wichita State, Xavier and Houston do not inspire a ton of confidence in the program, but I see this as more of an emotional angle. Kansas and Texas come to Stillwater this week and the Cowboys have the talent and home-court advantage to pull off an upset in one of those two games.

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