College basketball season is finally upon us, and DraftKings and FanDuel continue to provide sizeable contests for DFS grinders. Examining the slate for Jan. 14, a number of core plays stand out on the slate. In this piece I’ll be locating top plays from each college basketball matchup and determining the top CBB DFS picks for your DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
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CBB DFS Picks: DraftKings + FanDuel Core Plays
Purdue vs. Indiana
Purdue (63.75 Team Total)
The slowest game with the lowest over/under (130.5 points), this game looks tricky for DFS. Purdue typically rotates ten players in their rotation, which compounds problems associated with their 311st-ranked pace of play. Alpha scorer Trevion Williams ($8,600) leads the team in usage (24%) but almost never plays 30 minutes for Purdue. He has at least 14 points in three straight games, along with eight rebounds. Despite the limited playing time, he is live for a double-double. Indiana is a tough matchup for him with Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson defending the paint, but he is still a GPP consideration. Sasha Stefanovic ($5,500) plays the most minutes on this team, but his 11.6% shot rate and 8.4% rebound rate leave much to be desired. Eric Hunter ($5,700) provides a cheaper attachment to this Purdue team. He brings a 19.2% usage rate, but his minutes yo-yo at the whims of the coaching staff. Recently, Isaiah Thompson ($3,600) and Mason Gillis ($3,200) have played reduced roles. Aaron Wheeler ($4,100) was the primary beneficiary last time out. He played 29 minutes but still only managed three points with almost no peripheral stats.
Indiana (66.75 Team Total)
Indiana provides slightly more intrigue for DFS despite a poor game environment with a tight rotation of players. Of late, the rotation has been squeezed further by an injury to Armaan Franklin ($6,100). Dealing with an ankle injury, Franklin just returned to limited practice and is a game-time decision. With or without Franklin, Trayce Jackson-Davis ($9,7000) dominates scoring and usage for Indiana. One of the best big men in the Big Ten, Jackson-Davis boasts a 22.6% shot rate and a 35.5% rebound rate in his last three games. Behind Jackson-Davis, Aljami Durham ($6,700) has played an increased role without Frankin, taking 19.4% of Indiana’s shots and playing at least 34 minutes in each of the last three games. Rob Phinisee ($5,100) has also benefitted by re-entering the starting lineup and playing increased minutes. Interestingly, Indiana has decreased Race Thompson‘s ($6,400) playing time of late. While he has dealt with foul trouble, Thompson hasn’t exceeded 26 minutes in each of Indiana’s last two games. For those looking at complete darts Trey Galloway ($3,900) and Anthony Leal ($3,500) will each play around 20 minutes for Indiana. Galloway starts and Leal comes off the bench.
Washington vs. USC
Washington (61.75 Team Total)
The worst team in the Pac-12, Washington currently sits 1-9 with a winless record in conference play. They are 14.5-point underdogs here with the lowest implied team total on the slate. However, this game projects to play with above average pace and Washington recently tightened their rotation. After a slew of losses Washington essentially removed Nate Pryor, Riley Sorn and Raequan Battle from the rotation. Down to seven players, this Washington team actually provides some cheap value for DFS. Quade Green ($7,100) leads the team in usage (21.6%) and plays 30-plus minutes routinely. Jamal Bey ($4,700) has also re-entered the starting lineup and has at least 15 points in back-to-back games. After playing just five minutes, Erik Stevenson ($6,400) saw his minutes jump back up to 36. He seems to have gotten the message because he score 27 points in his return. Hameir Wright ($4,900) also saw a massive increase in minutes, but he is a low-upside peripheral player with a 9.9% shot rate. Ultimately, taking a stab on a low-owned Washington player with a tighter rotation could pay off in GPPs.
USC (76.75 Team Total)
On the other side, USC takes their slate-leading team total to a pace-up spot against Washington. Still playing without Ethan Anderson, USC also uses a tight rotation. NBA prospect Evan Mobley ($8,900) leads the way with an 18.6% shot rate and 28% rebounding rate over his last three. Playing almost every minute, Mobley stands out as a stud to target. Brother Isaiah Mobley ($5,700) has also played at least 33 minutes in back-to-back games, along with a double-double in each. The guards consist of Tahj Eaddy ($5,800), Drew Peterson ($7,600) and Isaiah White ($5,900). Eaddy actually has the best usage of the group and brings more upside with his 17.4% shot rate. Peterson looks a bit expensive with most of his usage coming from a 27.8% assist rate. This makes Peterson a decent floor option, but he needs an outlier shooting performance to hit his ceiling. The least used of the trio, White is a GPP pivot off Eaddy.
Arizona vs. Oregon State
Arizona (73.75 Team Total)
The loss of Jemarl Baker looms large for Arizona, but this team still plays in a game with a slate-leading 141 over/under. James Akinjo ($7,300) should dominate usage even more without Baker. He already plays every single minute and leads the team with a 20.7% usage rate. However, Azuolas Tubelis ($7,500) has emerged as a legitimate weapon for this Arizona team. After playing limited minutes to start the year, Tubelis has eclipsed 30 minutes in each of the last three games while providing a 19.3% shot rate and a 22.5% rebounding rate. Without Baker, Bennedict Mathurin ($6,400), Terrell Brown ($5,400) and Christian Koloko ($3,600) project to round out the starting five. Koloko rarely plays 20 minutes and can be ignored as he typically splits time with Jordan Brown ($5,200). Mathurin typically comes off the bench, but he has scored double-digit points in two of his last three games in this role. Now expected to see an expanded role, and he is firmly in play. Another roster switch Arizona could make is putting Brown in for Dalen Terry ($3,700). Terry started to begin the season, but now has played fewer minutes than Brown in three straight games. Brown played horribly last time out, shooting 1-9 from the field, but he scored double digit points in his two prior contests. Taking multiple Arizona players looks like the move here.
Oregon State (67.25 Team Total)
On the other side of this contest, Oregon State enters the fold after a COVID-19 pause. Because of the lack of injury reporting, Oregon State should be monitored closely leading up to tip off. Usage leader Ethan Thompson ($6,800) enters this contest at a discounted price. Thompson leads the team with a 21% usage rate and at least 38 minutes in back-to-back games. He is a solid buy-low in this spot. Behind Thompson, Oregon State continues to shake up the rotation. Jarod Lucas ($6,200) also has a 21% usage rate on the year, but his minutes and rates have fallen significantly of late. The same is true of Warith Alitishe ($7,700). Alitishe still has a 35% rebounding rate, so if the shots fall, he looks like a solid GPP play. Zach Reichle ($5,900) and Maurice Calloo ($4,100) both are in the dog house. Gianni Hunt ($4,800) has played more minutes than Reichle in two straight games. Last time out, he managed 17 points, pointing to increased usage moving forward. Rodrigue Andela ($3,600) also began playing above Calloo, but he went down with an injury in Oregon State’s most recent game. If Andela misses, Calloo may play increased minutes out of necessity and enter the fold as a punt play for DFS.
Note: Michigan State – Iowa and Houston – South Florida were postponed due to COVID-19.
Despite this being a matchup between a pair of 8-5 teams, Indiana holds a number of advantages over Purdue. Not only does Indiana get this matchup at home, but Indiana is a tough matchup for Purdue. Purdue’s top player, Trevion Williams, typically wins in the paint. Indiana ranks 60th in overall defensive efficiency and ranks 76th in 2-point defense. Purdue has struggled in similar spots this season with losses to teams with a strong offensive presence in the post. Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn and Iowa’s Luka Garza both finished with strong games against this Purdue team.
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