College Basketball Vegas Odds and Picks: January 4th

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I went 2-1-1 in my last picks, moving me to 48-45-1 on the season. Tonight we've got a great slate of conference rivalries and Top 25 showdowns, so let's get to it! All times Eastern.

7:00pm ESPNU: No. 20 Marquette (+4.5) @ No. 9 Georgetown

After the Baby-Hoyas' win over No. 4 Louisville last week, they'd look pretty attractive attached to this spread over Marquette. But the Golden Eagles are a much better offensive team than the Cardinals and so even with Georgetown's impressive ten-game winning streak, I think Marquette stays within four points in a close battle.

8:00pm ESPN3: No. 22 Kansas State (+8.5) @ No. 15 Kansas

No. No no no no no. No way Kansas is taking this game by nine points. The Jayhawks have a less impressive record (10-3 vs. 11-1) against weaker competition (No. 52 RPI vs. No. 27 RPI). Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor are heavily relied upon in a Kansas offense that doesn't really have a point guard, making them susceptible to the turnover bug - currently averaging 15 per game - especially against a swarming team defense like K-State's. Yes, Allen Fieldhouse will be bumping like Radio Raheem but both teams have too much at stake for either side to pull away.

Plenty more picks after the jump...

6:00pm: Xavier (-2.5) @ La Salle

Despite losing four of their last five, the Musketeers are back at full strength after suspensions from the Cincinnati fight and this is still the team that rattled off eight straight wins to start the season. Contrast that with an Explorers squad that doesn't have an impressive win to their name.

7:00pm ESPN2: Duke (-6.5) @ Temple

I would call Temple scrappy if they weren't so talented. The Owls are fighters that take good care of the ball and have excellent shot selection. However, they've struggled to pull out victories against three consecutive sub-par opponents and they'll need perfection to stay within range of the Blue Devils, who keep rollin' rollin' keep rollin' rollin'... Sorry.

7:00pm ESPN3: Notre Dame @ Cincinnati (-8)

The Bearcats are clearly the better team and coming off consecutive wins against Oklahoma and at No. 22 Pitt, but in a bitter Big East matchup I like Notre Dame to stay within eight. Even without Tim Abromaitis, the attack led by Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant is impressive and the Irish rarely turn the ball over.

7:00pm ESPN3: West Virginia (-3) @ Rutgers

I'm going to chalk West Virginia's 19-point loss at Seton Hall up to a major fluke, not because Seton Hall isn't for real - they are - but because no Bob Huggins team ever loses like that. Here, I trust in Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant.

7:00pm: Illinois @ Northwestern (-2.5)

I like this game - two teams that have put together impressive resumes so far and could make some real noise in the Big Ten. Northwestern runs a true balanced, team offense and has only lost to Top 25 teams. I like the Wildcats in a precursor to their run at the conference.

8:00pm: Tennessee @ Memphis (-8.5)

For all the talk about Memphis' collapse, they haven't lost any truly embarrassing games. Meanwhile, Tennessee has fallen to teams like Oakland, Austin Peay and the College of Charleston. They've gotten back on track with a four-game winning streak against awful competition and played Memphis to a double-overtime thriller in November, but if the Tigers can keep their turnovers in check and play with some urgency they shouldn't have any trouble.

8:00pm: Indiana State (+6.5) @ Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa has piddled away their 9-1 start to the season by dropping three straight, capped by blowing a 22-8 lead in a head-scratching 11-point loss to lowly Evansville at home. Indiana State is no pushover and the Panthers are doing nothing to inspire confidence at the moment.

9:00pm ESPN3: No. 1 Syracuse (-13) @ Providence

I covered the Long Beach State game at UC Irvine on Monday night, and the differences between a pretty good mid-major and a true top tier program were readily apparent. The 49ers don't always carry themselves like the national contender that they think they are, and fell behind by six. They eventually caught up and won in a runaway, but you would simply never see a top national program come out so listless, and that's what most often separates a true contender with a pretender. The Orange have come out swinging like champs all season and will continue their march to March against the Friars, who are on a two-game losing streak.

Ryan ZumMallen writes about basketball and waterski racing in Long Beach, CA. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanzummallen.

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