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CBB Tuesday best bets: Jimmy V Classic preview

Joe Buglewicz / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Tuesday night marks the annual Jimmy V Classic, where four (usually) elite teams gather for an epic night of college basketball at Madison Square Garden. This year features two intriguing matchups, the latter between two blue-blood programs.

Let's preview the two games plus a bonus bet for Tuesday night's slate.

Jimmy V Classic matchups

Illinois vs. FAU (-2, O/U 146.5)

Many people - such as myself - doubted FAU and its top-10 ranking coming into this season. It wasn't that the Owls' miracle 2022-23 season was a fluke, but it was overrated, and there was no justification for a top-10 ranking.

However, it appears I, and all the naysayers, have been proven wrong. FAU isn't beating up on mediocre competition like it did during much of the previous regular season. The Owls have an impressive resume with wins over Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, and Charleston. Their only loss came in the third game of the season to Bryant.

This is FAU's highest-profile matchup this campaign against a solid Illinois group. The Fighting Illini should contend for a Big Ten title this season. They haven't played the hardest schedule thus far, but they beat Rutgers on the road.

FAU's defense struggled to stop Charleston despite sneaking away with a win. Illinois' Coleman Hawkins missed a few games this season, but with him back in the lineup and Terrence Shannon Jr. leading the way, Illinois will score at ease against the Owls.

Pick: Illinois +2

UNC vs. UConn (-6, O/U 150.5)

UConn's streak of dominating nonconference opponents ended last week in a loss to Kansas, the second favorites to win the national title.

Kansas won by only four in an electric atmosphere between two of the sport's best teams. That was the Huskies' first loss of the season and first since winning the national championship in April.

Despite losing, UConn proved it has the pieces to make another title run. It's already beaten Texas and Indiana. While UNC is better than its disappointing 2022-23 team that missed the NCAA Tournament, the Tar Heels aren't equipped to deal with UConn's relentlessness. UNC's lone loss was in Atlantis to Villanova.

UConn won't blow UNC out of the gym, but it should pull away late to cover the spread.

Pick: UConn -6

Bonus play

Villanova @ Kansas State (+2, O/U 142.5)

This isn't the 2022-23 Kansas State team that had a special season with a third-place finish in the Big 12. Markquis Nowell is gone, and Kansas State has no one who can come close to providing his level of production. The program has pounced on bad teams but already has losses to USC and Miami.

This line opened with Kansas State as a 1-point favorite. It's moved three points in Villanova's direction. Villanova is 6-0 against teams outside Philadelphia and 0-3 against Philadelphia-area schools. Don't jump off the Villanova bandwagon just yet. The Big 5 is a battle, and those schools' familiarity with Villanova led to multiple upsets as double-digit favorites.

Villanova still has wins over UNC, Texas Tech, Maryland, and Memphis. It's proven it can beat difficult competition and will do it again on the road to snap a two-game skid.

Pick: Villanova -2

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter, @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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