College basketball odds, expert picks for Jan. 3: Back Notre Dame vs. NC State

Wednesday night's college basketball slate features dozens of matchups between power programs. Kentucky is favored by 3.5 points against LSU, Notre Dame is favored by seven against NC State, Oklahoma is favored by 9.5 against Oklahoma State and Florida State is favored by 1.5 at home in a huge ACC showdown against North Carolina.

Before you make any picks, you need to see what SportsLine college basketball expert Matt Norlander has to say.

Norlander is a national award-winning writer for CBS Sports who has covered college basketball since 2007. From insightful features to weekly game analysis, Norlander covers the sport from every angle. Every October, he gives out the Internet's most thorough ranking of all 351 Division I college basketball teams.

Now, Norlander, who is on a 4-1 hot streak on his picks, has evaluated Wednesday's entire slate and revealed his three best bets. You can find these only at SportsLine.

We can tell you that Norlander loves Notre Dame (-7) at home in a 9 p.m. ET tipoff against North Carolina State.

Over 50 percent of the public has jumped on NC State for this matchup, in large part because of the injury to Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson (21.4 points per game, 10.4 rebounds per game), who is expected to miss up to eight weeks after fracturing his foot.

But Norlander sees an opportunity with a line that has fallen 3.5 points. The Irish should play inspired because coach Mike Brey is looking for win No. 394 at Notre Dame, which would make him the winningest coach in program history.

Even without that extra incentive, Notre Dame is simply the better team. NC State got crushed on the road at Clemson 78-62 in its last game and also suffered a recent loss to UNC-Greensboro. Notre Dame, meanwhile, comes into this matchup with three straight victories -- including a quality start in conference play with a 68-59 win over Georgia Tech.

SportsLine's Projection Model strongly agrees with Norlander on this pick as well, saying Notre Dame covers the spread in 64 percent of simulations. Don't dwell on Colson's injury; lock in the Irish with a high degree of confidence Wednesday.

Norlander has also released a strong pick for two other big games, including the huge ACC showdown between Florida State and UNC. And he's sharing them over at SportsLine.

So who else is Norlander backing? Visit SportsLine now to see his top picks for Wednesday evening, plus see which side of UNC-Florida State you should be all over, all from the award-winning analyst who has covered college basketball for over a decade.

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