College basketball odds, expert picks, predictions for January 17: Back Alabama against Auburn

College hoops season rolls on Wednesday, Jan. 17, with another full day of games. Auburn is favored by 1.5 against Alabama, Villanova is favored by 14 against Georgetown, Texas Tech is favored by three against Texas and Missouri is a one-point favorite at home against Tennessee.

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

Norlander is an 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 preseason, he gives out the Internet's most thorough ranking of all 351 Division I college basketball teams.

Three times each week, he gives SportsLine his top picks. When he locked in those best bets Sunday, he called for a "comfortable win" for USC (-6.5) over Utah because of the Trojans' front line.

The result: USC forwards Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu combined for 24 points and 14 rebounds as the Trojans rolled to an 84-67 victory that covered the spread with plenty of room to spare.

Now, Norlander, who is 11-7 on his best bets, has evaluated Wednesday's entire slate and revealed his three best bets. You can find these only at SportsLine.

We can tell you Norlander loves Alabama (+1.5) at home in a 7 p.m. ET tipoff against rival Auburn.

The Crimson Tide, winners of their past two, haven't won three straight since early in the nonconference schedule in November. Auburn, meanwhile, comes into this game smoking hot with a 16-1 overall record and 14 consecutive victories, including a 4-0 start in conference play.

A program that hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since the 2002-03 season is now ranked No. 17 in the nation and will be looking for a statement win against its bitter in-state rival.

But Norlander sees an edge for an Alabama team that will be playing at home with a raucous crowd. The Tide have the best player in this matchup in freshman guard Collin Sexton, an NBA prospect who is averaging 19.3 points.

"It's time for Sexton to have a statement game," Norlander said. "Bama wins a close one."

Back Alabama against the spread and consider the Tide on the money line (+119) since Norlander is calling for the outright upset.

Norlander has also released strong picks for two other games, including the Big East showdown between Xavier and St. John's at 8:30 p.m. ET, and he has found huge value in a game you're not even thinking about. And he's sharing them over at SportsLine.

So who else is Norlander backing? Visit SportsLine now to see his top picks for Wednesday's action, plus see which side of St. John's-Xavier you should be all over and get a huge value pick from a game you're not even thinking about, all from the award-winning analyst who has covered college basketball for over a decade.

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