You know the saying: quality over quantity. That’s precisely what we have with the Friday night slate that includes two massive games between highly ranked teams. The Gonzaga Bulldogs and Baylor Bears, the two finalists from the 2021 NCAA Tournament, will battle it out in the Peacock Classic.
Additionally, we have a huge Big Ten matchup between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Maryland Terrapins. Both ranked teams are projected to finish in the top half of the conference by the end of the season. Check out the best bets below for these two bouts between heavyweights!
When: 8:00 PM EST
O 162.5 (-110)
U 162.5 (-110)
How good are the Baylor Bears and Gonzaga Bulldogs on the offensive end of the floor? According to KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric, these are the two best offensive teams in the nation through the first handful of games in the 2022-23 college season! Neither team is imposing on the defensive end of the floor, though, so expect a massive point total by the final horn.
Gonzaga and Baylor both stand at 5-2, but the Bulldogs have had an objectively more difficult schedule; they have played the No. 2, 5, 19, and 20th-ranked teams while also facing a tough Xavier squad that will likely be ranked itself sooner versus later.
Baylor is fresh off a clobbering from the Marquette Golden Eagles, who won the game by 26 points (96-70); Marquette created that entire deficit in the first half of the game. The Bears’ defense is certainly concerning, especially considering they are about to go up against Gonzaga’s high-octane offense. Currently, Baylor ranks 263rd in opponent eFG% and 335th in opponent 3P%.
Gonzaga isn’t a whole lot better on that end of the floor than Baylor; it ranks 52nd as opposed to Baylor’s 72nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. It also isn’t a very deep basketball team, despite looking great on paper in the preseason. The Bulldogs played nine guys in their last game, but their starters all played over 30 minutes. It’s clear that head coach Mark Few does not want to dig deep into his bench in critical games.
The bottom line is that the Bulldogs’ two losses are much more respectable than the two losses that Baylor sustained. Texas has a legitimate argument as the best team in the nation, and Purdue was peaking early in the season and was a matchup nightmare for Gonzaga due to its 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey. I’ll stick with the Gonzaga Moneyline in a revenge game for its loss in the 2021 NCAA Championship game and will also hammer the over on the point total.
When: 9:00 PM EST
Illinois Fighting Illini
O 144.5 (-110)
U 144.5 (-110)
After rolling out an almost entirely new team this season, the Fighting Illini have impressed through their first handful of games, going 6-1 in their first seven. Their only loss came against the now No. 3 Virginia Cavaliers by nine points.
The additions of Terrence Shannon Jr, Dain Dainja, and Matthew Mayer have proved to be some of the most valuable transfer acquisitions in the nation. Freshmen Skyy Clark and Jayden Epps have filled in the gaps for the Fighting Illini, providing electric guard play early in the season.
Maryland is a surprisingly dangerous squad this season. It has four players currently averaging 13 or more points per game, highlighting its elite offense (ranked 17th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency.) The Terrapins haven’t faced the steepest of competition thus far. Still, they are stomping opponents behind the play of Donta Scott, Julian Reese, Jahmir Young, and Hakim Hart, three of whom are seniors.
I’m a massive fan of the Fighting Illini this season, but the Big Ten is absolutely loaded, and road games will be as difficult as ever to win. I’m leaning toward the Terrapins at home, but this should be an extremely tight game until the finish. It will come down to the final few possessions of the game. I’d also look at the under on the point total, as defensive effort should ramp up and pace should slow down.
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Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.More info on Andrew Norton
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