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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks December 13

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published December 13, 2023
11 min read
Best College Basketball Bets Today December 13

If you happen to live in the Eastern time zone, you better plan on staying up late! Two of the best matchups on Wednesday, each featuring a top 25 team, will be played on the west coast at 9:00 pm EST. The No. 8 team in the nation, Creighton, heads to UNLV for a battle with the Runnin’ Rebels, while the 18th-ranked BYU Cougars host Denver. Take a look at our best college basketball picks today below!

No. 8 Creighton @ UNLV

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PICK: Creighton -13.5 (-110)

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Creighton has left little doubt in most of its eight wins this season, holding an average margin of victory of over 23 points, despite losing a game to No. 17 Colorado State by 21 points. Still, the Rams have one of the best offenses in the nation (ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom) and caught the Bluejays on an “off shooting night.”

However, besides the single loss against CSU, Creighton has been nothing short of elite, winning seven of its eight games by double-digits. Iowa was the only team that had the offensive firepower (19th in adjO) to keep a game against the Bluejays in single digits (eight points.)

As a team, Creighton has shot 51% from the floor, 40% from deep, and 75% from the charity stripe; however, those numbers also include the CSU game, in which they shot just 28% from the floor and 21% from behind the arc. 

Creighton’s exceptionally talented roster features several returners, including Baylor Scheierman, Trey Alexander, Ryan Kalkbrenner, Mason Miller, Fredrick King, and Francisco Farabello. Further, the Bluejays corralled two key transfers to replace the losses of Ryan Nembhard (Gonzaga) and Arthur Kaluma (Kansas State); they brought in Isaac Traudt (Virginia) and Steven Ashworth (Utah State), who have been phenomenal additions to an already elite team. 

Ashworth has an impressive shooting split of 44/41/88 so far this season, while Traudt has been just as impressive, shooting 58% from the floor and 52% from deep on reasonable volume. These aren’t just “beginning of the season numbers” anymore.

If recent history has told us anything, it is that only teams who are capable of putting up a substantial amount of points (i.e., Iowa and Colorado State) on this Creighton defense, which is eighth in adjusted defensive effiiciency, have even an outside shot of keeping the game close. 

UNLV doesn’t have that, as it ranks 171st in points per game and 98th in unadjusted offensive efficiency. The Runnin’ Rebels have little shot to keep this game within 20 points against a Creighton team that has been one of the best in America, save a hiccup against CSU.

Denver @ No. 18 BYU

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PICK: BYU -26.5 (-110)

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Don’t worry, BYU fans. The Cougars are going to bounce back sooner rather than later after a tough, four-point road loss to the Utah Utes this past Saturday. Utah is a solid team that ranks 37th in KenPom’s adjEM and 26th in adjusted offensive efficiency. Until that road loss, the Cougars were undefeated, with wins over NC State (70th in adjEM), San Diego State (32nd in adjEM), Arizona State (99th in adjEM), and a handful of mid-majors. 

Before the start of the season, BYU was not on anyone’s radar as a potential Top 25 team in the nation; however, the Cougars are currently No. 18 and rank eighth in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin, ahead of massive programs like Gonzaga, Kansas, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, and many others. 

The Cougars returned Fousseyni Traore (last season’s leading scorer), Spencer Johnson, Jaxson Robinson (this season’s leading scorer), Dallin Hall, Richie Saunders, Noah Waterman, and Atiki Ally Atiki from last year’s 19-15 team that finished fifth in the WCC. Trevin Knell is also back after missing the entire 2022-23 season for the Cougars; he has been a huge impact player for them, averaging roughly 12 points per game on 48% shooting from the floor and 42% from deep.

Seven players currently average between 9.4 and 16.9 points per game for this BYU offense that ranks sixth in the nation in points per game. If that doesn’t prove their depth, then perhaps this will: ten players see the floor for between 13 and 26 minutes per game this season. BYU shoots 37.5% from deep as a team and has an effective field goal percentage of 57% (14th in the country.) 

And then, of course, there is BYU’s lack of turnovers; the Cougars commit just ten turnovers per game, displaying impressive fundamentals and ball-protection instincts offensively. When they do miss shots on the offensive end, they often secure the rebound and get another good look; they rank 19th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage (36.5%.)

None of this bodes well for the Denver Pioneers, a team that ranks 344th (out of 362 teams) in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric. Denver loves to play up-tempo basketball, but that often equates to giving up easy baskets, making mental errors, and miscommunicating on the defensive end of the floor, both in transition and in the half-court. The Pioneers allow just shy of 80 points per game and that is against some poor competition.

In their last game against Colorado State, the Pioneers gave up a whopping 90 points. While they were able to score 80 points of their own, there is a huge difference between the Rams’ defense (99th in adjD) and BYU’s (11th in adjD.) 

Denver’s only redeemable quality as a team is its three-point shooting (38% as a team), but the Cougars just so happen to allow opponents to shoot merely 23.6% from deep, which is the second-lowest (best) in the nation. This will be a beatdown of epic proportions.

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Andrew Norton

117 Articles

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.

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