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Christmas is coming early for college basketball fans! There are a total of 13 games that feature ranked opponents, including No. 5 Houston Cougars versus No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers, No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 9 Arizona Wildcats, and No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide versus No. 15 Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Below, we cover all the games mentioned to determine which teams will cover the given spread. This is the best Saturday slate so far in the 2022-23 season, so don’t miss out on betting on these games. Take a look below and see if you want to tail!
When: 1:00 PM EST
Alabama Crimson Tide
O 158 (-110)
U 158 (-110)
Alabama has played above expectations through the first third of the 2022-23 season; it just got a massive win against the formerly No. 1 Houston Cougars. Even more impressive is the fact that the Crimson Tide stole that game on the road! In their next game, they squeaked by a seriously underrated Memphis Tigers team ranked 25th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin; a letdown game was to be expected. Now, Alabama will be tested again when it faces another highly-ranked team: Gonzaga.
When compared to expectations, Gonzaga has been disappointing this season. It has dropped games to Texas, Purdue, and Baylor. By no means are those bad losses, and everyone knows that the Bulldogs have one of the most demanding non-conference schedules in the country, but they are not the team we expected to see this year. While Drew Timme is playing some of his best basketball in his collegiate career, he is not surrounded by the caliber of playmakers he has been in recent years.
Altogether, this matchup does not bode well for the Zags. Alabama ranks first in total rebounds per game by a wide margin; it crashes the glass as well as any team in America. Meanwhile, Gonzaga averages nearly ten fewer rebounds per game. Even if the Bulldogs throw bodies at 6-foot-9 sharp-shooting forward Brandon Miller, a surefire lottery pick due to his impressive scoring at all three levels on the floor, players like Noah Clowney have stepped up. Clowney has been a menace in his past three games, averaging roughly 16 points and ten rebounds.
With Clowney’s emergence, Miller’s superstar play, Mark Sears’ leadership, and Jahvon Quinerly’s playmaking, I like for the Crimson Tide to get the job done in what will likely be similar to a home crowd.
When: 2:00 PM EST
O 112 (-110)
U 112 (-110)
After suffering their first loss of the season to the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Houston Cougars dropped from the No. 1 team in the nation to No. 5. Houston quickly bounced back with a 28-point win in its next game. Still, there have been a few identified deficiencies. For one, the Cougars don’t have reliable three-point shooting (199th in the nation), allowing teams to pack the paint a bit more. The unreliable shooting from behind the arc will enable teams to mitigate what Houston does best: rebound.
Virginia has had one of the more surprising teams out of any squad ranked in the Top 25. The Cavaliers have yet to lose a game in the 2022-23 season and have proved their maturity by winning close games; however, they’ve been in quite a few close games, which is concerning. They let an awful Florida State team play them within five points, barely squeezed by James Madison with a five-point win, and beat Michigan by two points. Those were all in their past three games.
The Virginia Cavaliers seem to be a team that plays to its competition, which makes it hard to truly gauge how talented they are this season and how they will fare against the intensity of Houston. Additionally, the Cougars are a far better rebounding and defensive team. Even though Virginia is a top-tier three-point shooting squad, Houston is arguably even better at defending the perimeter. The Cougars should cover in this one.
When: 10:30 PM EST
O 148.5 (-110)
U 148.5 (-110)
Arizona is fresh off a massive win against the Indiana Hoosiers, a Top 25 basketball team. The Hoosiers are known for their efficiency on offense, mainly due to their strong and athletic frontcourt that features Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson, and Malik Reneau. For the first time all season, the Hoosiers looked overpowered in all aspects of the game. Arizona’s frontcourt duo of Oumar Ballo and Azuolas Tubelis dominated Indiana from start to finish; they average just shy of 40 combined points and 18 rebounds per game.
Additionally, the Wildcats have multiple reliable three-point shooters, including Courtney Ramey, Cedric Henderson Jr, Kerr Kriisa, and Tubelis. This team ranks first in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, and the difference between them and the second-ranked team is not particularly close.
Meanwhile, Tennessee is one of the most well-distributed scoring teams in the country; it has six players who score between nine and 11 points per game. That is not to say Tennessee is a powerhouse on that end of the floor, but it gets by, primarily due to its defense. The Volunteers boast the No. 1 defense, per KenPom and his adjusted defensive efficiency margin.
This game features the No. 1 offense and the No. 1 defense. I’ll stick with the saying, “great offense beats great defense.” It’s true. The Wildcats have everything that a National Title-contending team should have, and Tennessee is going to be overpowered inside. The Volunteers may be a great defensive team, but the combination of Ballo and Tubelis is too much.
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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