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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks December 19

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published December 19, 2023
11 min read
Best College Basketball Bets Today December 19

The Big East season kicks off tomorrow, with the No. 6 Marquette Golden Eagles and the Providence Friars facing off; Marquette will look to pick up where it left off last season and repeat as Big East Champions, while Providence hopes to add a strong win to its future NCAA Tournament resume. 

We also get a Top 25 matchup between the No. 22 Virginia Cavaliers and the No. 23 Memphis Tigers, two teams with vastly different styles of play! See our best college basketball picks for these two electric matchups below!

No. 22 Virginia @ No. 23 Memphis

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PICK: Memphis -3 (-110)

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After a narrow two-point win over the formerly undefeated then-No. 13 Clemson Tigers, the No. 23 Memphis Tigers will try to win their second straight game over a ranked opponent! This time, Memphis faces the No. 22 Virginia Cavaliers, a team that is the second-slowest (361st out of 362 teams in adjusted tempo) in the country.

This will certainly be a battle between two teams that play completely different styles of basketball; the Tigers are a much more up-tempo team (25th in AdjT) and will want to push the pace early and often off of missed shots. The winner will likely be the team that controls the tempo and forces the opponent to play their style. So, who will it be?

There have been some really great early-season moments for the Memphis Tigers, including their most recent home win against Clemson and two narrow neutral-court victories versus the Michigan Wolverines and Arkansas Razorbacks. The Tigers’ only losses came by three points on the road to No. 25 Ole Miss and against Villanova.

Memphis has been able to achieve this success despite a three-game suspension to head coach Penny Hardaway, a denied waiver for an additional year of eligibility for former Memphis star DeAndre Williams, and, of course, the gun charges that freshman Mikey Williams was arrested for earlier this year that have kept him off the floor.

Despite all of these things, Memphis has been able to prevail. How? For starters, the Tigers have an abundance of experience, even if several of the players are brand new and just developing chemistry. Even though Memphis wasn’t able to return the aforementioned Williams (17.7 ppg), as well as last year’s leading scorer, Kendric Davis (21.9 ppg), it found a way to replenish its talent.

As a matter of fact, the Tigers lost their top five scorers from the 2022-23 season and still put a talented team on the floor. Malcolm Dandridge and Jayden Hardaway are the only two notable returners to this year’s team. However, it was the transfer portal where Penny Hardaway turned nothing into something; he brought in Jaykwon Walton, Jordan Brown, Jahvon Quinerly, David Jones, Nick Jourdain, Caleb Mills, and Jayhlon Young.

One thing to point out about the Tigers is that they are wide, tall, long, and strong; they have exceptional size at virtually every position, except for Jahvon Quinerly (6-foot-1), who is more than talented enough to make up for being slightly undersized relative to his position (point guard.) Virtually every other guard and wing player who gets substantial playing time stands between 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-9. Meanwhile, their center is 6-foot-11, too.

Ironically, despite their size and physicality, the Tigers are not a good rebounding team; they rank 224th in the nation in total rebounding percentage. This is one of the team’s biggest weaknesses, as they are otherwise great in transition and a very solid defensive team. However, Virginia is actually a worse rebounding team from a percentage standpoint, ranking just 259th out of all D-I schools.

While Virginia does a great job shooting the three (37.4%) and defending the three (26.1%), it is going to have an issue keeping up with the Tigers’ pace, especially in its first real road game this season. Let’s trust the Tigers and their experienced team to continue improving and gaining chemistry. Once they figure each other out more consistently, they will be lethal.

No. 6 Marquette @ Providence

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PICK: Marquette -4 (-110)

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What a way to kick off Big East play! The Marquette Golden Eagles travel to Providence for a battle with the Friars for their first conference game of the season. Thus far in the 2023-24 regular season, Marquette and Providence each boast a 9-2 record; however, the Golden Eagles have an opponent AdjEM (adjusted efficiency margin) that ranks 25th in the nation, while the Friars’ opponents’ AdjEM ranks 299th.

Needless to say, Marquette’s 9-2 record might hold a little bit more weight, as it has logged wins over No. 13 Illinois, No. 2 Kansas, and No. 19 Texas; its only losses were on the road against a tough, 24th-ranked Wisconsin team and versus Purdue, who just reclaimed the title of No. 1 team in the nation after knocking off Arizona.

While Marquette had decimated all of its first three “buy game” opponents by between 22 and 37 points, it struggled to slam the door shut against the St. Thomas Tommies in its last game; the Golden Eagles won by merely five points at home against the now-218th-ranked team in KenPom’s AdjEM. Marquette is going to have a serious test on the road, where it is just 1-1 on the season, against this Providence team.

Still, the Golden Eagles are, simply put, a superior team on both ends of the floor. Chalk their last game off to a lack of motivation against an inferior opponent and as more of an outlier than anything. This Marquette team returned nearly every player, save Olivier-Maxence Prosper, from last season’s squad, so they have plenty of chemistry and are used to winning in hostile enviroments (9-4 on the road last year).

The Friars have an exceptional defense (15th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency); however, their offense is way too weak to keep up with a Kam Jones and Tyler Kolek-led attack.

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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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