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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks December 20

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published December 20, 2023
11 min read
Best College Basketball Bets Today December 20

Wednesday is jam-packed with top teams playing; however, there are two excellent games we will focus on, which both feature teams ranked in the Top 25, including the No. 10 Baylor Bears versus the No. 21 Duke Blue Devils and the No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners versus the No. 11 North Carolina Tar Heels.

See our best college basketball picks for these two marquee matchups below, including an analysis on which team we believe will win!

No. 10 Baylor @ No. 21 Duke

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PICK: Baylor +2 (-110) at DraftKings

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The first marquee game of the night features the No. 10 Baylor Bears and the No. 21 Duke Blue Devils. There are several NBA-caliber players, including Kyle Filipowski, Mark Mitchell, Tyrese Proctor, Jared McCain, and Ja’Kobe Walter, in these two high-powered offenses. As a matter of fact, Baylor ranks second in adjusted offensive efficiency in the nation, while Duke sits at tenth, despite a slower start to the 2023-24 regular season.

The Duke Blue Devils have been primarily a destination for elite one-and-done players in the past decade or so; however, they returned a near-handful of exceptional players from last season’s team, including three players (Proctor, Filipowski, and Mitchell) who would have likely been 2023 NBA Draft picks.

Instead, all three of the aforementioned players, as well as upperclassman Jeremy Roach, decided to come back for one more year to try and win a National Championship. The Blue Devils also brought in several five-star and four-star recruits, including McCain, Caleb Foster, Sean Stewart, and T.J. Power.

Still, Duke has struggled at times this year, losing at home against now-No. 4 Arizona and on the road against unranked opponents Arkansas and Georgia Tech. Consistency has been an issue, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, where the Blue Devils rank 37th in adjusted defensive efficiency. They have allowed opponents to shoot 43.1% from the field (47.1% in their past three games) and 32.3% from behind the arc. Further, opponents post more than 66 points per game versus Duke, which is not a good sign considering the Blue Devils face Baylor and its exceptional offense.

Actually, Baylor’s second-ranked offense (adjO per KenPom) is bordering on outrageous, as it shoots 44.6% (best in the nation by 3.2%) from behind the arc and 51.1% (ninth in the nation) from the floor. 

The combination of Ja’Kobe Walter (projected top-ten pick in the 2024 NBA Draft), RayJ Dennis, Langston Love, Jayden Nunn, Jalen Bridges, and Yves Missi is lethal. Each of those players averages over 10.1 points per game, displaying a balanced attack that is impossible to prepare for as an opponent. Additionally, Missi is the only non-shooter on that list of players, with everyone else shooting around that 40% mark.

While Duke secured a 21-point win in its last game against Hofstra, an unranked mid-major program, it nonetheless allowed the Pride to shoot 50% from the floor and 42% from deep. Talent on the offensive end helped the Blue Devils pull away against Hofstra, but they won’t be able to do the same against Baylor, especially if projected first-rounder Tyrese Proctor is still sidelined. Keep an eye on his availability leading up to tip-off.

No. 7 Oklahoma @ No. 11 North Carolina

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PICK: Oklahoma +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings

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The Oklahoma Sooners might be the real deal, but can they prove it to everyone else with a win versus the North Carolina Tar Heels on Wednesday night?

Oklahoma is the seventh-ranked team in the country and boasts a perfect 10-0 record, with wins over Providence (45th in KenPom’s AdjEM), Arkansas (46th in AdjEM), USC (40th in AdjEm), and Iowa (59th in AdjEM); the Sooners haven’t played the hardest schedule in the nation, but have still won by nine or more points in three of those four top-60 bouts, proving that they take care of business.

The Sooners lost their top three scorers (Grant Sherfield, Tanner Groves, and Jalen Hill) from last season’s team, but have had returners Otega Oweh and Milos Uzan take big steps forward. Oweh, in particular, has been a huge success story, leaping from roughly five points per game scoring to 15 points per game so far this year; his shooting split of 67/75/74 is borderline incomprehensible. Uzan and Oweh make up a talented backcourt that can compete with most other guard units in college basketball. And that includes North Carolina.

Beyond those two talented returners, Oklahoma also received a substantial amount of help in the transfer portal, bringing in Siena transfer Javian McCollum (14.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.7 rpg), Georgia Tech transfer Jalon Moore (8.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Utah Valley transfer Le’tre Darthard (7.9 ppg), Oregon transfer Rivaldo Soares (7.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg), and Pittsburgh transfer John Hugley IV (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg.) It shouldn’t be a mystery why this team is ranked in the A.P. Poll!

Meanwhile, the Tar Heels had a slightly different off-season, returning R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot, two of their top three players from the past few years. Davis (21.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.8 apg) and Bacot (15.2 ppg, 11.3 rpg) have each been performing at an All-American level this season, but their supporting cast has been nearly as vital to the team’s overall success.

UNC lost a number of key role players from the 2022-23 team, as well as star guard Caleb Love; however, the Tar Heels replenished talent in the transfer portal and through recruitment, like many teams across the nation. Harrison Ingram (Stanford), Elliot Cadeau (five-star freshman), and Cormac Ryan (Notre Dame) make up one of the best trio of portal transfers of any D-I team.

Regardless of their 7-3 record (their losses have been against No. 5 UConn, No. 9 Kentucky, and Villanova), this Tar Heels team is extraordinarily dangerous; they rank seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency.

So, this will undoubtedly be the biggest test for Oklahoma. Can the Sooners beat a talented Tar Heels squad in the Spectrum Center, which will be somewhat similar to a home game for UNC?

Oklahoma certainly has a great shot at securing an “upset” (if you want to call it that.) The Sooners are fifth in the nation in opponent 3P%, while North Carolina has shot just 30% from deep in its past three games, indicating a concerning trend of poor shooting. The Sooners are a superior rebounding team, too, ranking 12th in the nation in total rebounding rate; UNC ranks just 103rd. This is a terrific matchup for a team that has an overflow of talent and is performing at a really high level thus far in the 2023-24 campaign.

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AUTHOR

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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