This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
With college basketball fest week rolling into Friday, Steve Peralta is back with another round of best bets for the day’s action.
duke vs xavier
Both Duke and Xavier start this game with offensive attacks that rank in the top 20 of KenPom’s Adjusted Efficiency Ratings. Duke’s defense isn’t too far behind, but Xavier’s defense is right at number 74.
Duke is once again loaded with plenty of talented newcomers, so they’ll likely pick up a lot of points on a vulnerable defense. Both Florida and Indiana have recently torched Xavier’s defenses in the Muskateer’s last two games, scoring over 80 points in each game.
On the other side of the pitch, Xavier is proving to be one of the top marksman teams in the country. The Muskateers are making over 45 percent of their three-point attempts this season, the fourth-highest percentage of any D1 team. They have five different players shooting over 38 percent from behind the bow on at least nine attempts and record the third-highest assist rate as a team. If Xavier keeps playing team ball, every opposing defense will be under pressure to stop them.
The Muskateers have scored at least 78 points in every game this season, including against an elite Indiana defense. Duke is talented and won’t make it easy for him, but I bet this game will turn into a shootout, resulting in a high score game. I take care of this.
College Basketball Best Bet: Over 147
Connecticut vs Alabama
When you look at the overall efficiency numbers for each team, there’s little separation. Both teams rank in the top 20 on both offense and defense. That being said, a few things jump out after digging deeper.
First off, while both teams are elite on defense, Alabama is still a notch above the rest in some categories. The Crimson Tide keeps opponents at the lowest two-point field goal percentage of any D1 team, additionally the second lowest allowable defensive field goal percentage and the second highest offensive rebound rate. UConn’s frontcourt has also been excellent this season, but it’s hard to ignore Alabama’s top placings in multiple categories.
Additionally, Alabama tackles the basket as often as any other team, resulting in a high free-throw ratio and ranks 46th in the country. That advantage is likely to be amplified in this game as UConn’s defense has had significant fouling issues and ranks 313th in defensive free throw rate.
While no team lacks talent, the current class of freshmen in Alabama arguably gives it an edge. Players like Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney have played significant roles in Alabama’s early success and dominance, and their ceiling remains to be seen. Alabama’s recruiting class was ranked fourth best in the country after 247 sports, so the freshmen’s success isn’t too surprising.
This game is going to be close, but when the dust settles, I bet the above advantages will play a part if Alabama pulls off a hard-fought victory.
College Basketball Best Bet: Alabama -1
Oregon vs michigan st
The Ducks go into this game 2-3, but don’t let their record fool you. Oregon is conceding back-to-back losses to teams ranked in the top 12 on KenPom’s overall efficiency chart. This team is still coached by Dana Altman, so you can never count them out.
The Oregon defense has played better than their current efficiency ranking would suggest. The Ducks block shots at the highest rate of any D1 team, and this will likely come into play as Michigan State has been prone to having shots blocked and ranks 260th in offensive blocked shots. Oregon was also a strong rebound team that season, ranking in the top-76 in the country in both offensive and defensive rebound rates, both significantly higher than Michigan State. And as it turns out, the Ducks are actually the biggest team in the country according to KenPom, so those extraordinary stats will likely continue to factor in the size advantage. This isn’t the kind of roster Michigan State wants to see after losing 6’8 starting forward Malik Hall to injury.
Oregon’s offense, meanwhile, ranks 44th in adjusted efficiency despite not shooting the ball well in five games. The Ducks are making 27 percent of their three-point attempts, a terrible tally, but that number is lower than one might expect given the Oregon roster, apparently a byproduct of preseason bad luck. Senior Will Richardson has only made 6 of 23 three-point attempts, yet he has shot over 40 percent from behind the arc in all three of his previous seasons, on a total of 286 attempts. Given Richardson’s long track record, it’s reasonable to predict he won’t be shooting 26 percent from beyond the arc for the remainder of the season. The same goes for Quincy Guerrier, who had 34 percent from 154 three-point attempts last season but has only 21 percent in five games this season.
Michigan State is a tough team to bet against, but so is Oregon. Ultimately, I bet the Ducks’ veteran roster will still stay in the game by playing to their strengths listed above. I’ll take the points in a close.
College Basketball Best Bet: Oregon +2.5
Friday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here’s a recap of my best Thursday college basketball bets:
- Duke vs Xavier – Over 147
- Oregon +2.5
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