College hoops is officially underway! While the first article had a couple of tough beats, we’re off to a good start overall if you’ve been following along on Twitter — @julianedlow. Thanksgiving week is over, but we still have some college basketball tournaments going on, giving us a good variety of games from the afternoon through the evening. Some really close games jump out to me, so we’ll be playing a few moneylines on Monday on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Neither team has been tested yet, getting similar wins over small schools to get their feet wet and start the season 1-0. Indiana beat Tennessee Tech, 89-59, while Providence bested Fairfield by a final of 97-56. This is kind of like handicapping a season opener, because I don’t think we learned much about either team. Had one played a closer game, we potentially could’ve had a fade on that team. From the returning pieces and preseason rankings, the Hoosiers just appear to be the better team on paper here. Turning to the analytics, KenPom has Indiana ranked 25th, with an adjusted defensive efficiency of 18th overall. Given the gap on defense, and Indiana also ranking higher offensively, we should see enough edges on the Hoosiers side to back them in a close one. Providence’s KenPom checks in at 46th.
I’m going with a different theory here, as BC and St. John’s actually rank quite similar — both check in in the mid-70s in KenPom. However, in a pick’em type of game this early in the season, I’ll gladly back the team that’s been far more tested to this point. SJU only has wins over La Salle and St. Peter’s, somehow creeping by St. Peter’s by just one point. The Red Storm hasn’t played a real game yet. Meanwhile, the Eagles gave themselves a very tough test in the Empire Classic last week, opening the season against Villanova. This game was tied at halftime and BC covered the spread, eventually losing by nine. It was an encouraging effort against a terrific team, though. The Eagles closed as 2.5-point dogs against URI the following day and were able to beat the Rams by five points despite their top scorer from the ’Nova game sitting out. Now healthier with some rest, expect a good showing from the Eagles in this one.
We’re onto a third theory here, backing an under-ranked team against a team in its first game of the season. Both of these teams lost their starting point guards to the NBA Draft a couple of weeks ago, but return good pieces. Having this game around a pick’em makes sense, and most rankings would agree with that. I tend to think Alabama should be the better of the two teams this season, but this play has more to do with Stanford opening in a tough game. The Cardinal were scheduled to play on Wednesday, but had their game canceled. Now the team will get its feet wet against a Crimson Tide squad that got off to a solid start last week. While Jacksonville State isn’t much, ’Bama did what it was supposed to do, dominating in an 81-57 victory. I expect the Tide to be the more ready team and could be worth considering on the 1H moneyline by this logic as well.
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