College Basketball Best Bets (2/18/23)
We have a loaded college basketball slate featuring some Big 12 and Big 10 battles. However, I find some college basketball best bets for 2/18/23.
Baylor vs Kansas Best Bet
Saturday’s premier game pits the Baylor Bears against the Kansas Jayhawks in a battle of two top-10 teams. Baylor got off to a shaky start this season but have quickly rounded back into form off the backs of their elite guard play.
Their defense has severely lacked in efficiency in comparison to years past, ranking a lowly 78th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom. Their no middle defense has lacked intensity, failing to shift over to respect ball movement and leaving them vulnerable for open looks at the rim.
Kansas will be well equipped to exploit this with Jalen Wilson commanding a brunt of Baylor’s attention. He has formed into one of the best all-around offensive players in the nation, gashing defenses with his drives at the basket as well as his shooting as a whole.
With Baylor’s defense having to focus on Wilson, this will open up holes for the rest of the Jayhawks to exploit. This bodes especially well for Gradey Dick, one of the deadliest perimeter shooters in basketball.
With Baylor’s offense showing no signs of slowing down, as well as Kansas being able to consistently generate open looks, take the over at no higher than 150 in what will be a thrilling top-10 matchup.
Best Bet: Over 148
Best Bet Tennessee vs Kentucky Best Bet
After a slight hiccup in their most recent outings, the Vols bounced right back to elite status with a massive win against the newly minted number one Alabama Crimson Tide. It was a patented victory on their end, suffocating the elite Alabama offense with their patented defense and using that havoc to generate baskets on the other end.
As for Kentucky, this season has been one to forget for the Wildcats as they have mightily regressed throughout the year. That was until they picked up an impressive win against Mississippi State in their last outing as a slight underdog.
Both units have a common theme between the two and that is both offenses are as brutally inconsistent as it comes. Especially on Tennessee’s end, constantly hovering the cutoff line of a historic national champion per Kenpom.
Even though both offenses have slightly improved in efficiency in their most recent outings, I believe we are due for a clunker in this matchup when defense becomes the main focus again. Both excel at shutting down the interior, daring each other to find production from the perimeter.
I will take the under at no lower than 135 in what will be a game full of scoring lulls.
Best Bet: Under 136
Michigan State vs Michigan Best Bet
This rivalry has lost some of its luster in what is a down year for both programs, but you can be sure that they will bring the heat come tipoff. Especially with this being a must win situation for the Wolverines as time is dwindling down for them to improve their resume. That time may have already come to an end, but a win against your rival is always sure to pad the resume when bubble teams are being compared to each other.
Their offense has mightily struggled to find any sort of scoring consistency, lacking a perimeter presence and allowing opposing defenses to hone in more on Hunter Dickinson. Jett Howard has been their lone bright spot on the arc, serving as the Wolverines second go-to scoring option.
As for Michigan State, their offensive game has completely abandoned them behind coach Izzo’s refusal to evolve. He still implements sets to end with a mid-range look, proving to be ineffective against today’s modern style of play. They dont generate enough offense to be a threat, solely relying on their defense.
It should be mentioned that their defense has been elite, ranking top-20 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per Kenpom. They create havoc in the interior and get out and run for points in transition. The issue is Michigan plays a more conservative style of play with sets running through Dickinson on the post. He will have the edge in the interior with his scoring prowess, as well as opening the floor for others.
Early money has hit the Spartans, giving me pause on the number for now. I will wait to see how low this can go before putting a position on the Wolverines before tipoff.
Best Bet: Wait on Michigan spread
Notre Dame vs Virginia Best Bet
We have potentially one of the slowest and most boring matchups possible to start the noon slate when the FIghting Irish battle it out against Virginia.
After a rough start, Virginia has bounced back as the best team in the ACC. They almost fit the mold as a contending champion, ranking just below the cutoff line for Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Speaking of defense, that side of the court is practically non-existent for Notre Dame as they rank 309th in AdjD.
Luck for the Irish defense, possessions will be at a minimum as both units are two of the slowest pace teams in the league. Both rank above 300th in Adjusted Tempo, both basing their offense off of methodical half court sets.
Notre Dame still excels on the offensive end, running as a perimeter threat to find gaps in the defense and bury them with an open look. Although they have shot a little before their average in years past, averaging 36.7% from three.
With possessions coming at a premium, and Notre Dame’s offense being able to find some scoring success against Virginia’s suffocating defense, I will back the Irish on the large number. Take this at no less than +12.
Best Bet: Notre Dame +14