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|TOP BETS TODAY|
|7:00pm||ESPN+||Bellarmine @ #19 Kentucky||UK -25.5 (-110)|
|7:00pm||ESPN+||UC Santa Barbara @ Duquesne||OVER 135.5 (-110)|
|7:30pm||ESPN||Syracuse @ #16 Illinois||SYR +12.5 (-110)|
|8:30pm||FS1||#6 Baylor @ Marquette||BAY -4.5 (-150)|
|9:30pm||ESPN||#3 Virginia @ Michigan||UVA -3.5 (-110)|
7:00 PM EST (ESPN+) – Bellarmine (2-5) @ #19 Kentucky (4-2)
With the pre-season tournament weekend wrapped up, we’re still a few weeks away from the beginning of conference play. While Bellarmine traveling to Kentucky isn’t at the forefront of “marquee matchups” this week, there is plenty of games throughout the week that are well worth watching.
Bellarmine has started off a battle tested early season very solid. Specifically against the spread, covering against Duke & UCLA at lower numbers than their spread tonight against Calipari’s Wildcats (25.5). While Bellarmine has performed well against the spread (4-2), and Kentucky has struggled in their big games to begin the season, I don’t think Bellarmine has what it takes to hang with Kentucky.
Bellarmine is pretty much always outsized when competing against Power 5 programs, but Kentucky is a different matchup nightmare. The Knights biggest starter is 6’8 Sophomore Curt Hopf, who’s averaging an abysmal 2.9 rebounds per game through 7 games. Oscar Tschiebwe and Jacob Toppin should have a field day tonight at Rupp Arena. Cats by 30+.
PICK: KENTUCKY -25.5 (-110)
7:00 PM EST (ESPN+) – UC Santa Barbara (4-1) @ Duquesne (5-1)
UC Santa Barbara travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Dukes. Duquesne is favored by 3.5 points as the total sits at 136.
Duquesne loves to play up-tempo, averaging 80 ppg to begin the year. Santa Barbara likes to play at a but of a slower tempo, but I think they’ll get caught up in Duquesne’s game trying to keep pace. With the way Duquesne plays, they’re liable to go on runs but also give up points in bunches in doing so.
The point guard matchup is going to be fun, with Junior guard Dae Dae Grant averaging 19.2 ppg on 53% shooting going head to toe with Sophomore guard Ajay Mitchell (15.2 ppg & 6.2 apg).
PICK: OVER 135.5 (-110)
7:30 PM EST (ESPN) – Syracuse (3-3) @ #16 Illinois (5-1)
In one of six ACC/Big Ten matchups tonight, Jim Boeheim’s struggling young team travel to Illinois to take on one of the best teams in the country in the Fighting Illini.
Illinois is good. REALLY good. And I’m all in on them. But Syracuse is better than advertised. In an important game in terms of setting the tone for the rest of the season, 12.5 points is too much.
Freshman guard Judah Mintz has been an exciting emergence for Syracuse. In their last outing, Mintz was ejected, which may have been a blessing in disguise. The emergence of fellow Frosh Justin Taylor was fun to watch as he logged a season high in minutes – scoring 25 points en route to a heartbreaking loss on a game winner to Bryant.
Fighting Illini win tonight, but by single digits. Jimmy B covers.
PICK: SYRACUSE +12.5 (-110)
8:30 PM EST (FS1) – #6 Baylor (5-1) @ Marquette (5-2)
I saw Marquette play live at the Fort Myers Tip Off last week, where they lost to Mississippi State and beat the piss out of Georgia Tech. Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles are fun, for sure. But they are young. Very young.
Their starting backcourt of Sophomores Kam Jones and Tyler Kolek is exciting, and they compliment each other well. They haven’t often been outmatched this year. But they will be tonight against Baylor.
Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer and Keyonte George all start for the Bears, making up the best 3 headed monster of starting guards in the country. They also bring in veteran Dale Bonner off the bench, while Marquette turns to two Freshman guards for bench minutes (Sean Jones and Chase Ross).
Baylor is better, deeper and more experienced. Marquette may keep it close for a majority of the game, so buy the points down to 4.5. If it becomes a fouling game at the end, Baylor should have no problem covering.
PICK: BAYLOR -4.5 (-150)
9:30 PM EST (ESPN) #3 Virginia (5-0) @ Michigan (5-1)
In the final ACC/Big Ten challenge tonight, red hot Virginia takes on Michigan. Virginia, after coming into the season outside the Top 25, has elevated all the way to #3 in the rankings.
After big wins over Baylor and Illinois, Tony Bennett’s squad looks like they haven’t taken a step back at all. They check all the boxes: talent, battle tested, and experience.
Michigan has been disappointing, to say the least. I’d be curious to see what this line sat at if it was at a neutral sight. Home court advantage certainly holds weight in college basketball, but I think Virginia is just too good for the Wolverines. Virginia will open this one up early in the second half.
PICK: VIRGINIA -3.5 (-110)