This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
College basketball Feast Week carries on into Friday, and Steve Peralta is back with another round of best bets for the day's action.
Duke vs Xavier
Both Duke and Xavier enter 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 trails all the way at No. 74.
Duke is once again loaded with many talented freshmen, so they will likely put up a ton of points on a vulnerable defense. Both Florida and Indiana recently torched Xavier's defense in the Muskateer's previous two games, putting up over 80 points in each game.
On the other side of the court, Xavier is proving itself to be one of the best shooting teams in the country. The Muskateers are making over 45 percent of their three-point attempts this season, the fourth-highest percentage among all D1 teams. They have five different players shooting over 38 percent from behind the arc on at least nine attempts, in addition to recording the third-highest assist rate as a team. If Xavier continues playing team ball, any opposing defense will be hard-pressed 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, but I'm betting this game turns into a shootout, yielding a high-scoring game. I'll take the over.
College Basketball Best Bet: Over 147
Connecticut vs Alabama
In looking at the overall efficiency numbers for each team, there's hardly any separation. Both teams rank top-20 in both offense and defense. That being said, a couple of things jump out after digging deeper.
First off, while both teams are elite on defense, Alabama is still a cut above the rest in a few categories. The Crimson Tide are holding opponents to the lowest two-point field goal percentage among all D1 teams, in addition to ranking second-lowest defensive field goal percentage allowed, and second-highest offensive rebounding rate. UConn's frontcourt has also been excellent this season, but it's hard to ignore Alabama's chart-topping rankings in several categories.
Furthermore, Alabama attacks the basket as much as any team, resulting in a high free-throw attempt rate, ranking No. 46 in the country. This advantage will likely be amplified in this game because UConn's defense has had significant trouble with fouling, ranking No. 313 in defensive free throw attempt rate.
While neither team is short on talent, Alabama's current freshmen class arguably gives it an edge. Players such as Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney have played a significant role in Alabama's early success and domination, and their ceiling remains to be seen. Alabama's recruiting class was ranked fourth-best in the country, per 247 sports, so the freshmen's success isn't too surprising.
This game will be close, but when the dust settles, I'm betting the advantages mentioned above will play a role in Alabama claiming a hard-earned victory.
College Basketball Best Bet: Alabama -1
Oregon vs Michigan St
The Ducks enter this game at 2-3 but don't let their record fool you. Oregon is coming off back-to-back losses against teams that rank in the top 12 of KenPom's overall efficiency chart. This team is still coached by Dana Altman, so you can never count them out.
Oregon's defense has played better than its current efficiency ranking indicates. The Ducks are blocking shots at the highest rate among all D1 teams, and this will likely come into play as Michigan State has been vulnerable to having shots blocked, ranking No. 260 in offensive blocked shots. Oregon has also been a strong rebounding team this season, ranking top-76 in the country in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates, both significantly higher than Michigan State. And as it turns out, the Ducks are actually the tallest team in the country, per KenPom, so these exceptional stats will likely continue considering the height advantage. This isn't the kind of roster Michigan State wants to see after losing 6'8 starting forward Malik Hall due to injury.
Oregon's offense, meanwhile, ranks No. 44 in adjusted efficiency in spite of not shooting the ball well through five games. The Ducks are making 27 percent of their three-point attempts, an awful mark, but this number is lower than one might expect given Oregon's roster, seemingly a byproduct of early-season bad luck. Senior Will Richardson has made just 6-of-23 three-point attempts, and yet he's shot over 40 percent from behind the arc in all three of his previous seasons, on 286 total attempts. Given Richardson's long track record, one can reasonably predict he won't shoot 26 percent from beyond the arc for the rest of the season. The same applies to Quincy Guerrier, who made 34 percent of 154 three-point attempts last season but is only making 21 percent through five games this season.
Michigan State is a tough team to bet against, but the same can also be said for Oregon. Ultimately, I'm betting the Ducks' experienced roster will still stay in the game by playing to their strengths listed above. I'll take the points in a close one.
College Basketball Best Bet: Oregon +2.5
Friday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Thursday:
- Duke vs Xavier - Over 147
- Alabama -1
- Oregon +2.5
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