College Basketball Best Bets | 3 Picks for Wednesday
Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Harlond Beverly (Wichita State)
The ACC/SEC Challenge will take center stage tonight — with matchups like Tennessee vs. UNC and Duke vs. Arkansas — but there's betting value on the board that doesn't feature two of the best conferences in the land.
Dive in below for college basketball best bets and Three Man Weave's three picks for Wednesday, November 29. Ky McKeon has you covered!
College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
By Ky McKeon
The annual Philadelphia Big 5 series continues with a matchup between two teams riding momentum waves.
Villanova put an ugly Penn loss (also in the Big 5) behind it by rattling off four straight wins against power competition. Saint Joe’s bounced back off a bad Texas A&M-Commerce loss and nearly knocked off Kentucky at Rupp Arena.
While Villanova is the more talented team, Saint Joe’s can hang around in this game. The Hawks’ backcourt could start for most power teams in the country, and their ability and willingness to shoot the 3-ball means they’re never out of a game.
Only three teams nationally have a higher 3-point attempt rate than Saint Joe’s, per KenPom. Villanova packs it in defensively, preferring to force jumpers rather than giving up the middle of the floor. This works in Saint Joe’s favor on its offensive end.
Saint Joe’s can also match up with Villanova’s mobile, small-ball lineups that feature Eric Dixon at the five. While burgeoning sophomore stud Christ Essandoko is more of a plodding traditional big, Rasheer Fleming has the dexterity and length to check Dixon on the arc, where he feasts against slower 5s.
The quick hands of Saint Joe’s backcourt could also bother Villanova’s ball handlers a bit, as the Wildcats lack a “true point guard."
Rivalry games are always unpredictable, and underdogs (especially sizable ones) who can shoot and score have a chance to come out on top and pull an upset. We already saw Penn accomplish that feat against this Villanova team, and now we’ll look to see if Saint Joe’s can do the same.
Pick: Saint Joseph's +13.5 (Play to +12)
By Ky McKeon
Before betting a large favorite, there’s a few boxes one should always ensure are checked.
- Will there be enough possessions in the game to allow a blowout?
- Is the favored team good, motivated and do they have a history of blowing teams out?
- Is the underdog bad, and do they have a history of getting blown out?
In the JMU vs. Buffalo game tonight, all these boxes are checked.
James Madison made headlines early this season by beating Michigan State in East Lansing, and the Dukes haven’t cooled off since.
Meanwhile, Buffalo has struggled in pretty much every contest under first-year head coach George Halcovage.
Tonight’s game should play in the mid-70s from a possession perspective. JMU ranks fifth nationally in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom, and nearly all its games this season have been track meets.
While Buffalo plays slower offensively, it’s shown willingness to run with up-tempo opponents, meaning this game will likely play at JMU’s preferred speed.
The Dukes have shown an ability to destroy inferior competition this season, beating Howard by 21 and Fresno State by 31. Both Howard and Fresno are solid teams, each ranking over 100 spots higher in KenPom than Buffalo. The Bulls will be — by far — the weakest team JMU has faced this season.
If we need a bigger sample size, we can look back at last year when JMU beat Hampton by 48, Howard by 26, LIU by 36 and a much better Buffalo team by 35.
The Bulls have hung around in a couple of lower-possession games this season, but they lost to Hofstra by 34 in an up-and-down affair, and Iona beat them by 25 in a sub-70 possession game. Struggling with and losing to Fairleigh Dickinson at home is also a black smudge on their resume.
Expect JMU to start fast and never look back tonight, as it runs up the count and continues to build its at-large resume.
Pick: James Madison -22.5 (Play to -24)
By Ky McKeon
Wichita State has fared well early under new head coach Paul Mills, the architect of NCAA tournament Cinderella Oral Roberts. An understandable loss to Liberty in the middle of six solid wins should be seen as an early success.
By a similar token, Richmond has done nothing wrong this season. The Spiders have handled teams they should handle and lost close ones at Boston College and against Colorado State on a neutral floor. Chris Mooney has his team in KenPom’s top 100, despite losing his best player to Villanova in the offseason.
Tonight’s contest favors Wichita, though. The Shockers have one of the best home courts in college basketball, and it’s a long journey from Richmond, Virginia. Wichita is 2-1 against the spread at home this season with a solid 2.8-point cover margin.
The BC game was Richmond’s only true road contest to date, and that was a friendlier travel situation on the East Coast to a “less intimidating” venue.
The Spiders will be down a key starter tonight in DeLonnie Hunt, their fourth-leading scorer and one of their primary ball handlers. While Richmond has plenty of talent behind Hunt, his absence is a major blow to their scoring and depth.
To defeat Richmond and Mooney’s Princeton-inspired attack, you have to be able to match up with their passing big man Neal Quinn, a 7-footer who has thrived in his second season with the Spiders.
Wichita has the personnel to make Quinn uncomfortable, and it can throw multiple guys at him. Quincy Ballard and Kenny Pohto are both long, mobile forwards who can stick with Quinn at the top of the key and take away passing lanes.
Super-subs Isaac Abidde and Dalen Ridgnal have shown they can guard anybody, and their length on the perimeter could cause issues for Richmond’s smaller wings.
Wichita’s offense is the final piece to the puzzle. The Shockers have shown tendencies to stagnate a bit on this end, but they should improve as the season progresses and familiarity grows within Mills’ system.
The guard trio of Xavier Bell, Colby Rogers and Harlond Beverly is a talented one, and one that can score at a higher clip than shown.
Pick: Wichita State -3 (Play to -3.5)
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