College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2022-23 Big South Betting Preview

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Futures: 2022-23 Big South Betting Preview article feature image

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Griff Aldrich (Longwood)

Things look different in the Big South this year with the departures of Hampton and North Carolina A&T, putting the conference now at just 10 schools.

As a result, the Big South has decided to move away from the two-division format and instead, will play a double round-robin schedule.

Longwood comes into the season looking to establish a new normal, as it's coming off of its first-ever conference title and NCAA tournament appearance.

Winthrop, meanwhile, looks to retake its spot as the top dog, as it fell short in the conference tournament last year for the first time in the last three seasons.

The rest of conference is full of potential upset candidates, including USC Upstate, High Point and Presbyterian — the remaining three programs who have yet to win a Big South title.

Will we see two first-time winners in back-to-back seasons?

2022-23 Big South Regular Season Futures Odds

Odds (Via Caesars)
UNC Asheville+400
USC Upstate+1200
High Point+1400
Charleston Southern+4000

Longwood Lancers

ATS Record 2021-2219-10 (65.5%)
O/U 2021-2216-13 (55.2%)

Longwood is the favorite to win the conference, and for good reason. The Lancers return four of last year's starters, as well as eight players total who recorded an offensive rating of 100+ last year.

But how will the Lancers respond with the target on their back?

Longwood enters the season as reigning champions for the first time ever — not to mention, it has some questions that need answered.

Those questions are specifically at point guard, as the Lancers lost Justin Hill to Georgia. However, I think Walyn Napper — a standout transfer from Southern Miss — can be the answer.

Watch for Isaiah Wilkins and Michael Christmas to be impact players, as well.

Winthrop Eagles

ATS Record 2021-2212-17 (41.4%)
O/U 2021-2216-13 (55.2%)

The Eagles face one of the biggest challenges in the Big South, as they look to replace Player of the Year D.J. Burns Jr. They return just two of their five starters from last season, but they do bring in an impressive group of transfers.

Those newcomers include Kasen Harrison (Lamar), Sin'Cere McMahon (Western Carolina), Cameron Whiteside and Xavier McKelvy — all of which can be game-changing players for the Eagles.

Winthrop has consistently found its way to the top of the conference, and I think that continues this year.

UNC Asheville Bulldogs

ATS Record 2021-2215-13 (53.6%)
O/U 2021-2218-11 (62.1%)

Next up is the UNC Asheville Bulldogs, who look to return to the top of the league they once ran from 2008 to 2018.

The Bulldogs' biggest asset is 6-foot-11 senior Drew Pember.

Pember is a top dog in the conference, as last season, he ranked among the top 10 in nearly every measurable stat.

The Bulldogs also rank third in the conference when it comes to returning minutes.

One thing to look for from the Bulldogs before conference play begins is how they adjust without LJ Thorpe, and if they can improve when it comes to limiting second-chance opportunities.

Thorpe was just as if not more important than Pember to the team last season.

And while the Bulldogs have been one of the best defenses in the conference since head coach Mike Morrell took over, they have never finished better than ninth in defensive rebounding.

Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs

ATS Record 2021-2214-14 (50%)
O/U 2021-2213-15 (46.4%)

Gardner-Webb fell just short in last year's conference tournament, losing in the semifinals after posting the best record against conference opponents.

The Runnin' Bulldogs' defense should once again be one of the best in the league. However, serious questions surround the offense.

Gardner-Webb loses its top two scorers from a season ago, and while it does bring in some talented transfers — such as DQ Nicholas (SE Missouri) and Quest Aldridge — only time will tell if the team can produce the offensive output to make some noise in the conference.

USC Upstate Spartans

ATS Record 2021-2218-10-2 (64.3%)
O/U 2021-2220-10 (66.7%)

The Spartans will pull off big upsets in conference play —  just as they did last year, winning as an underdog of +522, +354 and +313.

This is due — in large part — to the return of Big South Freshman of the Year and one of the most efficient players in the country, Jordan Gainey.

Head coach Dave Dickerson made a point to improve their defense in the offseason, the biggest area of concern for the Spartans.

There is reason to believe they will improve some with the addition of West Virginia transfer Seny N'Diaye and others.

I won't be in a rush to back the Spartans on the under, though.

They could make some headway in the conference tournament if they do improve on the defensive end, but heading into the season, watch for USC Upstate overs, as well as the Spartans to be underrated as a big underdog.

Radford Highlanders

ATS Record 2021-229-18 (33.3%)
O/U 2021-2214-13 (51.9%)

The bad news: The Highlanders return just one starter from last season.

The good news: No one in the conference made more significant moves in the transfer portal than Radford head coach Darris Nichols.

Radford welcomes in Pitt transfer Onyebuchi Ezeakudo, Villanova transfer Bryan Antoine, Murray State transfer DaQuan Smith, Richmond transfer Sal Koureissi and JUCO star D'Auntray Pierce.

There's a ton of talent on this team, but concerns include their ability to not only work together as one but also stay healthy.

Another major issue for Radford last season was its shooting from beyond the arc. Incoming freshman Ibu Yamazaki hit at a 44% clip from deep in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup. If the Japanese star can keep that up, he'll be in the running for Freshman of the Year in the conference.

Radford might be the Big South team I'm most excited to watch early in the season, but I won't be confident enough to lay any kind of wager on it until I see how it operates as a team.

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High Point Panthers

ATS Record 2021-2219-11 (63.3%)
O/U 2021-2216-13-1 (55.2%)

G.G. Smith enters his first full season as head coach after taking over for his father Tubby Smith last season.

Things might be less than ideal following the departure of one of the conferences best players in John-Michael Wright, but I think Smith brings in enough transfer talent to keep the Panthers competitive this season.

Smith also gets back a trio of players who have missed time with injuries, including Ahmil Flowers, Jake Koverman and Brock Williams. All three can be difference makers for the Panthers, with Flowers the most likely to compete at an all-conference level.

Campbell Fighting Camels

ATS Record 2021-2213-13 (50%)
O/U 2021-2213-13 (50%)

Campbell will look to end its last season in the Big South with a bang.

The Camels' most intriguing addition is Elijah Walsh.

Walsh hails from Leeds, England and averaged 20 points per game last season at the Masters Academy in Florida. He is accompanied by a slew of elite transfers that should all combine to improve a Camels offense that struggled — specifically from deep — in 2021-22.

I do believe it will take some time for the team to mesh. Campbell might not be the best squad entering conference play, but I think come tournament time this unit could be a real upset contender.

Presbyterian Blue Hose

ATS Record 2021-2215-13-2 (53.6%)
O/U 2021-2214-16 (46.7%)

The Blue Hose simply could not finish last season, losing six of their last seven games while posting just a 4-12 record in conference play after starting the season with a 8-9 overall record. Also, eight of their 12 conference losses were by two possessions or less.

Head coach Quinton Ferrell couldn't have done much better when it comes to offseason improvement, as the Blue Hose brought in four-star recruit Quadir Pettaway, as well as three other freshman who can immediately make an impact.

The exciting freshmen class joins four returning starters and a team of veterans who can make some noise in the Big South.

However, to do so, they'll need to improve in nearly every area.

The Blue Hose finished last season worst in the conference in 3-point shooting and among the bottom three in free-throw percentage, offensive efficiency, defensive free-throw rate and 3-point defense.

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Charleston Southern Buccaneers

ATS Record 2021-2210-17-1 (37%)
O/U 2021-2213-15 (46.4%)

The Bucs finished last season as the worst team in the conference in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They do bring in some transfer talent that should make a big impact on the offensive end, but the defense is still a big question mark.

Charleston Southern should improve from last season, but only winning two conference games would be a 100% improvement.

I think Charleston Southern's ceiling is middle-of-the-pack at best.

Big South Futures & Picks

I don't see any value in taking Longwood, as it's currently listed as the favorite in the preseason.

The most likely scenario is we'll see the Lancers' price increase at some point during the season, as the team works to find their No. 1 point guard. If Longwood goes to +350 or the third-best odds at any point in the season, I will be looking to back it at that point.

In the meantime, I'll be taking fliers on both Campbell and Gardner-Webb. Both teams have unproven talent that could surprise the Big South and show up in a big way.

If you're looking for a safe future in the Big South, I would recommend backing Winthrop. No other team has been more consistent over the years. Despite losing their top two scorers, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Eagles back atop the conference.

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Nick Sterling
Jul 21, 2024 UTC