Wilson: Where to Bet On College Basketball Teams’ Returning Production

Wilson: Where to Bet On College Basketball Teams’ Returning Production article feature image
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Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Connor McCaffery (left), Luka Garza (middle), and Jordan Bohannon (right).

Making frequent trips to Las Vegas has been a hobby turned profession for the past two decades. For years, I have traveled with a few of my best friends, some who can keep up in a college football conversation and others who know the NHL far better than I ever could. With last season came a pre-Vegas conversation with a close friend that I will never forget.

I had mentioned in a group text that our betting docket included the Dallas Cowboys, Florida International football and the San Jose Sharks. My close friend who covers college basketball exclusively said, You are missing Chicago State.

You can imagine how baffled I was when the Cougars were thrown out as a must-play. The team won a grand total of six games through the previous two seasons.

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The reason was based on returning starters in the college basketball landscape. Often a driver in college football for how teams are power rated at the beginning of the season, returning starters and backcourt play can be equally as important to a number in college basketball. In Game 1 of the season, it’s important to know teams like Iowa that return everyone from Western Illinois, which does not return a single starter.

Chicago State had five returning starters in its opener against Loyola Maryland last season. The Greyhounds had minimal returning production but were listed as a 23-point favorite. The Cougars lost the game by 13 points, covering the spread and becoming the biggest cash of the November 2019 Las Vegas trip. By no means is this an absolute path to opening-game victories, but in the COVID-19 era, having that continuity must be the primary handicap for opening college basketball games.

2020 Returning Starters of Note

Without further ado, let’s look at some of the scheduled action to kick off the first week of college hoops and where the number of returning starters has a distinct differentiation.

Wednesday, November 25th

  • Sacred Heart (1) at Rutgers (4), KenPom Line: Rutgers -25
  • East Tennessee State (0) v Abilene Christian (4) KenPom Line: Abilene Christian -1
  • Radford (0) at Virginia Tech (3), KenPom Line: Virginia Tech -22
  • Stony Brook (0) at Bryant (3), KenPom Line: Stony Brook -1
  • Prairie View A&M (1) v. Arkansas-Little Rock (5), KenPom Line: Little Rock -11
  • NC A&T (2) at Illinois (4), KenPom Line: Illinois -26
  • UMBC (4) at Georgetown (1), KenPom Line: Georgetown -14
  • Utah Valley (0) at Stanford (4), KenPom Line: Stanford -22
  • Eastern Kentucky (4) v. North Florida (1), KenPom Line: Eastern Kentucky -1
  • Coppin State (2) at Marshall (5), KenPom Line: Marshall -21
  • UC Irvine (1) at Pepperdine (4), KenPom Line: Pepperdine -3
  • High Point (5) at Davidson (2), KenPom Line: Davidson -17
  • SIU Edwardsville (2) at Saint Louis (5), KenPom Line: Saint Louis -26
  • UT Rio Grande Valley (2) at Texas (5), KenPom Line: Texas -23
  • Sam Houston State (1) at SMU (4), KenPom Line: SMU -19
  • Jacksonville State (1) at Alabama (4), KenPom Line: Alabama -23

Thursday, November 26th

  • George Mason (5) v. Northeastern (2), KenPom Line: George Mason -5
  • Auburn (0) v. Saint Joseph’s (3), KenPom Line: Auburn -11

Friday, November 27th

  • Rice (1) at Incarnate Word (4), KenPom Line: Rice -6
  • Seton Hall (2) at Louisville (4), KenPom Line: Louisville -4
  • Valparaiso (2) at Vanderbilt (4), KenPom Line: Vanderbilt -4
  • UNC Greensboro (2) at Arkansas-Little Rock (5), KenPom Line: UNC Greensboro -4
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Saturday, November 28th

  • LSU (2) at Saint Louis (5), KenPom Line: Saint Louis -2
  • Fairfield (3) at Stony Brook (0), KenPom Line: Stony Brook -3
  • Norfolk State (3) at Radford (0), KenPom Line: Norfolk State -1
  • Eastern Washington (4) at Washington State (2), KenPom Line: Washington State -3

Sunday, November 29th

  • Northwestern State (4) at Louisiana Tech (1), KenPom Line: Louisiana Tech -13
  • Alabama A&M (4) at Samford (1), KenPom Line: Samford -7
  • North Florida (1) at Miami (4), KenPom Line: Miami -21
  • Prairie View A&M (1) at Louisville (4), KenPom Line: Louisville -24

Monday, November 30th

  • UC Riverside (4) at Fresno State (1), KenPom Line: N/A
  • Texas (5) v Davidson (2), KenPom Line: Texas -8
  • Eastern Kentucky (4) at Xavier (2), KenPom Line: Xavier -7
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