NCAA CBB Best Bets: Tourney Time in Las Vegas
With Thanksgiving Day around the corner, Feast Week is upon us and it is such a delight for college hoops fans. Games will now be played on a daily basis, some of which will tip off in the morning, thanks to a number of teams playing in mid-season tournaments.
One of those tourneys is taking place in Las Vegas, an event I’m personally planning to attend. It only makes sense to give out a couple of plays from Friday’s action of the Continental Tire Main Event. This doubleheader of Baylor-Virginia and UCLA-Illinois should be a doozy.
The hope is that this week’s best bets column fares better than my debut piece, which went 1-2 after foolishly playing a pair of outdoor games. For the season, my record is 10-4 (+5.54 units) and every play has been given out in the 4for4 Discord. Join today to get all our picks as we play them.
Today’s CBB Best Bets (November 18)
Baylor-Virginia Game Total Under 134 Points (-110, Caesars)
A pair of recent national champs will square off in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader inside T-Mobile Arena. The problem is the Virginia Cavaliers have taken a bit of a step back since winning it all back in 2019, while the Baylor Bears continue to be a contender after cutting down the nets in 2021.
Scott Drew’s squad is loaded this year, as Bayor has arguably the best backcourt in the nation. The Bears have blitzed three inferior opponents to open the year, averaging 99.7 points per game during their 3-0 start. Adam Flagler is one of four players averaging double figures for the Bears.
The Cavaliers are 2-0, but it seems unlikely they will continue to shoot their season average of 48% from beyond the arc on a neutral court. If the shots don’t fall on Friday, the Cavaliers probably won’t be able to keep pace with the Bears. Virginia is a five-point underdog against Baylor, despite KenPom projecting a 69-68 victory for the Bears.
While the Bears should win, it might not be in the facet they have become accustomed to. Virginia is 363rd in adjusted tempo, so we should expect a lower-possession contest regardless of which team ultimately prevails. The under seems like the best way of attacking this game.
Risk: 1.1 units at Caesars to win 1 unit. (Playable to 130.5)
UCLA (-3.5) vs. Illinois (-115, BetMGM)
The nightcap of the doubleheader will pit a pair of intriguing teams against each other. Both the UCLA Bruins and Illinois Fighting Illini are 3-0 to begin the season, and both squads are flying a bit under the radar at this point in the year.
It might be difficult to overlook UCLA, which is already ranked No. 9 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings while being inside the top 17 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The Bruins bring back plenty of experience from a team that came up short against North Carolina in the Sweet 16. It is hard not to value that veteran presence in a tournament setting this early in the season, to be quite honest.
Illinois, meanwhile, has a completely new roster after losing to Houston in the Round of 32 during last year’s NCAA Tournament. That’s right, big man Kofi Cockburn is no longer the focal point of this squad. Terrence Shannon Jr., who came from Texas Tech, is one of the multiple transfers to come in and add versatility and speed, something Brad Underwood admitted was “very intentional”.
A win on Friday could tell us a lot about the Fighting Illini, but I’m going to side with experience in this early-season battle. I locked this bet in at a worse number on Thursday night, so take advantage of a better price for the Bruins.
Risk: 1.15 units at BetMGM to win 1 unit. (Playable to 4.5)
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