Wednesday College Basketball Best Bets: Will Texas Upset Gonzaga?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on November 16, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

Don’t call it an upset — despite the headline. The casual fans will see the AP poll rankings, but the bettors will see the lower-ranked Texas Longhorns favored over the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

After an entertaining night on the college basketball odds board, let’s dig into my college basketball best bets for this highly-anticipated affair. Join our Discord betting channel (under the #roles server) and receive an immediate notification from Discord for whenever I make a bet.

Click on any of the odds below to place a wager as well.

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Gonzaga at Texas: Spread, Moneyline, Total

These programs are neck and neck in my college basketball power rankings, so how should you bet this top-tier matchup? Scott Phillips and I dove into this game, along with the rest of the week’s action, on the Outside Shots podcast.

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Are Gonzaga’s Primary Concerns Repairable?

Although the Bulldogs’ one-point win over Michigan State on Friday may have been impacted by the conditions, taking place on an outdoor aircraft carrier, Mark Few’s team still showcased some potential long-term issues.

Among Gonzaga’s primary pieces, sophomore guard Nolan Hickman is the lone player with a negative plus-minus rating (-7). That’s partially a product of his 23.8% turnover rate. It’s a small sample size, yet his miscues led to transition opportunities the other way, and Tom Izzo also targeted Hickman on a handful of the Spartans’ half-court possessions.

Few could easily shift to Chattanooga transfer Malachi Smith for a majority of the minutes at the lead guard spot. But he’s unlikely to pull the plug on Hickman this early in the season — albeit Smith’s superior two-way presence.

Moreover, the ‘Zags post-up defense ranks No. 315 across all of Division I (per ShotQuality). Without Chet Holmgren’s rim protection, which ignited their fast-break offense at times, Gonzaga has clearly taken a step back at that end of the court.

The one unknown is whether its perimeter shooting (29.0%) will undergo an abundance of positive regression. Junior wing Julian Strawther should see his efficiency rise. Yet the aforementioned Smith is accustomed to generating shots with the ball in his hands — rather playing in a system that runs through the low-post.

Mind you, Smith was the focal point of the Mocs’ offense over the last two seasons. Losing Holmgren and former lead guard Andrew Nembhard certainly doesn’t help in that regard, either.

Texas’ Suffocating Defense

Just like I alluded to in my national title futures piece, the Longhorns possess the top-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency on KenPom. They rank No. 1 in ShotQuality half-court and transition defense, respectively, as well.

While their standing comes after facing a pair of underwhelming programs, Chris Beard is well-known for his elite no-middle structure, which inhibits dribble penetration and post-up efficiency. Hence, Wooden Award candidate Drew Timme () will have an arduous time establishing himself on the block against Dylan Disu or Christian Bishop if the ‘Zags are unable to effectively space the floor.

Despite Timme’s 37-point outing versus Texas last year, the Longhorns were still adapting to Beard’s defensive identity in his first season as head coach. It also displays a new-look backcourt after adding Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter, who represents one of the premier defensive players in college basketball.

Led by Hunter and his running mate Marcus Carr, Texas’ stifling ball pressure manufactures their fair share of takeaways. That won’t bode well for the turnover-prone Hickman.

When the Longhorns aren’t tallying transition looks from their defense, they aim to the decelerate the tempo. That can occasionally backfire, as Texas’ half-court offense has been inconsistent because of its inadequate 3-point shooting thus far (19.4%).

However, this pace is the antithesis of Gonzaga’s game plan. Minimizing the number of possessions — for what is ordinarily considered to be a highly-proficient offense under Few — is extremely critical.

College Basketball Best Bets Conclusion

The ‘Zags notched a double-digit victory over the Longhorns in their most recent meeting. Expect a fired-up Texas bunch to have its sights set on delivering its own knockout blow at home. This contest represents the first-ever game in the new Moody Center, too, so the motivational spot is as evident as ever.

I grabbed Texas +1 on early Wednesday morning, which you’ll find in our Discord channel. I’d bet the Longhorns up to a pick’em. If you’re unable to nab a spread of that nature, try to live bet this one.

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