Although Gonzaga-Kentucky is the main course on Sunday’s college basketball odds board, there are also two top-25 games in Las Vegas. Let’s dissect my college basketball best bets for Virginia-Illinois and Baylor-UCLA. Join our Discord betting channel (under the #roles server) and receive an instant notification from Discord for whenever I make a bet.
Click on any of the odds below to place a wager as well.
Virginia vs. Illinois: Spread, Moneyline, Total
These programs both find themselves in the top 20 of my college basketball power rankings, so where is there value? Subscribe to the Outside Shots podcast, as Scott Phillips and I will break down all of the upcoming holiday tournaments as well.
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Assessing Market Ratings
As college basketball bettors observed on Friday night, Virginia and Illinois were each undervalued in the betting market versus their respective opponent.
For one, Tony Bennett’s blocker-mover offense got the best of Baylor’s no-middle defense. Brad Underwood’s bunch subsequently pushed the havoc button against UCLA in the second half, overcoming a 15-point second-half deficit via its intensified ball pressure.
Nevertheless, this matchup takes place less than 48 hours after the doubleheader. With that in mind, I give Bennett the edge on the sidelines, especially with the Fighting Illini potentially dealing with tired legs because of their aforementioned style of play.
Bennett’s pack-line defense could contribute to a handful of Illinois turnovers. His offensive structure will also tally its fair share of open 3-point looks. Despite an underwhelming sample size, Underwood’s defense ranks No. 332 in open shots allowed from behind the arc (via ShotQuality).
The ‘Hoos are much improved in that department, thanks to Ohio transfer Ben Vander Plaas and a pair of talented freshmen. Assuming these factors come to fruition, Virginia will be in position to dictate the pace with its ultra-methodical tempo.
Related: Eli’s Favorite National Title Odds
College Basketball Best Bets Conclusion
I’m assuming bettors will be tantalized by the Illini — albeit Terrence Shannon Jr. delivering an unrepeatable 8-of-9 perimeter shooting display against the Bruins. But let’s see where this line goes before backing the ‘Hoos.
For reference, Bennett’s crew opened as a 2.5-point favorite. Continue to monitor this page and our Discord channel to see if I add anything here to my college basketball best bets.
Baylor vs. UCLA: Spread, Moneyline, Total
Surprisingly, this game will hand one of these teams a third-place finish in the Continental Tire Main Event. Following a humbling loss to Virginia, Baylor’s defensive positioning is primed to give UCLA fits.
Mick Cronin’s game plan revolves around ball-screen action. Whether it’s veteran Tyger Campbell or five-star freshman Amari Bailey initiating it, John R. Wooden Award contender Jaime Jaquez () is the likely recipient. Unfortunately for the Bruins, the Bears’ no-middle defense is designed to shut these sets off.
Meanwhile, Scott Drew’s offense employs a similar style of construction. The backcourt combination of Adam Flager (64th-ranked Offensive Rating per KenPom) and a healthy LJ Cryer have exceeded expectations. Adding one-and-done playmaker Keyonte George into the mix adds another level of explosiveness to it.
Unlike Baylor, UCLA isn’t built to defend it. Couple that notion with the Bruins’ exploitable transition defense squaring off against an uptempo Bears attack. This matchup certainly favors Baylor.
Related: 2023 March Madness Futures Odds
College Basketball Best Bets Conclusion
I may not have a bet for this contest, but my numbers give the Bears a slight edge. For reference, Drew’s squad opened as a 2.5-point favorite. Best of luck with your own college basketball best bets.
Eli’s Bet: Baylor 1H -1 (-105); as of this posting at 5:15 p.m. EST, it’s available at Caesars.
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