This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
Several marquee college basketball matchups are set to shine on Thanksgiving Day. Steve Peralta breaks down his three college hoops best bets for the holiday slate.
Florida vs Xavier
When looking at KenPom's overall adjusted efficiency rankings, these two teams are basically dead even, with Xavier coming in ranked at No. 34 and Florida right behind at No. 36. Given this bit of info, one might naturally assume this game is a toss-up, however, a closer look at these teams leads me to a different conclusion.
Both teams enter the game at 3-1, with both having played one game against a team that ranks top-100 in KenPom's overall efficiency chart. Florida hosted No. 74 Florida Atlantic on Nov. 14 and lost by two points. Similarly, Xavier played No. 8 Indiana on Nov. 18 and also lost by two points. The latter, although the outcome was a loss, was far more impressive and telling, as Indiana ranks top-15 in adjusted efficiency on both offense and defense and is more or less the favorite to win the Big Ten up to this point.
Additionally, Xavier has a far greater offensive attack. Currently ranked No. 21 in adjusted efficiency, the Muskateers are also making over 44 percent of their three-point attempts this season, the sixth-highest percentage among all D1 teams. The Muskateers also rank No. 19 in both effective field goal percentage as well as offensive rebounding, rounding out their scoring abilities. It's also worth pointing out, Xavier has the third-highest assist rate in the country and has four different players that are making at least 40 percent of shots from behind the arc on at least nine attempts. The Muskateers can score in many different ways with many different players. Shutting them down is a tall task. The same cannot be said for Florida's offense. The Gators rank No. 45 in offensive efficiency, but only No. 171 in effective field goal percentage and No. 174 in offensive rebounding. They are also making 35 percent of three-point attempts, not a bad mark, but not close to the Muskateer's percentage.
It's possible Florida's defense will rise to the occasion, although it had trouble against Florida Atlantic not too long ago, not a great sign of things to come. I'll take my chance with the Musketeers' potent offense.
College Basketball Best Bet: Xavier -1.5
Memphis vs Seton Hall
These two teams look very comparable on paper. Both perform better on defense, with Memphis ranking No. 21 in adjusted efficiency and Seton Hall ranking No. 27, while also playing decently on offense, with Memphis ranking No. 46 and Seton Hall ranking No. 55.
That being said, a few other stats jump out that favor the Pirates on both ends of the court. First off, Seton Hall's defense has been extremely disruptive, ranking No. 7 in two-point field goal percentage allowed, No. 6 in three-point field goal percentage allowed, and No. 3 in effective FG percentage allowed. The Pirates also have a knack for causing turnovers, ranking No. 38 in defensive turnover rate. Memphis' defense, although stout, doesn't come close to Seton Hall's in any of these categories.
On the other side of the court, the Pirates' offense also stands out in a few key areas. Seton Hall is collecting offensive rebounds at the 13th-highest rate in the country while also drawing free throw attempts at the 6th-highest rate. The latter will likely come into play in this matchup, as Memphis' defense is creating free throw attempts well above average, suggesting there's a good chance Seton Hall will have a free throw advantage in this game. Furthermore, these teams also have a significant discrepancy when it comes to shooting. Seton Hall has many capable shooters, knocking down 39 percent of three-point attempts, the 36th-highest percentage. This is not the case for Memphis, which is making under 30 percent of its shots from behind the arc.
Memphis might appear to have an edge when looking at overall numbers, but Seton Hall has performed better in many key areas. Given that this will likely come down to the last minute or two, I'll take the team with better shooting and better offensive rebounding.
College Basketball Best Bet: Seton Hall +2.5
Alabama vs Michigan St.
Alabama hauled in the fourth-best recruiting class in the country, per 247sports, and it's already paying significant dividends.
The Crimson Tide's new frontcourt has been arguably the best in the country up to this point. Alabama currently boasts the highest offensive rebounding rate in the country, the best defensive two-point field goal percentage, the second-best defensive effective field goal percentage, the eighth-highest defensive block rate, as well as the 44th-highest defensive rebounding rate. Michigan State does not come anywhere close to any of these rankings.
The Spartans have had some gritty performances lately, but ultimately I'm betting on Alabama's talent and its distinguished frontcourt taking over the game when all is said and done. It's also worth noting that it was recently announced that Spartan forward Malik Hall will miss the game. The Spartans have used a tight rotation all season, with Malik Hall and the rest of the starting lineup playing most of the minutes.
Either way, given a short line to work with, I'll take my chance with the favorite.
College Basketball Best Bet: Alabama -3.5
Thursday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Thursday:
- Xavier -1.5
- Seton Hall +1.5
- Alabama -3.5
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