College Basketball Best Bets November 20: Saint Joseph’s-Kentucky On Deck

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Justin Edwards #1of the Kentucky Wildcats against the Stonehill Skyhawks at Rupp Arena on November 17, 2023. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

Top NCAAB Pick: Purdue vs. Gonzaga Over 149 (-115) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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Purdue-Gonzaga Over 149 (-115)
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It is Feast Week in college hoops so there are a ton of games on Monday, and we are here with our three best bets on the slate.

These are value-based bets based on our proprietary model, so not all the plays will involve major conferences. We have two sides and one total for Monday, including a play in the marquee matchup between Purdue vs. Gonzaga. So let’s go ahead and break down the NCAAB odds for today.

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Monday, November 20, 2023 – 05:00 PM ET at Stan Sheriff Center

Many consider this to be the Game of the Year to this early point of the season, but we expect an easier Purdue win than many others expect and are thus laying the points vs. Gonzaga.

Size and Efficiency

For starters, while the latest AP Poll has Purdue ranked second in the country and Gonzaga ranked 11th, our proprietary rankings have Purdue as the best team in the land and we have Gonzaga a bit lower in 14th. The Boilermakers have the best offense in the country per Kenpom at a whopping 120.0 points per 100 possessions while also ranking 11th in defensive efficiency at just 91.2 points per 100 possessions against.

Purdue is led by 7’4” center Zach Edey, who currently tops Kenpom’s Player of the Year projections averaging a double-double at 20.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while not surprisingly averaging 3.7 blocks on the defensive end. Edey is backed up by another giant in 7’2” Will Berg, and what makes the Boilermakers a matchup nightmare is teams cannot sag defenses to the inside because they are fifth in three-point shooting at 46.3%.

First Test

Purdue may also have a conditioning edge here after beating a good Xavier team 83-71 last game while Gonzaga opened with a win vs. Yale and then beat sub-level Eastern Oregon to get to 2-0, so this is a monumental jump in class. Granted the Bulldogs are also well-balanced ranking third in offensive efficiency and 31st in defensive efficiency, but Purdue still represents a matchup nightmare for them.

For starters, among their most used players, the only one taller than 6’6” is their 6’10” center Braden Huff, and this is a rare time he will be at a size disadvantage throughout the game. Also, despite Gonzaga’s respectable defensive ranking, they are a meager 297th in three-point defense despite facing two outclassed opponents so far.

The Pick

While Gonzaga figures to tighten up a bit defensively as the season goes on, for the here and now it appears the Purdue offense has edges all over the court, so we are betting on the Boilers in this early marquee matchup.

Predicted Score: Purdue 83 – Gonzaga 73

NCAAB Pick: Purdue -5 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Wright State Raiders

Monday, November 20, 2023 – 05:00 PM ET at Hertz Arena

While this contest does not have the fan interest of a Purdue/Gonzaga matchup, value is value, and this looks like a great “buy low” spot for an 0-3 Wright State team that both Kenpom and our own ratings have ranked higher than 2-1 UL Lafayette.

Ambitious Schedule

The Raiders deserve credit for not scheduling cupcakes in the early going with their three opening losses coming vs. Colorado State, Toledo and Indiana. They are finally getting a bit of a breather today with ULL being the lowest Kenpom-rated team they have faced to date at 179th.

Despite the ambitious early scheduling, Wright has still scored at least 77 points in every game while ranking 83rd in offensive efficiency at 107.6 per 100 possessions, and they should have little difficulty vs. a ULL defense ranked 163rd in efficiency. Granted it has been a different story on the other end with the Raiders ranked 278th defensively, but that may get offset by the Cajuns ranking 183rd offensively vs. an easier schedule.

Deceptive 3-Point Defense

ULL may be 2-1, but their two wins came vs. a 211th-rated Youngstown State team with a weak offense (210th in efficiency) and a sub-level Louisiana Christian team, not nearly the same competition that Wright State has faced.

Now some may point to the Ragin’ Cajuns ranking second in the country in three-point defense allowing just a 15.6% success rate. But again, that becomes meaningless when looking at the schedule, as brick-laying Youngstown and a sub-level school combined to shoot 2-for-33 from beyond the arc in those two games. 

We do not expect a Wright State team shooting a respectable 36.8% from downtown to be as hindered.

The Pick

So, with this line close to a pick’em, will bet a higher-rated Wright State team to get its first win vs, a UL Lafayette team that has not beaten anyone worthwhile.

Predicted Score: Wright State 81 – UL Lafayette 74

NCAAB Pick: Wright State +1.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Saint Joseph’s Hawks vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Monday, November 20, 2023 – 07:00 PM ET at Rupp Arena

We feel points will be plentiful and are backing the Over when Saint Joseph’s pays a visit to Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky on Monday.

Young But Talented

Coach John Calipari almost always brings great recruiting classes to Kentucky, and this year is no exception. The Wildcats have three freshmen in the regular rotation in Reed Sheppard (13.3 PPG), Tre Mitchell (9.5) and Justin Edwards (9.3), and all three have nicely complimented senior leading scorer Antonio Reeves.

Furthermore, the youngsters have already passed an extreme early test by losing by just four points to the AP top-ranked team in Kansas, and this offense has been more cohesive than expected early on ranking 13th in efficiency already at 116.2 points per 100 possessions, so with typical improvement as the season goes on, the Wildcats could be a tough out come NCAA Tournament time.

Should Score Enough

Remember that Kentucky scored 84 points vs. a Kansas defense ranked 5th in efficiency, so while Saint Joseph’s is a respectable 86th in defense, we still expect the Wildcats to approach 90 points at home, which would leave the Hawks not needing to do a lot to push this game Over.

And while the Kentucky defense is 36th in efficiency, we do expect Saint Joseph’s to at least do some damage closer to the basket, as the Hawks are making a nice 53.8% of their two-point shots while Kentucky is only 131st in two-point defense, and Saint Joseph’s should get put-back opportunities as the better offensive rebounding team of these two squads.

That should be enough for the Hawks to score enough to cash this Over assuming Kentucky has its expected scoring output.

Predicted Score: Kentucky 87 – Saint Joseph’s 72

NCAAB Pick: Over 149 (-115) at Bookmaker

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The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.