2022 Continental Tire Main Event NCAAB Top Picks: Stacked Field Collides in Vegas

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Ty Rodgers #20 of the Illinois Fighting Illini dunks in the first half against the Monmouth Hawks. Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP.

After the Champions Classic whetted our appetite, another strong field of ranked teams fills out the Continental Tire tourney in Las Vegas, and we’ve got free college basketball picks.

Baylor Bears vs. Virginia Cavaliers

Friday, November 18, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST at T-Mobile Arena

After the i’s were dotted and t’s crossed in July for the matchup, it had our immediate attention as one would expect when recent NCAA Champions like the Virginia Cavaliers and Baylor Bears come together for an early college hoops tournament.

That Virginia and Baylor are meeting in Las Vegas just makes it that much better, the Cavaliers and Bears sort of bridging that lost 2020 NCAA Tournament and making for a great lead-in game of a doubleheader on the hardwood just off Tropicana Avenue and Frank Sinatra Drive.

Baylor Favored by 2 Possessions

There was a smattering of -4 and -5 openers at the best sportsbooks before overnight wagering compromised those numbers at 4.5 in favor of Baylor, and there are signs that could get bumped back up to -5 at some shops while the total has been inching down to 133.

Both Squads Paying Off for 'Over' Bettors

This will be a huge step up in competition for Scott Drew and the Bears after taking on Mississippi Valley State, Norfolk State, and Northern Colorado in their first 3 games, covering 2 of them and scoring at least 87 points to help all 3 games skip past the totals.

Ditto for Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers as far as the level of competition goes after they split covers in wins over North Carolina Central and Monmouth, closing as 24.5-point chalk in each game at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review) and both contests finishing above the totals.

Virginia canceled its Monday game with Northern Iowa due to the tragic shooting over the weekend that claimed the lives of 3 Cavalier football players.

Can Cavs Put Life Back Home on Hold?

This is just the second meeting between the 2 heavyweights, and it might as well be the first considering the only other encounter took place in the finals of a preseason tournament in North Carolina way back in 1968 when the Bears upset the Cavaliers.

We know that the Cavaliers will be thinking about the events back home, but being on the floor and getting into game mode should help them put those thoughts on the back burner.

The down movement on the total should only help anyone playing the final to go past the number.

NCAAB Pick: Over 133 (-108) at Heritage Sports

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Over 133 (-108)
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UCLA Bruins vs. Illinois Fighting Illini

Friday, November 18, 2022 - 09:30 PM EST at T-Mobile Arena

Top contenders on the college basketball futures to win their respective conference titles, the Illinois Fighting Illini and UCLA Bruins cap off the evening in front of what should be a pretty good crowd of Sin City revelers.

Illinois was a consensus pick for 3rd in the Big Ten behind Indiana and Michigan just before the season opened, with the Fighting Illini running between 5/1 and 6/1; while UCLA shared a co-favorite tag in the PAC-12 with Arizona, both of those squads priced 2/1.

Bruins Chalked by a 3-Ball

While they share the favorite’s tag in the PAC-12, the Bruins stand alone as the favorites in this clash with the Fighting Illini with the spread settling at UCLA at -3 following overnight trading while scoreboard bettors are looking at a total perched on 145.5.

Transfers Leading Illini in Early Going

Following an earlier-than-expected exit from the NCAA Tournament last March and losing their big man Kofi Cockburn early to the pros, Brad Underwood made out like a bandit in the transfer portal with a trip of talented players from the Big 12, including a pair from Baylor.

That coup has paid big dividends so far with former Texas Tech standout Terrence Shannon Jr. leading the Fighting Illini in scoring (22.7 PPG) and former Baylor big man Dain Dainja topping the team in rebounds (9.7 RPG).

Things have also gone splendidly for Mick Cronin and the Bruins. Now, in his fourth season at Westwood, Cronin’s crew is off to a 3-0 start both straight-up and against the NCAAB odds thanks to one of the deepest and most talented backcourts in the nation.

First Meeting Since December 1997

Thanks to the Big Ten-Pac12 connection, there is a decent amount of history between the Fighting Illini and UCLA, it’s just that it has been nearly 25 years since they last got together with UCLA winning that December 1997 battle to build a 6-3 lead in the series.

The Fighting Illini and Bruins both burned me a few times a season ago, which means no matter how I play it, one of them will burn me again. I’ll take the points in a coin flip.

NCAAB Pick: Illinois +3 (-108) at Heritage Sports

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Illinois +3 (-108)
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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.