The turkey has been picked clean and the pumpkin pie tin has been tossed in the trash can, but the college basketball feast continues for college basketball bettors.
On the heels of a cornucopia of great Thanksgiving holiday tournaments, we now get an ACC/SEC Challenge featuring two ranked matchups, in addition to a serious heavyweight bout on Friday night between Connecticut and Kansas.
Don't miss the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge featuring 19 ranked teams— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) November 27, 2023
🏀 Tues & Wed | #NCAAMBB
🏀 Wed & Thurs | #NCAAWBB
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Powered by four star freshmen, the Wildcats have been unpredictable—push preseason No. 1 Kansas to the final minute, then need overtime to sneak past St. Joseph’s—but they’ve also been scoring points in bunches, going OVER the total in four straight entering the week.
Wednesday night brings Tennessee traveling to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina, which, after a rough start, has covered the spread in three of its last four outings to enter the week—the exception a two-point overtime loss to eventual tournament champion Villanova in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
𝗖𝗢-𝗣𝗟𝗔𝗬𝗘𝗥 𝗢𝗙 𝗧𝗛𝗘 𝗪𝗘𝗘𝗞 ➡️ RJ Davis, @UNC_Basketball— ACC Men's Basketball (@accmbb) November 27, 2023
🏀 Averaged 22 points and 3 assists
🏀 All-tournament honors in the Battle 4 Atlantis
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The Vols, meanwhile, dropped physical games to Purdue and Kansas in the Maui Invitational, and entered the week having lost three of their last four against the spread.
Connecticut has overcome the temporary loss of freshmen point guard Stephon Castle to a minor knee injury, and has been a solid cover as long as the number isn’t too outlandish—which it was against Mississippi Valley State (-42.5) and Manhattan (-35), the Huskies’ lone two losses against the spread so far.
But UConn entered the week unbeaten overall and girding for a trip to Kansas, which lost a Maui semifinal to 4-point underdog Marquette before rebounding to cover against Tennessee in the third-place game.
Elsewhere, Arizona keeps on chugging along, dispatching Michigan State in a neutral-site Thanksgiving game to enter the week a perfect 6-0 against the spread.
And Houston’s suffocating defense keeps doing its job against unranked opponents—a 34-point victory over Montana marked the Cougars’ sixth finish under the total in seven games to enter the week. Some other notable sports betting winners and losers from the first three weeks of the college basketball season:
Colorado State: Welcome to the Top 25, Rams.
Colorado State entered the poll Monday on the heels of a very impressive 21-point victory over a Creighton team that had been in the top 10. The Rams had also covered in five consecutive games to enter the week, and should be favored over Colorado in a Rocky Mountain State showdown on Wednesday.
Florida Atlantic: How did the Owls regroup from a home loss to 22-point underdog Bryant, the worst defeat by any Top 25 team so far this year? They rampaged through the ESPN Events Invitational in Orlando, winning a tough semifinal as a 4.5-point underdog against a very good Texas A&M team, and then walloping 2.5-point underdog Virginia Tech by 34 in the final.
Villanova: Remember that loss at Penn as a 12-point favorite? The Wildcats don’t seem to, given how they’ve responded. Villanova entered the week covering in four straight, holding Maryland to 40 points in a home game before downing Texas Tech, North Carolina and Memphis to win the Battle 4 Atlantis. Those are all quality wins, chief among them the two-point OT victory over the Tar Heels as a 2.5-point underdog.
USC: Maybe that 10-point home loss to Cal-Irvine last week should have told us something.
The Trojans enter the week having dropped three of their last four against the spread, sleepwalking through a home victory over Brown and then losing in the final of a tournament in San Diego to 2.5-point underdog Oklahoma. There were no injury excuses this time as the Sooners tipped in a missed free throw at the buzzer.
Colorado: The Buffaloes entered the week on the heels of three consecutive losses against the spread, one of those an outright defeat to a Florida State team that finished 9-23 a year ago.
That and a close shave against 9.5-point underdog Richmond were enough to knock the Buffs out of the poll on Monday, and they face the prospect of another outright defeat Wednesday then they travel to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State.
Michigan State: A Top 25 without Tom Izzo and the Spartans?
That was the case Monday, when Michigan State was ousted after losses to James Madison, Duke and Arizona—all ranked teams, but all outright losses nonetheless. The Spartans have been even worse against the spread, managing covers in just two of their first six games to enter the week.
Houston’s undefeated record has come against a weak schedule thus far—the best team they’ve played is Dayton—so the Cougars may be in for a real challenge Friday at Xavier, which lost a 12-point game at Purdue before the Boilermakers headed off to Maui.
FAU’s resurgence will be tested Thursday against Liberty, which entered the week 6-0 overall and 5-0 ATS, a mark that includes double-digit wins over Furman and Vermont, which both made the NCAA tournament a year ago.
And on the heels of its loss to Colorado State, Creighton braces for a tough week—the Bluejays travel Thursday to Oklahoma State and Sunday to Nebraska. While the Cowboys have struggled to a break-even start, Iba Arena at full throat is no place for the meek. And the bigger concern for Creighton is the Cornhuskers, who entered the week unbeaten overall and winners of four straight against the spread.
Player Prop Watch
Potential players on Top 25 teams to watch for prop bets this week, should they be made available:
Top 25 Pick 3
Here's another weekly pick 3, including a play on the UConn vs Kansas game.
Duke over Arkansas
As sports bettors may have noticed, the Blue Devils have had their issues covering big spreads against outmanned competition—like Southern Indiana, a 36.5-point underdog that lost in Cameron by 18. But that shouldn’t be an issue Wednesday against an Arkansas team that comes in with three outright losses in four games, and entered the week on a six-game skid against the spread.
Connecticut over Kansas
Marquette’s victory over Kansas in the Maui semifinals may have set a template for other teams to follow: extend the defense out beyond the 3-point line, force the Jayhawks to run their offense from further out, and make it harder for Dickinson to get the ball down low. UConn has the perimeter players to do just that, with more size inside to boot, and the combination should cover a single-digit point spread Friday at the Phog.
Gonzaga over USC
The Trojans’ recent struggles have stolen some of the luster from what originally looked like a high-profile West Coast showdown on Saturday night in Spokane. The Zags went 2-1 in the toughest Maui Invitational ever, but headed back to the mainland knowing the