CBB Picks: 12/11

Today marks our first official day of basketball betting this season. I was tempted to dig in yesterday, but, as some of you might recall, the Saturday slates were particularly unkind last season. Nothing worse than starting your season -10 units. I’m man enough to admit that it rattles the old psyche a bit.

Last year was a successful season. It’s time to get back to the winning ways. There are a couple of reasons for just getting started now, as opposed to a month ago when the season started. One, college football season was still heavy the last few weeks and there’s just not enough time in the day for me to try and maintain a normal life and put the proper amount of research into two sports.

But by far the biggest reason would be not knowing what the hell to expect from teams in the first month. I’m a data guy. I’d like to see what teams do on a consistent basis to find out who they really are. College football is easier to bet in the early season because there’s only 128 teams, compared to 351 in CBB. I’ll be honest, I’m not reading a bunch of material on the offseason that Louisiana-Monroe had. I don’t even know that anyone writes articles about them. Well, Jordan Majewski probably did, but that guy’s a robot that pumps out an outrageous number of words on a daily basis.

But today’s the day. And then every day from now until the Monday after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament the one day I don’t feel like doing it.

VIRGINIA TECH (-10.5) over Mississippi – 2u

I’m high on the Hokies this year. I think they could end up being 5th or 6th in a loaded ACC. They’ve only lost one game all year and that was on a neutral floor to Texas A&M by three points. The biggest reason for that loss was losing the rebounding battle. While Ole Miss does hit the offensive glass well, they play a lot of zone and it leads to them struggling on rebounds defensively. That type of rebounding leads right into the Hokies hands. They clean up the defensive glass.

Outside of getting second chances on offense, the Rebels are dependent on perimeter shooting and free throws. VT doesn’t foul. Opponents free throw rate are 11% below the national average. As for Ole Miss’ shooting, they’ve put up big numbers against the bad teams on their schedule and it’s their first true road game of the season.

On the other end, Ole Miss is pretty poor defensively. They can’t defend the perimeter and that’s a real problem against the multitude of shooters/scorers that the Hokies have. VT does a great job of taking care of the ball and Mississippi doesn’t apply much pressure as it is.

In general, Ole Miss has been shaky at home against bad teams, lost to the two only good teams they’ve played, including a blowout loss to MTSU at home. They don’t have enough size to take advantage of an area the Hokies are lacking.

NORTH CAROLINA (-18.5) over Tennessee

UNC is going to overwhelm the Volunteers with their length. They’re going to kill them on the glass. They’re going to outshoot them. They’re going to beat them at the free throw line.

The Vols have been far less than impressive this season and this is really their first true road game. They did play Chaminade in the Maui Invitational, but it was the third game they played in that venue in three days. That’s not a real road game. And it’s Chaminade after all.

The Heels have been crushing people inside the Dean Dome this year, with the exception of Davidson this week. But Davidson is actually better than Tennessee and the Vols don’t have Jack Gibbs or anything close to him.

Nevada (+4) over WASHINGTON

That 27-point loss (wasn’t actually that close) to Gonzaga the other night didn’t quite feel like rock bottom for the Huskies. They’re about as bad as you can get defensively for the talent on that team. They’re 4-4 with three blowout wins over terrible teams and a narrow win over a Long Beach State squad that is 2-10 at the moment. They lost to Yale – without Makai Mason – at home, lost to TCU twice by an average of 14 points, and then had that Gonzaga debacle. Nevada, on the other hand, has seemingly gotten better from the moment that Eric Musselman took over. They’re so much better defensively than the Huskies and won’t give up anything easy offensively.

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