The 2021-22 college basketball season kick-started last week, and were you not entertained by Kansas and Duke in Madison Square Garden?
Michigan State and Kentucky, losers to the Jayhawks and Blue Devils, respectively, corrected themselves in their next games by imposing their will and showing both still possessed blue-chip talent in 44- and 40-point victories.
Villanova fell asleep — as their body clocks turned to 1 a.m. — late last Friday in a defeat against top-four rival UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, without powerful big man Cody Riley.
Enough about the past, though. Here are three tilts that demand viewing this week and just might deserve a few dollars wagered on their outcomes.
Our spreads and totals are derived from Ken Pomeroy’s vast databases, which many sportsbooks use to help establish their opening lines. Our picks are based on these estimated numbers, so be sure to gauge the value against the actual lines before placing your wagers.
Rock Fight I: Virginia at Houston
Tuesday, November 16, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Fertitta Center, Houston, TX
Relish defense? Then be sure to record this one, because you’ll want to view it again and again.
Over their past 10 seasons, the Cavaliers typically have had a top-10 adjusted defensive-efficiency rating, according to KenPom. In fact, they’re usually among the top five in the country.
The Cougars can be found among the top 13.
To Tony Bennett and Kelvin Sampson, the respective veteran coaches of these teams, defense is the staple of what they do, the bedrock of their success.
Just heed the warning about what you’re about to view. There might not be 50 total points scored in either half.
Virginia at Houston Pick
Rock Fight II: Arizona State at San Diego State
Thursday, November 18, 10:30 p.m. ET (CBSS)
Viejas Arena, San Diego, CA
The Sun Devils lost gunner Remy Martin to Kansas in the transfer portal, and with him went bushels of points.
Last Thursday’s home defeat on a half-court buzzer-beater as an 8.5-point favorite to UC–Riverside served as a stinging embarrassment to Arizona State.
The Aztecs lost a lot from last season, too. Newcomer Matt Bradley, a guard from Cal, made a splash with 23 points in a 66-53 victory over that same UCR squad. He dipped with only eight in a defeat at BYU.
That sticky SDSU defense remains, however, as the Cougars made less than 50% of their 2-point attempts and were held to 22.2% marksmanship beyond the arc.
An easy ‘under’.
Arizona State at San Diego State Pick
Marquee Matchup: Tennessee vs. Villanova
Saturday, November 20, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN News)
Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
When we recently prognosticated the 2022 Final Four participants, we left the fourth slot vacant. Kansas, UCLA, and Villanova were our picks, each priced at healthy double-digit odds to win the championship.
The missing link arrived in the construction of this piece, as the Volunteers can be had at 55-to-1 odds at DraftKings to win it all. For insurance, we also nibbled on the Vols at 14-1 to make the Final Four.
We had tapped seventh-year Tennessee coach Rick Barnes as 10-to-1 value to win the SEC. By virtue of the tempering they’ll receive in their league, we include the Vols with the Jayhawks, Bruins, and Wildcats.
This will be the most dynamic game of the second week of college hoops and deserves a more prominent TV outlet than ESPN News.
That strange tip-off time at Pauley Pavilion did not serve Nova well. Still, coach Jay Wright accepted the circumstances. Tennessee is a strong non-league foe, too, so kudos to Wright for assembling this schedule. Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels have another tough one here, but at least the tip-off time will be familiar.
It’s early in the season, but the Vols own a sterling KenPom adjusted defensive-efficiency rating of 88.3, No. 6 in the land.
Guards Santiago Vescovi and Kennedy Chandler both scored 20 in Tennessee’s opening victory over Tennessee-Martin, and they keyed the Skyhawks gathering only nine assists and turning it over 21 times.
Tennessee vs. Villanova Pick