Wednesdays are typically one of the best days of college basketball action and this week is no exception. On a card littered with excellent fixtures across the country, Notre Dame versus Oklahoma shapes up as particularly intriguing. With Penn State, Kansas and Michigan all in action, let’s take a look at our 4 best bets on the board.
PENN STATE VS INDIANA (11AM AEDT)
Penn State Nittany Lions
The Nittany Lions enter this home contest at 4-3 after losing 2 of their last 3 games. Power Forward Lamar Stevens continues to lead the way for this side, averaging an impressive 22.5 points and 8.5 rebounds so far. Senior Guard Josh Reaves provides another well-rounded option for Penn State, currently averaging a shade under 12 points and 6 rebounds so far. Freshman Rasir Bolton has started to provide some much-needed offence off the bench, scoring in double digits in each of his last 3.
Indiana enters this one at 6-2, currently enjoying a 1-0 conference record. Freshman Guard Romeo Langford has been excellent for this Hoosiers side so far, averaging 18 points and 6 rebounds through 8 starts. Senior Forward Juwan Morgan provides a much-needed interior presence for this side, averaging 16 points and 9 rebounds whilst shooting 68% from the field. If someone on this team can emerge as a viable 3rd option, the Hoosiers can definitely go far this season.
Prediction: Penn State -2.5
Ultimately, I think Penn State is the better team in this one. Lamar Stevens is far and away the best player on the floor and I expect another big game from him. At only 2.5 points, I expect a comfortable home win and cover for Penn State.
NOTRE DAME VS OKLAHOMA (11AM AEDT)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame enters this one at 6-1, winning each of their last 4 to sit 1st in the ACC. Junior Guard TJ Gibbs has led the way for this team offensively, averaging 13.5 points and 3.5 assists this season. Power Forward John Mooney does the dirty work on the interior for the Irish, currently averaging 11 points and 9 boards. Notre Dame tends to show up big time in these nationally televised games and will be looking for another strong performance here.
Oklahoma also enters this one at 6-1, having incurred their only loss to the ranked Wisconsin earlier this season. In Senior Guard Christian James, the Sooners have one of the most efficient and versatile scorers in the country. He very much leads the way offensively for Oklahoma, with no other player managing to score in double figures. Where the Sooners tend to match up well is their excellent frontcourt, with Jamuni McNeace and Brady Manek combining to average 16 rebounds per game so far.
Prediction: Oklahoma -3
On a neutral court, I think Oklahoma is comfortably the better team here. I think they have a significant matchup advantage on the interior and expect another big effort from Christian James. At only 3, I’m comfortable laying the small number here.
KANSAS VS WOFFORD (12PM AEDT)
The Jayhawks enter this one as the #2 ranked team in the country, sitting 1st in the Big 12 with a 6-0 record. Shooting Guard Lagerald Vick has emerged as an excellent offensive option, averaging 21 points and 4 rebounds per game on 58% shooting. Junior Forward Dedric Lawson is an excellent second option, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds per game on the interior. Center Udoka Azubuike complements these two stars nicely, averaging 15 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.
The Terriers enter this tough matchup at 6-2, having comfortably won each of their last 4 games. Guard Fletcher McGee has led the way for this team offensively, averaging 18 points and 3 rebounds per game. He is capably supported by big man Cameron Jackson, who is currently averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds. Nathan Hoover is also an excellent 3rd option for this Terriers side, currently averaging 13 points per game.
Prediction: Over 150.5
With the way these two offences are playing, I don’t think this total is nearly high enough. While Kansas have several dynamic and efficient offensive players, their defence has been suspect at times. Combine this with an improved Terriers attack and you have the makings of a high scoring game here.
NORTHWESTERN VS MICHIGAN (1PM AEDT)
The Wildcats enter this one at 6-2, falling by 2 points to the Indiana Hoosiers last time out. Senior Center Dererk Pardon has been the team’s best player this season, putting up 24 points and 10 boards against Indiana. Small Forward Vic Law has also had a very strong campaign, averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 rebounds on the campaign. What appears to be holding the Wildcats back is the lack of a reliable 3rd option.
The Wolverines enter this one at an impressive 8-0, consecutive wins over North Carolina and Purdue pushing them to a #5 ranking. Freshman Forward Ignas Brazdeikis has been excellent for the Wolverines so far, averaging over 16 points and 5 boards on very efficient shooting. Senior Guard Charles Matthew is a solid two-way wing, currently averaging 14.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore Jordan Poole has helped round out this ‘big 3’, averaging 11.5 points whilst shooting 49% from 3.
Prediction: Michigan -6.5
Ultimately, I think the Wolverines are far and away the better team in this one. They have a more versatile roster, are in great form, and have the experience in these big games. I expect a dominant win by double digits for Michigan here.