College basketball started again last weekend, but it largely flew under the radar.
Monday, Nov. 7, was the official tip off to the 2022-23 college basketball season, yet the schedule of games last week was mediocre at best. Dozens of Division I programs played non-Division I programs, leading to absurd blowouts and a bunch of lackluster games.
Look, I’m a diehard, I’ll be watching George Mason-Auburn and Longwood-Alabama today, but like…
how in the world did college basketball screw up its schedule so bad this year that there is not a game between two top-50 teams on opening night?
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) November 7, 2022
It was a disappointing way for the sport to begin its season, but fortunately Tuesday brings college basketball fans a pair of major men’s matchups thanks to the State Farm Champions Classic. At 7 p.m. ET, No. 4 Kentucky (-6.5 at BetMGM) faces unranked Michigan State. After that game, No. 7 Duke (-1.5) faces No. 6 Kansas. Each game will be played in Indianapolis and air on ESPN.
With two meaningful showdowns on tap, Tuesday feels more like the start to the college basketball season than last Monday did.
Duke, UNC among title contenders
Experts and sports betting platforms view Kentucky as a top contender to win the national title. The Wildcats are +900 to win the championship on Caesars Sportsbook and DraftKings. BetRivers lists the Wildcats at +1000, while FanDuel has John Calipari’s team listed at +1400 to win the championship.
Reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe missed the team’s first two games, but he’s expected to take the court soon. His status for Tuesday’s game is uncertain, but he headlines a highly talented Kentucky roster. Antonio Reeves, a transfer guard from Illinois State, thrived in Kentucky’s first two contests, knocking down a combined 10 shots from 3-point range.
Kentucky’s opponent Tuesday, Michigan State, isn’t viewed by sportsbooks as much of a title threat, with the Spartans as high as +11000 to win the title on FanDuel. Still, the Spartans pushed No. 2 Gonzaga in their last game, losing by just a point to one of the nation’s best teams.
Gonzaga, which has accomplished just about everything except winning a title under head coach Mark Few, is +900 to win the championship at most sportsbooks. Drew Timme somehow still holds college eligibility (hasn’t he been at Gonzaga for a decade?) and hopes to finally get the Zags over the hump.
Cool to see Drew Timme still balling at 45 years old. Respect to him.
— Reggie Wilson (@ReggieWilsonTV) November 12, 2022
Kansas, meanwhile, has title odds as low as +1300 at multiple mobile sportsbooks, including bet365. The Jayhawks, who won the championship last season, have odds as high as +2500 on Caesars Sportsbook.
Duke ranges from +1200 (bet365) to +1900 (FanDuel). The Blue Devils are without longtime head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired at the end of last season. Jon Scheyer takes over with huge expectations.
North Carolina, Duke’s archrival, is ranked No. 1 in the latest AP Poll. The Tar Heels (+1200 on FanDuel) return significant talent from a season ago, including power forward Armando Bacot.
Other top contenders on FanDuel include Houston (+850), Baylor (+1200), and UCLA (+1400).
South Carolina women’s favorite
On the women’s side, South Carolina is the betting favorite on FanDuel, where the Gamecocks are +135 to repeat as national champions. Stanford is close behind at +450, while Texas, Tennessee, UConn, and Iowa are all +1000.
UConn is without star guard Paige Bueckers, who tore her ACL in August and will miss the entire season. Still, the Huskies defeated Texas 83-76 on Monday. Even without Bueckers, UConn has the firepower to win the national championship.
Iowa, which can score in bunches, is led by guard Caitlin Clark, who has exceptional shooting range. Through three games this season, Clark is averaging 24.7 points. As a team, Iowa is averaging 98 points per game.
South Carolina blew out a ranked Maryland team Friday, winning by 25 points on the road. Aliyah Boston put together a strong performance, finishing with 16 points and 13 rebounds on 7-for-8 shooting. She was the National Player of the Year a season ago.
We’ll learn about each of the betting favorites this Sunday, when Stanford hosts South Carolina at 3 p.m. ET. For the college-basketball obsessed, it’s the game of the weekend, and it can be seen on ABC.
Photo: Orlando Ramirez/USA TODAY