Creighton vs Xavier
The No. 13 Creighton Bluejays will host the No. 22 Xavier Musketeers this Wednesday in a Big East conference battle.
The Musketeers are 8-0 to start the college basketball season with all eight wins coming against unranked opponents.
But do not be fooled, Xavier have not fluked their way to 8-0. Having recorded wins against Oklahoma and Marquette in their last two games, it is clear that Xavier aren’t going to be an easy win for the Bluejays.
On offense, the Musketeers are well balanced with Zach Freemantle (18.7), Paul Scruggs (14.6), Nate Johnson (13.4) and KyKy Tandy (11.7) all averaging double digit points.
However it has been Xavier’s defense that has been the cornerstone to their success in 2020, only allowing 66.0 opposition points per game, while also averaging 5.9 blocks and 7.4 steals during their eight game winning streak.
After starting the season 3-0, the Bluejays have been less convincing than their early season form, with three wins and two losses in their past five matches Creighton have 6-2 record for the season.
Their one point loss to No. 3 Kansas is nothing to be ashamed of, however Creighton were also upset by Marquette earlier this month going down 89-84.
And in their most recent outing the Bluejays only just managed to get over the line against unranked Connecticut, holding onto a 76-74 win. All five of Creighton’s starters scored 10+ points in their win over the Huskies.
— Creighton Men’s Basketball (@BluejayMBB) December 21, 2020
Given Creighton’s recent run of form, the Musketeers will be able to push the No. 13 ranked Bluejays on Wednesday, however with Creighton playing at home they will get the job done.
College basketball pick – Creighton Tech by 7.
Oregon vs UCLA
The No. 25 ranked Oregon Ducks will host the UCLA Bruins in a Pac-12 conference battle on Wednesday.
After losing their opening game to No. 14 ranked Missouri, the Ducks have won their past six matches, improving their record to 6-1 and earning their first AP top 25 ranking of the 2020 season.
Oregon’s move into the top 25 teams in the country came off the back of last week’s 80-41 win over Portland as well as their 74-64 win over San Francisco.
Eugene Omoruyi (18.1), Chris Duarte (15.4) and Eric Williams Jnr (12.7) are the three Ducks averaging double digit points through their first 7 games.
However, it is Oregon’s defense that has led them to their hot start to the season, allowing only 63.9 opposition points per game, while also averaging 4.7 blocks and 8.0 steals.
Like the Ducks, the Bruins dropped their opening game and went on to win their next five matches. However most recently UCLA suffered a 77-70 loss to No. 23 Ohio State.
Bruins leading scorer Jaime Jaquez Jnr was kept to just seven points in their loss to the Buckeyes, bringing his team high points per game average down to 13.7
Having just earned their first AP top 25 ranking of the season, the Ducks should continue their climb up the rankings with a spirited Pac-12 conference win at home.
College basketball pick – Oregon Tech by 12.
Ohio State vs Rutgers
In a match between two AP top 25 ranked opponents, No. 11 Rutgers Scarlet Knights will travel to face the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes in a Big Ten conference battle.
Wednesday’s matchup against Ohio State will be the Scarlet Knights’ second consecutive game against a ranked opponent after they defeated the No. 18 Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday. Improving their record to an unbeaten 6-0.
Ron Harper Jr. scored a game high 28 points to go along with nine rebounds against Illinois while Jacob Young (24 points) and Montez Mathis (15 points) were also instrumental to the offense.
Contrastingly, the Buckeyes are yet to face a ranked opponent, boasting a 6-1 record through their opening seven games.
Ohio State’s one loss for the season came in their Big Ten conference opener last week against Purdue (67-60). The Buckeyes have since responded with a 77-70 win over UCLA on Saturday night.
Duane Washington Jr. hit two late free throws in the final minute to help secure the win for the Buckeyes, improving to a team high 14 points on the night.
In what is shaping up to be a tight Big Ten matchup, we like Rutgers to build on their 6-0 start to the season with a tight road win against their conference rivals.
College basketball pick – Rutgers by 5.
Tennessee vs USC Upstate
In what will be the most lopsided result from Wednesday’s college basketball fixture, the No. 8 Tennessee Volunteers will host the USC Upstate Spartans in an early season matchup.
The Spartans recently suffered their seventh consecutive loss on the college basketball season after going down by eight points against UNCG.
The 65-57 loss was USC Upstate’s second single digit loss this season, with their other five defeats coming by 10+ points.
The Spartans have allowed a whopping 86.7 points through their 0-7 start to the season and coming into their first game against a ranked opponent, that average could be raised on Wednesday.
The Volunteers are coming into Wednesday’s matchup fresh off a 103-49 victory over Tennessee Tech on Friday and a 102-66 win over Saint Joseph’s on Monday.
Senior’s John Fulkerson, Josiah-Jordan James, Victor Bailey Jr. and Yves Pons have collectively accounted for 54 percent of all Volunteers scoring this season, however it’s Tennessee’s defense that has taken them to 5-0.
Prior to Monday’s match against the Hawks, Tennessee’s ferocious defense has forced opponents into turnovers on an impressive 27.5 percent of all possessions, which is the 12th-highest rate in the country. The Volunteer’s added a further 18 forced turnovers against Saint Joseph’s.
6️⃣ Vols in double figures (again)
💯 one hunnit (again)
🗓️ Back at it Wednesday
The recap ⤵️ https://t.co/Ju6lIT5oF6
— Tennessee Basketball (@Vol_Hoops) December 22, 2020
Having recently burst into the top 10 AP rankings, the Volunteers are set for another big win against a lowly opponent when they take on the Spartans on Wednesday.
College basketball pick – Tennessee by 36.
Penn State vs Illinois
The No. 18 Illinois Fighting Illini are heading to University Park to take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in a Big Ten conference matchup.
Since starting the season 2-0, the Nittany Lions have slipped to 3-2 after a loss to Seton Hall, a win against Virginia Tech and most recently a loss against No. 19 ranked Michigan.
Despite forcing 16 turnovers and only committing eight, Penn State went down 62-58 against the Wolverines last Sunday after a 30.8% team field goal performance.
Strong defense and poor shooting has been the downfall of the Nittany Lions this season, averaging 9.0 steals per game and shooting at just 42.1% as a team from the field.
Illinois have regressed since starting the season 4-1, slipping to 5-3 after suffering three point losses to No. 14 ranked Missouri and most recently No. 11 ranked Rutgers on Sunday.
Despite shooting at a higher field goal, three point and throw percentage, Illinois was on the wrong side of a 91-88 loss to Rutgers.
13 turnovers and 26 personal fouls was the catalyst behind the Fight Illini’s third loss for the season, a similar stat line (13 turnovers and 25 personal fouls) to their 81-78 loss to Missouri earlier this month.
Ayo Dosunmu is continuing his strong start to the season, averaging 22.7 points (team high), 7.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists (team high) per game.
Despite their inconsistent run in recent games Illinois still averages almost 12 points per game more than Penn State, and even though the Nittany Lions pride themselves on their defense, the Fight Illini actually allow almost three fewer points per game.
Illinois will improve on their AP ranking after an important road win against Penn State.
College basketball pick – Illinois by 12.
Marquette vs Villanova
The Marquette Golden Eagles will host the No. 5 ranked Villanova Wildcats in a Big East conference matchup.
With a 1-2 record in conference play and a 5-4 record to start the season, the Golden Eagles currently sit just one game above .500.
But don’t be fooled, Marquette are a serious basketball program. Having already registered upset wins against No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 13 Creighton, the Golden Eagles fell just three points short of a third upset win against No. 22 Xavier in their most recent outing.
The Golden Eagles have been very reliant on their senior talent this season with Koby McEwen (15.1 ppg), Dawson Garcia (13.1 ppg), Jamal Cain (9.6 ppg) and Theo John (8.3 ppg) collectively accounting for 61% of Marquette’s scoring in 2020.
The Wildcats will enter Wednesday’s clash with a 7-1 record that has seen them win their last 5 games. Of those five games, Villanova defeated No. 10 Texas, 68-64 and recorded double digit victories over their four non ranked opponents.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl has averaged a team high 16.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in 2020, while guard Collin Gillespie has chipped in 14.5 points per game to go along with a team high 4.2 assists and 1.4 steals.
With a 2-0 conference record, Villanova currently sit on top of the Big East and are the -145 favourite of winning the conference. Marquette are currently +1200.
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) December 20, 2020
Even though the Golden Eagles are at home and have proven to be capable of upsetting ranked opponents, the Villanova Wildcats will pick up an important Big east road win on Wednesday, improving their conference record to 3-0 and stretch their win streak to six.
College basketball pick – Villanova by 14.
*Odds correct at time of publication.
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