We got another huge college hoops slate on the docket. Here at Aaron Torres Online, we are here to cover it. Another 100 game slate with huge matchups between SMU vs Oregon and UCLA and Villanova and more. We started out 3-4 on opening night- not great.
But I’m really seeing the board better after going 3-1 on Wednesday and 1-0 last night. So without further ado, here are my Friday college basketball picks.
Wright State at Marshall
Spread: Marshall (-2)
A little revenge game is brewing here. Marshall blew out the Raiders in Ohio at this time last season. Can Wright State return the favor here?
Everyone seems to be out in Wright State. In KenPom they rank just outside the top 100. Scott Nagy has been one of the most underrated coaches in Mid-Major hoops. He gets discounted by the fact Wright State has fallen short in the conference tournament. They are currently the class of the Horizon, even after losing conference Player of the Year Loudon Love. But they bring everyone else back of substance including wing Tanner Holden who averaged 15.8 points per game and Grant Bisle who averaged 15.0 points per game. Wright State operates mostly through the post, but I think we will see more inside out balance without Love. Which doesn’t sit well for Marshall who ranked 280th in three point defense last season. Wright State is going to physically impose their will on the Thundering Herd, slow the game down, and limit Marshall’s transition opportunities. Give me Wright State to win this game on the road.
The bet: Wright State +2
Wofford at Clemson
Spread: Clemson (-7)
The rule with Clemson football recently, don’t bet their offense is horrible. Conventionally, this applies to their basketball program as well. Clemson scored over 70 points in 7 of 24 of their games. Clemson scored only 65 points against Presbyterian which ranked 258th in defensive efficiency last year. Clemson lost 80% of their scoring production from last season. Clemson ranked 338th in pace last year and Wofford ranked 293. Wofford leading scorer last season Storm Murphy transferred to Virginia Tech. Clemson’s zone defense should stifle the Terriers. This game just screams under.
The pick: Under 130
Furman at Louisville:
Spread: Louisville (-9)
The Southern Conference has dominated the Vegas books. The So-Con went 4-1 ATS on Tuesday. I’m not doubting them again. Furman is the class of that conference this year. Bob Richey is one of the premier coaches in college basketball, at any level, period. All four seasons during his tenure the Paladins have ranked inside KenPom top 100. The total number of top 100 finishes in the other 21 seasons represented in KenPom? ZERO.
He has really put the gas on the pedal since taking over for Niko Medved. The Paladins lost to Cincinnati and Alabama by a combined 8 points last year. I think they play Louisville close in this spot.
The Paladins are a great three point shooting team and they place solid defense ranking in the top 150 in defense the past three seasons. Louisville is coming off a morbid season where they barely missed the NCAA tournament. The Cardinals lost their two best players Carlik Jones and David Johnson to the professional ranks. Chris Mack reloaded with seven new faces Mack brought in seven fresh faces to the mix, three D1 transfers, two from the high school ranks, and two elite JUCO prospects. I think this is a great spot for Furman to pull the upset here. Give me the Paladins and the points.
The pick: Furman +9
Oregon State at Iowa State:
Spread: Oregon State (+1)
This line simply doesn’t make sense. Iowa State hosts Oregon State in Aimes. The Beavers rattled off one of the most unexpected and impressive postseason runs in recent memory last season. While Iowa State is coming off season where they, check the computer screen, won two games. They hired TJ Oltzenberger from UNLV, and during his time with Rebels, Oltzenberger never won a Mountain West tournament game and in his best season the Rebels finished two games above .500.
Oregon State returns star guard Jarod Lucas and physical forward Roman Silvia. OSU played the 33rd most zone in the country last year and down the stretch simply out-worked and out-scrapped opposing teams. The Oregon State defense throws a lot of guys with some length. For Iowa State, Otzenberger did not have much to work with. His top returner Tre Jackson averaged just 5.1 points. So Oltzenberger used the transfer portal to bring in Gabe Kalscheur (Minnesota) and Izaiah Brockington (Penn State), Otz brings in two starter caliber wings. The Cyclones rebuild still has a long way to go. I’ll take Oregon State on the road.
The pick: Oregon State +1
Indiana State at Purdue
Spread: Purdue -26
The Boilermakers are loaded and currently perched at seventh in the AP Poll. The Boilermakers have a legit final four roster. The Sycamores are in the middle of a rebuild and they bring in Josh Schertz from Division II Lincoln Memorial to build it. The Sycamores are powered by two transfers from Schertz’s former school. They play a very up-tempo style and they lack size. Which is dangerous against Purdue’s front court duo Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. This game is going to get ugly early, and Purdue wins comfortably in this one.
The pick: Purdue -26
SMU at Oregon
Spread: Oregon (-7)
Oregon is trying to find their identity with a transfer lead number. Kendric Davis will be the best player on the floor. SMU has some great transfers of their own headlined by Baylor’s Trstian Clark. In addition to Clark, SMU brings in some mid-major gems headlined by Zach Nutal from Sam Houston State (19.3 ppg), Marcus Weathers from Duquesne, and Michael Weathers from Texas Southern.
Giving Davis some scoring help and scorers for Davis to set up is vital. I’m a little bit lower on Oregon. Chris Duarte is a huge piece they are losing. Oregon allowed Texas Southern to shoot 54% from two in their opening meeting. I think we get our second major upset, and the Mustangs take down the Ducks in Eugene. Give me SMU.
The pick: SMU +8
Villanova at UCLA
Spread: UCLA -3 (-120)
The most exciting game of the opening college week slate! I couldn’t end the column without talking about this exciting matchup. No. 2 UCLA and No. 4 Villanova at Pauley Pavilion. It’s crazy how this game starts at 11:30 EST. I can guarantee that it will be worth staying up for.
It’s an unpopular take, but I'm with Aaron, that UCLA is the top team in the country. I picked them to cut down the nets in March. Cody Riley is a big missing piece here. The length the Bruins have from 2-5 is elite. The Wildcats ranked 251st in the country in 2 point field goal defense according to Ken Pom. The Bruins are going to destroy Villanova inside due to their lack of rim protection. Villanova is really solid, they return four starters-Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels make Villanova into an immediate national title threat.
UCLA has similar continuity returning 91.4% of their minutes from last year’s final four run. UCLA is more versatile and they can beat you in multiple ways. UCLA wins the rebounding battle and I trust them to get more key stops down the stretch. This game will go back and forth and I’ll grab UCLA live at plus money at some point.
For the sake of the article we will take UCLA to cover.
The pick: UCLA (-3)
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