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College Basketball Best Bets 11/22


f/t Aurora News Register

Arkansas vs Creighton, 8:00pm ET, Maui


Both clubs opened their Maui vacations with comfortable wins yesterday and look towards a shot at the final today in what should be one of the best matchups of Feast Week so far.

This matchup brings alot of intrigue as something has to give in terms of the Arkansas defense versus the Creighton offense. Arkansas has allowed plenty of open looks from 3 (258th in the nation according to SQ) but only 25% of triples have gone in against them. For Creighton, this plays exactly into their plans. The Bluejays are top 100 in 3 point % as well as PPP (Points per possession) when shooting catch and shoot 3s and off the dribble 3s. They also rank in the top 100 with over 35% of the scoring coming from beyond the arc. Where the problems may occur is with regards to their TOs. The Texas Tech pressure led to more TOs yesterday than in their first 4 games prior and Arkansas's ball pressure could cause problems as they rank 5th in the nation in regards to TO %. As long as Creighton don't turn it over they will be in good hands. The health of big man Ryan Kalkbrenner is also of massive importance. He went down with an ankle turn twice yesterday.

On the other end of the court, Arkansas will have to navigate the elite inside defense of Creighton. How they do that remains to be seen. Before yesterday's sterling performance from 3 (albeit vs an awful Louisville squad) the Razorbacks had only hit 12 3s in 3 games and are still ranked in the bottom 300 in 3 point % and scoring distribution from there. Where Arkansas' points come from is a question that will need to be answered and I'm not sure they can keep up unless they get a bundle of points off turnovers because of Creighton's mistakes.

For me, Arkansas should have never been favorites and are still a bit overvalued. Creighton as an underdog would be the ideal place to have played them but -1.5 and up to -2 does not bother me and is a play for me still.


Arizona vs San Diego State, 10:30pm ET, Maui


The other Maui semifinal is arguably just as exciting as the aforementioned one. The Wildcats and Aztecs rolled their first round opponents in the tournament and turn their eyes to the toughest opponent they have both faced so far in the young season.


The key in the game comes down to the Arizona offense facing this Brian Dutcher coached defense. No coach preps quite like Dutcher and he certainly has a stout defense to stymie this high powered Wildcat offense. Arizona thrives in transition but is facing a defense that allowed the 3rd lowest transition rate (hoop-math.com) in the country last year and is top 60 in the nation this year with regards to transition defense (according to ShotQuality). The Wildcats also are 287th in TO% and face a defense ranked in the top 100 in forcing turnovers. The welcome return of Courtney Ramey has certainly helped them but these problems still exist and San Diego State is a tough team to iron those out against.

For the Aztec offense, it is one of the best offenses (if not the best) during Coach Brian Dutcher's tenure. They should thrive if they can score points off turnovers but also own quite an advantage in terms of getting to the free throw stripe. They rate 37th in the nation in Free Throw Rate against a defense that is 180th and is due for quite a regression in that sense. While the Aztecs haven't really relied on shots beyond the arc they do rank in the top 25 in 3 point % and should be able to take advantage off the dribble in that respect.

San Diego State is still an underdog to Arizona as things stand. For me, this feels like a bad matchup for the Wildcats and I'll take San Diego State +1.5.




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