College Basketball Betting: Top Ranked Teams Play Opening Night
The college basketball season tips off today as 19 of the 25 ranked teams will be in action including no. 3 vs. no. 4 and no. 1 vs. no. 1 in the Champions Classic. Virginia is the defending national champion but enter the year 11th. After last year’s title run, the Cavaliers lost their three best players to the NBA. De’Andre Hunter (4th overall pick), Ty Jerome (24th), and Kyle Guy (55th) were the core to what was one of the most efficient offensive and defensive teams in the country. Losing that much talent to the NBA is unique for a program like Virginia while Michigan State, which is noted for putting players in the pros, was able to return all of its key players from last season, including Naismith contender, Cassius Winston. Guard Joshua Langford will miss the first couple of months but the Spartans are still capable of being the best team in the country without him. Once he returns, this team will be on another level that very few teams in the country will be able to compete with. The only “knock” is that college basketball’s preseason no. 1 ranked team hasn’t won a title in 10 years. We can expect the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, and Duke to remain among the top ranked teams in the country throughout the season but there are some “second tier” teams worth keeping an eye on.
The Florida Gators enter the season with the second-best BPI rating (11.6) and a no. 6 ranking. The Gators had the 10th-best recruiting ranking this past offseason according to Rivals.com thanks to two five-start recruits. Not only that, but the Gators added one of the best players in the country in Kerry Blackshear Jr. who transferred from Virginia Tech. Defense has been a common theme throughout the Mike White era and that should remain but the key will be shoring up and offense that for two straight seasons regressed (61st in efficiency in 2018-19). With LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee all expected to take a step back, Florida, along with Kentucky, should be in the mix for top dog in the SEC. Overall, with a nice mix of youth and experience along with a stellar defense, this year sets up well for a deep postseason run from the Gators.
Another team to expect big things out of this season is the Memphis Tigers. Memphis had the top recruiting class of 2019, locking down two five-star and five four-star recruits. They enter the season ranked 14th in the country but 134th in the BPI. A lot of the BPI formula has to do with experience and coaching, so a young team like Memphis and a second-year coach in Penny Hardaway won’t score high in those rankings. Despite this, the Tigers are expected to be one of the country’s most exciting teams and are capable of running with any team.
Even at 5-1, Michigan State is a decent bet to take the title this season. Florida (15-1) is another highly ranked team that can certainly cut down the nets in April. And Memphis (12-1) as a mid-ranked team also provides some preseason futures value. It’s a long season but tonight and Wednesday should offer some clues as to this year’s contenders and pretenders.