CBB Tuesday best bets: Back Kentucky in marquee opening-night clash
After seven long months of waiting, college basketball is back Tuesday.
It's time to watch programs from all over the country square off, analyze potential NBA draft prospects, and most importantly, win some money.
After a sparkling 33-9 record against the spread in last year's regular season, we start fresh with three games that stand out on opening night.
Bowling Green (-9, 151) @ Western Carolina
7:30 p.m. ET
Bowling Green should be a top-tier contender in the MAC this season, while Western Carolina was voted to finish last in the Southern. The Falcons boast six players who averaged double figures at the Division I level last year, while the Catamounts have zero. Simply put, Bowling Green is good and Western Carolina isn't.
Laying almost 10 points on a road team shouldn't be too concerning. Despite a somewhat disappointing 14-12 record last season, Bowling Green was strong on the road, going 10-3 with six double-digit wins.
While Western Carolina will likely struggle all season, its lack of returnees will make the beginning of the campaign even harder. Not only did the Catamounts lose eight of their 10 leading scorers, but they're integrating a new coach into the fold. Take Bowling Green minus the points on the road.
Pick: Bowling Green -9
Oral Roberts @ Colorado State (-12, 154)
Oral Roberts is the talk of mid-major basketball after Max Abmas, Kevin Obanor, and Co. became March Madness' biggest Cinderella story as a No. 15 seed advancing to the Sweet 16. There's good and bad news for the Golden Eagles: Abmas, the nation's leading scorer last season, remains in the fold, but Obanor, the team's leading rebounder, transferred to Texas Tech.
Obanor's loss looms large for a team that finished 329th in offensive rebounds allowed. It now leaves the team susceptible to bulky post players, like Colorado State star David Roddy, to take advantage. The Rams' leading scorer from last year is joined by seven other returning rotation players to form one of the better mid-major rosters in college basketball.
Oral Roberts' poor defense and rebounding shouldn't cause too much trouble for this experienced Colorado State group. With Abmas and a plethora of 3-point shooters putting up points at the other end, expect plenty of points in this one.
Pick: Over 154
Kentucky @ Duke (-1.5, 149)
The night's marquee matchup features Duke and Kentucky, two of the biggest programs in college basketball. Coming off poor seasons, both teams brought in tons of talent in the summer, but they did so in very different ways.
Duke focused on the recruiting trail, bringing in potential No. 1 draft pick Paolo Banchero and two other top-30 players. Meanwhile, Kentucky set its sights on the transfer portal, nabbing four high-level, experienced contributors.
By the end of the campaign, the growth of Banchero and a young Blue Devils core might see them slotted as the better squad. However, in this season opener, backing a team filled with meaningful Division-I basketball under its belt is the safer bet. In what is essentially a clean slate for both programs, expect this game to be close throughout but Kentucky to pull away late.
Pick: Kentucky +1.5