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College Basketball Saturday Betting Preview: A Top-25 Matchup and a Blue-Blood Showdown

Matchups between Gonzaga and Texas Tech and North Caroline and Kentucky give bettors a solid investment opportunity on the collegiate hardwood.

The action on the collegiate hardwood has been unpredictable to say the least as we have already witnessed four teams earn the overall No. 1 ranking in the polls. While Gonzaga, Duke, Purdue and now Baylor have garnered that prestigious honor, college basketball fans and bettors are looking forward to several months of conference matchup betting opportunities.

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SI Betting is here to highlight two games bettors should look to invest in on Saturday. One of the games involves a Top-25 showdown, while the other includes a matchup in Las Vegas that didn’t exist until early Friday morning!

Dec 14, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Caleb Love (2) dribbles in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center.

Saturday's College Basketball Best Bets

North Carolina Tar Heels vs. No. 21 Kentucky Wildcats

Spread: North Carolina +2 (-110) | Kentucky -2 (-110)

Total: 147.5– Over (-110) | Under 147.5 (-110)

Venue: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

Game Info: Sat. Dec. 18, 2021 | 5:30 pm EST | CBS

Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.

The line has held steady since opening in favor of No. 21 Kentucky (7-2 SU; 3-6 ATS) as 2-point favorites over North Carolina (8-2 SU; 3-7 ATS) at SI Sportsbook.

Due to COVID-19 protocols, Ohio State and UCLA will be unable to participate in the CBS Sports Classic. Instead, college basketball fans can tune in to a matchup that was added to the schedule Friday morning. Originally, the Tar Heels were scheduled to play No. 4 UCLA, while the Wildcats were set to face off with No. 15 Ohio State. With the Buckeyes and Bruins putting their seasons on pause due to COVID-19, bettors are rewarded with a fantastic matchup of two storied programs. 

North Carolina has won five straight games after most recently knocking off Furman 74-61, as 10.5 point home favorites. Sophomore guard Caleb Love has stepped up in his second season with the Tar Heels leading the team in scoring (16.2 ppg) thanks to impressively shooting 43.9% from the field. North Carolina will need a big game inside from junior forward Armando Bacot who is second on the club in scoring (14.3 ppg) while leading the ‘Heels in rebounding (9.8 rbg).

Kentucky is led by junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who leads the team and the nation in rebounds per game (14.4). The dominant big man is also leading the Wildcats in scoring (16.3 ppg) through nine games. Junior guard Sahvir Wheeler has been sensational distributing the ball leading Kentucky with 7.7 assists per game.

North Carolina is 5-2 SU in seven games in the CBS Sports Classic while 1-2 SU against Kentucky in the event. Dating back to 2006, Kentucky has won six of the last 10 meetings, while holding a 5-4-1 ATS edge over that span.

Bacot’s matchup with Tshiebwe is clearly where this game will be decided. I have to give that nod to West Virginia transfer Tshiebwe who has been unstoppable on the block.

BET: Kentucky ML (-120)

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Gonzaga's Drew Timme goes for a basket in a recent exhibition game

No. 5 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. No. 25 Texas Tech Red Raiders

Spread: Gonzaga -9 (-110) | Texas Tech +9 (-110)

Total: 145– Over (-110) | Under 145 (-110)

Venue: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ,

Game Info: Saturday Dec. 18, 2021 | 1 pm EST | ESPN2

Editor's Note - Odds are subject to change.

The line has held steady since opening in favor of No. 5 Gonzaga (8-2 SU; 4-6 ATS) as 9-point favorites over No. 25 Texas Tech (8-1 SU; 5-4 ATS) at SI Sportsbook.

The Red Raiders head into the showdown in the Jerry Colangelo Classic with Gonzaga having won eight of its nine games this season. Texas Tech's best win of the season came on Dec. 7 when they defeated No. 18 Tennessee 57-52 as 4-point underdogs. Their lone loss of 2021 came against Providence when they suffered a 72-68 setback as 2.5-point road favorites.

Texas Tech is led in scoring by an outstanding backcourt tandem consisting of Kevin McCullar (14.3 ppg) and Terrance Shannon Jr. (14.3 ppg). Both dynamic players are shooting better than 47 percent from the field anchoring the offense for Mark Adams in his first season in Lubbock.

Gonzaga, who leads the nation in field goal percentage (53.0%), will need big games from their stellar frontcourt duo of Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren against one of the best defensive squads in college basketball. However, this game will likely come down to the production of the Bulldog backcourt, mainly sophomore guard Andrew Nembard. The senior guard has struggled thus far this season shooting a career-low from beyond the arc (26.5%). 

BET: Texas Tech +9 (-110)

SI NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL BET REVIEW

2021 YTD: 2-6 ATS

2020: Our NCAA tournament betting plays yielded major financial success, thanks to Alabama (+220), Illinois (+375) and Georgia Tech (+2500) all delivering conference tournament championship victories in the SEC, Big Ten and ACC, respectively, for all members here at SI Betting!

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Frankie Taddeo is a successful high-stakes fantasy football player who created the first-ever DFS program ever offered in a Las Vegas sportsbook. Frankie is SI Betting's Senior Analyst and provides his significant experience and resources in the sports betting scene. You can follow Frankie on Twitter @Frankie_Fantasy for his latest betting and fantasy insights from Las Vegas.

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