Best Bets: The best weekend in college hoops this season

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The Vegas lines for these games were not released at the time of this publishing. Score projections from KenPomTorvik and Haslametrics were used in their stead. 

No. 8 SETON HALL at No. 11 CREIGHTON, Sat. 2:30 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Creighton 77, Seton Hall 74
  • TORVIK: Creighton 79, Seton Hall 73
  • HASLAM: Creighton 80, Seton Hall 74

It will be very hard for me to be on Seton Hall in this spot. I do think that the Pirates matchup with the Bluejays really well, and Kevin Willard’s club has actually performed pretty well away from home this season. They’ll be ready to play, too — a win means that they win the Big East regular season title outright, and that matters.

That said, Creighton has only lost one game at home this season — Villanova — and none of their wins were by a single possession. They run people out of Omaha. It’s what they do. And they won the first matchup in Newark, 87-82.

BEST BET: If this line opens up around Creighton (-2.5) or (-3), the value will probably be on the Bluejays. But I think it’ll be closer to (-4), at which point I will probably stay away from a side. I want to be on the over. Creighton shoots it very well at home, and I fully expect Seton Hall to play their best. These are two high-powered offenses, especially on the nights when Myles Powell gets it going. Shootout, anyone?

SATURDAY UPDATE*: Creighton is (-3.5), so I think that the best should be the Bluejays. That said, the over still seems like the best (and most fun) bet to make today.

No. 14 VILLANOVA at GEORGETOWN, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Villanova 75, Georgetown 72
  • TORVIK: Villanova 75, Georgetown 71
  • HASLAM: Villanova 75, Georgetown 69

Villanova is coming off of a win at Seton Hall that kept them in the mix for the Big East regular season title. Seton Hall and Creighton tip off after this game ends, which means that Villanova will still have a chance to win a share of the league title. Georgetown has spent the last two months playing with just seven scholarship players on the nights where Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven are actually healthy. The Hoyas are off the bubble by now and are locked into a spot in the Big East tournament, so they have nothing to play for.

BEST BET: I am going to be all over Villanova. I’m guessing the line opens up at (-4.5), and I like them all the way up to (-6.5).

SATURDAY UPDATE*: Of course, the line opened at Villanova (-7) and moved to (-7.5). There’s no way I bet anything other than Villanova in this spot, but that line is getting awfully high.

No. 10 LOUISVILLE at No. 22 VIRGINIA, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Louisville 56, Virginia 55
  • TORVIK: Louisville 56, Virginia 55
  • HASLAM: Louisville 55, Virginia 53

Virginia has won ten of their last 11 games. They are a game out of first place in the ACC title race. They are one of the nation’s best defenses, and a win over Louisville would give them a shot at winning a share of the regular season title. And while this is 100 percent anecdotal, Virginia always plays well against the Cardinals. That’s what happens when Pack-Line plays Pack-Line I guess.

BEST BETS: If UVA is getting points here that’s where my money will be.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: At Virginia (-1), I don’t love the value but I do think they are the right side.

NORTH CAROLINA at No. 12 DUKE, Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Duke 83, North Carolina 68
  • TORVIK: Duke 84, North Carolina 70
  • HASLAM: Duke 85, North Carolina 69

North Carolina has won three straight games. Cole Anthony is playing his best basketball of the season. North Carolina has some revenge to enact on the Blue Devils, who somehow found a way to win a game they had no reason to win in Chapel Hill a month ago. And Duke will be playing with a chance to win a share of the ACC regular season title.

This is a lost season for UNC. This would be the best way to make this season memorable.

BEST BETS: If North Carolina is going to be getting 14-16 points, I will have multiple units on it. I’m expecting this line to open closer to (+10.5) or so, and I’ll still be on the Heels at that price.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: The line opened at UNC (+9.5) at my book. I think that’s where the value is, but I’m going to hold off and hold that the line moves before tip.

No. 25 MICHIGAN at No. 9 MARYLAND, Sun. 12:00 p.m. (FOX)

  • KENPOM: Maryland 71, Michigan 68
  • TORVIK: Maryland 70, Michigan 69
  • HASLAM: Maryland 69, Michigan 67

Maryland is coming home after an embarrassing loss at Rutgers that came after a blowout home loss against Michigan State. The Terps still have a chance to win the league’s outright regular season title, and a win over Michigan would earn them a share of the title. The Wolverines looked like they might have gotten some things figured out against Nebraska on Thursday night, but a lot of teams have looked good against Nebraska this season.

BEST BET: Process tells me that Maryland should be the play here, but I don’t want to bet on Maryland. That never feels comfortable, so I’ll be staying away from this game personally.

No. 19 OHIO STATE at No. 16 MICHIGAN STATE, Sun. 4:30 p.m. (CBS)

  • KENPOM: Michigan State 72, Ohio State 68
  • TORVIK: Michigan State 71, Ohio State 67
  • HASLAM: Michigan State 71, Ohio State 66

Ohio State has been playing great over the course of the last two months.

But this is Cassius Winston’s senior night.

There’s no way I’ll be fading the Spartans in this spot.

BEST BET: I’ll wait to see what the number is before making a bet here, but I’ll be on Michigan State if I am going to be betting this game.

No. 24 WISCONSIN at INDIANA, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Indiana 65, Wisconsin 63
  • TORVIK: Indiana 64, Wisconsin 63
  • HASLAM: Indiana 64, Wisconsin 63

The Badgers have managed to play their way into first place in the Big Ten, winning seven straight games. Five of those wins came at home, and one of the road wins was Nebraska. Beating Michigan in Ann Arbor was impressive, as was a 13 point win over Ohio State in Madison, but for the most part, this winning streak has been about what we should have expected.

Which is why I like Indiana in this spot. The Hoosiers are probably on the right side of the bubble right now, but they could really use another elite win to get themselves out of the 8-9 game. Wisconsin would qualify as such.

BEST BET: I’ll be on Indiana here. Hopefully we can get it at (pk), but I’m assuming we’ll probably be laying 2-2.5 points.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: The line opened at Indiana (-1.5) and moved to Indiana (-2). The Hoosiers seem like the play here.

No. 1 KANSAS at TEXAS TECH, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)

  • KENPOM: Kansas 68, Texas Tech 64
  • TORVIK: Kansas 68, Texas Tech 64
  • HASLAM: Kansas 69, Texas Tech 63

Kansas is looking to start a new Big 12 title streak with an outright Big 12 title, but the Red Raiders will be playing for their NCAA tournament life. Texas Tech has lost three straight games. They are sitting at 18-12 on the season, and a loss to Kansas on Saturday combined with a loss in the Big 12 tournament would mean that they have 14 losses on the season. How often do teams get at-large bids with 14 losses in a season?

As far as the matchup is concerned, I do think that it favors Kansas. The Jayhawks are terrific at switching on defense, and they have college basketball’s best anchor in Udoka Azubuike. Texas Tech kept things close at Kansas because they shot really well from three. I think the Jayhawks get this done.

BEST BET: I’m going to stay away from this game. I think the line is going to open up around Kansas (-5.5), and I do think that the value at that point would be on Texas Tech, but they’re averaging 59 points in the last three games — including an overtime loss at Baylor — and that’s not going to get it done against the best defense in college hoops.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: At Kansas (-3.5) and 133.5 points, I think the best to make is the Jayhawks but the over seems like a better bet.

No. 4 BAYLOR at WEST VIRGINIA, Sat. 1:00 p.m. (ESPN+)

  • KENPOM: Baylor 65, West Virginia 64
  • TORVIK: Baylor 65, West Virginia 63
  • HASLAM: Baylor 63, West Virginia 62

Baylor will still have a chance to win the Big 12 regular season title when this game tips off. We talked about this the last time that the Bears faced off with the Mountaineers, but the way Baylor’s defense is built — switching, forcing baseline, anticipating help — it makes guards have to create in isolation and shooters hit kick out threes. WVU’s guards stink, and they cannot shoot.

BEST BET: If this line opens up at Baylor (-1), I will be hammering the Bears. I also think the under is in play if the total opens at 130 or higher.

SATURDAY UPDATE*: Baylor is getting a point. Their moneyline is -106. Mark Vital is a game-time decision, which is concerning, but the Bears are better than West Virginia no matter how you slice it. This is my favorite bet of the day.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”