College basketball best bets for Monday, 11/6: Kansas State starts strong

Kansas State Wildcats head coach Jerome Tang
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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email

At long last, another season of college basketball is here. With 362 Division I teams starting their season in the coming days, the long journey to the Final Four will begin in a season where there is no clear favorite at the top of the odds board. Last season, we saw a #1 seed lose to a #16 seed for just the second time ever and the Final Four had no #1, #2 or #3 seeds for the first time ever, a signal of the parity in the sport at the moment. Last season, I touted UConn at +2500 to win the National Championship and I hope you were able to cash with me! We’ll have plenty of time to add to our National Title portfolio before next year’s NCAA Tournament, but for now, let’s get into my first best bets column of the season for opening night of the 2023-24 campaign.

While Monday’s lines having just been released over the weekend, there are still some good value bets of which to take advantage. Let’s take a look at my best bets for Monday, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for the biggest games on opening night.

Kansas State Wildcats +3 (-110) vs USC Trojans

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing

Last season, the Kansas State Wildcats outperformed all expectations en route to an appearance in the Elite Eight and barely missing out on a Final Four berth. Jerome Tang’s team is supposed to take a step back this season with the loss of Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson, but Tang hit the portal hard (as he did in 2022) and was able to land some key names, most notably Tylor Perry (North Texas) and Arthur Kaluma (Creighton). Additionally, the return of David N’Guessan and Cam Carter makes this team one of the most experienced units in the Big 12. So while Kansas State won’t have the same rotation as last season, the Wildcats are still a formidable opponent this year, particularly for a shorthanded team like USC.

The Trojans are a team I’m high on as the season goes on, but this is a tough opponent to play in your season opener on a neutral floor. Kansas State’s defense loves to force turnovers and USC was well outside the top 100 in this department a season ago. The Trojans lost Drew Peterson, Reese Dixon-Waters and Tre White from last season’s team, but do bring back Boogie Ellis to run the show, along with standout freshman Isaiah Collier. The issue is the Trojans could be shorthanded in the paint, especially if 7-foot forward Vince Iwuchukwu is unable to play on Monday. I expect Perry and Kansas State’s aggressive defense to be a real factor in this one from start to finish, so let’s back the Wildcats in what should be a close, entertaining contest.

Be sure to check out our NCAAB 2023-24 season predictions including a +7500 longshot!

Michigan State Spartans -16.5 (-110) over James Madison Dukes

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing

For my second best bet of opening night, I’m going with Michigan State to cover a double-digit spread against James Madison. The Spartans are entering the nation as a potential National Championship contender, and for good reason. Michigan State essentially brings back the same team it had a season ago, and this was a unit that got red-hot down the stretch and was a few bounces away from knocking off Kansas State in the Sweet 16 last March. This is a deep, experienced team with one of the best coaches in the country on the bench in Tom Izzo.

The Spartans a history of successfully covering big numbers at home, having covered 60% of their nonconference games at the Breslin Center since 2017. I don’t expect that to change against a James Madison side that won 22 games a season ago, but might be over its head in this environment. Look for Tyson Walker, Maddy Sissoko and the rest of the Spartans to make a statement to start the season.

Don’t miss today’s CBB mega parlay (+794!)

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