The three best bets for the opening night of the 2020-21 college basketball season

Villanova Wildcats forward Brandon Slater (3) dribbles as Georgetown Hoyas guard Jahvon Blair (0) defends during the first half at Capital One Arena.
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Andrew Wilsher


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Managing Editor of Pickswise. Born and raised in jolly old London, England, with an undying love for the NFL, NBA, soccer and horse racing. A big-time sports bettor who loves futures markets and backing underdogs. Long-suffering New York Jets fan. For Andrew Wilsher media enquiries, please email
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The day has finally arrived! After more than eight months, the 2020-21 college basketball season will finally top off today, with a huge slate of games to get excited about. Of course, after such a long time off the court, it might take a couple of weeks to get a grip on where teams stand.

We’ve already covered a lot of ground in the build-up to today’s NCAAB grand tip-off in our season preview, while also giving you our best conference futures picks. Also, be sure to check out our best underdog bets for opening night, as well as a big-odds four-team parlay to add even more excitement.

But right now, it’s time to dive into our three overall best bets for today’s action. Strap yourselves in and get ready, because we’re about to experience without question the craziest, wildest college basketball season ever.

Houston Cougars -21 vs. Lamar Cardinals (-110), 3.00 p.m ET

Houston has been one of the most consistent teams in all of college basketball in recent years, and you have to expect that trend to continue this season. They dominated defensively last year, ranking 21st in the country in overall defensive efficiency, and with four of their top players returning they are likely to be even better this time.

Lamar is by no means a terrible team, but there is a clear difference in quality in this game and they were blown out more often than not when coming up against tough opposition. The Cardinals play fairly quick offense, which can work against them as it gives their opponents more possessions and more opportunities to pull away. Lamar also turned the ball over a lot last season, and those sorts of mistakes will be punished by this talented Cougars team.

UTSA Roadrunners +15 vs. Oklahoma Sooners (-110) 8.00 p.m ET

Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson were standout backcourt players for UTSA last season, and with another year under their belts, they should be even better this season. They averaged more than 45 ppg, and you have to think that number will increase

Oklahoma has its own share of hot performers, but they lack any real returning star power. The Sooners have brought in a couple of transfers in Elijah Harkless and Umoja Gibson, but I expect those players to take some time to settle in and gel with their new teammates. The Sooners are the likely winners but coming out on top by 15 points or more is a huge ask, especially in a season opener. UTSA has the firepower to keep in this game and avoid the blowout.

Villanova Wildcats -14 @ Boston College Eagles (-110) 9.30 p.m ET

After winning seven of their final eight games last season, Villanova looks poised to be one of the hottest teams in all of college basketball, and they can start with a comfortable win over Boston College. The Wildcats did lose Saddiq Bey to the NBA Draft, who was taken 19th overall by Detroit, but look to have recruited well and are opening against an opponent that really struggled at the end of the previous campaign.

Not only did the Eagles go 13-19, but they lost their last six games and were one of the worst offenses in the nation, ranking 320th in points scored. On top of that, they lost two of their top three scorers to graduation, and look destined for another rough year on the court. It is tough to know where their points will come from, especially against a top school like Villanova, and the Wildcats should come out on top by at least 15 points.

Pickswise is the home of free NCAA basketball picks and predictions. We will provide predictions on both the side and totals for all of the power-conference and Top 25 games during the 2020-21 season.

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