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Courtside Players Club (12/16/23)


(3 Picks)

4:30PM EST: Arizona -1.5 (3 Units).

Both Purdue and Arizona rank in the top 10 of both offensive and defensive efficiency. This is a battle between two National Championship contenders. Purdue's Zach Edey is the reigning CBB player of the year and runaway favorite to win it again. He's 7'4 and 300 pounds and physically dominates most. The thing is, outside of Edey, Arizona is just better everywhere else. The Wildcats also have a couple physical bigs too.

Arizona has a strong pair of bigs of their own in Oumar Ballo and Motiejus Krivas. They're both 260 with Krivas standing 2 inches taller at 7'2. Can't really stop Edey but you can slow him down and disrupt their offense like Northwestern did when they managed the big upset. Ballo is the Veteran starter of the two and plays a physical brand of basketball. He's actually ranked much higher on NBA draft boards compared to Edey. Zach's game doesn't translate too well at the next level. He's just physically imposing in College.

It's also important to keep Edey off the offensive glass and that's something Arizona is currently doing better than anyone. They're 1st in overall rebound rate, 1st in defensive rebound rate, and 7th in offensive rebound rate. Outside of Edey the Wildcats have a size and length advantage everywhere else on the floor.

Arizona's at 51.5% from the field and Purdue 49.1%. Arizona shoots 39.1% from deep and Purdue 40.1%. Going to have to hit shots to win and compete in this game for both sides. The Arizona defense can just do something Purdue's doesn't, and that's really pressure the ball. Being as long and athletic as they are they can prevent any team from playing their offensive sets. They can pick up the ball full-court and have the ability to really disrupt an offense. They just dismantled Wisconsin doing it. Their quality depth really helps and enables them to do so.

The Arizona offense will also put some pressure on Edey at the Rim. Ballo is much more athletic than Edey and the Cats do a good job getting to the basket anyway. Edey lacks elite level Quickness, which is why he's never too high on NBA draft boards. That gets him into foul trouble as he ends up reaching when trying to deter shots.

Arizona is also the more experienced team. A lot of Seniors with a lot of game time under their belt. This is technically a neutral site game, but it will be a majority Purdue turnout because of the location. Still better than going into Purdue's home court. The Wildcats also went into one of the most hostile environments in CBB when they visited Duke and came out with a win anyway.

Both teams are very good, but Arizona just has NBA level talent that Purdue does not. Saw it with UConn and Gonzaga last night. Two very good teams, but one program will be shipping multiple guys off to the NBA.

5:30PM EST: UNC/UK Over 165.5 (3 Units).

This battle of blue bloods should be a good one. North Carolina's transition offense looks like the Roy Williams led era and Kentucky's offense just can't miss. UNC ranks 50th and Kentucky 32nd in Tempo. UNC ranks 48th and Kentucky 52nd in defensive efficiency. Both teams love to push the floor and go fast. UNCs played in extremely high scoring affairs against legitimate competition. 81-83 to a not-so-great Nova team, 87-82 over (20) Arkansas, 100-92 over (10) Tennessee, 78-70 over FSU, and 76-87 to (5) UConn. The Huskies move things pretty slowly, but North Carolina was able to push the pace of that game regardless.

Kentucky is the best offensive team they're going to face and like UNC, they push the scoring against high competition. They lost to Kansas 84-89, beat St. Joe's 96-88, and beat (8) Miami 95-73. They did somehow manage to lose to N.C. Wilmington at home 73-80. As good as their offense has been, the defense needs some work. They're shooting 50.4% from the field (18th), and 41.4% from deep (4th).

This is also an actual neutral site game. Fans here should be pretty mixed without leaning one way or the other. This game’s going to look like a track meet at times. With all the extra possessions these teams could find themselves in the bonus early. UNC is tied 4th in FT attempts per game and 14th in opponent fouls per game. Which brings us to our next pick...

5:30PM EST: (UNC) Armando Bacot Over 14.5 Points (2 Units).

Bacot is a huge part of this North Carolina offense. He's a 4th year starter and averaging 15.9 points per game. He's only shooting 51% from the floor which would be his lowest as a starter, but tough early scheduling’s played into that. He's coming off a subpar performance against a UConn team with Donovan Clingan defending the paint. He shot 4-12 from the field and 5-10 from the FT line. He finished with 13 points but he's in a prime bounce back spot against Kentucky.

For starters there's going to be a ton of points here but the mismatch he provides is going to help drive that Over. At 6'11, 240, Kentucky doesn't have the size to stop him. Their largest starter is Tre Mitchell at 6'9. They have True Freshman Aaron Bradshaw coming off the bench at 7'1 and 226 but he's played just 42 minutes of College Basketball. Bacot will take that young man to school... With the size issues, Kentucky ranks just 125th in opponent offensive rebounds per game. Bacot himself is tied for 18th averaging 3.67 OREB per game. He's going to get put back opportunities.

This is North Carolina's all-time leading rebounder and doubles-doubles leader. He's coming off a subpar outing against an elite defensive team and we like him to rebound in a big way. He's made a habit of showing up in big games and he's a leader on this team. Big time games like this, your stars have to show out and he's North Carolina's #1 mismatch against the Kentucky defense today.


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