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Bunnell’s Bounces: Take One

Basketball season is finally upon us. Welcome to the new series where I’ll be breaking down the lines and odds for each TCU game as well as a few other games being played the same day as the Frogs.

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Tournament-TCU vs Kansas State Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

TCU Basketball opened the year on Wednesday, Nov. 25 with a dominant 69-45 outing against Houston Baptist even though two of the Frogs regular players, R.J. Nembhard and Jaedon LeDee, did not play.

Just three days later, the Frogs suit up again for a game against Tulsa. Heading into this matchup, it’s easy to say TCU’s squad looks amazing after a 24-point win to start the season, but then again who doesn’t look amazing playing Houston Baptist?

There wasn’t much to learn from the last game other than a few new faces such as freshman Mike Miles, who right off the bat looks like he could be a stud for the Frogs. Against Houston Baptist, Miles put up 13 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals in only 21 minutes. Even when RJ Nembhard and Jaedon LeDee return to the rotation, you can expect Miles to play some important minutes down the road.

Mike Miles starts a fast break after forcing a HBU turnover

Heading into tonight’s matchup against the Golden Hurricanes, let’s take a look at what Vegas has to say:

TCU vs Tulsa

  • Tip-off: 6:30 p.m. CST
  • Spread: TCU -3.5, Tulsa +3.5
  • O/U: 125.5
  • Money Line: TCU -175, Tulsa +145

The spread opened at TCU -4.5, but after a large influx of Tulsa bettors Vegas has dropped the line an entire point to TCU -3.5.

Right off the bat, last week’s lines look crazy in comparison to today’s lines. Against HBU, TCU was favored to win by -29.5 and the over/under was set at a ridiculously high 155.5 points.

TCU was unable to cover the spread last week, but that likely would not have been the case if Coach Dixon hadn’t taken his foot off the gas pedal late in the 2nd half. The Frogs were 40 points away from hitting the over last game, which might be part of the reason the total for the Tulsa game is set so low.

Even though the majority of public bettors are siding with Tulsa, I think the Horned Frogs have all the tools necessary to beat the Hurricanes by at least 4 points. As for the over/under, 125.5 seems like a low total, but then again TCU only reached a total of 116 combined points in their game against Houston Baptist, so who knows. I’d like to side with the over on tonight’s game because I think the Frogs will have an extra spark on offense if RJ Nembhard, who is expected to play tonight, ends up suiting up for the game.

One of the big keys to victory tonight for the Frogs will be free throws. TCU shot a whopping 46.2% from the free throw line against Houston Baptist, which might be worse than some high school teams.

There are several other college basketball games happening tonight, which of course I had to make some picks on. I’ve put together what I think are the three best bets for tonight’s College Basketball slate.

Pick 1: Illinois Chicago -125 to beat Central Michigan

  • Tip-off: 6:00 p.m. CST

Why: The Flames snuck away with an upset victory in their season opener against Northern Illinois, and tonight I like them as the favorites. This will be Central Michigan’s first game of the year, so it may take at least a game to get their feet underneath them, especially in COVID-19 times. Against NIU, Illinois Chicago shot a decent 49.2% effective field goal percentage and averaged 0.667 assists per field goal made, which would rank them at #20 in the country for assists per fg. The Flames are a 10x cooler mascot than the Chippewas anyways, take UIC to get another W tonight.

Pick 2: Baylor -21 against LA-Lafayette

  • Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. CST

Why: This isn’t football anymore folks, and Baylor is ranked #2 in the country for a reason. The Bears are returning their three top-scorers from last year’s team, and don’t forget this was a team with a 24-1 record mid February, so they are capable of great things. This game is played at a neutral site, which might be a good thing for Baylor considering they are 4-0 against the spread in their last four neutral site contests. Even though the Ragin’ Cajuns aren’t a bad team, I don’t think they will be able to hang with the big dogs. I’m backing Baylor to win big.

Pick 3: BYU -18 against Utah Valley

  • Tip-off: 8:00 p.m. CST

Why: BYU was favored by 22 in their season opener against New Orleans, which I faded because I thought it was just too much, but in the end the Cougars managed to cover. Good teams win, great teams cover the spread. Utah Valley on the other hand is neither a good nor great team, which is exactly why I think BYU can handle beating them by 18.