Merry Christmas everyone! As a present to you, Cap’n Kielar is back to give you the best bets for the college basketball games today. The Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Classic tournament wraps up on this holiday. Stanford and Vanderbilt meet in the championship game, while the seventh, fifth, and third-place games also take place. With that in mind, we will be breaking down and giving the best bet for each game. Good luck and enjoy the holiday!
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Championship: Stanford vs. Vanderbilt (-1.5)
Both teams come into this matchup 8-4 on the season. They each had very close wins in their semi-final matchups, with Stanford beating Liberty 79-76, and Vanderbilt beating BYU 69-67. The two teams have met just three times in their histories, with the Cardinal winning each one. Stanford was trailing for a majority of the first half against Liberty before going on a run to tie the game going into the locker room. They shot very poorly from the free-throw line, only getting 17 of 27 to fall. Spencer Jones was the leading scorer with 25 points and crashed the boards with six rebounds.
Vanderbilt was trailing after the first half against the Cougars but used a late run and solid defense to pull it out. The Commodores won the turnover battle, forcing 19 turnovers, which helped to outweigh their poor shooting performance (39.3 percent from the floor). Scotty Pippen Jr. led the Commodores with 23 points, including the team’s final 16. Both teams are two of the worse scoring offenses in the country, as Vanderbilt ranks 236th with an average of 69.9 points per game and Stanford ranks 223rd with an average of 70.5 points per game.
But Vanderbilt has the edge defensively while Stanford is below-average on that side of the ball. Vanderbilt ranks 39th in the nation with 60.7 points allowed per game, while Stanford allows an average of 69.8 points per game, putting them 218th. That on top of the Cardinal’s struggles from the charity stripe, and the edge goes to the Commodores. On top of that, this has the makings of a defensive battle, so smash the under.
Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets Pick: Vanderbilt (-1.5) and under 135
Third-Place: Liberty vs. BYU (-9)
Both teams, of course, lost close matchups in the semi-finals. To get there, Liberty won a close one, 76-74, over Northern Iowa, while BYU won fairly easily, 54-39, over South Florida in a low-scoring affair. Darius McGhee, Keegan McDowell, and Blake Preston have combined to account for 53 percent of all of Liberty’s scoring this season. Winning the turnover battle will be key, and BYU is 9-0 when they turn the ball over 14 times or less. The Flames have a better turnover margin, so that will be something to watch in this game. The Cougars also crash the boards well and take advantage of second-chance opportunities, ranking first in the WCC with a 35.1 percent offensive rebound percentage. They are also 13th in the country with a 9.1 rebound margin, while Liberty ranks 183rd with a 1.8 rebound margin. BYU has the edge in many facets of the game, and this will come down to the turnover battle. If they can avoid too many turnovers, the Cougars will win the game.
Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets Pick: BYU (-9)
Fifth-Place: Wyoming (-8) vs. South Florida
Both teams avenged their first-round losses by winning their respective games to have a chance at fifth place. Wyoming found a way to hold on against Northern Iowa, winning 71-69, behind Hunter Maldonado‘s 17 points and seven rebounds. South Florida also had a close win over Hawaii, 76-69, with senior guard Javon Greene leading the Bulls with 18 points. The Cowboys are 10-0 when scoring 68 or more points and scored less than 68 points in their only two losses this season. Wyoming has committed a turnover on just 14.7 percent of its possessions this season, the lowest amongst MWC teams. South Florida looks like a much worse team on paper with their 5-6 record. But they were able to hold their own against the current 12th-ranked Auburn back in November, losing 58-52. They might be able to keep this one semi-close, but Wyoming will pull away at the end and free throws help them cover.
Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets Pick: Wyoming (-8)
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