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Top NCAAB Betting Picks of the Week (November 22nd, 2021)

By Hank Blaine

While the NBA and NHL are dark on the American Thanksgiving holiday this Thursday, there is college basketball action, probably highlighted by North Texas at No. 3 Kansas. Here’s a look at two early-week games and picks with projected NCAAB odds.

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No. 10 Illinois at Cincinnati

  • When: Monday, November 22nd, 2021. 6:30pm ET
  • Where: T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, Missouri
  • NCAAB Betting Odds: Illinois Fighting Illini -10.5

Game is Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET from a neutral site in Kansas City. It will mark the season debut of one of the country’s best players in Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn. He was suspended the first three games for selling “institutionally issued apparel and memorabilia” in June.

The sales would have been legal under name, image and likeness legislation in the state of Illinois, which was enacted on July 1, but it was illegal under NCAA rules at the time because it took place in June. The 7-footer from Jamaica was first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-America honors last season. He averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, while shooting 65.4% from the field. Cockburn thought about leaving for the NBA Draft. He will be a very high pick in the 2022 draft.

The Illini (2-1) come off their first loss of the young season, 67-66 at Marquette last Monday. Illinois held an eight-point lead with over five minutes to go in the game, but struggled to create offense in the final minutes. Foul trouble by the Illini put the Golden Eagles in the double-bonus which led to an 8-1 run by Marquette, fueled by free throws alone.

A layup by Tyler Kolek with 18 seconds left in the game put Marquette up by one. While the Illini had one last chance, they were unable to convert.

Cincinnati was last in action Thursday and won 79-45 over Presbyterian. Jeremiah Davenport was UC’s leading scorer on the night with 16 points on 50% shooting. Thirteen players scored for UC, its most since Dec. 14, 2010 against Georgia Southern. This win marked the first time the Bearcats have won back-to-back games by 20 or more points since beating Drake and Alabama A&M on Nov. 11 and 14, 2019. UC’s 34-point margin of victory was the largest since Nov. 28, 2018 against Arkansas Pine-Bluff when they beat them 105-49.

The win improved the Bearcats’ record to 4-0 on the young season. Coach Wes Miller became just the third coach in UC history to win his first four games with the program, and the first since Tay Baker in 1965. Anthony Chez also accomplished the feat in 1902.

As for this matchup, UC is seeking its first ranked win since Dec. 18, 2019 against No. 21 Tennessee. Its last away from home was March 17, 2019 against No. 11 Houston in the AAC Championship. All four Illinois-Cincinnati games all-time have been at neutral sites, including a 2004 meeting in the NCAA Round of 32. Cincinnati head coach Miller was on the North Carolina team that defeated the Illini in the 2005 National Championship game. Cincinnati is looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the Big Ten, with its last victory coming against Penn State (71-50) on Nov. 20, 2016 in Uncasville, Conn.

NCAAB Betting Pick: Cincinnati

No. 1 Gonzaga at No. 2 UCLA

  • When: Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021. 10:00pm ET
  • Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • NCAAB Betting Odds: TBA

Tuesday night matchup at 10 p.m. ET and obviously one of the biggest games of the regular season. It’s from a neutral site in Las Vegas. These clubs played in an amazing Final Four matchup back in April, won by Gonzaga 93-90 in overtime in a Jalen Suggs near half-court buzzer-beater – easily one of the most memorable shots in NCAA history. Suggs is now in the NBA. The Zags would then lose the national title game to Baylor.

The Zags are No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll for the 19th straight time. A 20th straight week would match San Francisco’s run from 1955-56 for the fourth-longest streak in the poll’s history. Gonzaga leads the country with 97 consecutive appearances in the AP Top 25, with Villanova second at 42.

Gonzaga is 40-10 under Mark Few in tournaments during the week of Thanksgiving. The Zags are 29-4 in the last seven Thanksgiving week tournaments. Under Mark Few, GU has won six tournaments during the week of Thanksgiving, and played in 10 of the 14 tournament championship games.

This will mark the seventh all-time meeting on the hardwood between the Bruins and Gonzaga. UCLA has not faced the nation’s No. 1-ranked team during the regular season since Dec. 3, 2016. The Bruins (ranked No. 11 at the time) defeated No. 1-ranked Kentucky at Rupp Arena, 97-92.

The Bruins have registered a 7-4 record against top-five ranked competition (AP poll ranking) since the start of the 2015-16 season. Those victories include a pair of wins over No. 1-ranked Kentucky (Dec. 2015, Dec. 2016), back-to-back wins in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight last March and a win this season against Villanova.

NCAAB Betting Pick: Gonzaga

READ MORE: Top NCAAB Betting Picks of the Week (November 29th, 2021)

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