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Ask A Gambler... Volume 1: Preseason College Basketball

I get questions in my DM daily about everything from Italian League soccer to gamblers asking about hedging or what I think of a certain team in college basketball.

So every week, I will open up the question box and answer them here. If you want to get involved and ask a question on ANYTHING gambling related. Have at it. Even the haters in the comments. Every week on Monday on Twitter @jeffnadu I will put it out there, you respond with your questions, I answer. Bring it on. 

This week, I will be discussing college basketball as we are just under a month to the season. A lot to unpack, a lot to get prepared for. Let's jump in.

I'm all about Illinois to get the job done. It's about unfinished business for the Illini. This group that captivated all of us last year is all back and they got better in the transfer market. Kofi Cockburn is one of the best 2 way players in the country. He does so much on the defensive end and basically walls the paint off and Illinois defensive numbers have shown that. Add in the fact that he's a double double guy nightly plus is so dangerous in the pick and roll. The tandem of him and Giorgi Bezhanishvili was really effective for them last year. Ayo Dosunmu returned after testing NBA waters and with new freshman guard Adam Miller and returner Trent Frazier the backcourt is fierce. Keep an eye also on Long Island incoming freshman Andre Curbelo, who reminds me a ton of Chris Paul.  I also really like the move bringing in Jacob Grandison from Holy Cross as a transfer. His ability to knock down threes and help on the wings defensively will provide crucial. For me with Illinois, it's all about them getting that consistent shooting from distance. They shot 30.9 percent last season, which was 294th in the country out of 350 teams. If they can get up to the 35-36% range, it will be a special season in Champaign. I think it will be. 

10. He's one of my most hated coaches in America. I mean look at the past for them. Lefty Driesell and Gary Williams and now him? A lot of it has to do with Maryland, a team with a great basketball history basically settling and accepting that making the tournament is good enough. He sucks. He does enough to not get fired, but never actually wins anything. I heard a Maryland fan once say "he's the Mark Richt of college basketball." Look at some of the talent he's had over the years. Dez Wells, Melo Trimble, Alex Len, Jake Layman, Kevin Huerter, Diamond Stone, Bruno Fernando. It's enough to make the good people in College Park cry. Is he a solid recruiter? Yes, but it's wild how annually he assembles teams with NBA players and does nothing with them. Hideous gameday X/O coach. 

It's as deep a conference you'll find. They also add a new member this season in UCONN, who is really good and my one of my sleepers to make the Final 4 this year. The favorite is obviously Villanova, but there are 8 teams that can challenge and win it. Seton Hall is a team that really intrigues me. They lost Myles Powell, but last season in the 2nd half of the season he was a mess and at times a liability on the defensive end. With him moving on and the rest of them returning this team has the makings to be an elite defensive team. I love the addition of Harvard transfer Bryce Aiken. He's a volume scorer and while he's not Powell, he makes for a great recovery plan. He and other new transfer Takal Molson (Canisius) will provide a scoring threat they haven't necessarily had. It's about health though for Hall and Aiken is injury prone. Boom or bust potential with them. +650 to win Big East at Barstool Sportsbook is really nice price. Very excited about this conference this year. Seton will also be good for gamblers this year. They will cover a lot of numbers as a dog. 

We talked about Turgeon early who I hate. There might not be someone I love more from a coaching perspective than Chris Beard. Coming into the season, the Red Raiders are in my top 10. People have lauded Beard for his ability to quickly vault Tech into the national spotlight. They are battling with the big boys now and Beard is the reason for it. Nimari Burnett is the new heir apparent to be the next Culver or Ramsey and his fit is really interesting. He's a 5 star player with long arms and can shoot from anywhere on the court. He is BIG 12 player of the year good. I love the fact that he's surrounded with guys like Terrence Shannon and Kyler Edwards.  Keep in mind, they are still waiting to hear whether Mac McClung will get a waiver to play. He's been practicing with the team and the thought of him with Burnett is scary. Add in the fact also that they went out and grabbed 2 really good bigs in Joel Ntawabe from UNLV and VCU beast Marcos Santos-Silva. They have a terrific mix of veteran and razzle dazzle. If McClung becomes eligible he adds an offensive ability they haven't had under Beard. The blend here is fascinating and exciting. As usual for me, they are a national title contender. 35/1 is a terrific price. 

A lot to like with the amount of talent they brought in. But getting them to have chemistry in a year like none other, I'm not so sure. Add in the fact that Isaiah Joe decided to go to the NBA and I just don't really like teams that play such a heavy isolation in the half court. They also last year had three point defensive numbers that were a total outlier that won't happen this year either. I'll pass. Middling SEC team. 

Last year ended up working out for UNC. A terrible season that was mitigated due to COVID. No one really remembers it outside of people like me and a few others. This year will be much better. Cole Anthony never really panned out between injuries and issues as a teammate. Getting him out will help the overall culture of this team as they return two big time players in Bacot and Brooks. Roy did his thing on the recruiting trail as well bringing in 3 top 20 players. As I've said with other teams, this is a different year and teams quickly adapting to chemistry will be there in the end. With as much talent as they have I expect them to do able to do that. New freshman Caleb Love is an interesting player and a terrific ball handler. He should be able to return them to what UNC does best, run in transition and Bacot allows them to get back to hitting the glass. I have them slotted 4th behind Virginia, Duke and Louisville. Louisville gets nod in that right just because of Mack being much better than Williams on the court and the infusion of a few transfers I like a lot. 

Can't wait for the season to get going. More Ask A Gambler is coming! Stay tuned to Twitter.