The next week-and-a-half of college basketball is one of the best stretches of the season.
A large amount of Division 1 programs will take to the hardwood in random neutral-site locations for eight-team tournaments that give us college basketball from noon to past midnight.
The Myrtle Beach Invitational and Charleston Classic are not the primary November events, but they serve as a nice warm-up for the Maui Invitational (in Las Vegas this year) and the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Both tournaments have sneaky good fields and they should set up plenty of good matchups over the next few days. There are also some mismatches in the opening rounds with power-conference teams facing mid-major sides.
I have two of those types of games in the Thursday card, as well as a few double-digit underdogs that have my attention.
Thursday College Basketball Picks
Overall Record: 13-16
Clemson (-4.5) vs. Temple (4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Temple just isn’t a great basketball team right now.
I’m not going to sit here and say Clemson is the best team in the ACC, but I can confidently say the Tigers can beat the Owls by more than five points.
Clemson is coming off a 23-point win over Bryant and its lowest margin of victory in three games is eight points.
Clemson averages six more points per game than Temple and it shoots seven more percent better than the Owls.
Additionally, Clemson has much better KenPom stats. Clemson is 63rd in adjusted offensive efficiency, 24th in effective field-goal percentage and 11th in three-point percentage. Temple is 133rd, 151st and 135th in those categories.
Milwaukee (+16.5) at Florida (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Florida is coming off a big in-state win over Florida State.
The Gators are in a potential letdown spot at home against Milwaukee, who could hang with them for most of the game.
Milwaukee has a potential NBA draft lottery pick in Patrick Baldwin and it can score with the Gators.
Milwaukee averages 73 points per game, which is a half-point better than Florida. It also has the third-best two-point defense in Division I behind Arizona and Rhode Island.
Milwaukee should hang around for at least a half, and it might even push the Gators for 30 minutes or longer in Gainesville.
Oklahoma vs. East Carolina (Over 138.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU)
We’ll get our first national TV look at Oklahoma under Porter Moser, who was hired from Loyola Chicago in the offseason, on Thursday night.
The Sooners produced two blowout wins over Northwestern State and UTSA to start the season.
Oklahoma is first on KenPom in two-point percentage and fourth in effective field-goal percentage.
East Carolina comes into the Myrtle Beach Invitational with a 3-0 record and a defense that gave up over 70 points to its last two opponents.
I expect this to be the best of the four opening-round games at the Myrtle Beach Invitational, a tournament Oklahoma should win.
Saint Francis (PA) at Virginia Tech (-20.5) (8 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Virginia Tech is playing fantastic defense.
The Hokies held Radford to 39 points in their first game this week and they have not let any of their three foes to score more than 60 points.
Virginia Tech ranks 10th in defensive effective field goal percentage and third in defensive three-point percentage on KenPom.
Oh and by the way, the Hokies shoot the ball pretty well too. They are shooting 48.9 percent from the field and rank 28th in offensive three-point percentage.
Washington State at Idaho (+18.5) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
I applaud any power-conference team scheduling a true road game against a mid-major.
I also think it might be a bad idea for Washington State to make the trip to Moscow, Idaho on Thursday night.
Idaho took Long Beach State to overtime and lost by seven to Fresno State, and despite being No. 350 in KenPom, the Vandals have the eighth-best three-point percentage in Division 1.
Washington State should win this game, but it only won one of its three games by more than 18 points and Idaho can shoot well enough to stick around.