The player prop market in college basketball began to really heat up at the end of last season, so we’re ready to ride the wave into the 2022-23 campaign.
Our staff has five player props for you for opening night of the new season, including plays on mid-major superstar Max Abmas and two Michigan players.
Monday’s Opening-Night College Basketball Player Props
In the table below, you’ll find each of our college basketball staff’s top player prop picks from Monday’s slate of games. Click on any pick or team logo to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Purdue Fort Wayne vs. Michigan
Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin Over 11.5 Points (+100)
By Alex Hinton
Kobe Bufkin came to Michigan heralded as a top-50 recruit. After playing sparingly as a freshman, Michigan needs a leap from Bufkin as it looks to replace the production of guards DeVante’ Jones and Eli Brooks.
The early returns suggest that he’s ready to deliver.
In Michigan’s exhibition opener against Ferris State, Bufkin scored 21 on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and 3-for-5 from 3. If Bufkin knocks down three triples again tonight, that would be great. However, even two would already put him halfway toward hitting this over.
He’ll be facing a Purdue Fort Wayne defense that ranked 275th in 3-point percentage defense last season.
The Mastodons were also 317th in both effective field goal percentage defense and 2-point percentage defense last season.
This year’s team doesn’t have anyone taller than 6-foot-9 on the roster. Purdue Fort Wayne will have to deal with center Hunter Dickinson on the inside, and I expect it to send plenty of double teams his way.
The attention Dickinson commands will create opportunities for Bufkin on open jumpers and on cuts to the baskets. Bufkin can create offense for himself, as well.
With the multiple ways he’s capable of scoring, I like his chances to score 12 points against a porous Purdue Fort Wayne defense. I would play it up to 13.5 points.
Pick: Kobe Bufkin Over 11.5 Points (+100) | Play to 13.5
By Kyle Remillard
Hunter Dickinson enters his junior year coming off of a dominant 2021 season. The Michigan big man was a force last season, putting up 19 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
During non-conference play, the 7-foot-1 center was a monster. In such matchups, Dickinson went over this number in eight of his 13 matchups, including six double-doubles.
Now he opens this season against Purdue Fort Wayne, which was awful on the glass last season. The Mastodons ranked 319th in the nation in snatching offensive boards. The program’s offense is reliant on chucking 3s on 44% of its shot attempts.
That’s not going to bode well against a Michigan defense that held opponents to 32% from the perimeter last season. That will leave plenty of opportunities for Dickinson to clean up the glass in this matchup.
Purdue Fort Wayne’s tallest player on its roster is just 6-foot-9. Dickinson will also be the main source for finding second-chance points through offensive boards in this matchup. The 7-footer is poised for a field day on the glass and is destined to open the season with a double-double.
Pick: Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson Over 8.5 Rebounds | Play to 9
Bethune-Cookman vs. Bethune-Cookman. Iowa
Iowa’s Kris Murray Over 21.5 Pts+Rebs+Asts
Last season, Iowa opened up against seven tin cans in the early portion of its non-conference schedule. In those seven contests, Fran McCaffery’s teams poured in 94 points per game.
The team ran through Keegan Murray. Murray played in six of those seven contests, averaging 24.5 minutes per game during the Hawkeyes’ blowout wins. He made the most of those minutes, putting up 35.8 points + rebounds + assists.
Kris Murray has been labeled as the breakout candidate of the year in the Big Ten by multiple media outlets. McCaffery loves to feature his bigs (Keegan Murray, Luka Garza), and Murray just needs to keep playing his brand of basketball while his usage increases (2nd on team in eFG%, 2nd in 3P%).
How much of a jump does he need to make? Well, his twin brother, Keegan, went from 7.2 points and 5.1 rebounds to 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds. Kris averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 boards in just 18 minutes per game last season, so he’s already ahead of where Keegan started prior to his big breakout.
The key to hitting this over will be Bethune-Cookman’s feistiness. The Wildcats are a sleeper in the SWAC this season under Reggie Theus.
They start three fifth-year seniors and potential SWAC Player of the year Joe French on the wing (15.8 PPG, 44.1% 3P). French dropped 30 on Seton Hall last year and helped the Wildcats hang around with NC State, as well.
If Iowa has its starters on the floor at nearly the 10 minute-mark of the second half, Murray should cruise past this total.
Pick: Kris Murray Over 21.5 Pts+Rebs+Asts | Play to 25.5
UNC Wilmington vs. North Carolina
UNC’s Pete Nance Under 13.5 Points
By Doug Ziefel
Pete Nance may be one of the most prized transfers of the offseason, but this line is not adjusted to his new role.
Nance was the focal point of Northwestern’s offense in his junior year, and he filled it up, averaging 14.6 points while shooting 45% from downtown. However, his role with the national runner-up Tar Heels will be entirely different.
This UNC team is stacked, as it brings back three of its top scorers in Armando Bacot, Caleb Love and RJ Davis. Since the Heels are well established on offense, that makes Nance the fourth option, at best.
I say fourth at best because Bart Torvik has Nance projected as the fifth-highest contributor behind returning senior Leaky Black.
So, while Nance may be highly efficient, his attempts are going to decrease. Torvik has him projected to average just under 11 points on the season, and in this opener — where we may not see the starter the entire game — that could be his ceiling.
Pick: Pete Nance Under 13.5 Points | Play to 11.5
Oral Roberts vs. Saint Mary’s
This is the perfect spot to attack a Saint Mary’s team that has to replace star facilitator Tommy Kuhse. In a game where I think Oral Roberts is live, I’m also targeting its two-time All-American point guard, Max Abmas.
Abmas is the star of the program and enters off a season when he averaged 22.8 points and 3.7 assists per game. He broke out in the NCAA tournament two years ago when he led the Golden Eagles to an upset over No. 2 Ohio State in overtime before they took down Florida to advance to the Sweet 16.
This year’s Oral Roberts team has the opportunity to make some noise, too. It returns all but one rotational player from a season ago and is as experienced as it gets. ORU’s top nine players have junior status or above.
The Golden Eagles also added Patrick Mwamba (UT Arlington) and Connor Vanover (Arkansas) via the transfer portal to shore up their defensive woes and frontcourt. Both players give Oral Roberts a well-rounded offense, too, and should take some of the pressure off Abmas.
We’ve seen Abmas star in big games, and I think the season opener will be no different. He’ll be looking to shoot and will his team to a possible upset win over Saint Mary’s.
While the Gaels finished last year as the 12th-best team in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency — per KenPom — they did rank 227th in defending the 3-ball. That plays perfectly into Abmas’ strong suit, as he attempted nearly 10 3s per game in 2022. He’s a career 39.4% shooter from beyond the arc.
Given Saint Mary’s struggles last season with the 3 and the fact Abmas takes over 30% of the Golden Eagles’ shots while on the floor, this number is a tad too low.
Abmas hit 3 or more 3s in 70% of his games last season.