Two of the NBA’s rising young stars will meet in the regular season for the first time on Tuesday night as Chet Holmgren and the Oklahoma City Thunder host Victor Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs as part of the group play stage of the In-Season Tournament.
Holmgren and Wembanyama are two of the most unique talents in the sport. Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, stands 7-foot-1 and just 195 pounds and has the skill-set of a shooting guard. The 21-year-old missed all of last season with a foot injury but is off to a strong start this year, averaging 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 54.9% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc.
Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick in 2023, is even bigger at 7-foot-4 and 210 pounds and is leading the Spurs in scoring as a 19-year-old rookie. Wembanyama is going for 19.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per night, though he hasn’t been quite as efficient from the field as Holmgren. Wembanyama is shooting 44.7% overall and 29.8% from deep.
Because of their combination of size and skill, Holmgren and Wembanyama have often been compared to one another — even before they reached the NBA. And the two had some rather intense one-on-one battles during a preseason game last month.
But Tuesday night’s meeting in Oklahoma City will be their first time facing one another in an NBA regular season game. And it could be the start of a new rivalry in the sport.
While Holmgren is playing alongside star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Wembanyama has been carrying a heavy load as a rookie and leads the Spurs in field goal attempts. The Spurs are 3-7 overall and mired in a five-game losing streak while the Thunder are 6-4 overall and winners of three of their last four.
For Tuesday’s matchup, the Thunder are favored by 9.5 points at BetMGM with the total listed at 236.5. OKC has been one of the better teams against the spread in the league, covering in seven of their 10 games. The Spurs are just 4-6 and have been an underdog in all but one of their games this season.
What else is going on in the NBA?
It’s a busy night in the NBA with group play of the In-Season Tournament resuming.
Other intriguing matchups on the schedule including the defending champion Denver Nuggets hosting the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers have not won a game since acquiring James Harden in a trade with Philadelphia while the Nuggets are coming off just their second loss of the season despite 36 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists from Nikola Jokic. It was Denver’s third game without Jamal Murray, who is out with a hamstring injury.
For this meeting in Denver, the Nuggets are favored by only 4.5 points at BetMGM.
Elsewhere in the West, the Golden State Warriors are 2.5-point favorites over the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks are 3.5-point road favorites over the New Orleans Pelicans.
In the East, the Philadelphia 76ers are 5.5-point home favorites over the Indiana Pacers and the Brooklyn Nets are favored by 3.5 points at home over the Orlando Magic.
Big night in college basketball
There are some really fun matchups in college basketball on Tuesday, headlined by the State Farm Champions Classic in Chicago where No. 1 Kansas (-6.5) will meet No. 17 Kentucky and No. 9 Duke (-3.5) will face No. 18 Michigan State.
As part of the Gavitt Games, No. 23 Illinois will host No. 4 Marquette with the Fighting Illini listed as 1.5-point favorites at home in Champaign.
The other two Gavitt Games matchups on Tuesday are Providence hosting Wisconsin and No. 8 Creighton hosting Iowa. Providence is a 1.5-point home underdog while Creighton is favored by 12.5 points over the Hawkeyes.
Don’t forget about MACtion
There are only two weeks left in the college football regular season, so that means only two more weeks of mid-week MACtion.
This week, Bowling Green hosts Toledo, Northern Illinois hosts Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan hosts Akron.
Toledo, which is 6-0 in league play and has already clinched a spot in the conference title game, is a 10.5-point favorite on the road. The home team is favored in the other two games — NIU is a 5-point favorite and EMU is a 4-point favorite.
What’s the best bet?
I like Duke -3.5 over Michigan State. The Blue Devils are coming off a tough loss to Arizona and Michigan State has really struggled shooting the ball so far this season and has been living at the free-throw line against lower-level competition. That style won’t translate vs. a team like Duke that can match MSU’s physicality and athleticism.