Friday College Hoops Gambling Guide: Thoughts on the Big Ten, SEC, Mountain West tournament and more
It’s time to get hot for March. The plays haven’t been the greatest, I won’t lie. But this is the week we got hot last year. There are high-quality daytime conference tournament basketball games today on Friday. So, I don’t have a choice of writing a picks preview here. I’m in Vegas for the conference tournament madness.
Let's get right to it. As always, our partners at the DraftKings Sportsbook have a HELL of an offer for first time users - so make sure to sign up now:
AAC Quarterfinals: Cincinnati vs. Houston, Friday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Spread: Houston (-12)
Over/Under: Over/Under (133.5)
Don't overthink this one: Houston has won 10 out of their 15 conference games by double digits, and just got embarrassed on national TV against Memphis last Sunday. I think that’s left a bad taste in their mouth. They want to move away from the five seed line. Cincinnati ranks 234th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. They rank in the bottom 150 in offensive efficiency. A team that struggles to shoot and rebound doesn’t match up well against Houston. The Cougars win this one going away.
The Pick: Houston (-12)
Big Ten Quarterfinal: Iowa vs. Rutgers, Friday, 2:00 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network
DraftKings recently pulled the line off the board on this game for some reason, but had it at Iowa (-7) despite being the lower seed. And with good reason - Iowa just delivered an offensive performance for the ages by waxing Northwestern 112-76 on Thursday. They shot 61.4 percent from the floor and shot 19 of 29, for 65.5 percent from three-point range. Head coach Fran McCaffrey was able to pull his starters midway through the second half.
I’m banking on regression from Iowa here. Keegan Murray is great, but Rutgers may have the only player in the league that provide solo coverage on him with Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Paul Mulcahy. Rutgers held Iowa to 27 percent shooting early in the year. Ron Harper is going to be able to get anything he wants against this Iowa defense. Iowa’s run and gun offense is fun to watch, but Rutgers is the type of gritty team that can frustrate their finesse style. I love backing hungry dogs, and the Scarlet Knights fit the bill. Back Rutgers to keep it close.
The Pick: Rutgers (+7) - assuming that is the line that comes out around game time
Atlantic 10 Quarterfinal: St. Bonaventure vs. Saint Louis, Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET, USA Network
Spread: St. Bonaventure (-1.5)
The 2022 Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals will continue on Friday afternoon with the Saint Louis Billikens taking on the St. Bonaventure Bonnies at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., and I can't lie, I love the Bonnies here. They are looking to steal a bid after a disappointing regular season.
The Bonnies come in hot, having won eight of nine, including two wins over Saint Louis during that stretch. From early reports, star center Osun Osunniyi (11.3 points, a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game) will be at full go. There was a reason the Bonnies were picked to win the league at the beginning of the year. Fatigue won't be a factor, roll with Mark Schmidt's club.
The Pick: St. Bonaventure (-1.5)
SEC quarterfinals: LSU vs. Arkansas, Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Spread: Arkansas (-3)
The Razorbacks are red hot, going 14-2 in their last 16 contests, including seven wins against Ken Pom's top 25.
Looking at this matchup, I'll be blunt, it all comes down to one thing: I just don't know how LSU constantly scores here. The Hogs have the best defensive field goal percentage in the conference, all while JD Notae is cooking offensively, going for 20+ in three of his last four. LSU struggles in stretches on the offensive end. Arkansas can get to the foul line against LSU's aggressive defense that fouls at the highest rate in the conference.
Don’t overthink it take the Hogs here.
The Pick: Arkansas (-3)
Big 12 Semifinals: TCU vs. Kansas, Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Spread: Kansas (-8)
It's been a wild few weeks for TCU, which came back from double-digits to beat Texas on Thursday afternoon. It has now set up a third game in less than two weeks with Kansas. They split the, but even in the game they lost, TCU fell by just four at Phog Allen.
So yes, there is a lot of familiarity here.
TCU is a tough as nails team that plays hard defense and hammers the boards. They rank second nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. Rebounding is the one area where Kansas struggles, as they rank in the bottom 200 in the country.
TCU has a top defense and can throw multiple guys at Kansas All-American Ochai Agbagi. I think the Horned Frogs keep things close here.
The Pick: TCU (+8)
Big East semifinals: UConn vs. Villanova, Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET, FS1
Spread: Villanova (-2.5)
Total: Over/Under 131.5
I’m writing this late Thursday, as UConn is currently strangling Seton Hall at halftime, allowing just 18 first-half points. If this paragraph holds, I didn’t jinx them and still have a gig writing for AT Media
(Editor's Note: UConn beat Seton Hall, and Austin still has a job at AT Media!)
As for Villanova, they are coming off a war against St. John's, and even more concerning is that Jermaine Samuels is playing through injury. I like UConn's inside size and ability to win the rebounding battle.
UConn ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage nationally. Andre Jackson has been flying around and getting better. The Garden will be packed with UConn fans. I think they have a good chance against Nova on Friday.
The Pick: UConn +2.5
Mountain West Semifinals: San Diego State vs. Colorado State, Friday, 11:59 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
Spread: San Diego State (-1.5)
Stay up late with the Mountain West, where we will get two semifinals between four teams that have all but clinched their NCAA Tournament spots (Wyoming and Boise will play in the earlier semifinal). In terms of these two teams, they had two interesting matchups in the regular season. In the first, San Diego State destroyed Colorado State at Viejas Arena, and Colorado State won by one point in the rematch in Fort Collins.
Colorado State is extremely efficient on the offensive end, and the key is going to be how Mountain West Player of the Year David Roddy for the Rams can stretch the floor with his shooting. The Aztecs do rank second nationally in defensive efficiency. The Rams are coming off a battle against Utah State in the semis. Each team is going to have hit their share of tough shots.
The Rams are more built do that. I’ll take Colorado State to advance.
The Pick: Colorado State (+1.5)
Other Leans: North Texas (-5); Texas A&M Corpus-Christi (+3.5)
Follow me on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive as I'll be tweeting out picks all day
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