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Sadly, we have the first weekend without football, but fear not we have a loaded college hoops slate to get you through the weekend. While Aaron covers the college slate during the week, I will make sure to provide you guys great info for the enormous Saturday slate. We are going to take care of your college basketball betting needs thru March.
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Now, to the picks:
Indiana at Ohio State (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Spread: Ohio State -6.5
We start Saturday with a classic Big Ten matchup. Ohio State has cracked the top four, but they are still criminally undervalued. The Buckeyes have been rolling on their five game winning streak and have won eight out of their last nine going 7-2 ATS during that stretch.
The Buckeyes do everything right - they shoot the ball well, take care of the basketball, rebound, defend, and they don’t foul. Indiana doesn’t force turnovers and the Buckeyes are the best team in the country at taking care of the basketball. Ohio State has multiple big bodies to throw at Indiana star Trayce-Jackson Davis. Outside of Davis, the Hoosiers don’t have a reliable scorer. Ohio State will keep the Hoosiers off the free throw line.
A long Hoosiers scoring drought will give the Buckeyes an opportunity to blow this game wide open.
We will take the more talented and deeper team here to win by double digits.
The pick: Ohio State -6.5
Butler at Georgetown (1:00pm ET, CBS Sports Network)
Spread: Georgetown -1
This might be my favorite bet of the entire day. We got two Big East cellar dwellers duking it out. The Hoyas have surprisingly been pretty good since coming back from their Covid pause. Georgetown is 3-1 ATS in their last four games and they have an impressive win on the road against Creighton.
In terms of style, Georgetown leads the Big East in rebounds and will prevent Butler from dominating on the glass. Butler struggles defending the three ranking 276th in adjusted three point percentage defense. The Hoyas have multiple guys who can kill you from deep. Georgetown is coming off a miserable shooting day where they shot 9-30 from three in Tuesday’s loss against Creighton, the second time they had played them in as many weeks. I expect a better shooting day from the Hoyas.
Butler trailed by double digits in both of their last two wins against DePaul and St. Johns. The Hoyas are the more talented team, give me Georgetown at home.
The pick: Georgetown (-1)
Colgate at Army (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+)
Spread: Colgate (-4)
We got a matchup between the top two teams in the Patriot league. We mentioned Army on the last Saturday college basketball column we did several weeks back. This team is sneaky good, and they are getting points in a good spot at home. They have two solid wins against Buffalo and La Salle, and they led Florida at halftime when Keyonte Johnson was healthy.
In terms of this matchup, these two teams met earlier in the season at Colgate and split a two game series. Colgate is a run and gun up tempo team that loves to force turnovers and score in transition. The problem with that is, Army doesn’t turn the ball over, they control the tempo with longer possessions and they play good defense.
Colgate metrics are inflated after playing Holy Cross and Boston University for six straight games. Army on the road is tough test, I like Army and the points.
The pick: Army +4
Tennessee at LSU (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Spread: Tennessee (-2.5)
It's the big SEC game of the afternoon. LSU returns home after playing four out of their last five on the road. It’s their first home game since the Tigers brutal last minute collapse against Texas Tech. Tennessee has won four out its last five games.
I think everyone is going to rush to bet the Volunteers in this one. But I really like LSU at home here. I don’t think there is huge talent difference between the teams. LSU has an elite offense ranking 6th in adjusted efficiency and they are averaging 119 points per 100 possessions. They are playing at home with a pretty sizable home crowd considering it's a pandemic season.
LSU has struggled on the defensive end, but this Tennessee offense doesn’t scare me one bit. The Tigers will be aggressive on the ball and are going to force Tennessee into turnovers. They are going to make someone outside of Springer or Johnson beat them. This game will go down to the wire, but I trust Javonte Smart or Cam Thomas to get that much needed bucket down the stretch. Give me the Tigers.
The pick: LSU +2.5
Villanova at Creighton (2:00 p.m. ET, FOX)
Spread: Villanova (-2.5)
The afternoon part of the slate is highlighted by the Big East game of the year. Creighton has been a trendy upset pick in this spot with the recent Villanova defensive woes from the perimeter. The Wildcats have allowed Big East opponents to shoot around 40 percent from three in conference play. However, when you watch the games, they are not giving up many wide open three point looks. Teams have happened to be shooting at an elite level against the Wildcats and regression is due.
I know the Bluejays are capable of having a lights out shooting performance, but in this case, the Bluejays are going to NEED to be electric from the outside just to compete with this Villanova team.
The Wildcats are going to control the boards against a miserably bad rebounding team, and they are going to win the turnover battle against Creighton who forces turnovers at lowest rate in the Big East. So those are two simple areas where Nova is going to secure extra possessions. The Creighton defense doesn’t really have an answer for Jeremiah Robinson Earl on the inside. Villanova ranks top five overall in offensive efficiency and they will match the Blue Jays score for score. Fade the public home dog and trust Villanova to cruise to another dominant conference victory.
The pick: Villanova (-2.5)
Gonzaga at San Francisco (6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Spread: Gonzaga (-17)
This is the perfect buy low-sell high opportunity. The Dons lost their first game off their Covid-19 layoff on Wednesday, to a talented Pepperdine team. The Dons had a double digit lead in the first half, but they lost their legs allowing the Waves to outscore them by 16 in the final 12 minutes of the game. Todd Golden’s squad should come out motivated against the best team in the country.
This is also the perfect sandwich spot to bet against Gonzaga, they are coming off an big road win against BYU, and they have Saint Mary’s coming up. A perfect spot to catch the Zags sleep walking. Golden’s new age analytical philosophy should give the Dons a chance at success. The one weakness the Zags have is defending the three ball allowing teams to shoot 35 percent behind the arc in conference play. The Dons have one of the best shooting duos in the country with Jamaree Bouyea (38 percent from three) and Khalli Shabazz (33 percent from three). If the Dons get hot, they will be able to give the Zags a scare. USF does a great job rebounding the basketball ranking 50th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.
The Dons have competed with Gonzaga in the first half in the past. I think they will be able to hang around for the first 20 minutes.
The pick: San Francisco (+9 - first half)
Saint Mary’s at Pepperdine (8:00 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)
Line: Saint Mary’s (-1.5)
The last time these two teams played, Colbey Ross scored 43 in a classic triple overtime thriller in the WCC quarterfinal, which was one of the few great March finishes last season. Unfortunately for Pepperdine, Saint Mary's still won that game. And on Saturday, Ross and the Waves will have an opportunity to enact their revenge.
Looking at this one, we have a really fishy line in Malibu-no pun intended. The Gaels are in an interesting sandwich spot playing their first game in over three weeks, with a road trip against Gonzaga looming. Pepperdine is coming off a resilient second half comeback against USF. The Waves have won three out of their last four but that lone loss came against Gonzaga. This one of the few matchups where Pepperdine is not playing with a severe talent disadvantage against Saint Mary’s. Pepperdine has done a great job defending the perimeter ranking 11th in the country in defensive three point percentage. This is a major key playing against a very good shooting team. If Pepperdine can avoid turning the ball over at a high rate, they should be able to out run the Gaels in transition.
Colbey Ross and Kessler Edwards can carry Pepperdine on the offensive end, and the Waves will get their second consecutive big win in the WCC.
The pick: Pepperdine +1.5
Additional leans: Drake/Loyola Chicago over 134, Oregon +1.5. Virginia -6.5
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