Best Bets: Loaded Saturday

By Ryan Coleman

After a dry week of college basketball thanks to finals week across the country, it’s the weekend and yours truly is here to run down the biggest games of today’s slate. There are plenty of exciting matchups that will feed the hungry individuals who have lacked the necessary serving sizes of college basketball they have lacked in the last seven days. Here are your best bets: 

Gonzaga at Arizona
9:00 pm central, ESPN 2
Line: Arizona -3.0
O/U: 152

The Pick: Arizona -3.0

Arizona fell to Baylor but the Bears are a legitimate team this year and Arizona was banged up. Gonzaga is coming off an awesome win in Washington so this is adding up to be one of the best matchups of the day. Gonzaga has also had the entire week to prepare while Arizona had to stop and swat the annoying fly that was Nebraska-Omaha before looking ahead to tonight’s matchup. With that being said, I still think Arizona wins and covers. Gonzaga spreads the floor well as all five starters scored 12 or more points last time out, but the Wildcats match up well against the strengths of Mark Few’s team. Gonzaga ranks 20th in two-point percentage but Arizona holds the fifth best interior defense. Arizona holds the 15th best three-point percentage but Gonzaga’s perimeter defense ranks 242nd in the nation. Gonzaga may win on the glass, but they depend a bit too much on 2-pointers, and if Arizona’s interior defense holds up, The Wildcats should cover. This will be an awesome game.     

Oregon at Michigan
11:00 am central, CBS
Line: Michigan -3.5
O/U: 137.5

The Pick: Oregon +3.5

It appears that Michigan is coming back down to earth a bit after an otherworldly appearance in the Bahamas, having lost two of three since returning. Oregon is another tough opponent that has already gone through an impressively tough schedule, losing to Gonzaga in overtime and to UNC by four, while beating Memphis and Seton Hall. This game is in Ann Arbor but Oregon has grown tough to playing away from home already this season. What helps the Ducks in this one is that almost every single possession they will put up a shot as they rarely turn the ball over and Michigan’s defense rarely forces any. So even if Oregon is not efficient, the number of first and second opportunities they will receive should allow them a boost over this Wolverine team. I am expecting a lot of points in this game, but I expect Oregon to cover and end the Big Ten home winning streak.  

Utah State at BYU
7:00 pm central
Line: BYU -1.5
O/U: 145

The Pick: BYU -1.5

This game is quite a toss-up and what it will come down to is BYU’s perimeter shooting. While the Cougars rank 22nd in the nation in 3p% shooting, 41.5% of their points come from beyond the arc, the ninth-highest mark in the nation. Utah State only ranks 101st at limiting the three which is a big reason I believe BYU will cover but there are other factors as well. The Cougars are coming off a dominating victory against Nevada where they only shot 32% from three, and still won by 33. BYU has also faced much more difficult opponents this season and Utah State has not particularly proven they can play away from home, with their one loss coming to Saint Mary’s on the road. It should be a solid matchup but I expect BYU to pull this one off and cover. The x-factor here could be Utah State star big man Neemias Queta. The potential NBA prospect made his season debut last week against Fresno State but only played 10 minutes. A healthy Queta changes this game, but I’m not sure he’s healthy enough to really impact this one.

Seton Hall at Rutgers
3:00 pm central, BTN
Line: Seton Hall -2.0
O/U: 141.5

The Pick: Seton Hall -2.0

With Seton Hall losing Sandro Mamukelashvili to a broken hand, it’s tough to compare the analytics on this one, especially considering they looked inept against Iowa State without him. It appears this Pirates team is still trying to figure out its footing as the team still seems to be Myles Powell or bust (and I’m still shocked at how they blew a 19-point lead against Oregon). With that being said, I still believe this team is much better than Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights depend a lot on the 2-pointer but Seton Hall’s size and interior defense can stop them scoring. This game is at Rutgers, but just down the road from Seton Hall so plenty of Pirates fans should be in the building. Myles Powell can light up the Rutgers defense and lead Seton Hall to the win and cover. 

Oklahoma at Wichita State
5:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: Wichita State -4.5
O/U: 139.5

The Pick: Wichita State -4.5

Both of these teams have casually walked their way to strong records early on as neither team has faced many tough opponents. The Shockers are coming off a solid win against Oklahoma State and have yet to lose at home. Oklahoma’s pace might be tough to keep up with but the Shockers interior defense is solid, ranking 17th in the nation. Otherwise, these appear to be pretty average teams all-around but Wichita has been playing very well of late. Both teams are also inconsistent so I am not too confident here but the Shockers should cover.   

Memphis at Tennessee
2:00 pm central, ESPN
Line: Tennessee -6.0
O/U: 139

The Pick: Memphis +6.0 

These are two fascinatingly different teams and it will be interesting to see who plays into whose style. Memphis is one of the faster-paced teams in the nation while Tennessee is one of the slowest. Memphis has one of the more deeper teams while Tennessee depends a lot on their starters. Where the two teams are alike is their ability to get to the free throw line: Memphis ranks sixth in the nation but their defense allows teams to get to the free throw line often. The Volunteers defense is better than Memhpis’ but I am not sure Tennessee will be able to keep up with Memphis running the floor and bringing in their reinforcements. The Tigers are riding a six-game winning streak with their only loss against Oregon away from home. This will be a close game and Tennessee might pull off a win, but Memphis should cover. 

Syracuse at Georgetown
12:00 pm central, FOX
Line: Georgetown -3.0
O/U: 148

The Pick: Georgetown -3.0

You can analyze this game all you want, but it is impossible to tell how Georgetown will play with what is going on with their team. I am not quite confident in this pick but GTown’s up-tempo style will keep Syracuse on their toes and the Hoyas can spread the floor, ranking in the top 50 in the nation at 3p%. Not only that, but it seems like Syracuse is not the Syracuse of old and 3 points is a generous spread. Give the Hoyas the points and the win on this one.  

Liberty at Vanderbilt
7:00 pm central, SECN+
Line: Liberty -1.0
O/U: 130.5

The Pick: Liberty -1.0

The game of the century! Liberty’s undefeated record is at stake and Vanderbilt appears to have an adequate team to take on the task of handing Liberty its first loss. The Flames are three spots away from having the slowest pace in the nation, so I think Vanderbilt will have a tough time adjusting. Liberty is adequate at getting to the charity stripe and Vanderbilt fouls often. The Flames have the 10th best three-point defense as well so I can see the Flames cruising to yet another victory.

Alabama at Penn State
1:00 pm central, BTN
Line: Penn State -10.5
O/U: 155

The Pick: Penn State -10.5

Alabama may have one of the fastest paces in the nation but Penn State can keep up, as they are pretty quick themselves. Not only this but Alabama’s pace also hurts, as they turn the ball over on nearly a fourth of their possessions. Penn State may not have the best three-point defense, but Alabama has struggled to play away from home, as their one true road game they fell to Rhode Island by 14. Penn State is still underrated despite a win against Maryland and it seems like their Ole Miss loss was more so a fluke. The Crimson Tide will struggle to score inside and Penn State should win and cover.  

Saint Louis at Auburn
3:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: Auburn -11.5
O/U: 137

The Pick: Auburn -11.5 

This Auburn team is legitimate and Saint Louis may only have one loss but they’ve also played zero worthy opponents. The Tigers are a wildly efficient team that can run the floor and leave Saint Louis behind in their tracks. There is a reason Auburn has yet to lose a game this season and they have had eight days to prepare. Saint Louis is not a tall team, so Auburn should continue to be able to score easily from inside. This experienced Tiger team should outrun the Billikens, and cover on the way.  

Other Picks:

  • Delaware +14.5 vs. Villanova
  • Duquesne -4.0 vs. Radford
  • Xavier -5.5 vs. Wake Forest
  • Ohio State (Sunday) – Literally whatever the spread is vs. Minnesota

Last time: 5-3

Season record: 63-38-2

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