Best Bets: Big Saturday Slate

By Ryan Coleman

I started out this week strong, going 6-1 on Wednesday. Now with an exciting weekend slate ahead, let’s dive into the best bets for the key matchups. As a reminder, these are for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy!

All stats via KenPom.

Kansas at Villanova
11:00 am central, FOX
Line: Kansas -1.5
O/U: 146.5

The Pick: Kansas -1.5

A rematch of the 2018 Final Four yields yet another great opportunity for a top-ranked team to fall this season. Will it happen though? I don’t think so. Villanova may be ranked 18th in the nation but they have not been performing up to their usual elite level. They have lost to Ohio State and Baylor, and otherwise have yet to face a top-50 team. Kansas has been one of the most efficient teams in the nation so far, especially with their interior scoring. Villanova may have size, but their 2-point defense is sub-par, and with Kansas being able to dominate the glass, the Jayhawks will continue their scoring ways. Villanova depends a lot on the three, but Kansas ranks 51st in the nation at perimeter defense, which is in the top quarter nationally. If the Wildcats are cold from three, Kansas could easily run away with this one, and I still think they will cover and win either way. 

Purdue vs. Butler
1:30 pm central, BTN Network
Line: Butler -2.0
O/U: 118

The Pick: Butler -2.0

Purdue has been one of the more inconsistent teams nationally, falling to Texas, Marquette, and Nebraska but beating VCU and crushing Virginia. This might be one of the more boring games on the slate as it features two of the slowest-paced teams in the country, but I am confident in Butler here. The Bulldogs have impressed, defeating five top-75 teams and only losing to Baylor by one. Butler is incredibly efficient on offense and while they won’t win the rebounding matchup, they rarely turn the ball over so they should get a shot up nearly every possession. The only fault is that Purdue heavily outsizes them, and the Boilermakers will have many second-chance opportunities. Purdue has struggled to find an identity on the offensive end, particularly away from Mackey Arena. Butler is already running on all cylinders, give me the Bulldogs for this one. 

Ohio State vs. Kentucky
4:15 pm central, CBS
Line: OSU -3.0
O/U: 131.5

The Pick: OSU -3.0

It is almost suspicious how small this line is considering Kentucky’s most recent outing. Then again, you could point to Ohio State’s performance against Minnesota and make sense of it but this is by far my most confident pick of the weekend. After the Michigan State game, Kentucky has seriously struggled, facing zero top-100 opponents and losing twice. Nearly all of their scoring comes from inside the arc or at the free throw line– ranking as one of the worst shooting teams in high-major basketball. The Buckeyes interior defense is elite and they do not foul often. Kentucky’s defense is up to par, but Ohio State can spread the floor and score anywhere. The Wildcats also just lost away from home and seemed far too used to Rupp Arena. I see Ohio State cruising and covering.

Dayton vs. Colorado
5:30 pm central, CBS
Line: Dayton -5.0
O/U: 139.5

The Pick: Dayton -5.0

I hate to keep picking the favorites here, but they seem to all have clear advantages in these games. Dayton has the most efficient offense in the nation and no one is stopping Obi Toppin. Colorado may be able to defend well inside but not from the perimeter, and Dayton can score anywhere on the court. Colorado has not beaten a top-75 team yet this season and Dayton’s only loss was in overtime to Kansas. Dayton has also played their biggest games on neutral courts this year but Colorado has not played strong away from home. The Flyers are a legitimate group and I expect them to show for it against the Buffaloes. 

Utah State vs. Florida
1:30 pm central, FOX Sports 1
Line: Florida -2.5
O/U: 133.0

The Pick: Utah State +2.5

I am not quite confident here, as Florida should be a lot better than they are playing and should eventually play up to their pre-season standards, right? Until then, they are going to have to prove it and I see Utah State as the better team. The Aggies are solid at getting points from the charity stripe, and the Gators are not disciplined when it comes to fouling. Utah State also rarely turns the ball over and will dominate the glass, so they should be given plenty of opportunities to score. Florida is still trying to put their young, inexperienced team together and until they do, I am hesitant to trust the Gators. Utah State covers and probably wins outright too. 

St. John’s at Arizona
9:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: Arizona -11.0
O/U: 154.0

The Pick: Arizona -11.0

This one will be a bit tight, and I expect Arizona to win by just about 11. It’s almost like Vegas knows what it’s doing! While they are coming off a loss, Arizona has had a week to prepare and just faced a tough Gonzaga team. St. John’s depends a lot on the 2-pointer but Arizona’s interior defense ranks top-10 in the country. Not only will St. John’s struggle to score, but Arizona’s offense will have many chances to put the ball in the hoop, as they limit the number of offensive turnovers and can win the rebound battle. I still love this Arizona team, and St. John’s has barely been able to play away from home, give me the Wildcats for this game. The x-factor may be Mustapha Heron, SJU’s star who is coming off an ankle sprain. Per Adam Zagoria, he’ll be a game-time decision. 

San Diego State vs. Utah
5:30 pm central, Pac-12 Network
Line: SDSU -6.5
O/U: 134.5

The Pick: San Diego State -6.5

I know Utah just came off a win against Kentucky but honestly, that game was sloppy and Utah still turned the ball over a fair amount. This SDSU team is a force to be reckoned with and I expect the line to move further in their favor before tip-off later today. The Aztecs have proved their ability to play away from home with their three top-50 wins all on a neutral or away court. They will have plenty of opportunities to score and their elite perimeter shooting should shine against Utah’s 132nd ranked 3-point defense. San Diego State will stay undefeated and cover along the way.

Other Best Bets:

  • Iowa -3.5 vs. Cincinnati
  • Indiana -3.0 vs. Notre Dame
  • Wichita State -5.5 vs. VCU
  • Oregon State -5.5 vs. Texas A&M
  • Stanford -9.5 vs San Diego

Last time: 6-1

Season Total: 78-45-2*

*While I do not publish each of my bets, you can find all of my plays on the Action Network app and follow me @RcCola3

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