Best Bets: PACKED Saturday Slate

By Ryan Coleman

Oof, the season has been quite kind to me but last week was not… maybe I had a bit more rust to get off than I realized. But what does a shooter do when he’s slumping? Keep shooting! And that is exactly what I am going to do. Below I have provided my pick for every single game … nah just kidding, but I did cover a fair amount. There are a boatload of games this Saturday and I am feeling good, so here goes nothing. 

Ohio State at Indiana
11:00 am central, FOX
Line: Ohio State -1.5
O/U: 136

The Pick: Ohio State -1.5

Indiana depends too much on the two and I just don’t trust them. Ohio State has struggled which makes me feel like they are due for a solid performance and Indiana has not been that hot either if we are making that argument. Both teams are cold but it’s not like Indiana has been outstanding at home either, giving me further hope in the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers depends on the two-pointer, as previously mentioned, shooting 53.2% from inside the arc. In each of their three losses, they shot below that mark. Ohio State boasts the third-best two-point defense in the nation so I think they can keep Indiana below that clip, pulling off a road victory and cover along the way.

Baylor at Kansas
12:00 pm central, CBS
Line: Kansas -7.5
O/U: 131

The Pick: Baylor +7.5

I can’t wait for this game. This is probably one of my more riskier picks, how do you not trust Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, the place where hopes and dreams come to die? Well, it’s because Baylor is really, really good this year. The biggest knock against them, especially in this game, is their size and how they will defend against Kansas’ bigs. But the Bears fared well against Villanova, the eighth tallest team in the nation. Furthermore, Baylor’s interior defense ranks 10th in the nation and that’s where Kansas thrives. Now, I won’t go as far to say that Baylor will win here, but I still think they are being underrated, especially with their strength of schedule and the fact that their last loss was more than two months ago. Baylor also just showed their ability to play on the road, taking Texas Tech down, but Allen Fieldhouse is indeed a whole other monster. Kansas wins. Baylor covers.

Louisville at Notre Dame
1:00 pm central, ESPN
Line: Louisville -3.5
O/U: 136

The Pick: Louisville -3.5

Hammer time!! I got a whiff of “Vegas knows/trap game” but I would be a lot more worried if this line was closer to even or even favored the Irish. I think this line stems more from the fact that Louisville has lost two of its last three and Notre Dame came off a tough road loss to N.C. State. Notre Dame really has not beaten anyone, with their best win being by one point against Syracuse. I have been burned before by Louisville, so this either shows my stubbornness or how much I truly trust them here, you decide. Notre Dame is solid at not turning the ball over, so they will get their looks, but their offense isn’t all that efficient and I trust the Redbirds defense to shut them down. Give me the Cardinals to win and cover in this one.

Wisconsin at Penn State
1:15 pm central, BTN Network
Line: Penn State -3.0
O/U: 135

The Pick: Penn State -3.0

Wisconsin on the road has been…good? They beat Ohio State and Tennessee but don’t forget they also lost to Rutgers and N.C. State on the road as well. Penn State has also yet to lose a home game and I don’t think this will be it. Both teams are pretty inconsistent so I could see Wisconsin winning by 20 or losing by 20, both are reasonable. I am expecting Penn State to come out and play however and both teams are coming off a loss so it’s not like either is playing their best basketball either. When in doubt, favor the home team. I expect this game to be the exact opposite of whatever I expect so I do not have much confidence here but I’m rolling with the Nittany Lions on this one.

Creighton at Xavier
1:00 pm central, FOX
Line: Xavier -4.0
O/U: 143

The Pick: Xavier -4.0

Trying to predict Big East conference play is like trying to blindly throw a dart and hope you hit a bullseye. I am feeling the Musketeers of Xavier here however because they line up well against Creighton. Xavier depends on their interior scoring and the Bluejays ranks 199th in 2-point defense in the nation. On the other side, Creighton depends a bit too much on the three ball, but Xavier ranks 20th in 3-point defense. Xavier is also simply a bigger team and should be able to dominate the glass, providing themselves with second chance opportunities. Based on my confidence, Creighton will probably come in and win by 15 but I’m trusting my gut here, and taking Xavier. 

Texas Tech at West Virginia
5:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: WVU -4.5
O/U: 127.5

The Pick: Under 127.5

WOAHHHH, an under pick?! It’s exciting I know…nothing like taking a risk. WVU is a solid team and people marvel at Texas Tech’s defense but West Virginia’s might be better. The only problem is that West Virginia’s offense is sometimes non-existent, but they also excel at offensive rebounding so they should get a fair amount of second chance opportunities. I don’t trust either team but I do trust their defense and how their different paces will change how each team plays (WVU plays fast, TTU plays slow). Give me the under! (If you are looking to pick a team though, I would lean WVU -4.5).

Syracuse at Virginia
3:00 pm central, ESPN
Line: Virginia -8.0
O/U: 115.5

The Pick: Under 115.5

In this special edition of Ryan picks another O/U, I pick another under! Both teams are simply formal shells of their previous selves and when they played to open the season they totaled about 18 points. Okay, maybe it was a bit more but it was pretty close. Neither team really has a scorer and both offenses are terrible, but the solid coaching will bring both defenses to life. I understand that 115.5 is quite a low number but the first time these two teams played they didn’t even eclipse 100. I know everyone loves to root for no buckets and all defense, and that is exactly what I am doing here. (If you’re looking for a team, I lean ‘Cuse +8.0, Virginia is too inconsistent and that is a lot of points). 

Marquette at Seton Hall
3:00 pm central, CBS
Line: Seton Hall -6.0
O/U: 144.5

The Pick: Over 144.5

The battle of the stars. In my opinion, this should just be a one-on-one game against Markus Howard and Myles Powell, but I guess that’s basically what this game is anyway. I wasn’t hoping to pick and O/U in this one, but the numbers don’t lie. The Golden Eagles depend on two things: shooting the three, and getting to the free throw line. The thing is, Seton Hall’s outside defense is better than average, ranking 58th in the nation, but nothing great. The Pirates also foul a fair amount, more than the DI average, so I do expect Marquette to reach the charity stripe quite often. Marquette is quite inconsistent, as most teams are that live and die by the three, but I still think they can stay in this game through free throws. Seton Hall on the other side, has been firing on all cylinders, winning five straight with a 3-0 conference record to go along with it. They just posted 83 against Xavier, whose defense is better than Marquette’s, and I don’t expect them to stop here. Both teams play up-tempo, so there should be plenty of opportunities and I am banking on the efficient offenses to come through. Rooting for buckets in this one. (Leaning Marquette +6.0 if picking a team).

Other Picks: 

Georgia at Auburn (-11): Auburn -11

Georgetown at Villanova (-7.5): Over 147.5

Arizona State at Oregon (-10.5): Oregon -10.5

Boise State at San Diego State (-11.0): SDSU -11.0

Arkansas (-1.5) at Mississippi – Under 139 (Hammer!!)

Clemson at UNC (-4.5): Clemson +4.5 (UNC is toast)

Texas A&M at Vanderbilt (-5.5): Vanderbilt -5.5 (TA&M might be the worst SEC team in history)

Rutgers at Illinois (-5.5): Rutgers +5.5 (They’re red hot)

Washington St. at Stanford (10.5): Stanford -10.5

Last time: 1-4

Season record: 89-60-2*

*While I do not publish all my plays, you can follow each of my picks on the Action Sports Network app by following me @RcCola3.

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