March Madness is around the corner, and Saturday’s 106-game college basketball schedule is filled with enticing situational spots. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets, including No. 4 Duke against North Carolina — one of the best rivalries in all of sports (with a new promo for all users).
Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the biggest games of the day. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.
North Carolina Tar Heels at Duke Blue Devils
Duke – UNC Analysis
I can assure you, the zebras’ whistles will be ready for their majesty Mike Krzyzewski in his final game coaching inside Cameron Indoor Stadium. In Krzyzewski’s 43-year career donning royal blue and white, he’s 361-275-11 against the spread at home.
But keep in mind, the Coach K narrative is baked into the line, producing some value with the Tar Heels in the process.
The Blue Devils hammered their arch rival in their first meeting of the season, generating 1.26 points per possession (PPP). UNC coach Hubert Davis made the fatal mistake of matching up big man Armando Bacot on five-star freshman Paolo Banchero early on, which put Bacot in foul trouble and led to a red-hot start in Krzyzewski’s final trip to the Dean Dome.
- All of Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets
How Will The Tar Heels Adjust?
For starters, look for Leaky Black — a 6-foot-8 defensive specialist — to guard Banchero from the opening tip. The soon-to-be top-10 pick has been much more aggressive of late in half-court sets, yet Black’s footspeed and athleticism slowed down Banchero once Davis adjusted during that contest.
Moreover, if Bacot is more of a presence throughout, Duke likely won’t be plus-16 on the glass again. That gifted the Blue Devils with second-chance shots and effortless fast-break opportunities.
Even though the Coach K’s group racked up a 20-point victory, ShotQuality marked the outcome as a one-point win. UNC’s backcourt — comprised of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis — combined for a 1-of-8 shooting performance from behind the arc. Many of them were clean shots, and the two each own at least a 38.4% 3-point clip this season.
Don’t be fooled by Duke allowing the 23rd-lowest 3-point percentage (29.9%), as it’s surrendering the ACC’s second-most open 3-point looks. Anticipate Love and Davis bouncing back in this one, especially if stretch-four Brady Manek continues to be lethal from distance.
Duke – North Carolina Betting Pick
The Tar Heels should hang within four possessions tomorrow, aiming for revenge while also hoping to keep their at-large NCAA tournament chances alive.
Best Available Line: UNC
Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets:
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Place a $25 wager on any UNC-Duke bet with odds of -200 or longer, and you’ll get a $1 bonus in site credit for each three-pointer both teams score in the game, regardless of whether your bet wins or loses (max $25).
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- More from Eli: Top-25 Teams Primed For Early March Madness Exits
Jacksonville Dolphins at Jacksonville State Gamecocks
You already know I’m high on the Dolphins if you checked out my mid-major conference futures piece. Despite already investing in Jordan Mincy’s bunch for the ASUN tournament, there’s enough value in the spread to raise the stakes for this semifinals matchup.
Which Team Wins The 3-Point Battle?
This game should boil down to which perimeter setup undergoes negative regression. On one hand, the Gamecocks are manufacturing the fifth-highest 3-point clip (38.9%) in the country. But that’s an unsustainable percentage, and Ray Harper’s group began to deal with a bit of variance in an 11-point win against Kennesaw State in the quarterfinals, shooting 2-of-16 from deep.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville is letting up a 28.8% clip from behind the arc — the 10th-lowest percentage in all of college basketball. Central Arkansas, which the Dolphins disposed of in their quarterfinals matchup, owns a bottom-20 perimeter attack across Division I. Hence, it’s difficult to grade their 4-of-16 shooting performance as a sign that Jacksonville’s luck will continue.
Nevertheless, I’ll side with the Dolphins’ length as the difference-maker if they limit the opposition’s possessions in transition. In their first meeting, Jacksonville center Mike Marsh was in foul trouble, and Jacksonville State managed to stayed competitive on the glass while controlling the pace in a victory because of it.
Dolphins Must Maintain Rebounding Edge
Speaking of size, Jacksonville owns a top-40 rebounding rate at both ends. Do-it-all guard Kevion Nolan is an excellent rebounder for his 6-foot-2 frame too. As long as Marsh sticks on the floor this time around, Mincy’s unit should win the war on the glass by a wider margin.
On top of that, the Jaguars’ rebounding efforts would go a long way towards grabbing control of the game stylistically. Each team prefers to play a slower tempo most of the time, yet the Dolphins operate at a Virginia-like speed. Minimizing the number of possessions overall aids an underdog in general, and that would certainly be the case for a Jacksonville squad with the fourth-lowest average possession length in the nation.
If the Dolphins have success in that regard, expect them to be efficient off dribble penetration and via post-ups in their half-court offense. The Gamecocks have major regression coming for them in the low-post.
JSU – Jacksonville Betting Pick
Whether or not the Dolphins move on, I’ll back them to keep this one competitive throughout. Hopefully our futures advance as well.
Best Available Line: Jacksonville
Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets:
Additional College Basketball Best Bets
Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU Tigers:
In both programs’ regular season finale, this contest holds plenty of importance to SEC tournament seeding — with the Tide one game ahead of the Tigers in the standings.
In their first meeting of the season, Nate Oats’ crew owned a 13-point cushion with 7:02 left before LSU delivered a backdoor cover because of Alabama’s poor free-throw shooting (65.6%). Nevertheless, there’s a reason why the Tide have swept the Tigers under Oats — perimeter shooting.
Although Will Wade’s unit allows the fourth-lowest 3-point clip (27.7%) in the nation, it’s giving up the conference’s second-highest percentage of open shots from the arc. LSU’s triple-switching defense accumulates their fair share of havoc-inducing turnovers, but their aggression leads to clean looks too.
Tigers point guard Xavier Pinson (knee) didn’t suit up on Jan. 19, which is a factor to consider, yet anticipate Alabama showcasing an improved shooting performance from that game, shooting 7-of-34 on 3s. The Tide should stay within a possession in a motivated performance after their loss to Texas A&M.
Best Available Line: Alabama
Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets:
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