After dealing with a slimmer college basketball odds board over the last two days, Saturday’s slate delivers plenty of intriguing games. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets, including one for the No. 1 Houston Cougars against the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide.
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N.C. State at Miami (FL): Spread, Moneyline, Total
Neither of these teams are in my college basketball power rankings, yet they’re both still contenders in finish in the upper echelon of the ACC standings. Be sure to subscribe to Outside Shots on TheLines Podcast Network, as Scott Phillips and I dive into the rest matchups on Saturday’s slate.
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Considering these programs are roughly neck-and-neck in my power ratings, the Hurricanes appear to be overvalued after their Elite Eight run last season.
The Wolfpack have dropped their last two matchups to Jim Larrañaga’s bunch, yet Miami received some shooting luck in each of them. Thus far, Larrañaga’s scramble defense has also received some favorable outcomes, in which its opponents have struggled to connect from behind the arc. Cornell began to exploit that in a two-point loss on Wednesday, and N.C. State should deliver a bigger blow.
Kevin Keats’ squad has dialed up a top-135 permieter scoring rate, and it’s most dangerous in catch-and-shoot situations. Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, their ShotQuality PPP ranks bottom-85 in that department.
N.C. State’s three-headed backcourt of Terquavion Smith, Jarkel Joiner, and Casey Morsell are all hyper-efficient 3-point marksmen. None of them struggle with turnovers, either. Mind you, Larrañaga’s defense thrives off of takeaways because of its ball pressure.
Even without center Dusan Mahorcic (dislocated right patella), I’m on the Wolfpack for the first of my college basketball best bets.
Eli’s Bet: N.C. State +4 (-110)
Best Available Line: N.C. State
Related: 2023 March Madness Futures Odds
Alabama at Houston: Spread, Moneyline, Total
Similar to the ‘Canes, the Cougars are a bit misjudged by the betting market — but on a larger scale. Houston is highly regarded because it holds the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 poll. Its perimeter defense has been fortunate, though.
For reference, Kelvin Sampson’s unit is allowing opponents to shoot 22.9% from distance. Although the Cougs are elite at that end of the court, that percentage is due for negative regression.
Enter the Alabama, delivering a uptempo, floor-spacing attack under Nate Oats — the antithesis of Houston. Granted, the Cougars’ ballhawks will be an issue for the Tide, as their turnover rate ranks No. 301 across DI. But Oats’ shooters, led by five-star frosh Brandon Miller and Ohio transfer Mark Sears, should make the Cougars’ interior-focused defense pay if they’re able to speed up the pace.
Moreover, Alabama’s length is a concern for Houston on the glass, especially since it prospers from second-chance shots. The Tide are stout on the offensive boards in their own right, generating the fourth-highest percentage in that area.
On the injury front, Oats still won’t have Bonnies transfer Dom Welch at his disposal. Welch has missed the entire season to date with a calf injury. Meanwhile, Cougars guard Marcus Sasser will sport goggles after suffering a cut above his right eye in Tuesday’s win over North Florida.
The Cougs are out for revenge after last season’s last-second loss to Alabama. Nevertheless, there’s enough room in this spread to make it appealing — even in a ruckus environment. I backed the Tide on Friday evening, which you’ll find in our Discord betting channel.
Good luck with your own college basketball best bets for this top-10 matchup.
Eli’s Bet: Alabama +9.5 (-110)
Best Available Line: Alabama
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