Saturday College Basketball Best Bets: Spread Picks, Including Kentucky – Arkansas

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 26, 2022 - Last Updated on February 27, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

There are nearly 150 games on Saturday’s college hoops slate, including a top-25 SEC battle between No. 6 Kentucky and No. 16 Arkansas. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets for these matchups.

Some of these plays are driven by situational spots like bounce-back, letdown, look-ahead or revenge opportunities.

Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the biggest games throughout the day. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

Kentucky Wildcats at Arkansas Razorbacks

For starters, the Wildcats could be without their starting guards TyTy Washington (ankle) and Sahvir Wheeler (wrist). They’ve missed the last two games, and John Calipari alluded to that possibility on Thursday.

On the flip side, this spot isn’t the typical motivational spot that I’d target, as the Razorbacks have won 12 of their last 13 games. Still, they’re still fighting to improve their NCAA tournament odds, and Bud Walton Arena provides a strong home-court advantage.

Assuming Kentucky’s backcourt is out, look for Arkansas’ completely switchable defense to generate havoc versus an interior-driven offense — both off the dribble and via post-ups. Eric Musselman’s team is allowing the 12th-fewest near-proximity field goal attempts against average opponent (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins), according to Haslametrics.

College Basketball Best Bets

Jaylin Williams, #10, has taken over Justin Smith’s role from last season’s Elite Eight team.

The Hogs boast the conference’s top-rated transition defense too, which the Wildcats rely on to accrue perimeter looks for sharpshooter Kellan Grady.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Arkansas ATS (no bet yet)
Best Available Line: Arkansas

Virginia Tech Hokies at Miami Hurricanes

Mike Young’s squad has underperformed its shooting metrics by four victories (via ShotQuality), yet the Hurricanes let up the sixth-highest percentage of open 3-pointers in the ACC. Expect Keve Aluma & Co. to control the glass and rack up clean triples in the process.

This contest is a revenge spot for Va. Tech as well — with Miami guard Charlie Moore hitting a game-winner at the horn in the first meeting. The Hokies’ at-large chances are likely dead, but they’ll need a win to have any shot at reviving them.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Virginia Tech +1.5 (-110)
Best Available Line: Virginia Tech

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at North Texas Mean Green

This matchup represents a prime revenge spot for the Bulldogs after blowing a 17-point, second-half lead against the Mean Green on Jan. 29.

Although North Texas boasts the potential for a deep March Madness run, Louisiana Tech’s interior defense should stymie an attack that runs the league’s highest percentage of post-ups (via ShotQuality). Moreover, the Mean Green don’t possess a physical body who can slow down Kenneth Lofton Jr. — the likely 2021-22 Conference USA Player of the Year.

Lofton, #2, is averaging 16.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

If the 6-foot-7, 275-pound Lofton has success early on, he should open up a North Texas perimeter defense that’s due for negative regression (28.6%).

The Mean Green have won 13 consecutive games, so they’re at their peak market price. Let’s sell-high on Grant McCasland’s bunch.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Louisiana Tech +6 (-110)
Best Available Line: Louisiana Tech

Wisconsin Badgers at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Even though the Badgers are seeking revenge after the Scarlet Knights pulled off the upset at the Kohl Center on Feb. 12, there’s much more at stake for Steve Pikiell’s group. Per numerous bracketologists, Rutgers is slated for a No. 11/12 seed in the big dance.

Nevertheless, another Quadrant 1 victory over Wisconsin would be a boost to its at-large resume — especially following two straight losses.

Caleb McConnell, #22, and his Scarlet Knights are 6-1 straight-up at home in Big Ten play.

Not only did McConnell hold Johnny Davis, a Wooden Award candidate (), at bay during the first meeting, but the Scarlet Knights also shot 7 of 12 from behind the arc.

Both of those variables should carry over to Jersey Mike’s Arena. McConnell is one of the Big 10’s top off-ball defenders, and Davis’ success comes largely via moving without the ball.

Plus, the Badgers give up the second-highest percentage of open 3-pointers in conference play.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Rutgers -1 (-110)
Best Available Line: Rutgers

Louisville Cardinals at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Despite the Cardinals racking up 11 losses in their last 13 games, they’ve displayed a sense of urgency in their last two matchups — winning both against the spread. It’s been driven by the 6-foot-11 Malik Williams, who’s turned a corner after stating he was lost during his suspension and while coming off the bench.

College Basketball Best Bets

Williams, #5, is averaging 10 points and 5.5 rebounds since his return to the starting lineup.

With Louisville’s center now more engaged, it has value in a rematch against Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are fighting for NCAA tournament positioning, but frontcourt depth will be a concern if bigs Isaiah Mucius (illness) and Khadim Sy (ankle) are both out.

Even so, Wake Forest’s post-up defense has been an issue throughout its ACC slate, and Louisville utilizes the fourth-most efficient post-up offense in the conference. If Williams & Co. find their footing inside, it’ll translate into open looks from distance, as Steve Forbes’ defense struggles to guard catch-and-shoot 3s.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Louisville +9 (-110)
Best Available Line: Lousiville

Arizona Wildcats at Colorado Buffaloes

Tommy Lloyd’s crew is on pace to earn one of the No. 1 seeds come Mach Madness, yet this contest is a look-ahead spot with a tricky matchup against USC on deck. It’s Colorado’s senior night as well — in one of the most difficult environments to play in because of the altitude shift.

College Basketball Best Bets

Jabari Walker, #12, is averaging a team-high 9.1 rebounds per game.

The Buffs were blown out by the Wildcats on Jan. 13, but I’d expect a max-effort performance from Tad Boyle’s unit — in a defacto Super Bowl for Colorado. Unless it wins the Pac-12 tournament, it won’t be heading to the big dance.

Look for Colorado’s size — especially on the defensive glass — to challenge Arizona’s elite length. If the home underdog can cash in a better 3-point shooting clip than their first matchup (5 of 20), which is the Wildcats’ biggest liability, it should hang around for 40 minutes.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Colorado +10.5 (-110)
Best Available Line: Colorado

USC Trojans at Oregon Ducks

Don’t shy away from backing the Ducks in back-to-back games with their March Madness hopes on the line. Enter the Trojans, which have outperformed their ShotQuality shooting metrics by five wins and nearly lost at lowly Oregon State on Thursday.

To make matters worse, USC guard Boogie Ellis (ankle) and wing Isaiah White (undisclosed injury) are banged up. Ellis was seen on crutches, making his status more uncertain for this matchup. He’s the Trojans’ second-leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and one of their primary ball handlers.

College Basketball Best Bets

Young, #42, represents one of the premier ballhawks in the Pac-12.

If Ellis doesn’t suit up, Dana Altman’s matchup zone — mixed in with some full-court pressure — will give USC fits, as Andy Enfield’s group tallies the sixth-highest turnover rate in Pac-12 play. The Memphis transfer is shooting 36.4% from downtown, and the Trojans’ floor-spacing will be a key towards breaking down Altman’s scheme.

Oregon’s offense is fairly balanced, yet its highest scoring percentage comes from behind the arc. If their combination of length on the glass and ball pressure can spark their transition attack, they’ll see their fair share of open perimeter shots against USC.

While the Trojans have revenge on their minds after falling to the Ducks on Jan. 15, the home team should squeak out a critical win for its at-large chances.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Oregon ATS (no bet yet)
Best Available Line: Oregon

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Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

View all posts by Eli Hershkovich