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

Written By Eli Hershkovich on January 22, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets Auburn Kentucky

Brace yourselves. Saturday’s college basketball slate delivers many intriguing situational spots, along with the best matchup, on paper, so far this season — with No. 2 Auburn battling No. 12 Kentucky. Spots are geared by bounce-back, letdown, look-ahead or revenge opportunities. Let’s dive into my college basketball best bets.

Click on the odds below to place a bet when the lines are available.

In this COVID era, some of these wagers are contingent on the betting market and player availability, so be sure to check back on them and follow me on Twitter. Continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect all of the games.

West Virginia Mountaineers at No. 18 Texas Tech Red Raiders

No, it wasn’t a bad dream. The Mountaineers (+6) missed 15 layups in Tuesday’s loss to Baylor, but we’re back on Bob Huggins’ team despite Texas Tech’s rise in my college basketball power rankings.

As dominant as Mark Adams’ pack-line scheme is in the halfcourt, it struggles when it’s not set in transition. Those opportunities will be present for WVU, considering its pressure defense. The Mountaineers manufacture the 11th-highest turnover rate in the country while the Red Raiders’ offense tallies a bottom-85 percentage in that category.

After Texas Tech’s revenge win over Iowa State, this contest represents a sandwich spot with Kansas on deck. Plus, we’ll see a max-effort performance from West Virginia – which has lost three of its last five games.

Eli’s Bet: West Virginia +9 (placed on Saturday morning at BetRivers Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: WVU +8.5 or better

No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats at No. 2 Auburn Tigers

The contest will be fascinating to watch from a pregame market standpoint. Bruce Pearl’s unit has notched 13 straight wins while its National Title odds have dipped to , and any short line will almost certainly get bet up.

But the Wildcats lack a glaring weakness defensively, as their pick-and-roll coverage sets up well versus a Tigers attack that revolves around that play design more than any other. Also expect to see Jacob Toppin match up against Jabari Smith — the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft — similar to how Kentucky defended Paolo Banchero. Toppin’s athleticism and foot-speed can limit Smith’s clean jumpers and looks at the rim.

At the other end, John Calipari’s squad could exploit Auburn’s off-ball defense if sharpshooter Kellan Grady is in rhythm early on. Were the Tigers forced to collapse the perimeter, it would lead to open rim rolls for big man Oscar Tshiebwe.

Nevertheless, I’ll need two possessions in a hostile environment to back one of my college hoops futures.

College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Kentucky at +4.5/5 or better

Florida State Seminoles at Miami Hurricanes

Not only are the Seminoles playing their fourth game in a week, but they also knocked off Jim Larranaga’s squad by a single digit on Jan. 11. This contest fits the mold of a prime situational spot for the Hurricanes.

Even though the final score was indicative of the shot quality from both teams, expect Larranaga to utilize pick-and-roll action more often versus a susceptible Florida State defense. Despite Leonard Hamilton’s unit showcasing plenty of athleticism, the combination of Charlie Moore and Sam Waardenburg in those sets gave the Seminoles fits the first time around.

Don’t be concerned with FSU accruing a similar number of open perimeter shots as it saw against Duke, either. The Hurricanes’ defensive lapses don’t translate into the same concern.

College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Miami ATS

No. 5 Baylor Bears at Oklahoma Sooners

This Big 12 duel boils down to the statuses of James Akinjo (undisclosed) and Jeremy Sochan (ankle), who will be game-time decisions. With that being said, it’s a tremendous spot for the Sooners, losing four of their last five games — one of them against these Bears.

Even if Akinjo is in street clothes and Oklahoma’s pack-line pressure disrupts Baylor’s offense, can it limit its own mistakes versus Scott Drew’s no-middle scheme? Keep in mind, the Sooners are producing the Big 12’s second-highest turnover rate in conference play, relying way too much on isolation scoring.

But according to ShotQuality, Porter Moser’s team was expected to knock off Kansas by 11 points on Tuesday — rather than lose by a possession. We’re getting market value as a result.

The Sooners have the capability of attacking the rim at will in Moser’s five-out motion system, which it accomplished the first time around, and they’re accruing the top-rated efficiency in that regard during conference play. As bettors witnessed in the aforementioned Baylor-West Virginia game, the Bears don’t possess the same elite-level defense as last season while letting up a high frequency of shots in the paint. I’m willing to back OU with that in mind, along with the spot.

Eli’s Bet: Oklahoma +3.5 (placed on Saturday morning at DraftKings Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Oklahoma +3 or better

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Louisville Cardinals

These two programs are headed in opposite directions, highlighted by the Irish winning seven of their last eight matchups. We should see some market value on Russ “Russdiculous” Smith jersey retirement night in the process.

Moreover, Chris Mack’s pack-line pressure defense surrenders low-quality catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, which is what Notre Dame’s offense revolves around. Couple that with Louisville’s prowess on the defensive glass, and a fired-up home crowd will see its team dictate the pace.

Although the Cards’ attack is wildly inconsistent, post-up plays are their most dependable aspect. Mack will likely aim to establish big men Sydney Curry and Malik Williams early on versus a scuffling Notre Dame interior setup.

College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Louisville ATS

No. 13 LSU Tigers at No. 24 Tennessee Volunteers

Here we ago again. I apologize in advancing for preaching the same condemnation of the Tigers’ unsustainable success.

The Crimson Tide shot 0-of-15 from the perimeter in the second half of their victory over Will Wade’s bunch, as well as missing 11 free throws. Consider it a “gritty” LSU effort, yet the market continues to fade this team for the same reasons.

On top of that, ShotQuality notes that the Tigers are overachieving by roughly three wins. Their negative regression will finally arise against the Vols, which were expected to emerge victorious in their first meeting from a metric standpoint.

If Tennessee generates a lick of positive shooting luck from distance, which should be there for the taking versus LSU’s triple-switching defense, Santiago Vescovi & Co. will be in position to turn the tables. It’ll even force the Tigers to operate more in the halfcourt.

There’s value with backing Rick Barnes’ crew in a revenge spot — around a possession.

Eli’s Bet: Tennessee -5.5 (placed on Saturday night at DraftKings Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Tennessee -5.5 or better

Dayton Flyers at George Mason Patriots

While Kim English’s unit squandered a 13-point, second-half lead against George Washington in its return from a COVID pause, the Patriots may be worth a look this time around.

For one, George Mason center Josh Oduro (back/lower leg injury) didn’t suit up in that game. Oduro, who’s delivering a top-120 block rate, represents the key to George Mason limiting Dayton center DaRon Holmes. His status is unknown for this affair, so be sure to check back for an update.

The Flyers are also inefficient at limiting quality shots at the rim and around the arc, respectively. If Oduro establishes himself in post-up sets, that should open up the floor for the Patriots’ long-range shooters.

College Basketball Best Bets: Consider George Mason ATS

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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.

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