Although college football conference championship games are on many bettors’ minds, there’s still a loaded Saturday slate of hoops. Let’s dive into my college basketball best bets — with four situational spots to consider. These matchups center around bounce-back or letdown potential for either side.
Click on the odds below to place a bet once they’re available. You can also continue the discussion in our betting community, as we break down all of the games throughout the week.
Marquette Golden Eagles @ No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers
With the Badgers coming off four straight wins against the spread, including Wednesday’s victory at Georgia Tech, they’ll most certainly be priced as at least a two-possession favorite.
Enter the Golden Eagles, whose lone outright loss came against St. Bonaventure in the third leg of their Charleston Classic run. One of their wins was versus an Illini team without Wooden Award contender Kofi Cockburn (+4000). I’m not sold on Shaka Smart’s bunch long-term, but his defense will be in position to stymie Wisconsin’s methodical attack.
Although Greg Gard’s offense won’t be rattled by the Golden Eagles’ havoc-driven scheme, their ball pressure doesn’t allow for opponents to rely on perimeter shots. The Badgers have been living at the free-throw line, yet their offense is clicking when Brad Davison, Johnny Davis & Co. are hitting threes off of dribble penetration. Keep an eye on Marquette wing Darryl Morsell, who will harass Davis throughout the contest.
Smart’s team is even limiting opponents to the 38th-lowest near-proximity field goal percentage (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins), according to Haslametrics. If the Golden Eagles’ defense holds up, they’ll speed up the tempo and generate their offense in transition. Let’s sell-high on Wisconsin in this rivalry game.
Eli’s Bet: Marquette +7.5 (placed Friday evening at PointsBet Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Marquette +6 or better
Best Available Line: Marquette
Louisville Cardinals @ North Carolina State Wolfpack
With the Wolfpack coming off of a four-overtime win over Nebraska on Wednesday, their eight-man rotation should be worn down a little during this matchup.
The market will likely react as such despite the Cardinals falling flat at Michigan State the same night. ShotQuality determined the latter game to be a coin-flip based on the shot selection from both teams. Chris Mack’s group will bounce back in that department, especially from behind the arc via long-range gunners Noah Locke and Matt Cross.
Louisville’s pack-line defense should thwart a Wolfpack attack that relies on near-proximity shots (47th-highest rate) too.
Eli’s Bet: Louisville -1 (placed Friday evening at PointsBet Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Louisville -3 or better
Best Available Line: Louisville
- More from Eli: College Basketball Power Rankings
Buffalo Bulls @ Saint Bonaventure Bonnies
Mark Schmidt’s unit will be playing its first game of the season without senior point guard Kyle Lofton (ankle), who’s a dynamic shot creator. Lofton and big man Osun Osunniyi form one of the more underrated pick-and-roll duos in the country too.
Considering Buffalo’s biggest defensive liability is its PnR coverage, that’s a win for coach Jim Whitesell. Moreover, his offense should be set up to play at a quicker pace and accumulate clean triples. The Bonnies are surrendering the 11th-highest three-point scoring rate across Division I, and Northern Iowa took advantage of the same issue as a 9.5-point underdog on Nov. 27.
Not only can Bulls point guard Ronaldo Segu stretch the floor himself (45.8%), but he’s also an elite playmaker in transition.
Eli’s Bet: Buffalo +3.5 (placed Friday evening at PointsBet Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Buffalo +2.5 or better
Best Available Line: Buffalo
Saint Mary’s Gaels @ Colorado State Rams
Following a last-second win at Utah State on Thursday, I’m anticipating a bit of a Gaels letdown against our Rams. They’ll be playing at an arena where the altitude will be a factor as well.
Despite Saint Mary’s boasting a size advantage, Colorado State’s smaller lineup allows Niko Medved’s team to switch at every position. That factor should limit Randy Bennett’s group from having success off the dribble. The Gaels are accruing the 32nd-highest near-proximity shot rate because of their ability to exploit opponents in that regard.
Plus, the Rams possess a top-70 defensive rebounding rate as a result of their gang rebounding prowess. If they’re able to speed up Bennett’s defense in the slightest, it should lead to open threes for the 6-foot-5 unicorn David Roddy & Co.
Saint Mary’s covered (-5.5) and tallied a 20-point win in their matchup last season. Still, Colorado State will have more of an opportunity to control the tempo this go-around.
Eli’s Bet: Colorado State -3 (placed Friday evening at PointsBet Sportsbook)
College Basketball Best Bets: Colorado State -4 or better
Best Available Line: Colorado State