Saturday College Basketball Best Bets: Spread Picks, Including MSU – Rutgers

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 5, 2022 - Last Updated on February 6, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

There are 21 ranked teams in action on the Saturday college hoops schedule. So let’s break down my college basketball best bets, including No. 17 UConn at No. 12 Villanova and No. 13 Michigan State at Rutgers. 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.

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

No. 17 Connecticut Huskies at No. 12 Villanova Wildcats

Nova and UConn are coming off losses to Marquette and Creighton, respectively, so motivation shouldn’t be a problem. But Villanova guard Justin Moore, the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer, could miss the matchup with an ankle injury. It’d be a significant loss for Jay Wright’s squad, as Moore is accruing Villanova’s highest individual shot rate.

Given the fact that these programs are near one another in my college basketball power rankings, this spread is a bit inflated — especially with UConn’s size advantage.

Dan Hurley’s frontcourt is comprised of 6-foot-9 bigs Adama Sanogo and Isaiah Whaley while the Wildcats’ biggest piece in their rotation is the 6-foot-8 Eric Dixon. Moreover, the Huskies are compiling the second-highest offensive rebounding rate in the country, which is an area that their opposition struggles to limit. Villanova isn’t efficient on the other side, either.

Sanogo is generating the fourth-highest possession rate in the Big East.

If UConn controls the glass, it should lead to transition opportunities in the paint. As sound as Jay Wright’s interior defense has performed thus far, it’s yet to face a conference foe that’s ultra-aggressive via dribble penetration. Keep in mind, Hurley’s offense ranks No. 33 in frequency of shots at the rim across Division I (via ShotQuality).

The Huskies’ five straight-up losses have come by a combined 18 points. Despite dealing with key injuries in three of those contests, their poor late-game execution plays a role. Nevertheless, I’m still a believer that their offense will figure it out, and we’re getting a discount after the loss to the Bluejays.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: UConn +6 (-105)
Best Available Line: UConn

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Florida State Seminoles

For the first of our situational spots, the Seminoles will be looking to avenge a 22-point loss to the Deacons — on top of losing their last three games.

Although FSU will be without forwards Malik Osborne (season-ending ankle injury), Naheem McLeod (hand surgery) and Anthony Polite (wrist), its ball pressure should tally plenty of takeaways against a Wake Forest unit that’s averaging the highest turnover rate in ACC play. Couple that with Steve Forbes’ concerning transition defense around the perimeter, and the ‘Noles are in position to bounce back in a big way.

Let’s continue to sell-high on Alondes Williams & Co. before the market adjusts.

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

Louisville Cardinals at Syracuse Orange

Here’s another hypothetical buy-low, sell-high ACC spot — with the Orange winning consecutive games and the Cardinals dropping seven of their last eight affairs.

During Syracuse’s short burst of success, it’s shooting 55.3% from behind the arc. That is unsustainable; furthermore, Louisville is surrendering open 3-pointers at the fifth-lowest clip in-conference (via ShotQuality). As long as the Cardinals’ effort isn’t lacking, as they’ve undergone a rocky season amid the transition from Chris Mack to Mike Pegues, their defense matches up well. Specifically, expect the 6-foot-5 Dre Davis to shadow Buddy Boeheim when he’s in.

But there are still a pair of issues for the road underdog. For one, minus center Malik Williams (suspension), Louisville lacks the size to limit the opposition’s second-chance shots.

Plus, the Cardinals are producing a bottom-25 offensive efficiency against zone set-ups (0.77 points per possession). While their 3-point shooting has come around of late, the Orange’s length will likely bother them throughout.

Monitor this one to see if Pegues has any new wrinkles to employ at that end. An in-game bet on Jim Boeheim’s bunch could be worth exploring if not.

College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Syracuse live
Best Available Line: Syracuse

No. 14 Texas Tech Red Raiders at West Virginia Mountaineers

On Friday, Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins noted that point guard Taz Sherman is still in concussion protocol, which creates doubt for his status in a revenge spot against the Red Raiders.

In their first meeting on Jan. 22, Sherman manufactured 21 points on a variety of contested jumpers, along with two steals. Despite his pending absence impacting West Virginia at both sides of the court, the market should follow suit and back Texas Tech. We’re seeing a slightly overpriced spread in the process, as Mark Adams’ crew is coming off an emotional, double-digit victory against Texas on Tuesday.

College Basketball Best Bets

Sean McNeil, #22, is shooting 4-of-17 from distance in his last four games.

Huggins & Co. have lost six straight games and desperately need a marquee win to improve their NCAA tournament resume. Whether or not Sherman suits up, we should get a maximum-level effort from WVU, particularly on the glass. I may pull the trigger if the line is around three possessions.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: WVU +5.5 (-110)
Best Available Line: WVU

Michigan Wolverines at No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers

As I shared in my latest college basketball futures breakdown, the Boilermakers continue to be overvalued on a game-by-game basis. This affair is no exception against the improved Wolverines.

Matt Painter’s defensive concerns come against the pick-and-roll and off-ball movement. They start with Purdue’s backcourt, as Eric Hunter and Isaiah Thompson both struggle with their on-ball coverage. Led by the 7-foot-1 Hunter Dickinson, Michigan utilizes those actions at a high rate, setting up he and point guard Devante Jones for plenty of offensive success.

College Basketball Best Bets

Dickinson, #1, has developed into one of the premier centers in college basketball.

The Wolverines present the length to battle with the Boilermakers’ bigs on the glass too, notching a top-five rebounding rate at each end in Big Ten play. Howard primarily puts the 6-foot-11 Moussa Diabaté alongside Dickinson, gifting Michigan a clear-cut height advantage when those two are on the floor. That should allow for Michigan to slow down the tempo a bit, which aids the underdog.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Michigan +10.5 (-105)
Best Available Line: Michigan

No. 13 Michigan State Spartans at Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Let’s save the best for last, as we’re backing my beloved Scarlet Knights for the first time this year. For those who don’t recall, Rutgers coughed up a double-digit, second-half lead against Houston in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, ruining my futures as a result.

College Basketball Best Bets

Steve Pikiell is in his sixth season coaching the Scarlet Knights.

Similar to Purdue, MSU is overvalued against the spread. ShotQuality suggests the Spartans are outperforming their metrics by five wins — with their half-court offense delivering minimal efficiency throughout the conference portion of their schedule. They’ll be up against a top-three Big Ten defense that can match up against their transition-driven attack.

Tom Izzo’s team is even yielding a 28.5% 3-point clip, which should be smacked with some negative regression at Jersey Mike’s Arena. Through 11 Big Ten games, the Scarlet Knights’ lone positive offensive attribute is racking up the fifth-highest percentage of open perimeter shots. Don’t expect Ron Harper Jr. & Co. to hold back, in a critical game for Pikiell’s unit after losing three of its last four matchups.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Rutgers +3 (-110)
Best Available Line: Rutgers

No. 9 Duke Blue Devils at North Carolina Tar Heels

Once more Blue Devils money pushed the spread out from -3 to -3.5, the Tar Heels showcased some value for me.

For one, North Carolina possess the length — even without Dawson Garcia (personal) — to contend with Duke on the boards. Guided by the 6-foot-10 Armando Bacot, UNC is accumulating the ACC’s fourth-highest offensive rebounding rate. If Hubert Davis’ team wins that battle against a Blue Devils team that’s struggling to limit second-chance looks, its uptempo offense will control the pace.

Plus, UNC’s interior defense protects the paint at a top-three efficiency in-conference, which should be a critical factor against Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams.

In Mike Krzyzewski’s final trip to the Dean Dome, look for the Tar Heels to at least stay within a possession.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: UNC +3.5 (-110)
Best Available Line: UNC

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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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