Following a COVID-shortened schedule in recent weeks, Saturday’s college basketball schedule presents plenty of promising situational spots with conference play officially underway. These circumstances are driven by bounce-back, letdown, motivational or revenge opportunities. Here’s a breakdown of my college basketball best bets — highlighted by a top-25 Big 12 matchup.
Click on the odds below to place a wager.
In this COVID era, some of these bets are contingent on the betting market and player availability, so be sure to check back and follow me on Twitter for the latest. You can also continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect all of the games throughout the week.
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UConn Huskies @ No. 24 Seton Hall Pirates
The Huskies COVID-19 layoff lasted two-plus weeks, but they’re at full strength — beyond Adama Sanogo’s minute restriction — for this Big East duel. Meanwhile, the Pirates will have fellow big man Tyrese Samuel back in the rotation after he missed their last three games.
Despite Seton Hall’s imposing length, it’s actually struggled with post-up defense. If Sanogo and Tyrese Martin provide UConn with any sort of efficiency in the paint, it should couple that with its prowess on the glass to limit the opposition’s transition opportunities. The market is still slightly overvaluing Kevin Willard’s bunch after wins against Michigan and Texas.
College Basketball Best Bets: UConn +4.5
Best Available Line: UConn
No. 14 Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Mike Boynton’s team has lost four of its last five games, so the Longhorns should close as a two-possession favorite. But given the fact that Texas’ last two wins came against programs battling COVID, they’re a bit overvalued.
The Pokes boast the size to give Chris Beard’s motion offense fits, especially inside the arc. They’re surrendering the third-lowest near-proximity field goal percentage across Division I (lay-ups, dunks and tip-ins via Haslametrics). If Avery Anderson & Co. are able to ramp up the tempo in transition as a result, they should have success before Beard’s no-middle defense locks in.
Although the Longhorns are ranked No. 18 in my college basketball power rankings, I’ll likely be on the home underdog.
College Basketball Best Bets: Oklahoma State +4
Best Available Line: Oklahoma State
No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks at No. 25 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Unsurprisingly, this contest boils down to available personnel — with Red Raiders guard Kevin McCullar (ankle) expected to be a game-time decision. Overall, Mark Adams’ unit was down to seven players in a road loss at Iowa State on Wednesday (COVID and injuries), yet it covered on a backdoor heave.
If Adams has more depth at his disposal, especially McCullar, Texas Tech will have an easier time avoiding turnovers versus the Jayhawks’ ball pressure. Moreover, Adams’ no-middle philosophy, which focuses on keeping the ball outside of the paint, should frustrate a Kansas attack that’s generating the 24th-highest near-proximity attempt rate.
College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Texas Tech ATS
Best Available Line: Texas Tech
No. 18 Tennessee Volunteers @ No. 21 LSU Tigers
We unfortunately lost our Kentucky bets on Tuesday, but I’ll be aiming to fade Will Wade’s crew once again.
According to ShotQuality, the Wildcats were expected to notch 5.38 more points from distance in that affair. Why is that significant? The Tigers are giving up the 10th-lowest three-point clip (26.7%) in the sport. That’s due for a nose dive in the wrong direction, and the Vols are just the team to expose that.
Despite Tennessee amassing a below-average clip (32.5%) from around the arc, it’s collecting the 69th-highest scoring rate in that category. Those metrics prove that positive regression is en route, so don’t be surprised if Kennedy Chandler & Co. pull off the outright upset.
College Basketball Best Bets: Tennessee +2.5
Best Available Line: Tennessee
No. 11 Iowa State Cyclones at Oklahoma Sooners
We rode T.J. Otzelberger as an underdog in non-conference play, but the market has begun to overvalue his Cyclones.
For starters, they accrued just 0.76 points per possession (PPP) against the aforementioned Red Raiders. Enter Porter Moser, whose pack-line defense is known for limiting dribble penetration. Don’t expect Izaiah Brockington & Co. to find nearly as much success in the lane as they have thus far.
I’ll need more value on Oklahoma, but Moser’s bunch is set up to stymie Iowa State.
College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Oklahoma ATS
Best Available Line: Oklahoma
Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Even though the Irish’s offense showcase a top-35 turnover percentage, Josh Pastner’s patented 1-3-1 zone can certainly disrupt their flow. Plus, Mike Brey’s squad relies on the dribble-drive to produce open perimeter looks. Notre Dame’s shooting was on full display in their lone meeting last season, but the Yellow Jacket’s press/zone mix doesn’t necessarily translate into repeating that success.
At the other end, Georgia Tech will benefit from its interior-oriented attack with Michael Devoe, as Brey’s defense slots in at No. 195 in near-proximity field goal percentage allowed.
After losing six of their last seven contests, the Yellow Jackets are primed to bounce back.
College Basketball Best Bets: Georgia Tech +1
Best Available Line: Georgia Tech
Northern Iowa Panthers @ Missouri State Bears
Here’s a prime sell-high spot on the Bears after their miracle win at Bradley on Wednesday.
This handicap centers around UNI’s offense — with A.J. Green & Co. accumulating the third-highest scoring rate from behind the arc. On the flip side, Missouri State’s defense sits in the bottom-100 of that department. Look for the Panthers to hang within two possessions.
College Basketball Best Bets: Consider Northern Iowa ATS
Best Available Line: Northern Iowa
Florida Gators @ Auburn Tigers
Expect Mike White’s crew to come out firing after Wednesday’s loss to Alabama two-point home favorite.
Despite White’s offense still lacking an identity after he shifted away from a five-out attack, the Gators’ ball pressure will force the Tigers’ perimeter-oriented unit to look elsewhere in the halfcourt. Florida is yielding the 10th-lowest three-point scoring rate across college basketball. If it can spark their own offense in transition in the process, Auburn has struggled to opponents’ trips to the free-throw line.
College Basketball Best Bets: Florida +7.5
Best Available Line: Florida