Doesn’t this slate have a March Madness feel? For my college basketball best bets over the weekend, you’ll find a breakdown of No. 4 Villanova at No. 2 UCLA and No. 5 Texas at No. 1 Gonzaga, along with an intriguing Sunday matchup with No. 20 Florida State at Florida.
Click on the odds below to bet now, and join the college hoops discussion in our betting channel, diving into the biggest games throughout each week.
Villanova @ UCLA (Nov. 12)
Beginning on the injury front, Bruins forward Cody Riley (sprained knee ligament) will miss this contest. Although Mick Cronin has Rutgers transfer Myles Johnson to plug in, Smith is more of a scoring threat. Couple that with Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, the Wildcats’ top interior defender, out for the season, and Smith’s absence is a plus for Jay Wright’s bunch.
UCLA’s defensive scheme is also susceptible to perimeter shooting, yielding a top-150 3-point scoring rate last season. That metric entails how often the opposition scores from a certain area on the court, and it’s applicable given the Bruins’ personnel is nearly identical.
Meanwhile, Villanova’s attack is reliant on 3-point shooting, notching a top-50 scoring rate from behind the arc. Wildcats point guard Collin Gillespie has a size advantage against his counterpart Tyger Campbell, which should benefit the long-range gunner.
At the other end, the Wildcats aren’t elite defensively. But the 6-foot-7 Jermaine Samuels and Brandon Slater both present length that will bother Bruins’ dynamic scorers Johnny Juzang, Jamier Jaquez and Jules Bernard. Villanova rarely creeps into foul trouble as well, which is a key factor against a UCLA team that thrives off the dribble drive.
Both teams play at an ultra slow tempo, which could benefit the under (O/U ). I’ll be staying away from that betting market, though.
I grabbed this bet at Villanova +4.5, and I’d play it down to +3.5. Wright’s unit is in prime position to hang within a possession. As always, keep an eye out with live betting if you miss a valuable pregame line.
Eli’s College Basketball Weekend Bets: Villanova +4.5
Best Available Line: Villanova
Result: Loss (-1.00 unit)
Texas @ Gonzaga (Nov. 13)
This spread opened at Gonzaga -8.5, and that was an immediate play for me on the road underdog.
The Longhorns are ranked No. 2 in my college basketball power rankings, and their new-look roster still needs time to gel.
But Chris Beard is one of the premier defensive coaches in the sport — with his ball pressure philosophy. That’s not unfamiliar to Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey, who played under a similar scheme with Shaka Smart. Plus, look for Texas’ physicality, led by transfers Christian Bishop (Creighton) and Tre Mitchell (UMass), to challenge Wooden award contender Drew Timme and five-star freshman Chet Holmgren down low. Timme’s finesse at the basket dispenses a much tougher matchup, though.
Unlike the Longhorns’ first matchup against lowly Houston Baptist, expect Beard’s game plan to revolve around attacking the paint early on. The 7-foot Holmgren has a shot-blocking physique, but his build isn’t the best matchup against Texas’ physical bigs. This approach should open up its perimeter offense for Jones, Ramey and Minnesota transfer Marcus Carr, who can wiggle to the rim in his own right.
I’d bet this down to Longhorns +7, so there’s room to grab a play for this high-profile matchup.
Eli’s College Basketball Weekend Bets: Texas +8.5
Best Available Line: Texas
Result: Loss (-0.06 units — added Texas 2H +1.5)
Florida State @ Florida (Nov. 14)
The analytic darlings favor the Gators and rightfully so. Florida big man Colin Castleton should have a mismatch down low with Florida State lacking its traditional rim protector. Leonard Hamilton’s lengthy pressure defense has always given Mike White’s offenses fits, as White has never taken down FSU, but he’s adjusted with a new-look, five-out look.
If Castleton finds success in the low-post, it should open up the Gators’ perimeter shooting for guards Myreon Jones and Tyree Appleby.
At the other end, Jones and Appleby are pests with their respective ball pressure. That won’t set up well for the turnover-prone Caleb Mills. With the market trending towards the Seminoles after the line opened at Florida -2.5, I’m willing to back the home underdog.
Eli’s College Basketball Weekend Bets: Florida +1
Best Available Line: Florida