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

Written By Eli Hershkovich on February 19, 2022 - Last Updated on February 20, 2022
College Basketball Best Bets

We’re less than a month away from the big dance, and Saturday’s college basketball schedule is filled with enticing matchups. Let’s break down my college basketball best bets, including No. 11 Texas Tech at No. 20 Texas and No. 25 Alabama at No. 4 Kentucky.

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. Continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dissect the biggest games throughout the day. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

No. 11 Texas Tech Red Raiders at No. 20 Texas Longhorns

The Red Raiders smacked the Longhorns at United Supermarkets Arena on Feb. 1 and Texas Tech possesses one of the premier home-court advantages in Division I, but Chris Beard will be out for revenge against his former program.

In their first meeting, Texas’ perimeter shooting (6-of-23) was a no-show in a raucous environment. Nevertheless, Mark Adams’ no-middle defense, cutting off dribble penetration, surrenders the Big 12’s fourth-highest open 3-point rate (via ShotQuality).

Expect some positive shooting luck, considering the Longhorns produce the conference’s highest percentage of open shots from behind the arc. The loss of big man Tre Mitchell (personal reasons) should continue to open up the floor too, as Andrew Jones showcased a renewed level of confidence against Oklahoma (4 of 5 from deep) after regaining his starting role.

College Basketball Best Bets

Jones, #1, accrued his second-highest scoring output of the season (20 points) on Tuesday.

Moreover, the Red Raiders are reliant upon scoring inside the arc. They’ll be up against similar defensive scheme that’s sound against both dribble penetration and post-ups, respectively.

Following Texas Tech’s sweep against defending champion Baylor, look for a letdown in a critical spot for Texas.

  • Update: Red Raiders wing Kevin McCullar (ankle) is out.

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

No. 25 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 4 Kentucky Wildcats

Although the Wildcats are aiming to bounce back after their road loss at Tennessee on Tuesday, they’ll likely be without five-star freshman TyTy Washington (ankle). Couple that with a revenge spot for the Tide after they fell to John Calipari’s squad on Feb. 5, and this spread is slightly inflated as a result.

College Basketball Best Bets

Washington, #3, is developing into a No. 1 scoring option while generating a top-215 assist rate.

Now, Nate Oats’ offense is the definition of a Jekyll-and-Hyde perimeter attack. It’s shooting just 27.9% from distance in SEC play, yet it still possesses the shotmakers to manufacture an explosive performance. Plus, Alabama is amassing a top-90 open 3-point rate.

The Wildcats’ defense is crisp overall, but they struggle with defending the perimeter off ball-screen action on occasion. The Tide should keep this one close if Jaden Shackelford & Co. find the range in Lexington.

At the other end, Kentucky runs its sets through Wooden Award favorite Oscar Tshiebwe (). However, similar to Texas, Alabama holds its own in the low-post because of Charles Bediako’s ability to hang with opposing bigs one-on-one. Tshiebwe was held to just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting in the first meeting.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Alabama +9 (-110)
Best Available Line: Alabama

No. 2 Auburn Tigers at Florida Gators

Mike White’s bunch will have plenty of reasons to get up for this SEC duel. The Gators have dropped two straight, damaging their NCAA tournament resume in the process. They also lost at the Tigers on Jan. 8 — a much closer game than the final score (85-73) indicated.

Anticipate an all-out effort against Auburn this time around, especially on the defensive end. Florida’s ball pressure limits opponents’ success with the pick-and-roll and backdoor cuts, thanks to its anchor Colin Castleton holding down the interior. Well, Bruce Pearl’s flex offense relies on both of those facets, led by Jabari Smith’s footspeed via ball screens.

Keep in mind, Auburn is outperforming its shooting metrics by four wins (per ShotQuality), which is tied for the second-most among any program with at least 20 victories.

College Basketball Best Bets

Castleton is averaging 15.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game since his return on Feb. 5.

If the Gators’ defensive intensity is evident, their transition offense should generate clean looks from behind the arc. The Tigers allow the SEC’s fifth-highest percentage of open 3-point looks, and Myreon Jones & Co. are due for some positive regression in that department.

Florida could very well win this one outright, but expect it to at least stay within a pair of possessions in a must-win spot.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Florida +4.5 (-110)
Best Available Line: Florida

No. 6 Kansas Jayhawks at West Virginia Mountaineers

Let’s make it four revenge spots, shall we? Bob Huggins’ group has lost 9 of its last 10 games, including a 26-point defeat to the Jayhawks on Jan. 15 that started this skid.

Just like the Gators, the Mountaineers will be desperate for a win in hopes of climbing back into the March Madness conversation. Even though their offense represents one of the Big 12’s most inconsistent units, relying on isolation scoring with Taz Sherman leading the way, the Jayhawks on-ball defense is horrific in those situations.

College Basketball Best Bets

Sherman is averaging a team-high 18.6 points per game.

In their first matchup, the 6-foot-4 Sherman was still recovering from COVID-19 while tallying five points on 1-of-9 shooting. Look for him to feed off one of college basketball’s top home-court edges and deliver a vengeful performance.

On the flip side, Kansas, guided by David McCormack, notches the conference’s highest offensive rebounding rate. But unless the Jayhawks impose their will in that department and take the Mountaineers out of the game in the process, this one should be a tightly-contested affair.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: West Virginia +6 (-110)
Best Available Line: West Virginia

Oregon Ducks at No. 3 Arizona Wildcats

In a desperate spot with the Ducks’ NCAA tournament hopes on the line, Dana Altman’s crew should be able to stay within four possessions. Look for Oregon’s matchup zone to create issues for an Arizona team that’s producing the Pac-12’s sixth-lowest 3-point clip (32.1%). The Wildcats also own the third-highest turnover rate in conference play, and Altman’s full-court pressure should generate some transition opportunities for Will Richardson & Co.

Eli’s College Basketball Best Bets: Oregon +13 (-110)
Best Available Line: Oregon

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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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