College Basketball Odds, Picks: Our 4 Best Bets for Saturday, Including North Carolina vs. Duke
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Paolo Banchero (Duke)
- Saturday brings with it a massive college basketball slate.
- Our college hoops staff broke down four of Saturday's games with betting value, including North Carolina vs. Duke and Indiana vs. Illinois.
- Check out all four best bets below.
Championship Week and March Madness are officially right around the corner. But before we enter a bettor’s dream month, there’s some cash to earn to close out the regular season.
February 5 is another perfect Saturday to do so, as there’s wall-to-wall college basketball with an awesome slate of games. We touch on four here, including one of the sport’s top rivalries, two other high-major games and a nice value mid-major spot.
Below, our staff offers four best bets for Saturday in college hoops.
Saturday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Wake Forest vs. Florida State
If there’s ever a must-win game for Florida State, it’s tomorrow afternoon in a revenge matchup at home against Wake Forest.
It feels weird to say, but as of now, Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles are on the outside of the NCAA Tournament bubble. They’ve lost three straight and have quickly fallen from grace since their overtime win over Duke.
Wake Forest has been a pleasant surprise this season, using its height to attack the paint and open looks for its shooters. The Demon Deacons are an experienced squad that works both fast and efficiently, boasting the third-best 2-point offense.
Earlier when these two teams played, Wake Forest dominated at home and blew out the Seminoles by 22. But this is a different FSU team than a month ago.
John Butler solidified his role as a starter, and Tanor Ngom returned from injury, seeing his minutes slowly increase over the last few games. That gives Florida State three bigs at 7-foot-1 or taller locking down the paint, an area in which Wake Forest normally controls.
I expect the Seminoles’ length to give Wake a problem. They are the tallest team in the country after all. Their weakness has been defending the 3 ball, but that’s not where the Demon Deacons excel by any means.
This was the first game that caught my attention on Saturday’s slate. You will be getting a desperate Florida State squad with the better head coach at home – where they are more comfortable – in a must-win situation. And it’s a revenge game after the Noles were embarrassed on the road.
I snagged this line on open and it has jumped to (-3) since. I still like it at that number.
Back the Noles to get it done big in Tallahassee.
Pick: Florida State -3
Illinois vs. Indiana
I love the Hoosiers in this spot, as they’re home after having a week to prepare for the red-hot Illini. Indiana enters this game 13-1 at home, and Assembly Hall will be rocking despite the early tip time in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers’ defense has been the key to their success throughout the year. IU enters this game 15th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency, and opponents are shooting just 41% from the field on 2-point field goals.
Obviously, a key in this matchup will be the battle inside between Trayce Jackson-Davis and Kofi Cockburn. Staying out of foul trouble will be imperative for both of these All-American candidates, but I think Indiana has the more reliable interior depth if TJD happens to pick up some early ones.
Jackson-Davis was basically a non-factor in the Purdue win earlier in the year, and Race Thompson and Michael Durr really stepped up in his absence to keep the Purdue bigs in check.
Utah transfer Alfonso Plummer has been awesome in his first year for Brad Underwood. Plummer is shooting over 40% from 3 and has become the Illini’s most reliable scorer from the perimeter.
Mike Woodson’s team has done a nice job of pressuring the ball and guarding the arc all season, and I think it should be able to hold up against Andre Curbelo & Co.
Xavier Johnson has been playing as well as any guard in the Big Ten over the last three weeks, and I think Jackson-Davis will have a big day in a revenge spot against Cockburn.
Give me the Hoosiers to get it done at home in what should be a tightly-contested battle.
Pick: Indiana PK (Play to -1.5)
Towson vs. Northeastern
The Towson Tigers head to Boston to play the Northeastern Huskies to cap the end of a quick two-game road trip.
This will be the second matchup between the two programs this season, with Towson winning the first, 70-67, but failing to cover the 7.5-point spread a month ago.
Towson is on a three-game winning streak and has won seven of its last 10 contests. Towson is in the top 10 of Division I teams against the spread this season, going 16-6. The Tigers have benefitted from hitting the away hardwood, going 9-2 against the books while on the road.
Northeastern has languished against the spread, going 6-15-1 on the season and 4-10 at home.
Towson has been recognized for its defense this season, showcasing the top scoring defense in the CAA, allowing just 65.2 points per game. The Tigers rank 72nd nationally in defensive effective field goal percentage at 47.5%.
Look for the defense to give the Huskies a hard time.
The Towson offense hasn’t been getting the recognition it deserves. Behind junior guard Nicolas Timberlake, the team’s leading scorer, the Tigers rank 41st in the nation with an AdjO of 110.9.
They have been excellent on the glass offensively, ranking 17th in the nation with an offensive rebound percentage of 35.2%. The Tigers’ roster is full of potent scorers with four players who have at least 10 games in double figures this season.
While Northeastern kept it close in the first matchup and covered, I don’t see that happening twice in the same season.
Northeastern ranks 279th and 262nd in AdjO and AdjD on the season to date, respectively. Additionally, the Huskies are one of the worst teams in the nation in offensive and defensive percentage, ranking 334th and 316th, respectively.
The last time these two programs got together, Towson was outworked on the glass and didn’t shoot that well. I expect a mean reversion for the Tigers in both departments this time around.
Towson is a team that travels very well and should have motivation to be in Beantown given that head coach Pat Skerry (a former Northeastern assistant) and Timberlake are natives.
I’m projecting Towson as 8.5-point favorites in Boston. I recommend laying the points for one unit.
Pick: Towson -5.5
Duke vs. North Carolina
By Doug Ziefel
When you put all the narratives surrounding this game aside, it’s clear that Duke is the better team here. The Blue Devils’ offense has been stellar this year, and they have guys who can score at every position on the floor.
From Paolo Banchero to Wendell Moore Jr. to Trevor Keels to Mark Williams and finally, to the emerging A.J. Griffin, saying this Duke team is a lot to handle may be an understatement.
The Blue Devils’ size and athleticism cause mismatches down low. The Tar Heels’ best defender, Armando Bacot, will settle on Williams because he’s the only one with the size to deal with the Duke big.
However, that leaves one of the most talented players in the country, Banchero, matched up with Brady Manek.
These matchups also translate positively for Duke on the defensive end of the floor, as for once, Bacot will be the smaller man down low. Then, the Blue Devils have the length to defend Caleb Love and R.J. Davis on the perimeter.
Not to mention, Duke may get style points on offense, but it’s a solid defensive team that contests every shot. The Blue Devils are 14th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 18th in effective field goal percentage allowed.
We’re getting the Blue Devils at a significant road discount here, as they’re projected to be nine-point favorites when they meet UNC again this year in Cameron.