College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 4 Top Selections for Monday, Including Baylor vs. Texas
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Matthew Mayer (Baylor)
- The final day of February is here, and so is our latest round of college basketball best bets.
- Our staff will be touching on Syracuse vs. UNC, San Diego State vs. Wyoming and two Big 12 battles.
- Those two Big 12 showdowns include a top-25 battle between Baylor and Texas, as well as Texas Tech hosting Kansas State.
Try to hold in your excitement because we are officially one day away from March. In fact, conference-tournament season begins tonight with Central Connecticut taking on Fairleigh Dickinson in the NEC Play-In Game.
But for the sake of this piece, our staff will focus on the regular-season games for Monday, February 28.
Below, you will find four best bets for four different matchups, including Syracuse vs. North Carolina and two Big 12 games.
So, get your college basketball betting card ready for the final day of February.
Monday’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.|
Syracuse vs. North Carolina
By Doug Ziefel
This is the time of the season when we can begin to ride teams that are getting hot — a solid end-of-the-season run can propel squads in March. Well, this matchup has one team that is hot and one team that is certainly not.
The Tar Heels have caught fire of late, as they’ll enter this matchup on a three-game winning streak.
They have taken down three ACC foes through tremendous displays of shooting. North Carolina has had a potent offense all season, ranking 63rd with a 52.8% effective field goal percentage.
But it has exceeded that during this streak. In fact, the Heels’ effective field goal percentage has risen each game, and it could be even higher in this matchup.
North Carolina will play host to a Syracuse team that enters this matchup after getting pummeled by Duke on its home floor.
However, that game was a culmination of subpar defensive efforts, particularly on the perimeter. The Orange have allowed the highest share of points by way of the 3-pointer in the nation.
That’s what Duke capitalized on, and UNC is a team that can duplicate the Blue Devils’ performance. The Tar Heels are 32nd in the nation and boast three players who all shoot nearly 40% from behind the arc.
This matchup has all the makings of another shootout, with the Orange falling short. Take the Tar Heels to keep rolling at home.
Pick: North Carolina -7.5 (Play to -8.5)
San Diego State vs. Wyoming
The Mountain West Tournament will be handing out first-round byes to the top five teams, two of which will play in this game.
San Diego State is in a “no man’s zone” for seeding, as it owns a three-game conference lead over fifth-seed UNLV and a three-win deficit to third-seeded Colorado State.
If there’s any motivation in this game from a tournament seeding perspective, Wyoming can still win the Mountain West regular-season title with a Boise State loss over the next week.
Setting narrative street aside, the Cowboys have a plus-matchup on both ends of the court against the Aztecs. This is KenPom’s No. 1 offense in the Mountain West (Wyoming) against the No. 1 defense (San Diego State).
The Aztecs hold the highest defensive efficiency metric in all of KenPom ratings, but their weakness has been sending opponents to the free-throw line.
Wyoming is not just the top team in the conference, but the 11th-best team in the nation in getting to the free-throw line, with a healthy 76% conversion rate.
The San Diego State offense does struggle at times, ranking near dead last in the conference in effective field goal percentage and turnover rate. The Aztecs primarily look for points on the interior, while posting the worst 2-point shooting percentage in the conference.
Wyoming is eighth in the nation in average height and has middling ranks in interior defense. Most importantly, Wyoming does not send teams to the foul line (top-ranked team in the Mountain West and 30th-ranked team in the nation).
Take the home underdog that will win at both ends of the court at the charity stripe and will be motivated to win the conference
Pick: Wyoming +2 (Play to PK)
Kansas State vs. Texas Tech
For a Kansas State team on the far reaches of the bubble, a win on the road in Lubbock would go a long way.
The Wildcats are currently just barely grasping at NCAA Tournament consideration, with just one of Bracket Matrix’s 106 aggregated Bracketologists projecting Bruce Weber’s club in the Big Dance.
Texas Tech won’t look lightly upon Monday’s matchup, having dropped the season’s first meeting with K-State in Manhattan.
In that game, the Red Raiders managed just 51 points on 0.77 points per possession. Tech succumbed to Kansas State’s defensive pressure, turning the ball over 18 times and settling for 4-of-17 shooting outside the arc.
Despite a total set at 128, that game stayed well under the number. I expect these two teams to do the same again tonight.
Since the start of the calendar year, Kansas State games have averaged 139 total points. If you remove two overtime games and an outlier 180-point scoring barrage against Kansas, however, that average drops to 134 points. The Wildcats are not ones to insist on a quicker pace.
Tech is similar, ranking in the mid-200s in pace this season. Since the Red Raiders’ schedule kicked into gear in early December, Texas Tech games have averaged only 130.4 total points. Again, remove an outlier double-overtime loss to Kansas, and that number dips under 128.
In the meat of the Big 12 season, both of these teams are going to look to grind out a win, keeping this number below the total.
Pick: Under 133.5
Baylor vs. Texas
Baylor is back in the hunt for the Big 12 regular-season title after Kansas and Texas Tech were both upset on Saturday. The Bears sit a half-game back from Kansas in the standings, and will need to win at Texas to keep those hopes alive.
Both sides will be a bit shorthanded in this matchup with Baylor missing LJ Cryer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. Texas will be without forward Tre Mitchell, who has taken a leave of absence for personal reasons.
Missing Mitchell will hurt Texas in this game, as the Longhorns have struggled to secure defensive rebounds this season, ranking 236th in the nation. That’s a recipe for disaster when facing a Baylor program that finds extended possessions at the seventh-highest clip in the country.
Texas is shooting worse than 33% from beyond the arc this year. Matching up against a Baylor defense that holds opponents to less than 30% from deep means the Longhorns will need to do all of their damage inside the paint.
These two teams met two weeks ago, and Baylor rolled to an 80-63 victory. The Baylor defense held Texas to 33% from the field and out-rebounded it, 42-32. Baylor nearly shot over 60% on its 2-point field goals in that game and bullied the Longhorns inside the paint.
We should see much of the same in this matchup. Baylor has won three in a row and has its eyes on the No. 1 seed in the Big 12.
Pick: Baylor -1 (Play to -3)
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