College Basketball Best Bets: 8 Picks for Purdue vs. Wisconsin, Alabama vs. Auburn & More (Tuesday, March 2)
G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images. Pictured: Trevion Williams.
- March rolls on Tuesday, and our college basketball staff is prepared for all of the madness.
- Our NCAAB staff broke down eight games for Tuesday's slate, ranging from the Horizon League Tournament game between Youngstown State and Oakland to the Big Ten matchup between Wisconsin and Purdue.
- Check out all eight picks complete with full analysis below.
Conference tournament season hasn’t quite ramped up yet, but our college basketball staff is ready for it.
We even have a Horizon League Tournament pick on the docket, courtesy of Stuckey.
Check out all eight picks below, and feel free to use the table below to navigate to a specific bet on the slate.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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Note: All photos below are via Getty Images.
Arkansas vs. South Carolina
Arkansas travels to South Carolina on Tuesday night in what will be a contest between two teams heading in opposite directions.
The Razorbacks are one of the hottest teams in the country, having won six straight and nine of their last 10 games, losing only to Oklahoma State.
That win streak includes victories over some of the top teams in the SEC such as Florida, Alabama, LSU, and Missouri. The Gamecocks have lost six of their last seven, upsetting Georgia last time out, 91-70.
The Razorbacks score 112.3 and allow 97.2 points per every 100 possessions, which is good for an adjusted efficiency margin of 15.1, according to KenPom. They play with some of the fastest pace in the country, always looking to run out in transition any time they can for easy buckets.
When this team gets out in transition, it can compete with any team in the country. The Gamecocks are prone to allowing transition opportunities, and if that trend continues in this game, they won’t be able to keep up offensively.
South Carolina ranks near the bottom of the SEC in terms of effective field goal percentage, connecting on just 47.7% of its attempts.
It makes just 32.0% of their 3-point attempts and is in last in the conference in free throw percentage at 67.6%, according to KenPom.
Although this is a tough spot for Arkansas, I think it will come into this game focused on ending the season on a high note and will take care of business against a struggling South Carolina team.
I’m backing Arkansas in what I expect to be a double-digit victory.
Miami (OH) vs. Bowling Green
Find a team that hates to play at home as much as Bowling Green.
The Falcons have covered just two games in the Stroh Center all season and are on a five-game losing streak as the home team. Looking at a larger sample size, Bowling Green has covered just five times in its past 26 home games.
This may be a good sell spot for Bowling Green off four straight road victories in MAC play. The Redhawks have been bankable in this series, covering all five times when these two teams meet.
Bowling Green is middling in perimeter defense against MAC opponents, while Miami has the third-best shooting percentage from beyond the arc. The Redhawks rely on outside shooting for points at a 34% clip on the season, but that number increases to 37% in road games.
While Bowling Green field Justin Turner as one of the best offensive players in the MAC, the defense of Trey Diggs and Kaden Metheny will allow the Redhawks enough open looks from deep.
Iowa State vs. Texas
By Mike Randle
It’s all about the matchups and the Iowa State Cyclones line up well with the Texas Longhorns.
In their first meeting this year in Austin, the Longhorns narrowly escaped with a 78-72 win. This game was played when Texas was at its absolute peak, right after a 84-59 thrashing of Kansas at Phog Allen.
Iowa State limited Texas’ 3-point accuracy, holding the Longhorns to just 30% (8-of-23) from behind the arc. Texas struggles to score if it can’t make 3s, generating 35.4% of its conference points from long range.
Iowa State has rebounding issues, which is an area when the Longhorns do fairly well. Texas ranks first against Big 12 opponents in defensive rebounding percentage, plus it has the 74th-best offensive rebounding percentage in the nation. In their first meeting, the Cyclones battled on the boards, grabbing just three fewer defensive rebounds than the Longhorns.
Iowa State is a putrid 0-15 in conference play and just 8-12 overall against the spread. However, the Cyclones have still found ways to maximize Hilton Magic with home covers against Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma.
The Cyclones hold a big advantage at the free-throw line as well, shooting 77.8% from the charity stripe compared to just 68.9% for Texas.
It’s worth noting Iowa State leading scorer Rasir Bolton (15.4 PPG) left the last game against TCU with an ankle injury. He did return to the game but missed the entire second half. Bolton is listed as questionable, and this line will drop if he is available.
Regardless, I’m taking the Cyclones in their last home game of the season against a Texas team that has been poor ATS (7-13-1) all season.
It’s tough to back a winless team in conference, but I’m holding my nose and taking the 11.5 points with Iowa State.
Alabama vs. Auburn
For two up-tempo teams like the Tigers and Tide, this total is far from out of reach, yet with some uncertainty in Auburn’s lineup, there’s value in taking the under.
The Tigers have been a tale of two teams this season, depending on freshman point guard Sharife Cooper’s status.
In the games he has played, Cooper has turned Auburn into a run-and-gun team with a much more efficient offense. When he has missed time due to his NCAA eligibility, or more recently with an injury, Auburn has been sluggish and struggled.
In the 12 games Cooper has played, Auburn averages 78 possessions per game and a final score totalling over 165 points. In the 13 games he has missed, the Tigers’ pace and play suffers, with just 72 possessions per game and final scores totalling just 145.2 points per game.
This trend has proven profitable for bettors. With Cooper playing, the over has hit in nine of 12 games. Without Cooper, Auburn has reached the over just four times in 13 tries.
His status tonight is currently up in the air, and he’s listed as questionable.
If he does not suit up after missing the last two outings, Auburn likely has trouble scoring and will certainly play far slower than if he’s in the lineup.
Cooper could also play but be hobbled by the ankle injury he’s been nursing. That’s not exactly welcome news for a player expected to carry his team offensively against Nate Oats’ high-pressure Crimson Tide defense.
The likelihood of Cooper playing — and doing so at a high level — is low enough to make the under the right call here.
Youngstown State vs. Oakland
Youngstown State finished the month of January with a 1-6 record.
It’s no coincidence that those were the seven games that guard Darius Quisenberry missed due to injury. There were some concerns he would miss the entire season, but he made a surprise return to the lineup on Feb. 5 at Robert Morris.
Since he came back, the Penguins boast a 7-1 record with the one blemish coming by two points in a game they led by 14 at one point. That streak includes a first-round win over UIC to kick off their Horizon Tournament. Yes, the competition wasn’t great, but the advanced on/off metrics illustrate how important he is to Youngstown State on both ends.
Not only does Quisenberry provide YSU with its best perimeter scoring option as the team’s second-leading scorer behind Naz Bohannon inside, but he is also its best perimeter defender. That’s critical against a scorer like Jalen Moore, who’s capable of going for 30+ on any given night.
Oakland did sweep the season series (both also at home like this game), but Quis didn’t suit up for either. You can’t mention this year’s Oakland team without mentioning the zone defense head coach Greg Kampe has utilized throughout the season.
The Grizzlies have played zone on 89.5% of their defensive possessions — the fifth-highest rate in the country. For the most part, they have failed to effectively run it outside of the two games against Youngstown, which shot a combined 14-of-60 from deep (23%).
Youngstown State isn’t a good shooting team overall (300th), so it isn’t unwise to zone it, but the Penguins have seen this zone twice before and now have Quisenberry back for the third meeting.
That should make a huge difference on both ends.
YSU should also absolutely eat up on the offensive glass where it excels (39th nationally) against an Oakland zone D that predictably gets killed in that department (335th).
With Quisenberry back in the lineup, I think this game is much closer to a coin flip, so I’ll gladly take the +3 in a game I think comes down to the wire. Let’s just hope the Penguins can hit some open shots unlike the first two meetings.
LSU vs. Vanderbilt
LSU’s offense is simply going to blitz Vanderbilt’s defense.
In SEC play this season, the Tigers are scoring 80.9 points per game (second-best), while the Commodores are allowing 78.4 points per game (third-worst). The Tigers are first in the conference in offensive efficiency, and the Commodores are last in the conference in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
The Tiger trio of Cam Thomas, Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford should rip apart the Commodore trio of Scotty Pippen, Jordan Wright and Dylan Disu. LSU’s top players are bigger, longer and score more than Vandy’s top players.
Additionally, LSU just suffered two rough road losses, including one against the hottest team in the conference in Arkansas. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is going on the road after playing three of its last four at home and beating Ole Miss in the last outing.
Therefore, the hungry dog will run faster today. I’m banking on LSU playing with energy and intensity against a Vandy team that’s in a classic letdown spot.
With the spread being between 11 and 12, the public may think that’s too many points. The sharps know better, because our Action PRO signals are tracking both sharp and big money on the Tigers.
In fact, at the time of this writing, LSU is receiving just 48% of the spread tickets but 95% of the spread money.
The last two times Vandy and LSU played in Baton Rouge, the Tigers won by 21 as 13-point favorites and 10 as four-point favorites.
I’m banking on a similar result today, with LSU’s explosive offense overpowering Vanderbilt.
Purdue vs. Wisconsin
Dating back to 2016, Purdue has been one of the best home favorites against the spread in the country.
Between 2016 and the start of this season, Matt Painter’s squad had cashed 65% of the time in those spots. However, this season has been different, as the Boilermakers have merely treaded water at the betting window with their 4-4-1 record at Mackey Arena.
It could be the strange circumstances brought on by the global pandemic, namely a tamer and sparsely occupied home arena. For whatever reason, Purdue isn’t a sure thing at home any longer.
Yet, this play isn’t about Purdue’s regression at home this season. It’s about Wisconsin’s flat performances as a road dog. In their three games away from home catching points, the Badgers are 1-2 ATS and dropped those contests against the closing number by an average of 6.7 points.
That includes getting boat-raced by Michigan and Illinois. The Badgers shot 36% from the field and 25% from long range against the Wolverines and Fighting Illini.
In its last seven road contests, Wisconsin has mustered just 62 points per game, while Purdue has cranked things up on their home floor to the tune of 73 points per game across its last five home contests.
Purdue has been dialed in since a humbling loss to No. 2 Michigan on Jan. 22. Since then, it’s 5-2 SU and 5-1-1 ATS. I’ll ride the hotter team that is scoring consistently.
I’d play Purdue up to -3.5.
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss
Kentucky’s run seems to be over after its loss to Florida on Saturday.
The real problem with John Calipari’s team all season long has been its offense, which is averaging only 0.97 points per possession for the season. The reason for that is because it’s really struggling scoring inside the arc.
It owns the worst 2-point field goal percentage in the SEC at only 44.1%, per KenPom. The only plus Kentucky has going for it is the fact it’s shooting over 35% from 3-point range. However, the problem for the Cats is they only shoot 3s on 31.8% of their field goal attempts.
Ole Miss has been solid in almost every aspect this season except for defending the 3-point shot, as it’s allowing almost 38% from 3-point range in SEC play. So, Kentucky will have to come out of its comfort zone and shoot a ton of 3s, which did not bode well for it on Saturday as it went 4-for-20 from deep against Florida.
Ole Miss has really been struggling on offense ever since it entered SEC play, as it’s averaging only 0.99 points per possession. The real problem is it can’t hit anything from deep, as it’s shooting only 27.8% from 3-point range, which is the second-worst mark in the SEC.
The only real positive of the Rebel offense is they have the highest offensive rebounding rate in the conference.
Kentucky has been really solid defending the paint this season, allowing the lowest 2-point field goal percentage and owning the highest block percentage in the SEC. The Wildcats also have one of the best defensive rebounding rates, so I have a hard time seeing how Ole Miss is going to consistently score when Kentucky’s defense will be able to take away all of its strengths.
I only have 125.41 points projected for this game, so I think there’s plenty of value on under 131.5 points and would play it down to 129.5.