Wednesday’s College Basketball Odds & Picks: Our Best Bets for the Early Evening Games, Including Northwestern vs. Minnesota & Fresno State vs. New Mexico (March 10)
Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Boo Buie.
- The college basketball slate rolls on tonight, which is what makes conference tournament season so great.
- After our early afternoon picks, our staff broke down more games, including Northwestern vs. Minnesota and Fresno State vs. New Mexico.
- Check out all of the picks from Stuckey, Tanner McGrath, Shane McNichol, and Matt Cox below.
The college basketball action keeps rolling through the night.
After our early bets tipped off, our staff turned its attention to later in the day, including the early evening games. Our staff broke down three more games, while Stuckey shared his thoughts on two Conference USA games.
The early-evening action starts in the Big Ten with Northwestern vs. Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. ET and it continues with Fresno State vs. New Mexico in the Mountain West and Bucknell vs. Colgate in the Patriot League shortly after.
Check out each pick below, and feel free to use the table below to navigate to any game of your choosing.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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Note: All photos below are via Getty Images.
Northwestern vs. Minnesota
It’s amazing how bad both of these teams are. Both teams rank at or near the bottom of the conference in nearly every offensive and defensive metric.
However, Northwestern has been playing marginally better, while Minnesota has completely collapsed.
The Golden Gophers are 0-7 straight up and against the spread in their last seven games. Over this stretch, Minnesota is scoring just 66 points per game while allowing 79.1 and is failing to cover by an average of 11 points. It’s getting crushed on both ends of the court.
Minnesota is one of the more pathetic shooting teams in the country. It ranks 325th in the country and last in the conference in effective field goal percentage (45.3), and over the past seven games, is shooting a pathetic 35.7% from the field.
Meanwhile, after losing 13 straight games, Northwestern finished the season strong. It went 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in its last three games, including beating Minnesota on the road as five-point underdogs.
Minnesota boasts a +12.7 adjusted efficiency margin on the season, while Northwestern boasts a +10.6 margin, per Torvik. However, since Feb. 14, Northwestern has a +10.9 margin while Minnesota has a pathetic -1.0 margin.
I’m banking on the hotter team to win in the opening round of the conference tournament.
Fresno State vs. New Mexico
Today’s opening-round Mountain West games aren’t exactly inspiring.
This season, the MWC has really been a league full of haves and have-nots. All five teams that earned a bye to tomorrow’s quarterfinals are ranked 95th or higher by KenPom.
The six teams playing today are all ranked outside the top 185 by KenPom. There’s not much hope for one of the teams in the bottom tier to make a run this week.
Instead, the most prudent play comes from fading struggling New Mexico. The Lobos have had a brutal season thanks to COVID-19 protocols and interruptions. New Mexico hasn’t played a game in its home arena all season, and head coach Paul Weir is a lame duck that will depart at season’s end. The Lobos have been dreadful offensively all year long and have played just once since Feb. 24.
New Mexico has played Fresno State twice this year with total scores of 120 and 126, the latter of which was an overtime game. These are both slow-tempo teams and New Mexico is on its last legs. The under makes sense.
Bucknell vs. Colgate
By Matt Cox
This is not Operation “Fade Colgate.” It’s Operation “Ride Meeks.”
That’s John Meeks, to be specific, Bucknell’s 6-foot-7 do-everything cheat code. An injury-plagued career has reduced Meeks to a known commodity only in Patriot League pockets, and this season’s been no different. Meeks has missed more games (6) than he’s played in (5).
We don’t need a data scientist to parse Meeks’ impact when he’s on and off the floor. For starters, Bucknell has won (and covered) all five games Meeks has played in, which includes last week’s Round 1 victory over Lafayette.
It was just another day at the office for Mr. Meeks: 31 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes of action. The smooth lefty morphed into a one man wrecking crew. Lafayette had no choice but to send double teams, which parted the seas for Xander Rice’s 3-point barrage.
Rice was the main beneficiary in Round 1, but in tonight’s semifinal showdown against Colgate, Andrew Funk, Walter Ellis or Miles Latimer could be the timely assassin who cashes in on Meeks’ kick-outs. All three of those marksmen can make the defense pay from bonus land if left unattended, particularly Ellis and Latimer.
The challenge for the Bison will be on defense, as they must keep Meeks on the floor and out of suboptimal matchups against Colgate’s prolific offense.
Bucknell head honcho Nathan Davis has made a proper tactical adjustment this season on that end of the floor — no longer are the Bison auto-switching on perimeter ball screens, which was problematic in the two matchups last year against Colgate. Against Bucknell’s two-big lineup, the Raiders exploited juicy small-on-big matchups with quicker slashers and long-range shooters.
In a nutshell, you’re betting on size, length over speed, and shooting with the Bison here. With a healthy Meeks as the linchpin, Bucknell is well positioned to win the stylistic chess match.
Stuckey's Conference USA Betting Angles
Charlotte vs. UTSA | 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+ | UTSA -4.5, 138.5
Charlotte and UTSA will also meet for the first time in a pace clash of two teams headed in different directions.
The Roadrunners prefer to play an up-tempo style and have won 9-of-11 heading into the conference tourney. Charlotte lost eight straight to end the season for a team that had a disappointing season, so maybe this is a much-needed reset, or the 49ers continue their slide.
Charlotte plays at one of the slowest paces in the nation and utilizes a pack-line defense, which might not be an ideal scheme against UTSA’s flame-throwing guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace
Rice vs. Marshall | 7 p.m. ET, ESPN+ | Marshall -9.5, 157.5
Rice and Marshall (which didn’t meet in the regular season) are two teams that prefer to play fast.
That could spell doom for the Owls, who struggle to defend in transition where Marshall thrives on offense. Rice also hasn’t been great when it gets out in transition, which is one of the ways you can exploit Marshall's defense.
In general, I hate betting Rice games due to the enormous amount of 3-point variance as it chucks 3s at a top-10 rate nationally.