College Basketball Betting Pick & Roll: Calabrese & McGrath’s Top Selections for Saturday (Feb. 19)
Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images. Pictured: Wayne Tinkle (Oregon State)
- With 144 college basketball games, Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath narrowed their top selections down to two apiece.
- McGrath is taking us to the America East in New England and also across the country to the Pac-12.
- Meanwhile, Calabrese is taking two road teams: one in the CAA and another in the Mountain West.
If post-football blues have got you down, I have just the thing: 144 college basketball games. There will be three top-25 matchups tipping before 1:30 p.m. ET, and action late into the night.
You can familiarize yourself with a national landscape that includes a nationally-ranked Wyoming team (yes, you read that right), an ACC conference with seven teams on the bubble and a Big Ten title race coming down to the wire. Then, you can end your night with the nation’s No. 1 team playing in a West Coast Conference that may produce four NCAA Tournament teams.
Speaking of the West Coast Conference, as a trio, the MWC, WCC and Pac-12 are having a historic season west of the Rockies.
Bracket Matrix projects that the three conferences are set to send 12 teams to the NCAA Tournament next month. These three conferences, collectively, haven’t sent 12 to the Big Dance since 2013.
In honor of this western renaissance, Tanner and I have picked a pair of late-night tip-offs, while mixing in two mid-major darlings from back East looking to improve their potential seeding in the Big Dance next month.
McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
UMBC vs. Vermont
My favorite team — our Vermont Catamounts — will take the floor for the first time as 2021-22 America East regular-season champs.
But don’t expect the Catamounts to slow down.
The Cats suffered a one-point overtime loss to Hartford a couple of games ago, but they’ve covered every number outside of that. All 13 of their conference wins have come by double digits.
Moreover, Vermont has snuck inside the top-70 of both KenPom and the NET rankings, and I’m hoping John Becker is looking to improve those rankings.
That starts with UMBC on Saturday. UMBC is coming off of a wild 95-84 victory over Stony Brook, as the Retrievers shot 18-for-30 from 3.
UMBC is a good shooting team, but I’m not expecting that torrid pace to continue. I’m trying to hit some game-to-game regression with this pick.
Meanwhile, the UMBC defense is incredibly weak. That’s mostly because the team is undersized. The squad runs at 6-foot-7 at center, and is the third-shortest team nationally by average height.
UMBC’s point guard Darnell Rogers is also the shortest D-I basketball player ever (literally, he’s the shortest person to ever play D-I basketball) at 5-foot-2.
Rogers is a pretty good point guard offensively, but Ben Shungu is going to blitz him over and over while Ryan Davis dominates an undersized frontcourt in the post and as a PnR roll-man.
It’s worth mentioning Vermont paces the entire nation in pick-and-roll PPP.
The UMBC defense is also sub-300 in spot-up PPP allowed and post-up PPP allowed. All five Vermont starters can shoot the lights out, and Davis leads an offense that’s top-20 in post-up PPP.
UMBC is also the worst offensive rebounding team in the conference, while Vermont is the best defensive rebounding team in the nation. So, there will be no second chances for UMBC on Saturday.
Vermont went down to Baltimore earlier this season and took down UMBC by 17. Now, UMBC has to try and keep up at Patrick Gymnasium.
That’s not going to happen.
Pick: Vermont -14.5
Oregon State vs. Arizona State
You have to hate this spot for the Sun Devils. Arizona State is coming off of a massive, 24-point victory over Oregon, and is primed for a letdown game.
Meanwhile, the Sun Devils are staring down a matchup with UCLA at Pauly Pavilion on Monday.
ASU will now host ORST as a moderately-large favorite. ASU is just 1-4 ATS this season when laying points, and I don’t imagine Bobby Hurley will be looking for style points considering the stretch his team is going through.
Arizona State will want to get-in and get-out with a victory.
Oregon State is not a good basketball team. But it can do some things offensively (third in the Pac-12 in turnover rate), and will be facing the worst offense in the conference.
Among the 12 conference teams, Arizona State ranks:
- 12th in eFG%
- 12th in offensive rebounding rate
- 12th in free-throw rate
- 12th in 3-point shooting
- 12th in free-throw shooting
The Sun Devils probably shouldn’t be laying over eight points against anybody. They can’t score enough to get past the number.
Some sharp money has already pushed this number down to 8.5 from the opener of 9. I’ll tail the sharps and back the Beavers to hang around on Saturday.
Pick: Oregon State +8.5
Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Towson vs. Charleston
The Greater Baltimore area has never been a college basketball hotbed.
Despite having five D-1 programs in or around the city limits, collectively, the Charm City has been able to celebrate just two wins during March Madness.
Coppin State shocked South Carolina in 1997 as a 15-seed and UMBC accomplished the impossible in 2018 by becoming the first 16-seed to win a game in the Round of 64.
The wins by the Eagles and Retrievers seemed a bit flukey at the time. If Towson were to cut down the nets at the end of the CAA Tournament next month and go on to win a game or two in the Big Dance, flukey wouldn’t be the first word that would come to mind.
The Tigers are one of the best road teams in the entire country — 9-4 SU and a sterling 11-2 ATS. That experience translates in March. It has also served them incredibly well on their journey up the CAA standings.
Defensively, Towson rarely gives up open looks, forcing teams into bad shots on a regular basis. Opponents are shooting just 40.8% from the field against TU (41st).
Another element of their game that is translating to consistent play on the road has been their work on the offensive glass. The Tigers reel in around 10 offensive boards per game, and come away with 33.1% of their offensive rebound opportunities (20th).
And finally, there’s the balance. Towson has three starters who average over 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Cameron Holden makes it all go for TU (14 PPG, 7.7 RPG), but unlike a lot of overachieving mid-majors, this team isn’t dependent on him playing hero ball.
Case in point, since the calendar turned to January, Holden has been limited to 11 points or less six times. The Tigers are an impressive 6-0 SU and ATS in those games.
Considering the combination of their offensive balance and fearlessness on the road, I’m happy to grab them at any number under five in what is amounting to a must-win spot for them with just two CAA games remaining (.5 GB of UNCW).
Pick: Towson -4 (Play to -5)
Colorado State vs. UNLV
Remember what I just wrote about it being nice not having to rely on a superstar to carry your team on the road?
Well, maybe it’s not such a bad thing when your superstar is David Roddy.
Simply put, he’s a freight train. At 6-foot-6, the 255-pound wing is a matchup problem with a capital p. He’s on the verge of averaging 20 and eight, all while shooting 46% from long range.
Since dropping back-to-back games to UNLV and Wyoming, Roddy has been nothing short of spectacular. He has been scoring with ease, and he even drained the game-winner against San Diego State on Feb. 4.
In MWC rematches this season, Roddy is averaging 24 points and nine rebounds per game. In those four games, Colorado State is 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS.
The lone ATS loss came against SDSU, and the Rams had a 95% probability of covering that number (-3) with 2:06 remaining (according to The Action Network model).
Suffice to say, both Roddy and the Rams have been lights out in rematches in MWC play. And Saturday night in Las Vegas is a rematch.
UNLV caught fire in the teams’ first meeting, knocking down 12 triples (four more than its season average) and cashing in on 20 foul shots (seven more than its season average). That was all behind a career high from Bryce Hamilton (45 points).
Given the fact that the Runnin’ Rebels aren’t a great shooting team (FG 42.5%, 243th), and that the Rams uncharacteristically turned the ball over against them the first time around, I’m sensing a bounce back for KenPom’s 28th-rated team.
The last element in this spot that gives me confidence is UNLV’s rebounding figures. If there were any glaring weaknesses in Colorado State’s game, it would be on the glass.
The Rams rarely play a lineup with more than one player taller than 6-foot-5, and it shows on the stat sheet. Colorado State is 338th in offensive rebounds per game. But UNLV isn’t great on the glass either, and allowed the Rams to grab nine offensive boards in the first meeting.
Given how well the Rams are playing, the revenge factor and Roddy’s heater in rematches, I’m all over CSU.
Pick: Colorado State -3 (Play to -5)
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