College Basketball Betting Pick & Roll: Calabrese & McGrath’s Top Picks for Saturday (Jan. 22)
Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images. Pictured: Markquis Nowell & Davion Bradford (KSU)
- Another college basketball Saturday means some more bets from Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath in this week's "Pick & Roll."
- From Kansas vs. Kansas State to Detroit Mercy vs. Milwaukee, the duo has you covered for mid-major and Power Five action.
- Check out all four of their favorite bets for Saturday's slate below.
The Action Network Saturday two-man weave has been wildly consistent. Despite a bad, 0-4 night in a classic let-down spot two weeks ago, we’re still hitting at well over a 60% clip — something that Drew Timme would be jealous of.
But it’s a long season, and we don’t hang banners around here for “Winning Record at the Halfway Point”.
Instead, we spend Friday nights hunting for the grossest, most profitable lines available.
For this week, Tanner McGrath has two power-conference home dogs that present value. While Mike “ESPN+” Calabrese has dug deep into the mid- and low-major cards and pulled out two winners.
So, without further ado, let’s “Pick” some games and “Roll” into a crazy Saturday.
McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Virginia Tech vs. Boston College
For both my picks today, I’m going situational-heavy. Both are gross home dogs facing teams that could be sleeping.
Let’s start with Boston College, which is catching six points against Virginia Tech.
The Eagles are hardly a good basketball team, and they’re wildly inefficient on both ends of the floor. But they’re coming home after a two-game road trip and just finished a tough stretch of games. BC has dropped six of its last seven, so might as well buy low on the Eagles now.
Meanwhile, I love Virginia Tech, which has all the necessary pieces of a good basketball team and is well coached by Mike Young. However, the Hokies are on the second stop of their three-game road trip and have North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Monday.
Plus, VT will be hosting ACC-leading Miami and then Florida State afterwards.
Young is a smart, analytics-driven head coach who probably wants to quickly get out of Chestnut Hill with a win. I’m looking for the Hokies to be sleeping in this spot.
Also, could the Hokies be facing some negative shooting regression? Virginia Tech is 11th in 3-point shooting (38.7%) and 12th in 3-point defense (27.7%), which hardly seems sustainable.
BC likely won’t take advantage of that, however, having the 34th-lowest 3-point rate nationally.
Instead, the Eagles will slow the game down (288th in tempo), take care of the ball (92nd in offensive turnover rate), rebound well (13th in defensive rebounding rate) and try to get to the line (71st in free-throw rate).
Virginia Tech will happily oblige, being ranked 337th in tempo itself.
So, this is setting up to be a rock fight between two divisional rivals with one asleep at the wheel.
I’ll happily take the points, especially since BC won outright as underdogs the last two times these two have met (as 4.5- and 7-point dogs, respectively).
Besides, should anyone be laying six points in the ACC? There isn’t a good team in this conference. I’ll be betting underdogs in the ACC all season long.
Pick: Boston College +6
Kansas vs. Kansas State
Next, let’s check in with Kansas State, which is finally seeing some success following a brutal stretch of games.
K-State lost three of its first four conference games by one possession. It lost the other one by 13. But the Wildcats were bound to break out of that close-game slump, so they followed it up with two massive wins against Texas Tech and Texas.
Now, the ‘Cats get Kansas.
The Jayhawks are a ho-hum basketball team, rolling along at 15-2 and 4-1 in conference play. The offense is impeccable, the defense is above average and the roster has enough playmakers — headlined by Wooden Award candidate Ochai Agbaji — to beat anyone on any given night.
That being said, Kansas is on the second night of a two-game road-trip after playing Oklahoma on Tuesday. The Jayhawks escaped with a three-point win in Norman, but now head to Manhattan with home games against Texas Tech and Kentucky on deck.
You may be thinking how every game is tough in the Big 12. Heck, Kansas State has Baylor in Waco after this one. But have the Jayhawks really crushed in this spot? The team is just 3-3 ATS on the road this season and 8-9 ATS as a favorite.
Moreover, betting Bill Self as a road favorite is basically a coin flip.
Plus, I actually like this matchup for K-State. The Wildcats are lengthy on the interior with 7-foot-0 Davion Bradford at center, which should neutralize David McCormack. And KSU defends the pick-and-roll well (.616 PPP allowed, 86th percentile), something that Agbaji and Remy Martin will run often.
Overall, K-State is 23rd in defensive efficiency, 17th in defensive eFG% and top-100 in both defensive turnover rate and defensive rebounding rate. The ‘Cats will also muck it up, as they’re sub-300 in possession length allowed and rank above the 90th percentile in transition PPP allowed (.855).
The Jayhawks would much rather run.
Maybe it’s too high to buy the Wildcats, but they’re 7-1 ATS as an underdog this season. I’ll take them to cover one more time.
Pick: Kansas State +7
Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Elon vs. Delaware
It’s always rare for a mid-major program to possess a game changer on the low block, but that’s exactly what the Fightin’ Blue Hens have in Dylan Painter.
The 6-foot-10 product out of Hershey, PA is killing the CAA this season. The senior center is averaging 14 and 10 with over two blocks per game across his last six games.
It’s not coincidental that the Blue Hens have won four of six outright (3-2-1 ATS) during that stretch.
Painter is going to pose major problems for a Phoenix starting line that features just one player taller than 6-foot-7. It’s one of the reasons that Elon ranks in the 300s in every major rebounding metric.
Equally troubling for any bettor considering the Phoenix on the road is that they struggle to score (64.6, 292nd), shoot (41.1%, 282nd) and create turnovers (11.8, 255th). It’s difficult to envision them shooting their way past Delaware, or forcing the Blue Hens out of their game plan.
Elon has lost four of five on the road ATS, including humbling losses to Drexel and UNC Wilmington. This team is far from competitive at the moment, and they’re catching UDel in the midst of a home stand with every reason to play its best basketball.
The Blue Hens have a legitimate shot at taking the regular season CAA crown, but they’ll need to play flawlessly down the stretch. This is the same program in search of its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, so there’s little chance the Blue Hens are sitting back and enjoying this run to the top of the CAA standings.
On the statistical side of things, outside of Painter’s inspired play, UDel has proven to be a stellar offense capable of running away from teams.
The Blue Hens have a crack gang of shooters (Shooting Eff, 22nd) and they’ve been bitten by the 3-point regression monster for most of the year (37.1%, 324th). It stands to reason for their opponents to deal with a bit of a shooting regression from long range.
If Elon isn’t able to approach 10 3s, a mark its reached just once in the last five games, I don’t foresee it flirting with a backdoor cover against a superior UDel team.
Pick: Delaware -9.5
Detroit Mercy vs. Milwaukee
The UW-Milwaukee Panthers had one of the feel-good stories of the recruiting cycle in mid-major land. The Panthers were able to orchestrate a father-son reunion between Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Sr. (UWM head coach), making for an extremely rare five-star signing for a non-power conference school.
But ever since Baldwin Jr. has arrived on campus, things have gone awry for UWM.
The Panthers were a middling Horizon League team last season, but appeared to have the roster to make a jump into the top three this go-around. The Panthers were selected to finish fourth in the conference, with two media members predicting a conference championship for UWM.
To say that Baldwin Jr. and the Panthers have fallen short of those lofty expectations would be an understatement. Baldwin Jr. has struggled with injuries and an inconsistent shot (37.1 FG%, 31.9 3P%), and the Panthers have limped to a 7-12 SU, 8-10-1 ATS start.
Offensively, UWM has been atrocious. The team plays at a slow pace and struggles to shoot the basketball, particularly behind the 3-point arc (32.7%, 207th).
Making matters worse is that the Panthers allow teams to absolutely kill them on the offensive glass. Panther opponents are averaging 10.8 offensive rebounds per game, one of the worst figures in the nation.
Detroit Mercy can take advantage of second chance opportunities on the glass, and it possesses the best player in this game.
Antoine Davis is one of the best kept secrets in the entire country, averaging 24 points per game on 38% shooting from 3-point range. It will take a big afternoon from him to take this one, but he’s proven more than capable in recent weeks.
Since Horizon League play has started, Davis is averaging 26 points per game while helping the Titans cover four of six games.
Pick: Detroit Mercy +1.5
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