College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 6 Favorite Saturday Bets

College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 6 Favorite Saturday Bets article feature image
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Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Utah State’s Justin Bean

There’s something poetic about the first big January college basketball slate.

Football is ending. The holidays are over. It’s probably cold and wet outside. And the only thing that can save you is nearly 130 college hoops games running for more than 12 hours.

Our experts boiled down this massive card to one favorite pick each, and came up with these:

College Basketball Betting Picks


Odds as of Saturday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.


Mike Randle

  • Odds: West Virginia +10 at Kansas
  • Over/Under: 141
  • Time: 4 pm
  • TV: ESPN+

This game compares perfectly to yesterday’s Ohio State-Wisconsin battle. It’s a conference battle between two top teams, where the metrics created an initial betting of close to double-digits. But this game should come down to the last few minutes, just like the Badgers 61-57 win at Ohio State.

West Virginia (11-1) is coming off an impressive 67-59 win over those Buckeyes and has only lost a two-point game at St. John’s. The Mountaineers are 6-6 overall against the spread but have covered three of their past four games.

Kansas (10-2) returns home after an impressive 72-56 road win over Stanford. The Jayhawks are only 7-5 ATS including just 3-2.

The Mountaineers bring incredible defensive pressure, ranking second in the nation in effective field goal percentage and holds opponents to a microscopic 41.9% from 2P.

Even more importantly, West Virginia ranks third in the country against the 3P, allowing opponents to only shoot an average of 25.4%.

West Virginia is one of the few teams that has the size to limit Kansas star big man Udoka Azubuike (13 ppg, 8.8 rpg). Freshman Oscar Tshiebwe (11.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and sophomore Derek Culver (11.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg) give West Virginia an interior strength that very few teams can boast.

The Mountaineers struggles at the free throw line (66.7%) are evened out by Kansas’ woes (65.9%), providing yet another reason this should be a close game late.

Ten of the last 11 regular season games between these two Big 12 rivals have been decided by single-digits with two going to overtime. I’m taking the generous 10 points in a game that West Virginia should again keep close until the end.

Pick: West Virginia +10

Eli Hershkovich

  • Odds: Auburn -1.5 at Mississippi State
  • Over/Under: 138
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. EST
  • TV: SEC Network

Bruce Pearl’s bunch is 12-0 straight-up to begin the campaign, but it’s only played one true road test thus far — a one-point win at South Alabama on Nov. 12.

The Tigers are overvalued in their SEC opener against the Bulldogs (6-5-1 against the spread), and Ben Howland’s squad will take advantage with its size.

Mississippi State boasts a top-100 2-point scoring rate (53.8%) across college basketball, guided by 6-foot-10 big man Reggie Perry (15.4 points per game). Look for Perry and Co. to have their way against an Auburn defense giving up the 33rd-highest 2-point scoring rate (56.9%).

At the other end, the Tigers’ offense thrives off pushing the tempo and getting the line, notching the 17th-highest free-throw rate in the country. But expect the Bulldogs to limit Auburn’s transition game with their size on the glass, along with their top-100 opponents’ free-throw rate.

Welcome to home dog season.

Pick: Mississippi State +1.5

Stuckey

  • Odds: Auburn -1.5 at Mississippi State
  • Over/Under: 138
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. EST
  • TV: SEC Network

This unbeaten Auburn team easily could’ve lost a few games already to inferior opponents. Bruce Pearl’s bunch came back to beat Furman in overtime and defeated South Alabama by one at the buzzer.

They also trailed against NC State with five to go before pulling away late. I think the perception of this team in the market is artificially high as a result.

So, do I trust an inconsistent Mississippi State to get the job done? Yes, for two primary reasons: Nick Weatherspoon and rest.

Mississippi State recently saw junior guard Nick Weatherspoon return after serving a 10 game suspension. He shook off some of the rust in his first game back and looked much better last time out in a blowout win over Kent State.

His presence enables guard Tyson Carter to slide over to his more natural position of shooting guard and allows the freshmen guards to come off of the bench.

It also gives Mississippi State much-needed depth for a team that ranks 328th in bench minutes this year. You could tell that the backcourt (specifically Carter) was dealing with fatigue last month.

Weatherspoon’s return and an eight day break before Kent State served this team well. This will mark only their second contest since Dec. 22. I like both home teams at right around a PK.

Pick: Mississippi State +1.5

Collin Wilson

  • Odds: Arkansas -14 vs. Texas A&M
  • Over/Under: 127
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: SEC Network

Many may consider this a homer play on the school I graduated from, but the advanced numbers have plenty of ammunition to back up the wager.

The Arkansas Razorbacks have been reinvigorated as a program under the new coaching regime of Eric Musselman. After seeing the Hogs live a number of times already, this is a defense that is going to make noise in March.

Arkansas is 281st in average height in the nation, and any team with size and pulse on the boards can push the Hogs around.

But Texas A&M is not that team. Rebounding is not a strong suit for Texas A&M, ranking 179th offensively and 261st defensively.

The biggest discrepancy between these two teams comes at the three point line. Texas A&M is the worst shooting team behind the arc in all of college basketball with a rank of 353rd.

Arkansas is the best defensive 3-point team in the nation at No. 1. This game should be one of the slow and lower scoring games of the day. Look to back the Razorbacks and the under as Texas A&M struggles to do anything from the field.

Pick: Arkansas -14 and Under 127

Michael Calabrese

  • Odds: Utah State-2.5 vs. San Diego State
  • Over/Under: 131.5
  • Time: 10 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBSSN

This has been a strange season for top-ranked teams. So strange, in fact, that an air raid siren should go off whenever a highly-ranked team is a road underdog to an unranked team.

This matchup in Logan is another example of the betting market sending a message to the casual gambling community. Despite San Diego State’s best start (14-0) since the 2010-11, the Aztecs opened as a 1.5-point road dog and have seen the spread climb to 2.5 overnight.

The Aztecs have reached the top of the mountain top according to the NET ratings, ahead of blue bloods like Kansas and Duke. SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher has built a stout defensive team, which has collected four of its 14 wins on nights in which they’ve scored 66 points or fewer.

The defensive stat that tells the whole story is that opponents are connecting on just 19 shots per game against SDSU, which is the third best defensive mark in the country.

Utah State entered the season with a considerable amount of hype, but multiple injuries to Neemias Queta and three losses have dampened its hopes for a single-digit seed come March. Luckily, this play is more about the Smith Spectrum than the current state of USU.

As a single-digit home favorite, USU has a 58.1% hit rate ATS with a 12.5% ROI since 2005. If you’re unmoved by the home cooking being served up at the Smith Spectrum, keep a close eye on the breakout star of the MWC Justin Bean.

The 6-foot-7 rebounding machine (14.2 ppg, 11.4 rpg) has been the difference maker in the Aggies wins, and unfortunately their losses. Foul trouble and poor shooting limited his impact in recent losses to BYU and UNLV. If he can avoid whistles in the first 10 minutes, it may be a good time to hop in with a live bet.

Pick: Utah State -2.5

Bryan Mears

  • Odds: Sacramento State -8 vs. Idaho State
  • Over/Under: 119.5
  • Time: 10:05 p.m. ET
  • TV: Pluto TV

Both of these teams have outperformed expectations in the betting market this year: Sac State sits at 7-2 against-the-spread (ATS), while Idaho State is at 6-2-1 ATS on the season.

This one I think will come down to how the teams like to play. The Sac State Hornets have won so far this season with defense, ranking 82nd in the country. Their offense has been terrible, ranking 319th, and the profile doesn’t suggest improvement is coming anytime soon. They rarely take any 3-pointers (351st in 3P rate), and they are terrible on 2s (349th in 2P%).

The Bengals, meanwhile, are the fourth-best team so far this year in limiting 3-point attempts, and while they aren’t great at defending the paint, I’m not sure the Hornets are going to really pressure them there.

On the other side of the ball, the Hornets are equally great at limiting 3-point attempts (sixth in the nation), although they’ll be more tested in that regard against a Bengals squad that does get them up with more frequency.

All in all, I’m not expecting this to be a high-scoring game given the offensive limitations, and the Bengals are likely to have a more efficient shot profile. For those reasons, I think eight points is too many.

Pick: Idaho State +8

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