Saturday College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Experts’ 5 Best Bets (Feb. 29, 2020)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Nisre Zouzoua
- Need last-minute college basketball picks for Saturday? Our experts each cut down the 137-game card into one favorite play of the day.
- Whether you're into Big East underdogs or fading one of the nation's best teams out west, you should find a few bets you like.
- Let's dive into our favorite college basketball picks on Saturday's slate.
The last full college basketball Saturday brings us 137 games. So we did the hard work for you and boiled it down to five favorite plays.
From a winless MVC team to a motivated Big East squad fighting its way into the NCAA Tournament, here’s what we’re betting on Saturday.
College Basketball Betting Picks
- Odds: Providence at Villanova -7
- Over/Under: 136.5
- Time: Noon ET
- TV: FOX
One of the biggest factors in this one boils down to Villanova point guard Collin Gillespie, who is questionable with a deep thigh bruise.
Gillespie tallied just one turnover in their win at Providence on Jan. 25 — a game in which the Friars (+2) failed to cover because of awful shot selection down the stretch (3 of 23 from the perimeter). You’d expect the junior to be limited if he gives it a go, so look for freshman Justin Moore to handle the ball plenty.
Given Gillespie’s status, Providence’s ball pressure (45th-highest opponents’ turnover rate in Division I) should create issues for the Wildcats’ attack.
The Friars also gave up 16 offensive rebounds in their past meeting, but Ed Cooley’s bunch hasn’t allowed more than 11 offensive boards in any of their following matchups. Despite Villanova’s size advantage, expect Nate Watson and Alpha Diallo to come out aggressive on the glass.
At the other end, Jay Wright’s unit is allowing the sixth-highest 2-point scoring rate in college basketball. As long as Cooley adjusts while running his offense through Diallo and Watson inside the arc, the Friars should be able to keep the final score within a couple of possessions at least — especially with ticket to the NCAA Tournament potentially up for grabs if they can steal this one outright.
Pick: Providence +7
- Odds: Illinois State at Evansville -2.5
- Over/Under: 136
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN+
Shocked by a coaching scandal and firing in January, there may not be a more motivated team on Saturday than the Purple Aces.
Evansville has lost every single conference game in the Missouri Valley this season. Despite not winning a game since Dec. 21, Evansville has kept recent home games against Indiana State and Southern Illinois within two possessions. The Purple Aces closed the gap in a Feb. 12 home tilt against Missouri Valley power Loyola Chicago, only to fall short in the remaining few minutes.
Enter a reeling Illinois State squad that has lost 11 straight on the road.
Illinois State had expectations of winning the Missouri Valley and making the big dance thanks to highly touted transfers that sat last season. The chemistry between coaches and players has not been there from the start, as the Red Birds have won just nine games.
There is a different feeling on the Evansville side, as star DeAndre Williams has returned from injury and Marcus Henderson is expected to return. These are two teams with a locker room heading in different directions despite what the conference record states.
While there is little case to be made from a statistical perspective to back the Purple Aces, there is plenty of off-court motivation. The Evansville roster has not seen a victory over the Redbirds, with the last win over Illinois State coming in 2016.
Pick: Evansville -2.5
- Odds: Auburn at Kentucky -6
- Over/Under: 141
- Time: 3:45 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
Somehow, Kentucky is flying under the radar in late February. With all the attention on Kansas and Baylor, Wildcats’ head coach John Calipari again has his team playing its best basketball late in the season.
Auburn has been overvalued in the market all year, with a profile of a team that in SEC play can’t shoot the 3P (27.4%), guard the 3P (35.8% allowed), or make free throws (68.2%). Kentucky has the exact opposite profile, ranking second, sixth, and third in those respective categories.
Kentucky sophomore guard Immanuel Quickley (16.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 42.9% 3P) has been sensational, averaging 25.6 points and shooting a blistering 63.6% (14-22) 3P in his last three games. The Wildcats will be ready to avenge their 75-66 loss at Auburn, their only misstep in their last 12 contests.
Auburn is just 13-15 ATS and its only cover in the past six SEC road games came against an Isaiah Joe-less Arkansas team. While SEC expert Blake Lovell talked about Kentucky’s poor home-road 3P splits on this week’s Action Network podcast, I expect some positive regression for a hot Wildcats team that could possibly make a late-push for that fourth No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
I’m laying the six points in a huge revenge spot for a dominant Kentucky team against an overrated Auburn group.
Pick: Kentucky -6
- Odds: Lamar at Stephen F. Austin -11.5
- Over/Under: 140
- Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN3
The Lumberjacks have flown under the radar since their monumental upset of Duke back on Nov. 26. Since then, SFA is 22-2 SU and 12-9 ATS.
Last month, they survived a poor shooting performance against Lamar by forcing 25 turnovers, their calling card this season. SFA covered a five-point spread, but the game was tied with 4:37 remaining in the second half.
Lamar has won four straight, but its deficiencies as a team remain the same. The Cardinals are loose with the basketball (15.2 TO, 321st), struggle to rebound defensively, and frequently suffer through shooting droughts.
Their defense feeds their offense by creating fast break opportunities, which can create a feast or famine situation for Lamar. Lately they’ve been feasting, evidenced by their +20 turnover margin in their last two games.
Can they count on that kind of disruption against SFA? From a pure turnover creation standpoint, forcing SFA into 15-20 turnovers is doable, but SFA is a historically disruptive defense. The Lumberjacks are currently forcing 21 turnovers per game.
In the end, Lamar is a team to keep an eye on in the Southland Conference Tournament in two weeks, but it’s in a bad spot on the road in Nacogdoches.
Strategically SFA is just a better version of Lamar in every way. The Lumberjacks are nearly unbeatable at home, have significantly revved up the engine offensive in their last five (81.8 ppg), and will not overlook the Cardinals given their last meeting.
Pick: SFA -11.5
- Odds: Nevada +6
- Over/Under: O/U
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
San Diego State has started to show cracks the past few games and it might have to do with some fatigue for a team that doesn’t boast much depth. I also think this number is just too high.
I wasn’t a believer in Nevada early on in the season but have done a 180 on the Wolfpack, primarily as a result of Jalen Harris — who can go for 30-plus with ease. He might be the best player most have never heard of.
Yes, Nevada would like to avenge an earlier season loss at the hands of the Aztecs (as well as one in the MWC Tournament last year) but I just think this is a pretty good matchup for a Nevada team that has won six straight. The Pack don’t turn the ball over and play stellar perimeter defense, which are musts against San Diego State.
Nevada has one of the most underrated home court advantages in college basketball to boot. It’s won 20 straight conference games over the past three years in Reno. I think Nevada pulls off the upset.
Pick: Nevada +6