College Basketball Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Our 5 Best Bets for Saturday
Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Woolridge
- Saturday brings a massive slate of college basketball games, and our staff has narrowed things down to their five favorite bets.
- The first game on the docket is Villanova at Xavier at 2:30 p.m. ET, and our experts have found value on the spread.
- See all of our best spread and over/under bets for Saturday's tilt below.
With so much to choose from on Saturday’s 132-game college basketball slate, our staff is heading out west to find betting value after an early tip in the Big East.
Let’s dive into our favorite plays on the card, starting with Xavier-Villanova at 2:30 p.m. ET.
College Basketball Betting Picks
- Odds: Villanova -1 at Xavier
- Over/Under: 137.5
- Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
- TV: FOX
The Musketeers aren’t getting a ton of attention across college basketball, but they’ve covered five straight games while winning four of them outright.
After falling at Villanova straight-up while pushing ATS (+6) on Dec. 30, look for Xavier to come out motivated — with a shot to improve its NCAA Tournament hopes and seeding after racking up just three Quadrant 1 wins thus far.
Not only do the Musketeers matchup size wise, but they should be able to control the pace via the glass, as Villanova has tallied the second-lowest offensive rebounding rate in Big East play. On the flip side, Travis Steele’s crew has generated the second- and fourth-highest offensive and defensive rebounding rate, respectively, in their conference slate.
Xavier also boasts the 22nd-ranked perimeter defense (29.5%) across college hoops, matching up well vs. a Wildcats team that’s notched the eighth-highest 3-point scoring rate. After shooting 56.5% on 3s over their past two games, expect Villanova to regress at the Cintas Center.
Pick: Xavier +1
- Odds: UNLV at San Diego State -14.5
- Over/Under: 134.5
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS Sports Network
There is a massive heavyweight fight on Saturday night, a rematch where one entity had a best effort and could not pull off the upset. No, this is not Fury-Wilder II, it is San Diego State hosting UNLV.
The Runnin’ Rebels gave it all they had at home in a 4-point loss on Jan 26. UNLV out rebounded San Diego State and shot 55% from 2-point range, yet still failed to pull off the home upset.
The Aztecs jumped out to a quick lead and finished a ridiculous 18 of 21 from the free throw line and 53% from 2-point range. Neither team shot the deep ball particularly well, but increased attention to SDSU star Malachi Flynn on the perimeter kept Trey Pulliam and Jordan Schakel free to be double-digit contributors.
Both of these teams run at a slow pace, with San Diego State at 329th in the country at adjusted tempo. Possessions must be efficient, which puts UNLV shooting in the spotlight.
The Rebels are shooting just 30.9% from 3-point range and 70.5% from the free throw line, both ranking No. 9 in the Mountain West. UNLV’s strength in the paint and mid-range jumpers will be negated by a San Diego State defense that is 30th in the country against 2-point shots.
San Diego State has heard plenty about being the No. 1 seed in the West when brackets are released mid-March. Saturday night is fight night, and a Gonzaga blowout of BYU and UNLV upset victory could be all the committee needs to drop the Aztecs.
Expect San Diego State to bring plenty of effort in the penultimate home game of the season.
Pick: SDSU -14.5
- Odds: Fresno State at Nevada -7
- Over/Under: 144
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNU
Nevada (17-10) is one of the hottest under-the-radar teams in college basketball. The Wolf Pack have one four in a row and six of their last eight games. They have also won nine consecutive home games with their last loss in Reno coming back on Nov. 16 against USC.
Junior Jalen Harris (21.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.1 apg) has brought his scoring to new levels, averaging an incredible 31.3 points over his last six games. Senior guard Jazz Johnson (16.2 ppg) has fully recovered after injuring his surgically repaired shoulder, and has averaged 15.5 ppg in his last three games.
Nevada also receives tremendous all-around contributions from senior guard Lindsey Drew (11.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.3 apg) who has grabbed eight or more rebounds in three of the Wolf Pack’s last five games.
Nevada is scalding hot against the spread with a 17-10 record, including a cover in four consecutive games and eight of its last nine contests.
Fresno State enters this game having lost three of its last five games including an overtime road win at San Jose State (7-20) and a nine-point home win over Air Force (10-17).
The Bulldogs rank 303rd nationally in defending the 3P, allowing opponents to shoot a robust 36.1% from beyond the arc. This will be a major problem against Nevada team that:
- Ranks 12th in the country in 3P accuracy (38.1%).
- Is shooting 39.1% from 3P in Mountain West Conference play.
- Generates 40% of their offensive production from beyond the arc against conference opponents.
The Bulldogs are just 10-15-1 ATS and have failed to cover four of their past six games.
This is a very young Fresno State team that averaged just 1.29 years of college experience against a Nevada group that is 77th most experienced in the country.
A veteran Nevada team, playing at home, on a tremendous hot streak against an inferior Fresno State opponent makes me lay the seven points on a line that has already dropped a point and a half.
Pick: Nevada -7
- Odds: Gonzaga-4.5 at BYU
- Over/Under: 157.5
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
This total has shifted five points overnight, heaping even more value on the over in this spot.
Before loading up on over, there are a few factors to consider. Are there any meaningful injuries holding key players out of this matchup? The Cougars will be without the services of Dalton Nixon, a 6-foot-6 power forward who chips in on the defensive end and on the glass, but is a mere afterthought offensively.
BYU will start Kolby Lee in his place. Lee has played meaningful minutes this season and won’t represent a major dropoff from Nixon.
The Zags meanwhile are firing on all cylinders and have no recent roster losses to report.
The next item on the checklist is the team’s performance against the closing number this season and their home/away splits. Gonzaga has been an over-bettors dream, exceeding totals in 22 of their 28 games. BYU, a high-scoring team in their own right, has helped gamblers cash overs in 16 of its 28 games.
It is worth noting, however, that with Yoeli Childs in their lineup BYU has skewed heavily to the under. In his 17 games this season, BYU has gone under in 11.
Gonzaga has hit the over in 11 straight road games, which confirms the Zags can run it up on any court in America. They’re the only team in the country to feature seven double-digit scorers, and are currently top three in EFG%, 2P%, 3P% and PPG. Most importantly, as it relates to overs, they allow their opponents to put up a ton of shots (62, 323rd).
Given the Yoeli Childs factor, this would have been a pass for me had the total stayed in the 161-163 range, but the market shift has presented too much value to pass up. I’m taking the over and relying on the Zags to push yet another road game over the closing number.
Pick: Over 157.5
- Odds: Gonzaga at BYU +4.5
- Over/Under: 157.5
- Time: 10 p.m. EST
- TV: ESPN2
What a treat this should be. Gonzaga has another uber-talented team as Mark Few and his staff continue to crush the recruiting trail all across the globe. The Zags have a ridiculous seven players averaging double figures, which no team has done in decades. They’ve also won 40 straight regular season WCC games!
The offense is a treat to watch but so is the BYU offense, led by a now healthy Yoeli Childs inside, surrounded by shooters all over the court. The Cougars lead all of college basketball with a 41.1% clip from beyond the arc and also rank fifth in offensive adjusted efficiency. And I still do have some questions about the Gonzaga defense, which isn’t close to as elite as the offense.
BYU will be out for blood in front of a zoo in Provo, looking to avenge an embarrassing loss earlier in the season at Gonzaga (it’s worth noting Childs didn’t play in that game and BYU is simply a different team with him in the lineup).
I could go on and on about the matchups, but this one is pretty simple for me: I make the line Gonzaga -1.2, which means I see a ton of value in the current line of BYU +4.5.
I’m a believer in the Cougars even if I’m a little worried about some 3P regression as they’re shooting a touch over 44% in conference play. My fears are put at ease a bit by the fact that Gonzaga’s defense has also been fairly fortunate in WCC play in regards to opponent free throw and 3P shooting.
Also, don’t forget that Gonzaga struggles from the free throw line at 68% (265th in the nation) which could potentially open up the backdoor if Gonzaga leads late.
Call me crazy but I think Gonzaga’s remarkable WCC streak is in jeopardy tonight. Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn into another St. Mary’s debacle from a few Saturdays ago. Yikes.
Pick: BYU +4.5