College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 4 Favorite Saturday Bets (January 18, 2020)
Illinois Fighting Illini forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) reacts after a play during the Big Ten Conference college basketball game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Illinois Fighting Illini on January 11, 2020, at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
No football on a Saturday afternoon? It must officially the new year.
College basketball will take center stage on Saturdays for the next few months, with a 151-game slate gracing us today.
Our staff has been hard at work whittling down the card and came up with their favorite play each, whether you want to back an SEC home dog or a Big Ten team on a roll — and a few in between.
Let’s get to it.
College Basketball Betting Picks
Odds as of Saturday morning and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
- Odds: Villanova -10 vs. UConn
- Over/Under: 134.5
- Time: 12 p.m. ET
- TV: FS1
No one will disagree that Villanova is one of the best and most balanced teams in the country. The Wildcats have five players that average double-digits in points per game, led by 6-foot-8 Saddiq Bey, who shoots 45% from beyond the arc.
Although this is a non-conference game, UConn will once again join the Big East next season, and this situational spot could not be better for the Huskies.
Dan Hurley’s team is on a six day break after no midweek game, while Villanova will have their biggest conference game of the year against Butler on Tuesday.
This game might be what a 10-6 UConn team needs to jumpstart its NCAA Tournament resume, as the Huskies currently have zero Quad 1 wins.
The Huskies may cause plenty of disruption to the Villanova offense with a defensive block percentage that’s No. 3 in the nation. Swatting Wildcat shots has been easy for opponents so far this season, as Villanova is 317th on the offensive side of block percentage.
Nova has a 3-point distribution rank of 36th in the nation, but will have to best a UConn defense that is 28th in field goal efficiency.
The point spread is inflated because of the respective records of the two teams. The situational spot screams UConn, while plenty of defense should keep this game low scoring and close.
Pick: UConn +10
- Odds: Oregon -2 at Washington
- Over/Under: 132
- Time: 3:45 PM
- TV: CBS
Washington dismantled an overvalued Oregon State team 64-56 at home on Thursday night. However, the Huskies were missing two very important players from their lineup: one expected and one unexpected.
Starting point guard Quade Green was ruled academically ineligible for the winter quarter, and has missed the Huskies’ last three games. In addition, star freshman wing Jaden McDaniels also sat out Thursday’s win after tweaking his ankle in practice last Saturday. It appears he will be available for today’s game against the Ducks, but just how effective will he be?
Oregon is in desperate need of a win after dropping a lifeless 72-61 game at Washington State. The Ducks will likely bring their best effort at Washington, hoping to avoid a third conference loss early in the season.
Without Green available for Washington, look for Oregon guards Payton Pritchard (19.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.9 apg) and Chris Duarte (13.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) to hold a huge advantage in the backcourt, while Oregon’s superior offensive rebounding (56th in the country) will give them extra chances in the Washington zone.
Freshman RaeQuan Battle (11 points) produced a quality first start against the Beavers, but will see a huge increase in defensive pressure from Oregon. Sophomore Jamal Bey made his second consecutive start at point guard replacing Green, but his total of five turnovers to just five assists over that time leaves a lot to be desired.
Oregon’s senior forward Shakur Juiston (7.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg) will be able to matchup with freshman 6-foot-10 forward Isaiah Stewart (17.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg), something few teams can do.
I’m taking the more talented and experienced roster in Oregon, with high motivation to rebound after an embarrassing Pac-12 road loss.
Pick: Oregon -2
- Odds: Northwestern at Illinois -11.5
- Over/Under: 133.5
- Time: 5 p.m. ET
- TV: B1G Ten Network
What’s happening in Champaign this winter is not getting enough attention. The once-proud Illini fanbase finally have a team worthy of their Orange Krush student section.
Since Bruce Weber headed for Kansas State in 2012, the Illini have tallied just one NCAA tournament win. And it didn’t appear that head coach Brad Underwood had a stellar plan to reverse their course. In his first two seasons on the sidelines, Illinois was just 26-39 overall and 11-27 in conference play.
Luckily for Underwood and his players, this season has been different. Sitting at 12-5, and ranked for the first time since 2014, Illinois is finally having to deal with something altogether new: expectations.
Yet despite the AP Poll taking notice, books haven’t quite caught up to this suddenly competitive team led by Ayo Dosunmu (15.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.9 apg). Since B1G Ten play began for Illinois on Dec. 7, the Illini are 6-3 ATS.
This play, however, is predicated more on Northwestern’s deficiencies than Illinois’ strengths. Aside from being a decent foul shooting team, NW is ranked in the bottom third of the Big Ten in nearly every offensive metric. And the Cats are unable to offset these offensive issues by forcing turnovers (11.6, 313th) or collecting offensive rebounds (6.9, 300th).
Illinois showed that it wasn’t satisfied with its first win over Wisconsin since 2011 by following that victory up with another over upstart Rutgers. Look for the Illini to jump out to an early lead and keep their foot down on the accelerator.
Pick: Illinois -11.5
- Odds: LSU -4 at Ole Miss
- Over/Under: 145.5
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
Just like with Oklahoma State, I think it’s time to back a home dog that has lost four straight overall.
I also have been waiting for the right spot to fade what I think is an overvalued LSU team in the market. Yes, the Tigers sit atop the SEC standings with a perfect 4-0 conference record, but take a closer look under the hood at those four wins:
- Comprehensive win over an undermanned Tennessee team
- Win in final seconds at home over Arkansas
- Buzzer beater win at home vs. Mississippi State
- Won in overtime at Texas A&M
LSU could easily be sitting at 1-3 in the conference and perception would be much different.
Expect a best-effort performance from the Rebels at home in Oxford in primetime.
Pick: Ole Miss +4