College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 5 Favorite Plays for Sunday
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein, guard Jordan Poole (2), guard Zavier Simpson (3).
We’ve got one last day to boost our bankrolls for March Madness. Don’t let it pass you by.
Our experts have dug into the six-game card, featuring all conference tournament finals, and narrowed it down to one pick each. Let’s get to it.
Mike Randle: Tennessee -4.5
1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Playing four games in four days will finally catch up with Auburn. The Tigers lost out on a first-round bye to South Carolina and will face a Tennessee team that badly wants revenge for last week’s 84-80 loss at Auburn. That game cost the Volunteers a share of the SEC title for the second straight season.
The Vols still boast the top offense in the SEC, ranking first in adjusted offensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, 2P%, and free throw percentage in conference games. Auburn ranks dead last at defending the 2P, which makes stopping Grant Williams (19.2 ppg) and Admiral Schofield (16.4 ppg) even more difficult.
Auburn’s best offense comes from beyond the arc, where it ranks second-best in SEC play at 39.4%. But with tired legs and this game being in Nashville, look for the Tigers to struggle to find scoring consistency. The Volunteers will grab a small halftime lead and then wear down the Tigers.
Take Tennessee and lay the 4.5 points in the SEC title game.
Bryan Mears: Tennessee -4.5, First Half -2.5
1 p.m. ET, ESPN
I’m with Randle on Tennessee today. These teams just played a week or so ago in the last game of the regular season, with Auburn not only covering as 2.5-point dogs, but winning outright over its top-10 foe at home. It was a tough game for Tennessee: Admiral Schofield fouled out and the team as a whole lost the turnover battle 11-5. Auburn got 11 steals in that game.
Tennessee is a real national title contender and playing for seeding in next week’s big tournament; they should be highly motivated. On that same motivation note, I pulled a trend from Bet Labs that shows when a team both loses and fails to cover against a team and is then the favorite over them in the postseason, they typically cover at a high rate, both in the full game and first-half spread.
It’s the “revenge narrative,” and it seems to be something that provides betting value. For all those reasons, give me Tennessee today.
Steve Petrella: Georgia State-UT Arlington under 137.5
2 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Conference tournament semifinals and finals are known for their sluggish pace because of fatigue, but this one is a little different. Georgia State got a triple bye to the semifinals, so it’s just the Panthers’ second game in two days. UT Arlington is playing its third.
But games have been flying under the total in the Sun Belt Tournament so far this year — 6-2, by an average of almost nine points per game. Since the tourney moved to Lakefront Arena in New Orleans five years ago, the under has hit 63% of the time. GSU shot just 6-of-25 from 3-point range in its semifinal win over Texas State.
Georgia State plays fast (top 20% of teams) and chucks 3s. The Panthers rank top 30 in both 3-point percentage and effective field goal percentage. But UT Arlington can control the boards and plays at a much slower pace.
Under for me. If GSU gets scorching hot from deep, so be it.
Eli Hershkovich: Houston -4
3:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Although Cincinnati will have revenge on its minds after the Cougars swept the regular season — outright and ATS — Houston does, as well.
Kelvin Sampson’s crew fell to Cincinnati in AAC tournament title game last season, but its success behind the arc is set up to doom its league foe.
Stuckey: Michigan PK
3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Death, taxes, and John Beilein in a tournament setting. After winning this tourney in each of the past two season as a No. 5 and 8 seed, Beilein is back in the championship — this time as a No. 3 and looking for revenge against Michigan State after two regular season losses.
Sparty has some matchup advantages it exploited during the regular season, but this team is not healthy. Nagging injuries everywhere. And that will be even more exposed today on a back-to-back-to-back.
I think that’s the ultimate difference today.