Stuckey’s 4 Favorite College Basketball Situational Betting Spots: Speculation Saturday
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Florida State guard PJ Savoy (5) and forward Mfiondu Kabengele (25)
- It's usually difficult to find situational spots in conference tournaments, but the stars have aligned to create a few games worth digging into.
- Using injuries and revenge as primary drivers, Stuckey breaks down four of his favorite plays for Saturday.
I have to start off by apologizing for lying to all of you last Saturday when I said that would be the final situational spots piece of the 2018-19 college basketball betting season.
I rarely ever find situational spots once all of the conference tournaments are in full swing. You usually won’t find any motivational edge for either side in any one-and-done postseason format.
However, the stars aligned today and there are actually a few situational angles that could provide value in my eyes. We have some major revenge worth exploring and some lineup speculation on my part.
Without further ado, let’s jump into this week’s four best situational spots, starting with an early 11 a.m. ET tip between Vermont and one of 2018’s cinderella stories.
Season Record: 45-30-2 (60.0%) +12.59 units. All odds as of 9 a.m. ET
Vermont -10 vs. UMBC
11 a.m. ET on ESPN2
I can’t think of one team this weekend that is hungrier for a win than Vermont. The Catamounts have been looking forward to this opportunity since Feb. 21, when UMBC swept them to hand Vermont its only two conference losses of the season.
But more importantly, this is the same Retrievers team that upset Vermont on its home court in last year’s America East title game before beating No. 1 seed Virginia in the NCAA Tournament.
Does UMBC just have Vermont’s number? I don’t think so.
This is a much different UMBC team than last year. It had to replace guards K.J. Maura and Jairus Myles, and its offense has taken a major step back.
In regards to this year, I’m throwing out the first game of the year since Vermont star forward Anthony Lamb (21.1 ppg) didn’t play. (Lamb also wasn’t fully back from an injury in last year’s final). Everything Vermont does goes through Lamb.
And in the other game, the Catamounts shot an uncharacteristic 4 of 24 from 3-point range. I can’t see that happening again.
Vermont, without Lamb, was a -13.5 favorite in its home loss against UMBC. Now, I can lay 10 with a healthy Lamb. Yes, the pace might slow as it does in the conference tourney finals, but this has a ton of value in my eyes.
This is an angry Vermont team playing at home in front of what should be a rowdy environment. The Catamounts want to bury UMBC and not let up.
Wisconsin +5.5 vs. Michigan State
1 p.m ET on FOX
I’m going to speculate a little bit here.
Michigan State is really banged up across the board, which may make this back-to-back scenario a tough task for Izzo’s bunch. Matt McQuaid has recently recovered from an ankle injury and Nick Ward clearly still isn’t in game shape after returning Thursday against Ohio State.
But the bigger questions marks are in regards to Cassius Winston and Kenny Goins, who have both been dealing with tendinitis. That could flare up after playing yesterday and I see no reason why Izzo would push Winston after all of the minutes he has played this year. (Winston also had a recent toe issue and dealt with a non-serious ankle injury yesterday.)
I make this line 4.5, so there’s a little value on the Badgers regardless. But if I’m right and Izzo either limits his starters that have been dealing with nagging injuries and/or one of them flares up, this number would have even more value.
Izzo has bigger fish to fry than Wisconsin here. He will obviously try to win, but I think he may also be cognizant of some of these issues and may not push everyone as hard as he normally would minutes wise.
Now, this could all backfire if freshman Foster Loyer goes off again, but I’ll take my chances.
Florida State +8.5 vs. Duke
8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
There is some more speculation here. I don’t think Coach K is going to push Zion Williamson, who looked to be struggling just a little bit with a back issue down the stretch against UNC on Friday night.
Just like I think the Blue Devils were being cautious bringing Zion back, I think they will take that same approach on a situation where they are playing a third game in three nights. (Plus, Duke played the late game last night, while the ‘Noles played the early semifinal).
Yes, Florida State has revenge from a home loss at the buzzer earlier this season. And yes, Duke could come out flat early after such an emotional win it wanted very bad.
But more importantly, the Seminoles match up well with Duke. They should live on the offensive glass against a Duke team that struggles on the defensive boards. I think Duke will especially miss Marques Bolden tonight against this really physical, long and uber-athletic Florida State team.
Lastly, depth could be a major factor tonight for this third game in three nights. Florida State has had a tough road to the final, but it can rely on its outstanding depth (30th in bench minutes nationally, per KenPom). Meanwhile, Duke is not a deep team, ranking 228th in that same category.
UC Irvine -7.5 vs. Cal State Fullerton
Midnight ET on ESPN2
This is a rematch of last year’s Big West final, when Fullerton punched its ticket to the dance.
Irvine brought almost everyone back and wants to avenge that loss bad. But this is primarily about two other factors:
- Matchup: Fullerton does not match up with Irvine at all. The Titans’ offense relies on penetration from senior guards Khalil Ahmad and Kyle Allman. That simply won’t work against Irvine’s elite 2-point defense that leads the entire nation in FG%. The Anteaters just don’t give up anything at the rim.
- Depth: This will be the third game in three nights for both teams, but Irvine has much more depth. UCI ranks seventh in the country in bench minutes, while Fullerton ranks 253rd.
This matchup is similar to what Fullerton ran into last year against Purdue in the NCAA Tournament. If you have size that can defend the rim, you shut down Fullerton’s offense — which Irvine did in both regular season meetings. I don’t see any reason why that would change tonight.
Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.