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College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 5 Favorite Saturday Bets

College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Staff’s 5 Favorite Saturday Bets article feature image

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jamion Christian

  • Our experts lay out their favorite bets for the Saturday, Feb. 23 college basketball slate.
  • The games covered below include: Texas-Oklahoma (noon ET), Marquette-Providence (noon ET), George Washington-VCU (2 p.m. ET), Loyola Marymount-Pacific (3:30 p.m. ET), St. Mary's-San Diego (9 p.m. ET)

There are many, many games on Saturday’s college basketball card — 143 to be precise. Fortunately, our experts have combed through ’em all, from Providence-Marquette to Pacific-Loyola Marymount, to find their favorites.

Below you’ll find our staff’s five favorite bets for Saturday, starting at noon ET. Let’s get to it.

Ken Barkley: Texas +4 at Oklahoma

12 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Editor’s note: This pick and the analysis below was made before Texas’ leading scorer, Kerwin Roach II, was suspended indefinitely. 

Texas is one of the more enigmatic teams in the country this season — the Horns get a lot of respect, and more often than not, they don’t deserve it. But the fact remains that when looking at their raw numbers in conference play compared to Oklahoma’s, this number is incorrect, although only by a couple points.

Texas should be about +1 by my numbers, and also has had some pretty strong road performances in Big 12 play. The Longhorns won in Manhattan by 20 and only lost by a possession to Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. Two other conference road losses — TCU and Oklahoma State — were one-possession games.

The point is, Texas isn’t a team with extremely polarizing splits, and that makes a number like this incredibly appealing. I don’t know if you can ever fully trust the Horns, but they deserve a bet here at this price, and have had a full week off to prepare.

Barkley: Louisville +5

12 p.m. ET, ACC Network

OK, I’m going to try not to jinx any other teams by getting their best players suspended, so lets go to Louisville, where the Cardinals are coming off their absolute biggest clunker of the season, a 20-point loss to Syracuse earlier this week.

That type of awful performance can sometimes create a little recency bias in this game, and I think that’s what’s happening here, as I have this Louisville +3.5 when factoring in their home-court and the very low-scoring possibilities in this game (total in the mid 120’s).

Obviously as the total points go down, points in the spread become more valuable. As incredible as Virginia has been, they are on back-to-back travel and their 3rd road game in 12 days, so a small letdown is possible.

Eli Hershkovich: Providence +3 vs. Marquette

12 p.m. ET, FOX

The Friars are just 2-5 ATS at home vs. Big East opponents, but this matchup sets up well in a revenge spot after their 11-point loss at Marquette on Jan. 20. In that one, Providence owned an eight-point halftime cushion thanks to a 43-31 rebound advantage, including 15 offensive boards.

The Golden Eagles have been below average on the glass in Big East play while the Friars own the second-highest offensive rebounding rate overall (31.9%).

Providence’s aggressive nature on the glass has led to the 37th-highest free-throw rate (39.1%) in Division I, led by the 6-foot-7 Alpha Diallo (16.4 ppg), while Marquette has struggled to stay out of foul trouble.

Look for Ed Cooley’s unit to control the pace with that advantage and slow down the Golden Eagles’ high-tempo attack, which propels their seventh-ranked 3-point clip (39.7%) across the country.

On top of that, Providence owns the Big East’s lowest Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (101.2 opponents’ points per 100 possessions), and within that comes the lowest opponents’ scoring rate from the perimeter (28.4%). Even if Friars point guard Makai Ashton-Langford (ankle) doesn’t suit up, they should be able to hold Markus Howard (25.7 ppg) in check, thanks to their length.

Don’t expect a letdown from Providence following their 19-point win over St. John’s on Wednesday.

Mike Randle: VCU -17.5 vs. George Washington

2 p.m. ET, ESPN+

VCU’s defensive pressure is relentless. The Rams rank fifth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and within conference play, they rank first in adjusted defensive efficiency, 3P% allowed, and 2P% allowed.

George Washington ranks an abysmal 307th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 289th or worse in 3P, 2P, and free throw percentage.

VCU has won all of its home games in A-10 play including a 34-point drubbing of Rhode Island on Tuesday night. The Rams won 60-50 at George Washington on Feb. 6, and only need to win by eight more at home. Don’t be afraid of the big number. VCU rolls at home over a brutal Colonials teams.

Steve Petrella: Loyola-Marymount-Pacific Under 122

3:30 p.m. ET

One day I’ll include a game in here that anyone is actually paying attention to. One day.

Pacific and Loyola-Marymount have both slowed down their paces since conference play began. Here’s a 5-game rolling average of possessions per game for each this season.

Pacific has an abysmal offense, highlighted by a 32-point effort earlier this week against Saint Mary’s. It scored just 42 against a strong Loyola zone defense earlier this year, in part because the Tigers just can’t shoot. They rank 291st nationally in effective field goal percentage and struggled mightily against the zone.

I have a hard time believing both these teams will average greater than 1.0 points per possession, which will be needed given their snail’s paces.

Stuckey: San Diego +2 vs. St. Mary’s

9 p.m. ET

I’ve said many time before how much I love this senior-laden roster as a dog in this conference. The Toreros have just had to deal with a lot of bad injury luck in their backcourt this season and are now fully healthy. I think you get an inspired effort tonight at Jenny Craig Pavilion.

Yes, St. Mary’s is coming off a dominant 58-32 win at Pacific in which it held the Tigers to two total assists, but the Gaels still haven’t beat anybody with a pulse on the road this year.

San Diego not only has revenge from a 17-point loss at St. Mary’s last month, it has lost 10 straight overall to the Gaels. San Diego’s second-leading scorer, Olin Carter III, didn’t play in that first matchup.

Carter is one of a couple seniors who have played each of the past four years for the Toreros. Over that span, San Diego has lost all seven matchups with St. Mary’s. The seniors have to really want this win.

I expect San Diego’s best effort here in its fourth straight home game, which just so happens to be its last of the season. Senior Night! It’s our first 2019 mention of Senior Night, which can actually work against teams in some cases, but I think San Diego will thrive in this spot.

It should be a special night for Carter, Isaiah Wright, Isaiah Piniero (the best player you’ve never heard of) and company.

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