Saturday College Basketball Betting Previews: Virginia Tech-Clemson, Auburn-LSU

Saturday College Basketball Betting Previews: Virginia Tech-Clemson, Auburn-LSU article feature image

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kavell Bigby-Williams

There are a robust 147 college basketball games on the schedule for Saturday. With headline matchups throughout the day, there are many Power Six teams looking to build on the momentum they have established over the past two weeks as we enter the final month before conference tournaments.

We examine matchups in two of the premier conferences in the country when Virginia Tech travels to Clemson in the ACC and Auburn heads to LSU in the SEC.

Which two teams will continue to build off their recent momentum? Let’s take a look.

Betting Odds: Virginia Tech Hokies at Clemson Tigers

  • Spread: Clemson -2.5
  • Over/Under: 129
  • Time:  Noon ET
  • TV: ESPN2

Virginia Tech (18-4) will play this game with only seven scholarship players. Sophomore P.J. Horne has been injured since Jan. 19, and starting point guard Justin Robinson is out indefinitely. The Hokies are 8-8 against the spread including 3-3 on the road.

Clemson (14-8) is on a three-game winning streak after starting 1-5 in ACC play. The Tigers are 10-2 at home and have easily covered the spread by an average of 11.5 points in their last three games.

The injuries for Virginia Tech are critical. Robinson (14.4 ppg, 41.1% 3P) is their second-leading scorer and top assist man. Horne (4.8 ppg) is a crucial role player who’s loss severely hurts the Hokies’ depth. Their absence particularly hurts on the defensive end.

In their 10 conference games, Virginia Tech ranks 14th in the ACC in defending the 3-pointer. The Hokies allow opponents to shoot an average of 36.4% from deep while ranking 10th within the conference in defensive effective field goal percentage.

In the Hokies’ last game at home against Louisville, they allowed the Cardinals to shoot 48.1% (13 of 27) from beyond the arc.

Offensively, Virginia Tech hasn’t been much better since losing Robinson. In the prior game at N.C. State, the Hokies shot just 37.5% (9 of 24) from 2P.

Clemson has been on fire offensively. In their last two home games the Tigers have shot 45% (20 of 45) from 3P. They also rank 40th in the in nation in 2P%, which includes being without leading scorer Marcquise Reed (19.2 ppg) for three games.

In ACC play, Clemson’s defense has even been more efficient than Virginia Tech’s offense. The Tigers are fourth best in the conference in defensive efficiency and 2P% defense. The Hokies fifth-best offense, of course, includes Robinson and Horne.

Clemson returned four starters from last year’s Sweet 16 team. They are finally playing well and face a Virginia Tech team without their star point guard and with a limited bench.

Timing is everything and in this case? The timing couldn’t be worse for Virginia Tech.

THE PICK:  Clemson -2.5

Auburn Tigers at LSU Tigers

  • Spread: LSU -2
  • Over/Under: 159.5
  • Time:  2 PM ET
  • TV: ESPN2

Auburn (16-6) is on a three-game SEC winning streak. However, all those games have been at home. They have lost their last two conference games on the road by an average of 5.5 points.

LSU (18-4) has won 11 of its last 12 games and is 8-1 in the SEC. The Tigers are 11-1 overall at home and have covered three of their last four games ATS.

Auburn has struggled on the road all season. The Tigers are only 1-4 in their last four road games. Their offensive efficiency ranks eighth overall in the country, but is overly reliant on the 3-pointer. They generate 40.6% of their total points from deep, 13th most in the country.

In SEC conference play, Auburn’s defense has been poor. It ranks 11th in both effective field goal percentage and 2P% within their conference games.

LSU’s defense is a solid 59th overall in the country, but significantly better within the SEC. The Tigers ranks first within the conference in steals and defending the 3-pointer. LSU has only allowed opponents to shoot 31.1% from beyond the arc.

On offense, LSU has been at its best lately. Leading scorer Tremont Waters (15.6 ppg) is shooting 44.4% from 3P in his last three games. 6-foot-10 forward Naz Reid (13.9 ppg) is averaging 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds over that same time period.

LSU’s defense has been stifling against the 3P, which is a massive part of Auburn’s offense. The Tigers have been the best offensive rebounding team in the SEC, which will expose Auburn’s 294th ranked defensive rebounding.

Auburn would need to have an incredibly efficient 3-point shooting day and play better defense on the road than they have all year. That is asking a lot against an LSU team that is playing like one of the best in the country.