Stuckey’s 6 Favorite College Basketball Situational Betting Spots: The Final Edition
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Seton Hall guards Myles Powell (13) and Myles Cale (22)
- Which college basketball teams are primed for a letdown on Saturday? Which could come out flat or get caught looking ahead?
- Stuckey details his six favorite betting situational spots on today's card, starting with two early tips at noon ET and hitting games that start at 2, 3, 4 and 10 p.m. ET.
It’s really the last Saturday of the college basketball season where situational spots will have much use. Every conference tournament will be in swing by next Saturday (join my free conference tournament contest if you haven’t already) and motivation won’t be a major issue for teams competing in the postseason.
There’s no easy formula with situational spots. Anybody can identify letdowns, lookaheads, sandwiches and revenge angles on a college basketball card, but gaining an edge with them is more art than science.
At the very minimum, you should at least be aware of the non-mathematical angles when capping college kids playing basketball. There is also the added importance of conference tournament and NCAA Tournament motivation this week, which I will highlight in a few plays.
My ultimate goal is to either point out a spot or two you may have overlooked — or push you toward or away from a side you were contemplating.
Without further ado, let’s jump into this week’s six best situational spots, starting with two noon tips.
Season Record: 40-29-2 (58.0%) +8.69 units. All odds as of 3 a.m.. ET
Pittsburgh -2 vs. Notre Dame
Noon ET on ACCN
I think this is a good opportunity to buy Pitt, which has lost 13 straight games. The streak looks ugly, but the extremely young Panthers have competed in a majority; six of the past nine losses have come by single digits. They also won home games over Florida State and Louisville prior to the skid. Meanwhile, ND has won one road game all season.
This game essentially means nothing for Notre Dame. The winner will get the No. 14 seed in the ACC tourney, while the loser will get the No. 15. That’s the difference between playing Boston College and Georgia Tech in the first round. Negligible.
There’s also minor revenge in play, as the Irish beat the Panthers in their final two games of last season — one in the regular season finale and the other in the ACC tournament to end their year.
I expect Pitt to be much more motivated against a Notre Dame team that won’t exploit Pitt’s turnover issues. And Pittsburgh’s defense, which has been impressive all year, should contain a really poor Notre Dame offense.
Seton Hall +3.5 vs. Villanova
Noon ET on FOX
This is your revenge spot of the day, as the Pirates will look to avenge an embarrassing 32-point loss at Villanova last month. The 32-point margin doesn’t even do that beatdown justice considering Hall trailed by 35 with five minutes left and star guard Myles Powell finished with a season-low three points.
Powell has scored double digits in every other game this year and comes in red-hot, having dropped 34 and 35 in the last two games. I expect a massive day from Powell and a desperate effort from a Seton Hall team fighting for its tourney lives.
Hall’s season looked like it was slipping away before it closed on an 18-0 run in a comeback win over Marquette. Look for the Pirates to build on that momentum today at the Prudential Center. This is a best-effort spot.
Seton Hall also has an above average home-court advantage. And while the Pirates have lost four games at home this season, those four came by a combined 12 points.
I also think this line is just too high, as I continue to rate Villanova much lower than the market. I’d play this down to +2.
Iowa State +2.5 vs. Texas Tech
2 p.m. ET on ALT (DTV: 681)
I actually felt physically ill when hitting submit on this bet, but I have to play this spot and number.
On the surface, it’s just a classic buy-low, sell-high spot. Iowa State has lost five of seven, including its latest loss to a bad West Virginia team in a game that was never really close. On the other hand, Texas Tech is rolling. The Red Raiders have won eight straight to put themselves in position for the school’s first ever Big 12 title.
The Cyclones defense has been atrocious and the effort level has been close to zero. There also seems to be major chemistry issues, which have led to arguments on the court and reported fights this week in practice. All of that led to that embarrassing loss in Morgantown, which might have been rock bottom for a team that looked so dominant just last month in a double-digit win at Kansas State.
After that loss to WVU, head coach Steve Prohm met with each of the players, who also called a players-only meeting. If this team still cares and has pride, you should get that effort that has been sorely lacking.
Marial Shayok is a game-time decision and this could go horribly wrong if Iowa State has unfixable locker room problems, but I’m going to bite on the number — even though I do expect a fully focused Red Raider team playing for a Big 12 title and revenge.
Remember that the Cyclones were +5.5 in a game they won in Lubbock earlier this season. Considering both have excellent home-court advantages worth right around four points. That would imply a line of Iowa State -3.5 for this game after adjusting for the venue swing.
Now, some things have changed since then to warrant a positive adjustment for Texas Tech and negative for Iowa State. There’s also the Shayok injury, but all of that isn’t worth five points in my eyes.
Hold your nose and buy low on the ‘Clones, who I’d play down to +2
Hilton magic, baby.
UAB +1.5 vs. Old Dominion
3 p.m. ET on ESPN
It’s not often you get to play a home team with revenge in the same season for an earlier home loss. Thanks to the new Conference USA pod play format, we have that exact scenario today.
UAB blew a 13-point first-half lead in a home loss to Old Dominion last month. The Blazers will get a chance to avenge that loss and end a four-game home losing streak.
This game made my final card due to the extreme motivational edge UAB should have today. Old Dominion has already won the CUSA regular season title and locked up a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The Monarchs are playing for absolutely nothing, which showed in their last game — a lackluster performance in a home loss to Southern Miss.
Meanwhile, UAB still has a shot to secure the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, which would give them one of the four coveted first-round byes.
I expect a very flat effort from ODU, who I can’t see getting excited for a road trip to Birmingham ahead of the conference tournament next week. Staying healthy and working on a few things should be its primary concern.
I’d play this down to +1.
Temple -1 vs. UCF
4 p.m ET on ESPN2
This is a tough spot for a UCF team that just won two emotional games over ranked opponents to essentially lock up their NCAA Tournament bid. (Joe Lunardi currently has them projected as a No. 8 seed, safely in the field.)
Meanwhile, Temple finds itself in the exact same spot UCF was in before its upset win at Houston. The Owls really need this win to boost their tournament resume, as they sit squarely on the bubble. (Lunardi has Temple as one of the last four teams in.)
Not only does Temple have revenge from a close road loss earlier this year, but this will be Philadelphia legend Fran Dunphy’s last home game. The beloved coach has spent 30 years at the helm for Penn and Temple. That should add a little more motivation for the players. They would love nothing more than to send the coach out with a win in his regular season finale in front of a rocking Liacouras Center.
Free throws could also end up being the difference. UCF shoots under 65% from the line (bottom 20 nationally), while Temple sits in the top 100. Also, after dealing with a knee injury for a stretch of seven games, 6-foot-10 senior center Ernest Aflakpui finally returned at 100% in Temple’s last game. That’s important today against 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall.
Temple should come out of the gates with extreme desperation against a UCF team at risk of a major letdown performance.
Oregon +4.5 at Washington
10 p.m. ET on ESPN
I love this Washington team as a potential dark horse in the NCAA Tournament. Currently projected on the 8/9 line by most, no top seed will want to face the Huskies’ vaunted 2-3 zone in the second-round.
Washington runs zone on defense more than any team in the country — even more than Syracuse, which is where head coach Mike Hopkins came from after 20 years as Jim Boeheim’s assistant. Just like we have seen with the Orange over the years, teams that aren’t used to seeing their zone tend to struggle in a tournament setting.
That said, Pac-12 teams have had more success the second time facing Washington after already seeing the zone. We’ve seen that over its past few games. I think that familiarity will once again work in favor of the Ducks tonight.
Oregon has revenge from an earlier season home loss at the hands of Washington. The Ducks are also playing their best basketball of the season. They’ve finally figured some things out on offense, which has taken quite a while after the loss of center Bol Bol. Victor Bailey, who disappeared for a long stretch, has re-emerged of late and his shooting will be critical against the zone.
Washington has already locked up the regular season title, the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and in all likelihood an NCAA Tournament berth. Meanwhile, Oregon is still fighting for seeding in the Pac-12 tournament.
Due to the jumbled nature of the league standings, the Ducks could finish anywhere from fourth to ninth place. A No. 4 seed would get them a first-round bye, while a No. 9 seed would mean a first-round game and then a date with Washington if they advance.
In a battle of the two most efficient defenses during conference play, I’ll take the more motivated Ducks in another Washington game that I think comes down to the wire.
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.