Randle: 4 Key College Basketball Injuries, And How I’m Betting Those Games

Randle: 4 Key College Basketball Injuries, And How I’m Betting Those Games article feature image
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Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Zion Williamson

  • Some of the best college basketball teams in the country will be missing star players on Saturday.
  • Mike Randle breaks down each injury or suspension and explains how he's betting the games with those missing players.

Injuries and suspensions are two of the most important parts of handicapping college basketball. Often times, the decision on whether a player is active or not can cause a direct reversal on how I’ll bet the game.

Each weekend,  I’ll provide a look around the Saturday slate at those missing players that need to be carefully considered before making a selection.

Let’s take a look at this weekend’s MIA report.

Zion Williamson (Knee)

  • Team: Duke
  • Game: vs. Miami,  4 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Duke -16

Effect:  The Blue Devils are averaging 41.7 rebounds per game, third best in the nation. In almost three games played without Williamson, Duke is only averaging three rebounds fewer per game.

With Miami ranking 13th in offensive rebounding during ACC play, Duke continue owning the boards. Williamson’s scoring (21.6 ppg) will also be missed, but the Blue Devils should be fine at home against a Hurricanes defense that ranks second-worst in effective field goal percentage allowed in the conference.

THE PICK:  Duke -16

Reid Travis (Knee)

  • Team: Kentucky
  • Game: at Tennessee, 2 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Tennessee -2.5

Effect: The injury to Travis will force Kentucky to play sophomore Nick Richards and freshman EJ Montgomery much more. Both players combine for fewer minutes (25.7 mpg) per game than Travis averages (27.7 mpg).

In an 86-69 win at home vs. the Volunteers, Travis scored 11 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and had two blocks in 33 minutes.  The Wildcats dominated the interior, outrebounding Tennessee 39-26 with Richards and Montgomery combining for just six. Travis was also a force on the defensive end against Tennessee’s Grant Williams, who attempted just four shots in that game.

Travis was an elite scorer his last two seasons at Stanford, averaging 17.4 points and 19.5 points respectively. He also shoots 73% from the free throw line, which is much better than Richards (65.2%) or Montgomery (65.1%). The loss of Travis will have a major impact in Knoxville, where Tennessee is a perfect 16-0 this season.

THE PICK: Tennessee -2

Kaleb Wesson (Suspension)

  • Team: Ohio State
  • Game: at Purdue, 2 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Purdue -12

Effect: This is one of the biggest MIA’s on the Saturday slate. The 6-foot-9 sophomore does it all for the Buckeyes. He’s used on 29.6% of Ohio State’s possessions, 64th-highest of any player in the country.

Wesson is Ohio State’s leading scorer (14.6 ppg), rebounder (6.7 rpg), and most efficient player from the field (51.1%).

Purdue is 20th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and will get a plethora of extra chances without Wesson inside. Ohio State has also struggled in the conference to defend the 2P%, ranking ninth in the Big Ten.

The Boilermakers are a perfect 14-0 at home and already beat Ohio State 79-67 on the road on Jan. 23. The absence of suspended Wesson makes a difficult road matchup nearly impossible for the Buckeyes.

THE PICK: Purdue -12

Kerwin Roach, Dylan Osetkowski

Team: Texas
Game: Texas vs. Iowa State, 2 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa State -1

Effect: Roach was suspended indefinitely on Feb. 22 for a violation of team rules. Fellow senior Dylan Osetkowksi also missed Wednesday’s brutal 84-83 loss at Baylor with an illness. Roach is definitely out for this game and Osetkowski’s status is uncertain.

Those would be key two-way losses for the Longhorns, who need to contend with Iowa State’s top 10 offense, per adjusted offensive efficiency. Texas is last in the Big 12 in defending the 3-pointer, and Iowa State leads the conference in free throw shooting. The Cyclones are an impressive 15-10 against the spread and already have road wins at Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Kansas State.

Without Roach and potentially Osetkowski, the Longhorns cannot win this game.

THE PICK:  Iowa State -1

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