Saturday College Basketball Odds, Best Bets, & Player Prop Picks for Indiana vs. Michigan State, St. John’s vs. DePaul & More (Feb. 20)
Porter Binks/Getty Images. Pictured: St. John’s Red Storm guard Julian Champagnie (2).
- Saturday's college basketball slate features a whopping 102 games, but don't worry: Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath break down the six bets that most warrant your attention.
- This week's Pick & Roll best bets article features three spread bets on favorites to cover, one play on a game total, one player prop in West Virginia vs. Texas, and a +600 three-game mid-major parlay.
- Below, find comprehensive analysis for all six of Calabrese's and McGrath's college basketball betting picks on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Tanner McGrath and Mike Calabrese have taken turns doing the heavy lifting in this column. Both have clean sweeps on their respective resumes in just four short weeks, and they kick started this column with a perfect debut back on Jan. 23.
Can they rekindle the magic this week or will Mike’s ambitious mid-major parlay prove to be too ambitious? There’s only one way to find out: Read on; then tail, or fade.
McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Michigan State at Indiana -6 | 12 p.m. ET
Michigan State is truly an awful basketball team.
Tom Izzo’s 2021 squad might be his worst ever. This season, the Spartans are 4-9 in conference play, 11th in the Big Ten standings and a woeful 4-15 against the spread (ATS). Michigan State probably won’t make the tournament for the first time since 1997.
Moreover, the team has been dreadful recently. During the last eight games, Michigan State is 2-6 SU, 1-7 ATS and 0-4 ATS in its last four outings. All of this has made Michigan State the third-least profitable team in the country.
Meanwhile, Indiana has seen some success recently and against Michigan State in the past.
Indiana is riding a defense that ranks fifth in the conference in defensive efficiency, per KenPom. Sophomore center Trayce Jackson-Davis buoys the Hoosiers’ offense and has been playing at an all-conference level, averaging 19.6 points and 9.4 rebounds per game on 53% shooting.
Jackson-Davis and the Hoosiers defense have worked in concert to earn IU three wins over its last four games — including a big home win over the top-25 Iowa Hawkeyes.
Indiana is 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS in its last six games against Michigan State. Moreover, the Hoosiers are 4-1 ATS in the last five home games vs. the Spartans.
I’m banking on Indiana continuing its recent success against this pathetic Spartans team. The Hoosiers are a solid home favorite to ride at high noon on Saturday.
Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
Mississippi State at Ole Miss -5 | 6 p.m. ET
As of Jan. 30, Ole Miss was 8-8 overall and 3-6 in SEC play.
Since then, the Rebels have had an awesome February. In fact, Ole Miss has yet to lose this month and picked up its fourth consecutive win last Saturday. The streak includes wins against South Carolina, Missouri, Auburn and Tennessee.
Ole Miss has been playing fantastic defense. The Rebels held Tennessee to just 50 points and limited Missouri to 59. Ole Miss is now fourth in the conference in defensive efficiency.
Moreover, the Rebels are 5-15 to the under this season, proving it’s been playing better defense than the books expected. Ole Miss is 4-0 ATS this month — that includes three outright victories as underdogs and two as road underdogs.
Mississippi State is not having a similarly impressive season in 2021, and the cause is remarkably straightforward: The Bulldogs are not particularly talented. The team reports an 11-11 overall record, an 11-11 ATS record, and a 5-8 record during SEC play.
The Bulldogs have lost three of their last four games, going 1-3 ATS during that span. They just dropped two straight home games, including a deflating loss to Vanderbilt. The offense managed just 51 points against the lowly Commodores.
Ben Howland’s offense has been struggling all season. His team is 13th in the conference in offensive efficiency and is shooting just 48.7% from 2-point range. While Mississippi State shoots well from 3 (36.3%), only 24.8% of its total points come from behind the arc, which is one of the lowest marks in the nation.
The Rebels have gone 7-3 SU and 7-3 ATS during the last 10 meetings with its in-state rival. I’m expecting Mississippi’s talented defense to dominate the Bulldogs’ dreadful offense. I will play Ole Miss at -6 or better.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images.
Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Loyola (MD) -4 at Lehigh | 1 p.m. ET
There’s nothing quite like racing to the window to back a 2-7 favorite on the road.
Here’s the thing: Five of Loyola’s seven losses have come by one possession, including a pair of triple OT defeats. Playing the what-if game can be dangerous from a gambling perspective, but this is a middle-of-the-pack Patriot League team dressed down as a doormat.
From a personnel perspective, Loyola is built around Santi Aldama. The Spanish import has been going off this season, averaging 20 and 10 with 1.6 blocks per game. He’s clearly in the running for Patriot League Player of the Year, and just for good measure he averaged 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game against Lehigh last season. You can count on him to do the heavy lifting in this one.
On the Lehigh side, the Mountain Hawks (3-7 SU, 2-8 ATS) are coming off of a three week shutdown. That doesn’t bode well for a LU squad that struggled to shoot before the layoff; Lehigh’s effective FG percentage (eFG%) checks in at 48.6% (240th).
But the real reason I love the Hounds in this spot is the Lehigh defense … or rather, the lack thereof.
At 314th in defensive efficiency, you would think that they spend the majority of their time gambling on steals or trying to force turnovers, but neither are true. This is one of the least disruptive teams in the Patriot League, and Loyola should be able to score close to 80 points in this game.
One final plug for Loyola in this spot: Only two teams in the entire country with an ATS win percentage of 37% or lower can tout a positive margin against the closing number. The first team is Tarleton State. The second is Loyola. The Greyhounds are due.
Photo byMitchell Layton/Getty Images.
DePaul at St. John’s Over 147.5 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Pace, pace, pace.
The Johnnies play at the 18th-quickest pace in the country; and as a result, two-thirds of their games have hit the over.
DePaul, on the other hand, plays at an average pace and has been an under-bettor’s dream (11-2) on the season. The Blue Demons’ secret? The Big East is littered with snails. DePaul played Butler (322nd in pace), UConn (292nd), Providence (233rd), and Seton Hall (225th) two times apiece this season, driving down their scores and sportsbooks’ perception of them.
The last time the Blue Demons and the Red Storm locked horns, the total hit 149 without the benefit of late game fouls. It also cleared the current number (147.5) despite the teams’ combined effort from beyond the arc (11-43, 25.5%) and 15 missed free throws. What that says to me is that these teams are capable of a lot more than they showed in Round 1.
But when push comes to shove, this over is reliant on Mike Anderson’s bunch. Can they score 80 or more? Absolutely. The Johnnies have won seven of eight, and during that run they’ve averaged 82 points per game. Posh Alexander has been locking down opposing point guards, but DePaul’s offense will live or die with transfer wing Javon Freeman-Liberty. Two games ago, Freeman-Liberty went for 26 points, and he gave St. John’s 16 in their first meeting.
Of course, Freeman-Liberty must first clear concussion protocol after missing the team’s previous game vs. Seton Hall on Wednesday. There has been no official report on his status for Saturday’s game as of writing. Monitor Freeman-Liberty’s status leading up to tipoff; if he’s a full go, then I like DePaul to chip in 70 in this one while aiding the over.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
McGrath’s Top Player Prop Bet
Miles McBride (West Virginia) Under 16.5 Points vs. Texas | 3 p.m. ET
McBride has been on a tear recently. In his last three games, McBride has scored 31 points vs. Kansas, 20 points vs. Texas Tech and 19 points vs. Oklahoma. He’s hit over 16.5 points in five of his last seven games.
However, McBride does not have a great history with Texas.
In three career games against the Longhorns, McBride has only averaged 7.7 points per game on 39% shooting from the field. In those three games, he’s turned the ball over five times versus three total assists.
For as talented as the Ohio native is, McBride simply struggles with the Longhorns excellent defense. In the first meeting between West Virginia and Texas earlier this season, the Longhorns limited McBride to 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Even more glaring, McBride shot a paltry 2-for-8 from inside the arc.
In another loss to Texas late last season, McBride managed just 2 points on 1-for-4 shooting in 13 minutes. In fairness, he did begin that game on the bench; nonetheless, it is another underwhelming performance against the Longhorns.
McBride has been awesome this season, but I believe that he is going to struggle to score efficiently on Saturday afternoon. I predict that McBride will put up 10 to 12 points while the Mountaineers search for other answers on offense.
Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
Calabrese’s Top Exotic Bet
The “Mid-Majors Who Love Home Cooking” Parlay (+600):
- Niagara +4 vs. Siena, 12 p.m. ET
- Florida A&M -4 vs. North Carolina A&T, 4 p.m. ET
- Belmont -21 vs. Tennessee Tech, 5 p.m. ET
The Purple Eagles, Rattlers and Bruins have been phenomenal at home since 2019, with all three programs boasting ATS winning percentages in excess of 70%.
Belmont Bruins | 23-1 (17-0 in OVC)
Belmont has home blowouts of 18, 52, 13, and 20 in its immediate rear window and a 5-1 home cover streak ongoing. Furthermore, the Bruins covered with ease as 12.5-point road favorites vs. Tennessee Tech on Jan. 14 (W, 88-67).
Don’t be afraid of this big number when backing the nation’s sixth-most efficient offense.
Florida A&M Rattlers | 4-8 (3-2 in MEAC)
Florida A&M endured a murderers’ row to start the season, facing off against five power-conference opponents before settling into MEAC play. In the friendly confines of the Al Lawson Center, the Rattlers are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS against MEAC foes.
I’m also encouraged by their previous game against NC A&T, which they lost by 2 points. Florida A&M held a 19-point halftime lead before wilting the second half.
A little home cooking should be enough for them to flirt with an outright win in this one.
Niagara Purple Eagles | 7-9 (6-8 in MAAC)
Niagara is almost always a safe bet at home, but this is more of a play predicated on fading Siena.
Despite their talented roster, the Saints are only playing .500 ball ATS on the road, with an outright loss to Marist just at the end of last month. Siena is also coming off of a long layoff (20 days) and facing a Niagara team that has finally identified it’s go-to scorer (Kobi Nwandu).
Bank on Niagara to complete this parlay as Siena hops on the NYS Thruway for a long intrastate road trip (5 hours by bus).