Saturday NCAAB Odds, Picks: Stuckey’s 7 Spots, Featuring Texas vs. Tennessee
Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images. Pictured: Timmy Allen (Texas)
- It's Saturday, which means Stuckey is back for another day of his situational spots.
- The Action Network betting expert is targeting seven matchups in college basketball on January 28.
- Dive in now and formulate your own college hoops betting card based on his thoughts.
For those who are new here, I share my favorite circled spots for each Saturday college hoops card. I write this article before openers (referenced below) have settled once limits open up, so make sure to follow along in the Action Network App to see what I end up betting.
Saturday features the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. I’m taking an overall general stance (with an exception or two) that the Big 12 is significantly better than the SEC — relative to market perception, which is ultimately what matters.
I believe the bottom of the loaded Big 12 will be undervalued, in particular, while the top of the SEC may be a bit overvalued.
That will be a general theme in four of the seven spots I highlight below, with one exception. I could look really smart, although the more likely outcome based on history is the alternative.
Let’s dive in.
YTD: 8-4 +3.67 units
Noon ET on ESPN
First off, this West Virginia team is much better than its record indicates. Not only does it play in the loaded Big 12, it has played a nation-leading 12 Quad 1 games (and zero Quad 2 games).
Meanwhile, Auburn is a whole different animal at home. On the road, its guards tend to play much more erratic and force a much higher frequency of poor jump shots.
However, I faded the Tigers in The Jungle the other night against Texas A&M. Why? The Tigers struggle in three primary areas (in addition to shooting the 3):
- Vulnerable to offensive rebounds (284th in defensive rebounding rate)
- Turnover prone (233rd in turnover rate)
- Foul too much (295th in FTA/FGA)
Well, Texas A&M excels on the offensive glass, in turning opponents over and in getting to the line.
Guess what? So does West Virginia. Here are the national ranks for the ‘Eers in each of those aforementioned categories:
- 25th in offensive rebounding rate
- 36th in defensive turnover rate
- 10th in free-throw attempt rate
That spells trouble for the Tigers, who will be walking into one of the biggest home-court advantages in the country.
Noon ET on ESPN2
This is the ugly dog of the day. After their latest meltdown in a double-digit loss at Boston College, the Cardinals have inexplicably dropped to No. 300 on KenPom heading into the weekend.
So, why do I have this dumpster fire circled for Saturday?
Well, the biggest problem (among a laundry list of others) for Louisville has been turnovers. It ranks 361st in the country in turnover rate.
For reference, there are just 363 D-I teams. Only Delaware State and Florida A&M have higher turnover rates on the season.
Well, Louisville might get a break on Saturday in South Bend because the Notre Dame defense also ranks 361st in turnover rate. Only North Florida and San Jose State force a fewer percentage.
The Irish simply don’t pressure the ball.
Now, Louisville will still turn it over on pure mindless basketball, but it should happen less frequently, in theory, in this particular matchup.
The Irish also will mix in quite a bit of zone, and the Cardinals have actually had better success against zone vs. man this season.
The Notre Dame defense also continues to struggle, so Louisville should have some opportunities for easy buckets, thanks to its athleticism advantage at a number of positions.
2 ET on ESPN
Your buy-low, sell-high special is here. This is the ultimate test of my theory that the top of the SEC has benefited from a weak bottom of the league, while the bottom of the Big 12 has suffered from an incredible top of the conference.
While Alabama has won nine straight, Oklahoma has lost three in a row, including a 27-point embarrassing defeat at TCU in its most recent outing.
This game is absolutely massive for the Sooners’ tournament resume. After that effort in Fort Worth, you’d expect a fully-focused squad in this spot.
Alabama also doesn’t force a ton of turnovers, which have absolutely killed this Sooners offense far too often. If the Sooners can actually get into their offense, it’s a very efficient unit against man defense.
Underlying shot data also suggests Oklahoma has had poor luck in recent weeks, while the opposite is true for Alabama (teams are shooting 21.7% from deep in SEC play). Therefore, the shooting regression could tilt in Oklahoma’s favor here.
This game features a true pace clash. While Alabama ranks fourth nationally in Adjusted Tempo, Oklahoma ranks 325th. The Sooners want to play a slow, methodical game.
I’m banking on Oklahoma controlling the tempo at home, which will be easier with a reduced turnover rate — since the Sooners won’t go after any offensive rebounds.
2 ET on ESPN+
UNC Asheville has arguably been the luckiest team in the country. It does have one of the better players many have never heard of in Drew Pember.
The former Tennessee transfer can go for 48 on any given night, as he did in the Bulldogs’ most recent victory in overtime.
However, I don’t think they can keep relying on his heroics to save them with crazy comebacks and positive overtime variance.
This is a team that has come back to win countless times after trailing by double digits in the second half. There’s a reason why they rank No. 1 in the KenPom Luck metric.
Look no further than the first meeting between these two clubs, when Asheville staged a monumental comeback from 18 points down in the second half.
I’m sure Campbell has this one circled after that meltdown. Plus, I think the Camels match up quite well. The sets Asheville likes to run don’t really take advantage of the schematic weaknesses of Campbell.
Also, unlike the Bulldogs, the Camels want to play a grinding style in low-scoring affairs. They were able to do that in the first meeting, which ended 58-55.
That gives me even more confidence that they can make this their type of game once again at home.
Lastly, UNC Asheville has also been lucky from a shooting splits perspective in league play. Against Big South foes, it has shot 38.5% from deep while holding opponents to 29.6%.
That’s just not sustainable, especially compared to my season-long projections.
Regression looms in the favor of Campbell, which has shot sub-30% from deep in conference play.
2 ET on ESPNU
Of all the Big 12-SEC matchups on Saturday, this is the least appetizing by a country mile. These two teams are in the midst of nasty losing streaks.
LSU has lost seven in a row — six of those seven by double digits — with the most lopsided coming in embarrassing fashion in a 106-66 defeat at the hands of rival Alabama.
In their most recent loss, the Tigers could only muster 40 total points against Arkansas.
Things have gone from bad to worse in Baton Rouge.
Meanwhile, you could argue things have gone even worse for Texas Tech. While LSU at least has a conference win, the Red Raiders have started off 0-8 in Big 12 play.
However, unlike LSU, Texas Tech has been much more competitive overall during this skid. Six of the eight losses have come by 10 points or less.
With a tie out of the question, something has to give. Which team will break its losing streak on Saturday?
Well, as you might have guessed, I’m rolling with Texas Tech, which I believe is undervalued right now after simply falling victim to the Big 12 gauntlet.
Plus, most of the underlying metrics suggest the Red Raiders have been unlucky and are due for some positive regression.
Conversely, LSU has just been downright dreadful across the board with no hope in sight. Things just continue to get bleaker, and I can only fade the Tigers until I see any signs of life.
From a matchup perspective, Texas Tech grades out well in pick-and-roll, transition and offensive put-backs. That’s good news against an LSU defense that struggles in all three categories.
The Tigers do excel in guarding spot-up shooters, but that’s not a strength of the Red Raiders, so that strength is neutralized in a way.
On the other side of the ball, LSU has major turnover problems, which spells doom against a Tech defense that ranks 34th in turnover rate.
If you just want to get a feel for the disparity in where these two teams currently stand, remove the records and focus on the 2P% offense and defense. Texas Tech ranks 29th and 109th in 2P% offense and defense, respectively. Meanwhile, LSU ranks a paltry 275th and 291st. Yikes.
Not only is this a conference mismatch and a matchup advantage for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders will also have the coaching edge here as well, in my opinion.
Give me the Red Raiders — who have at least shown life during this losing streak vs. superior competition — against the lifeless Tigers.
2 ET on ESPN2
This is likely the only game I will be fading the Big 12. This is also one of the best coaching matchups of the day.
First off, I’m selling high on this Iowa State team that just had a pretty big home win against Kansas State. I just believe this is about the top of the market for the Cyclones.
They are very well-coached and play unbelievable connected defense, but they’ve also shot over their heads during league play (39.1% from beyond the arc, which leads the Big 12).
Also, from a matchup perspective, Missouri will utilize zone (18% of the time) and press (36% of the time) looks on defense. Both of those rates rank in the top-40 nationally, with its press rate sitting at 15th.
That spells trouble for an Iowa State squad that ranks in the 18th and 20th percentiles in points per possession against zone and press, respectively, per Synergy.
Lastly, in a battle of two defenses that rank in the top-10 nationally in turnover rate, the Missouri offense does a much better job of taking care of the ball. The Tigers rank 29th in turnover rate on offense, while Iowa State ranks 178th.
I do worry a bit about Iowa State cleaning up on the offensive glass, but I think Missouri will control the tempo, turning this into a more up-tempo game, which it clearly prefers.
The Cyclones, who rank outside the top 300 in Adjusted Tempo, would much rather ugly up a game against the high-flying Tigers, who should get another incredible home crowd for this one.
6 ET on ESPN
Another bet on a Big 12 team for me against the class of the SEC.
On our Big Bets on Campus podcast, I’ve recently talked about regression coming Tennessee’s way on the defensive end. The Vols undoubtedly have an elite defense, but teams will eventually start making shots against them.
For the season, opponents have shot only 21.6% from beyond the 3-point line. For reference, Norfolk State holds the single-season record of 25.3%, which it set back in 2005.
The Vols’ defense is great, but it’s not some earth-shattering scheme we’ve never seen before.
To further illustrate just how fortunate Tennessee has been from that perspective, opponents can’t even make an open jumper. Per Synergy, opponents have shot 25.2% on unguarded jumpers, which is the lowest in the country (just ahead of Iowa State, whose regression I mentioned earlier).
The expected field goal percentage on those jumpers? 37.4%.
Now, the Vols’ length has something to do with that — as does the fact that the SEC has so many poor shooting teams (another reason why I think the Vols’ defense might be a bit overrated) — but they’ve still been fortunate.
Regression certainly looms.
And while Texas isn’t the most elite 3-point shooting team, it has very capable perimeter shooters who can knock down open jumpers with regularity.
I’ll happily take the points here with a veteran team that is already battle-tested in hostile environments this season.
Don’t forget the Tennessee offense can be a bit turnover prone, which is not a recipe for success against the Horns.
How would you rate this article?
This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.