Wednesday College Basketball Odds & Picks: Our 6 Best Bets for Alabama vs. Arkansas, Temple vs. South Florida, More (Feb. 24)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: John Petty
- Alabama and Arkansas headline Wednesday night's college basketball slate, but there's plenty more opportunities for action.
- Find out why Temple vs. South Florida, South Carolina vs. Mississippi State and two more games feature our analysts' favorite picks of the day.
A top-25 clash of two SEC teams will close out Wednesday’s college basketball slate with No. 20 Arkansas hosting No. 6 Alabama at Bud Walton.
Our staff highlighted their six favorite bets across five games on Wednesday, including two angles on Alabama-Arkansas. Check out their full analysis below.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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South Carolina vs. Mississippi State
By Pat McMahon
I consider this as a great opportunity to buy low on the Gamecocks while also selling high on the Bulldogs following their upset win over Ole Miss.
South Carolina has lost five straight and is 1-4 against the spread over that stretch. The Gamecocks’ issues are mainly on the defensive end, where they’ve given up 84.6 points per game over this losing streak. Injuries have also been a big factor, as Jermaine Couisnard and Justin Minaya were each injured in the loss to Ole Miss on Feb. 13. They both missed the Tennessee game, but Minaya returned to action against Missouri this past Saturday.
Since a really poor shooting night in their 76-59 loss to Mississippi State on Feb. 6, the South Carolina offense has been a lot better. The Gamecocks have averaged 75.8 points over their last four, and shot the ball well against Alabama and Tennessee, two of the SEC’s best defensive teams. Couisnard — the team’s assist leader and third leading scorer — is questionable for Wednesday night. If he’s able to go, it’ll be a big boost for an offense that’s faired pretty well without him.
Mississippi State is a mediocre offensive team and benefited from an outstanding shooting night in the first matchup with South Carolina. The Bulldogs shot 46% from the floor and a ridiculous 53% from 3, hitting 10-of-19 attempts from beyond the arc. Even though South Carolina doesn’t defend the 3 very well, another shooting performance that great is highly unlikely in the rematch.
Another reason to like South Carolina is because of Mississippi State’s struggles as a favorite: The Bulldogs are 0-5 ATS and 1-4 straight up as a favorite in SEC play this season. Frank Martin’s teams don’t quit, and I like the Gamecocks to give the Bulldogs a good fight in a spot where everyone will be counting them out.
Pick: South Carolina +6.5 (to +5.5)
Temple vs. South Florida
Temple travels south to face off against South Florida for the second time in four days. The Bulls covered the 1.5-point spread in the first matchup, winning 83-76. The spread has jumped up to 4.5 for the rematch and the market may be overreacting to the previous meeting.
Temple shot 44.0% from the field in the first matchup, converting 10-of-22 attempts from behind the arc. USF had no answers for Khalif Battle, who scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The issue was that the Owls turned the ball over 17 times, which allowed the Bulls to get 17 more shot attempts up, converting on 27-of-67 field goals in the game.
South Florida ranks second-to-last in the AAC in 2-point field goal percentage at 43.0%. The Bulls allow AAC opponents to hit shots at a 51.4% clip, which is worst in the conference. They turn the ball over on 20.7% of their possessions, which is higher than Temple.
The first game was a back-and-forth contest in which Temple was within six points for the vast majority of the second half before South Florida hit a couple of timely shots to ultimately win by seven. I expect this game to be at a similar flow and would make this number close to 3.5-4. I’m taking the points and backing Temple in what I expect to be another close game.
Chattanooga vs. Mercer
By Mike Randle
The public will often overreact to recent results, which is what has occurred with Mercer vs. Chattanooga. The Bears are coming off an impressive 88-52 home win over Citadel while the Mocs suffered a 60-55 loss at UNC Greensboro.
In this matchup, I’m taking the points with Chattanooga.
The Mocs have a balanced scoring attack, generating an equal amount of offense via 3P, 2P and free throws. Chattanooga ranks first among all teams in offensive turnover percentage, which is an amplified advantage against a Mercer team that ranks 278th in forced turnovers on defense.
Mercer ranks 259th in 2-point defense and has shown vulnerability at home. The Bears have lost three of their last five home games and are just 2-7 at home ATS. Chattanooga is 14-7 overall ATS, including 9-3 in road games.
Senior guard Darius Banks (11.1 PPG) had just returned from injury in their first meeting, won by the Mocs 83-80. His return has fortified a starting lineup that had won six straight games including road wins at Wofford and East Tennessee State.
Per our College Basketball PRO Report, Chattanooga checks off three key signals: Sharp Action, Big Money and Model Projections. I’m taking the points for a Mocs team that has proved their road resilience in SoCon play.
Tulane vs. Memphis
Memphis will play for the first time since Feb. 6 because of COVID-19 related issues that caused four consecutive games to be canceled. The Tigers were on a roll before the interruption, winning 6-of-7 in AAC play.
Since the start of the calendar year, teams coming off a break of 17 or more days are winning at a 41% clip against the spread.
This is a total mismatch in ball security for the Tigers offense. They’re dead-last in AAC play in turnover percentage while the Green Wave defense is second in conference in takeaways. Tulane doesn’t send its opponents to the line often with a defensive free throw rate that ranks best in the league. There will not be any free points down the stretch for Memphis.
Scoring should be slow not just on the Tigers side, but offensively for the Green Wave, too. Tulane has gone over the posted total in only six games this season, only to be outdone by Memphis with a 14-3-1 mark to the under. There has been a trend that COVID-19 disruption equates to less defense, so the total is a no play while backing the Green Wave is the investment.
Pick: Tulane +10.5 (to +7)
Alabama vs. Arkansas
This is going to be a track meet between two of the highest tempo squads in the country.
Alabama has been running teams out of the gym — opponents can’t handle the amount of pace and weapons that Alabama throws at them offensively.
The Crimson Tide’s offensive success stems from how good they are behind the arc. They shoot 3s on 47.2% of field goal attempts, the highest rate in the SEC. Not only that, they also shoot the highest percentage in the conference at a rate north of 39%. When you combine those two things, it creates a perfect storm of points — and lots of them.
Arkansas has greatly improved on defense, but I don’t think the Razorbacks will be able to hold the Tide in check, especially since Alabama hit 15 3-pointers the last time these two met in January.
The Razorbacks have been average offensively during SEC play and it’s their offense that really let them down the last time they faced Alabama. They’re averaging 1.04 points per possession but are in the bottom-half of the conference in both 3- and 2-point shooting percentage, per KenPom. They put up only 0.76 points per possession in the first meeting against Alabama and made only four 3-pointers, so you tell me how they’re going to keep up with Alabama’s offense?
Alabama’s defense has actually been the main catalyst for the Tide’s success this season. They’re the No. 1 team in the SEC in terms of defensive efficiency, allowing only 0.92 points per possession during conference play. They don’t allow their opponents to get clean looks, and they’re first in 3-point defense and second in 2-point defense. They’ll also be ready for the amount of pace Arkansas is going to throw at them since they see it every day in practice.
I have Alabama projected as a -2.67 favorite in this matchup, so there’s plenty of value at +2, which is still available at DraftKings for -112 as of noon ET.
Pick: Alabama +2 (down to a pick’em)
Alabama vs. Arkansas (Cont.)
From a value perspective I was hoping that a Crimson Tide moneyline and over parlay would cash north of +225. When this game opened as a pick’em, that meant this contest was already in my target range, sitting at +250. But since then this spread has moved in favor of Bama backers, despite 64% of the tickets and 79% of the handle favoring Alabama as of Wednesday morning (find real-time public betting data here).
In their first meeting, Alabama blitzed Arkansas 90-59, behind 15 treys and 18 turnovers courtesy the Razorbacks. Since then, Alabama has been chugging along with a handful of quality wins and a pair of close losses on the road to nationally-ranked Oklahoma and Mizzou. Arkansas, on the other hand, has flipped the script on its season to reel off seven of eight since that humbling blowout loss to Alabama on Jan. 16.
And most pertinent to this game is the Razorbacks’ offense of late. The Hogs have been pouring in more than 80 points per game in their last three. For this parlay to cash, I imagine I’ll need at least 74 from Arkansas, a figure they’ve hit in seven of their last eight games. It doesn’t hurt that Alabama ranks sixth in pace with Arkansas nipping at their heels at 16th nationally.
This will be an up-and-down affair and Nate Oats’ squad will give Arkansas every opportunity to hoist plenty of shots to keep this total in sight all game. Alabama opponents average 62.4 shot attempts per game, which places the Tide 318th nationally in that metric.
The Tide are 2-0 as a road underdog, covering those games by an average of 20.8 points per contest, so I’m confident in Bama in this SEC showdown. Let’s hope Arkansas can hang around long enough to push this game past the closing number.
Pick: Parlay Alabama ML & Over (up to 159.5)