College Basketball Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s 4 Best Bets for Saturday, Including UT Arlington vs. Utah State (Nov. 27)
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Bean
It was another successful Feast Week, with the defending national champs winning the Battle 4 Atlantis, Wisconsin capturing the Maui Invitational and a wild field full of upset in the ESPN Events Invitational, among other results.
But before we conclude one of the great betting weeks of the year, Saturday offers a full slate of games, including one that starts at 10 a.m. ET!
Our staff is ready for the third Saturday of the college basketball season, so check out their four best bets below.
Saturday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Louisville vs. Maryland
The Louisville Cardinals (4-1) are facing the Maryland Terrapins (5-1) in the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship in Nassau, Bahamas.
Kicking off what should be an awesome day of college sports, the Cardinals are looking for their 31st regular season tournament championship.
In its first game of the Baha Mar and its first “road” game of the season, Louisville defeated Mississippi State by a score of 72-58. Leading by 28 points at one time, the Cardinals out-rebounded the Bulldogs by nine. A staunch Cardinal defense held Mississippi State to just 33.3% shooting from the field.
Junior forward Samuell Williamson led the Cardinals, scoring 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. This is the third game Williamson has reached double digits and he is the fourth player to lead Louisville in scoring this season.
Senior guard Noah Locke leads the team in scoring, averaging 13.2 points per game.
Louisville has an adjusted offensive efficiency (ADJOE) ranking of 57th in the nation, averaging 106.3 points per 100 possession.
The Cardinal defense has been outstanding thus far, ranking 27th in adjusted defensive efficiency (ADJDE) as it allows only 91.5 points per 100 possessions. Fifth-year big man Malik Williams ranks third in the ACC in rebounding and 17th in the nation in defensive boards.
Maryland needed a late surge to get past Richmond in its first game of the tournament. After trailing for most of the showdown, the Terps ended up winning by six. Four players scored in double figures for the Terps in the contest.
Maryland has been excellent on the glass this season, ranking 36th in rebound margin. Maryland has an ADJOE and ADJDE of 105.5 and 94.2, respectively.
The matchup with the Cards will not be as forgiving as the one with the Spiders, though.
Louisville has the edge on offense, as evidenced by its ADJOE and ADJDE. The Cardinals have a diverse group of scorers that will present multi-dimensional pressure for the Maryland defense.
The Cardinals’ top-ranked defense will do enough for the outright win for the tournament championship.
Given where the market is now, I recommend taking the point and a hook in Nassau.
Pick: Louisville +1.5 (Play to -1.5)
Oklahoma vs. UCF
UCF is a legitimate threat in the AAC this season.
After finishing last season on a 7-3 run, the Knights returned over 95% of their minutes played, including all five starters and their top nine scorers.
Now, UCF is 4-0 with a road win over Miami (FL). The Knights are shooting well (53.7 eFG%, 68th nationally) while forcing turnovers (24.4% defensive turnover, 30th nationally) and defending the perimeter (29.3 3P% allowed, 78th nationally).
But the most impressive stat: UCF is 29th in average possession length (15.4 seconds) and 356th in average possession length allowed (20.0). The Knights are attacking quickly and forcing long, grueling possessions on the defensive end.
A lot of that has to do with UNLV transfer Cheikh Mbacke Diong. The 6-foot-11, 235-pound big man has stepped in and become UCF’s top half-court defender (.647 points per possession allowed, 75th percentile).
It’ll be his job to contain Tanner Groves, the Eastern Washington transfer, who has become the heart and soul of Sooner basketball. Behind his 15.8 points per game on 56%/40% splits, the Sooners are one of the top offensive threats in the nation, ranking seventh in 2P% (61.2%) and 24th in efG% (56.7%).
That being said, the Sooners have been underwhelming at best. Oklahoma is 2-4 ATS and lost outright to the only KenPom top-150 team its played (No. 66 Utah State).
If Diong can contain Groves, this game should be a cakewalk for UCF.
I believe that’s exactly what will happen, and I’ll happily lay two points with the Knights down in Orlando.
Pick: UCF -1.5 (Play to -2)
UC Irvine vs. Santa Clara
The Anteaters will make the trip up north to play Santa Clara on Saturday night.
UC Irvine enters this game coming off of a blowout win, 82-48, at home against Pepperdine on Saturday, while Santa Clara had a let down 59-52 loss to Fresno State on Wednesday.
The loss to Fresno State was Santa Clara’s first loss of the season after an amazing 5-0 start that included three wins over teams in the KenPom top-100.
Meanwhile, UC Irvine has a win over 58th-ranked Boise State at home. The Anteaters have also won their last four home games, scoring an average of 88 points while giving up just 70 points on average.
Santa Clara ranks not just in the top 100 in offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom, but also ahead of UC Irvine in 3-point, 2-point and free-throw percentage.
That is why I’m taking the Santa Clara Broncos at -3.5 and would bet them up to -4.
The Anteaters have been the best team in the country in limiting opposition scoring, holding teams to just 50.3 points per game on average. However, I think this is due in large part to some of the competition they’ve faced. I also think the Broncos will be too much for the UC Irvine defense to handle.
Pick: Santa Clara -3.5 (Play to -4)
UT Arlington vs. Utah State
By Mike Randle
After an incredibly impressive four-game run en route to the Myrtle Beach Invitational Championship, Utah State returns to Logan for only its second home game of the season
With perfect symmetric efficiency on offense and defense, new head coach Ryan Odom has guided a seamless transition from former coach Craig Smith. The Aggies rank exactly 73rd in both metrics, per KenPom.
Utah State is led by senior forward Justin Bean (24 PPG, 13.8 RPG), who has posted exceptional numbers while shooting 60% from 3 and 84% from the free-throw line. He has enjoyed playing alongside UMBC 6-foot-10 transfer Brandon Horvath (15.2 PPG), who is also blistering hot from 3 this season (56.5%).
The offense is guided by Utah transfer Rylan Jones (9.6 PPG, 4.5 APG), who has disrupted opponents’ offenses with 1.5 steals per game.
UT Arlington is one of the worst offensive teams in the country, ranking 331st in adjusted offensive efficiency while shooting only 24% from 3 and 55% from the free-throw line. The Mavericks are just 1-4 on the season and 1-3 against the spread.
Despite playing a very strong schedule, Utah State is 4-1 against the number.
I’m laying the 14.5 points with an Aggies team that lost their only home game of the season, 72-69, to UC Davis. They will make amends for that against UT Arlington.