College Basketball Odds & Picks: The Best Bets to Make for Wednesday’s Afternoon Games, Including Siena vs. Iona (March 10)
Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Pickett.
- Conference tournament season means early basketball all week.
- That's true today, as our staff broke down plenty of games before the sun goes down.
- Check out each pick complete with a full breakdown and odds below.
The best part about conference tournament season is watching basketball all day, every day for a week — or longer — straight.
That’s no different today.
Our staff came up with two bets to get bettors through the early part of the afternoon before things really pick up when the sun goes down.
It starts with the Big Sky battle between Northern Arizona and Portland State at 2 p.m. ET before Georgetown and Marquette tips off in the Big East Tournament. Then, Siena vs. Iona play in the MAAC Tournament at 5 p.m. ET.
But there’s more coming, so buckle in and get ready for a good night full of hoops.
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Northern Arizona vs. Portland State
By Ky McKeon
If you’re a Northern Arizona backer and a believer in coach quotes, then you’re going to love what Shane Burcar had to say about his team heading into today’s matchup (quotes courtesy of NAU Athletics).
“We re-energized mentally and physically.”
“We got back to the basics and tried to keep things as simple as possible and the guys’ attitudes have been unbelievable.”
“I truly don’t believe we’re a 10 seed. The truth is it’s a second season. It’s a chance to have a little March Madness.”
Yeah, I’m loving all of that from Burcar, a young up-and-comer who defied all logic last year by leading his Lumberjacks to a 10-10 finish in Big Sky play.
NAU had a rough 2020-21 season due to COVID-19, but all indications point to the Jacks being at full strength and raring to go in the Big Sky Tournament.
Portland State is a talented team, but this line is just way too high.
NAU has a first-team All-Big Sky performer in Cam Shelton handling the ball, a junior leader who is liable to drop 30 points on any given night. Great guards shine in March, and Shelton is a great guard.
The Jacks also have a ton of size to battle the bulky Vikes of PSU. Keeping Portland State off the glass will be priority number one for NAU — forwards Nik Mains and Carson Towt will have their work cut out for them, but they’re capable of holding their own in the paint and battling with the likes of Khalid Thomas and Amari McCray.
Shooting, ball handling, and pace will also be keys to victory (or at least covering) for the Jacks. NAU is the third-best outside shooting team in the Big Sky, great news when going against a PSU team that is very stout inside the paint.
Shelton is one of the surest ball handlers in the conference — heck, I’d go so far as to say the country — which should help mitigate that PSU pressure which the Vikes rely on to cause turnovers and transition opportunities the other way.
Pace-wise, NAU needs to control the tempo. The Jacks rank 344th in tempo and will look to slow this game down to a crawl. Limiting possessions is key against a team looking to run, especially with a fairly high spread given the relatively low total (131 points).
Finally, NAU’s main weakness this year has been on the defensive end. Good offensive teams have repeatedly crushed it on this end, but PSU is anything but a good offensive team. The Vikings rank 315th in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom and 10th in the Big Sky — they won’t be able to take advantage of the oft-anemic NAU defense.
Georgetown vs. Marquette
By Mike Randle
The argument for Marquette is that it has won four of the past five games, including three road games. However, with a 13-13 overall record (8-11 in conference play), the Golden Eagles being favored by 3.5 points provides too much value for Georgetown.
The Hoyas enter this game with a much more balanced offensive attack than in their first meeting on Jan. 2.
Marquette won that matchup, 64-60, at Georgetown but did not have to deal with Hoyas forward Chudier Bile.
The 6-foot-7 junior has averaged 16.7 PPG over Georgetown’s last three contests, giving the Hoyas another option along with guard Jahvon Blair (15.9 PPG) forward Jamorko Pickett (12.7 PPG) and center Qudus Wahab (12 PPG, 8.1 RPG).
Marquette relies on interior scoring for 53% of its points (fourth-most in Big East play), which is the Hoyas’ defensive strength. Georgetown also shoots 36.6% (56th best) from deep, while Marquette has allowed conference opponents to shoot 37% from deep.
In a toss-up game, I’ll take the Hoyas +3.5 in a game they have a great chance of winning.
Siena vs. Iona
The Iona Gaels opened as small favorites against the top-seeded Siena Saints in the MAAC quarterfinals.
Rick Pitino’s squad missed 51 days during the season due to COVID-19 protocols and played just 14 games. Before Iona’s win over Quinnipiac on Tuesday, the Gaels hadn’t played for another 17 days due to more positive COVID-19 tests. They will be matching up against a Siena team that won the MAAC regular-season title in back-to-back years.
The Saints have the best player on the floor in Jalen Pickett, who earned 2019 MAAC Player Of the Year honors. He has had a bit of a down season but recorded his best game of the year last time out, putting up 23 points, eight assists, and five rebounds.
Manny Camper has really picked up the slack for Siena this season, averaging a double-double with 14.6 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. The Saints’ four losses this season have come by a combined 10 points total.
Iona showed a lot of rust in the first half against Quinnipiac, shooting just 32% from the field while making just 1-of-3 attempts from 3. The Gaels were near flawless in the second half, but some of that may have been contributed from Quinnipiac completely lying down.
The sluggish start was concerning for me, and I think the wrong team is favored in this game. I’m backing Siena as a small dog and think that chemistry will play a big difference in this game.