College Basketball Best Bets: 3 Top Picks for Saturday’s Slate

College Basketball Best Bets: 3 Top Picks for Saturday’s Slate article feature image

Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images. Pictured: Judah Mintz (Syracuse)

  • College football's Week 13 takes center stage, but that doesn't mean there isn't value to be had on Saturday in college hoops.
  • Our staff is targeting three games, including Syracuse hosting Bryant at the Carrier Dome.
  • So, dive in and get set for another big day of hoops.

College football is in the final full week of its regular season, but that doesn't mean we should ignore college hoops on Saturday.

That's especially the case when there's plenty of value on the board.

Our staff is diving in and providing you with three best bets for Saturday's NCAAB slate.

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 Saturday's slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

9:30 a.m. ET
Army -1.5
2:30 p.m. ET
Under 134.5
4 p.m. ET
Bryant +9.5
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.

Manhattan vs. Army

Saturday, Nov. 26
9:30 a.m. ET
Army -1.5

By Patrick Strollo

Army and Manhattan will be meeting in the consolation game after each team lost in the opening round of the inaugural London Basketball Classic.

Princeton was victorious over Army in the opening round — winning 74-66 — but Army did cover the nine-point spread in that contest.

Northeastern was able to outlast Manhattan and advance to the championship round, emerging the winner, 69-67, after an overtime session. Manhattan covered as 3.5-point dogs in the contest.

Army has strong veteran presence in Jalen Rucker, Charlie Peterson and Chris Mann, although the story of this early season has been the emergence of freshman Coleton Benson.

Mann has been a standout so far for the Black Knights, leading the team in scoring (17.5 PPG), and is tied for third in rebounding (5.2/game).

Benson, the Patriot League Rookie of the Week, has made an immediate impact, averaging 14.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

Army will look to come out with a very similar game plan to the one it featured against Princeton in the first round of the tournament. That game plan features an up-tempo brand of basketball.

The Black Knights are one of the better scoring teams in the nation, as measured by effective field goal percentage (54.3%).

Also, through six games, Army has been a force on the defensive glass, pulling down 79% of available rebounds. The Black Knights are ranked 23rd nationally in defensive rebounds.

I am projecting Army as 3.5-point favorites, and I expect the veteran leadership of the Black Knights to get the win and cover in London.

Look for Benson to have a big game and the disciplined Army team to be ready to run.

Pick: Army -1.5 (Play to -2.5)

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Kent State vs. Houston

Saturday, Nov. 26
2:30 p.m. ET
Under 134.5

By D.J. James

Houston has quite the test on Saturday against a tough mid-major in Kent State.

The Golden Flashes rank 88th in KenPom coming into this matchup.

Meanwhile, Houston has looked like the best team in the country thus far. Kelvin Sampson has his troops out to a 5-0 start, including a win over Oregon.

That said, the total is the line to target in this game due to how Houston dominates each game with pace and defense.

Houston has the third-best Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, according to KenPom. Yes, the Cougars have the ninth overall offense, but they utilize 18.8 seconds per possession on offense and 18.1 seconds per possession on the defensive end.

Kent State usually pushes the pace (55th-fastest tempo), but it’s more of a 3-point shooting team than a fast break threat. So far, the Golden Flashes are shooting nearly 40% from downtown.

Houston should be able to mitigate the damage, though. The Cougars are holding opponents to less than 20% from deep on the season. Teams are also shooting a paltry 40.2% on 2-pointers vs. the Cougars.

This defense is ferocious and the length in the backcourt should cause some issues for the Golden Flashes.

Finally, Houston may foul a ton because it’s a defensive-minded program, but Kent State rarely drives to get to the line. The Flashes rank 148th in FTA/FGA, so this will feed into less fouling for Houston on defense.

All of these factors eliminate opportunities for Kent State to score. Houston matches up well and should hold the Golden Flashes to fewer than 60 points.

Pick: Under 134.5 (Play to 130)

Bryant vs. Syracuse

Saturday, Nov. 26
4 p.m. ET
Bryant +9.5

By Tanner McGrath

Bryant boasts tremendous talent. It starts with elite bucket-getter Charles Pride, but extends to Sherif Gross-Bullock, Earl Timberlake and down the roster.

Currently, five Bulldogs are averaging double digits in scoring, and another two are averaging at least seven.

It’s not surprising. Jared Grasso has turned Bryant into a mid-major powerhouse by running an up-tempo, shot-happy offense.

However, the bigger question was how the team’s early-season chemistry would be. Bryant is integrating four new starters into the lineup and four new transfers into reserve minutes. Every player is an experienced transfer, but not all the pieces will fit the puzzle on the first go.

That became obvious against Florida Atlantic, when Bryant ran into 21 turnovers and shot 38.1% from 2-point range against a battle-tested Owls squad.

However, I have been eyeing this spot against Syracuse since non-conference schedules were released in the summer.

I don’t believe in Syracuse. Jim Boeheim is past his prime, and I’m not sure how eager he is to work with his new roster. The Orange currently have five freshmen running key minutes, which resulted in losses to Colgate and St. John’s, alongside an overtime win over Richmond.

So, Bryant is dealing with chemistry issues, but Syracuse is 283rd in experience while Bryant is 38th. That negates that angle.

More importantly, however, is that Grasso runs his own zone defense. Bryant goes zone more than 94% of Division I college teams.

That means Bryant practices against the zone every day.

If there’s one thing this flux team knows how to do, it’s how to carve up a zone defense, and the trigger-happy Bulldogs will shoot over Boeheim six ways to Sunday.

Meanwhile, Grasso’s own zone defense should work well against a Syracuse team severely missing the Boeheim brothers. Syracuse is 343rd in 3-point rate this season, and I don’t know how it creates offense against a team that begs you to take the outside shot.

Also, Syracuse’s zone never leads to good rebounding numbers. Meanwhile, Grasso has figured out zone rebounding to some degree, as the Bulldogs rank top-50 nationally in both offensive and defensive rebounding rates this season.

This is the spot Bryant puts it all together, as the matchup is too favorable for a talented but-transfer-laden team not to flourish. I don’t see Bryant losing this game by double digits.

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