College Basketball Odds, Picks: Our Staff’s 5 Best Bets for Saturday, Including Kansas vs. Texas Tech
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Obanor (Texas Tech)
- A Saturday in early January means a day of wall-to-wall college basketball action.
- Our staff is taking advantage with five best bets for the day, including Texas Tech vs. Kansas.
- Check out all five of our best bets for Saturday's college hoops slate below.
Welcome! For the first time this season, we have a Saturday college basketball slate without football.
We’ve been putting together this hoops best bets file on a near-daily basis since the start of the new campaign, and we’re excited to see college basketball beginning to gain some national traction as we inch closer to March.
While the National Championship game between Alabama and Georgia is still on deck on Monday in college football, we have a loaded slate in hoops that can’t be overlooked this weekend.
That’s where our staff comes into play. Regardless of if you’re a daily reader or just getting into the thick of the season, below you can find five best bets from five of our writers to help you build your Saturday college basketball betting card.
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.|
Virginia vs. North Carolina
Sometimes when your bets are so ugly, you hit at your highest rate. If only that was true with the ladies for how ugly I am, then I wouldn’t be the seventh wheel on my snowboarding trip today. Oh well, I digress.
Speaking of ugly, it has not been pretty for the ACC this year. We are half-jokingly staring down the barrel of it being a one-bid league come March.
The major cause of this is the ACC elites — not named Duke — have been a shell of their former selves, showing no signs of consistency or being able to beat other conference elites. Two of them that fit into the mold are facing off, as Virginia travels to UNC.
UNC has kept its identity from previous seasons intact for the most part — a run-and-gun, crash the boards, 3-point shooting team. The offense has been top-notch, ranking 18th in AdjO, per KenPom. The Heels are also at the top of the ACC in scoring and 3-point percentage.
The glaring weakness of the Heels has been their defense. This unit is bad, very bad. They recently made the Notre Dame offense look great in their last game, a 78-73 loss. The Tar Heels currently rank 77th in AdjD.
Virginia, on the other hand, has been a major disappointment. After hovering around the top of the ACC in recent years, the Cavs have drastically fallen off of a cliff this year. Known for one of the best defenses and most efficient offenses in basketball, both sides have been non-existent for Virginia this season.
While ranking 78th in AdjO, Virginia is near dead last in 3-point percentage. That is a huge blow for a team that relies on milking the clock until it finds its best shot on limited possessions.
I believe this is a get-right game for the Tar Heels, capitalizing on a weakened Virginia squad that can not hit the broad side of a barn. Pair that with an eased-up defense allowing UNC to get more open looks than it usually does against the Cavaliers, and I will roll with the Heels.
Pick: UNC -6
Maine vs. Stony Brook
I have been waiting for the opportunity to fade Stony Brook, and I believe this is my spot.
After a dominant offseason, the world was ready to crown Stony Brook as transfer portal champions. Well, at least the general New England area.
At 8-5 with wins over Yale and Hofstra, the Seawolves have been excellent. They were also the preseason coaches pick to win the America East. However, I’m just not convinced.
For starters, ShotQuality sees major regression coming for Stony Brook. Their metrics have Stony Brook with a 5-8 record — as opposed to an 8-5 record — and there are a few reasons why.
First, Stony Brook is among the top-115 teams in both 3-point shooting and 3-point defense. This team has shooters, but the Seawolves are also undersized in the backcourt. I don’t believe these numbers are sustainable.
That’s even more true when you consider Stony Brook is among the bottom 10 teams in 2-point defense and sub-200 in defensive turnover rate. This is a below-average defensive team that is getting lucky from the perimeter.
Now, Maine is a disgustingly bad basketball team — one that has yet to record a Division-I victory. But the Black Bears will play on the interior with Richard Barron’s slow progression offense, and that exploits the Seawolves’ lackadaisical interior defense.
Moreover, Maine has sneakily covered in three straight games — against Merrimack, Rutgers and NJIT. Meanwhile, the regression train is slowly entering Stony Brook station, as the Seawolves have failed to cover in two straight.
Stony Brook could also be looking ahead to a massive road contest against Vermont next Wednesday. A victory there would shake the foundation of the America East to its core.
Geno Ford & Co. should be sleeping in this spot, so I love the Black Bears to keep it within 16.
Pick: Maine +15.5 (Play to +12.5)
Villanova vs. DePaul
By Doug Ziefel
This handicap is very black and white. The Villanova Wildcats have found their form and looked exactly as many expected them to through the last three conference games.
The latest win was an exacting of revenge on the Creighton Bluejays, as they won by a score of 75-41, certainly making up for their loss earlier in the season.
Jay Wright has his boys well-coached, and it is showing as the Wildcats are 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Now, they’re going to face a DePaul team that is trending in the wrong direction. The Blue Demons have looked outmatched in their first three Big East games despite the best efforts of Javon Freeman-Liberty.
This matchup has all the makings of a game where Nova takes care of business against the bottom of the conference.
In fact, Wright has been great when on the road at Wintrust Arena.
According to our Bet Labs database, Villanova is 8-4 to the spread since 2006 when visiting DePaul. This number is at least a possession too low, as the Wildcats should take this one by double digits.
I would be confident playing any number under 10.
Pick: Villanova -7.5 (Play to -9.5)
IUPUI vs. Wright State
This is a large spread, but I don’t think it’s large enough.
Wright State is 7-7 on the season and averaging 74 points per game while allowing opponents to record just 66.2 per contest. The Raiders have also been the 60th-best shooting team in college basketball, hitting at a 46.2% rate from the floor.
The Raiders are one of the fastest teams in college basketball, as well, ranking 54th in adjusted tempo. And at the free throw line, they have been one of the best in the sport, hitting at 78.1% as a team.
Don’t let their .500 record fool you, the Raiders played a tough non-conference schedule to begin the season, and most of those games came on the road. The Raiders are 4-1 in conference and are 5-1 at home.
The Jaguars, meanwhile, are not just 1-10 on the season, they are 2-8 ATS. Being a 19.5-point underdog isn’t unfamiliar territory for IUPUI either, as it has failed to cover as underdogs of 14.5 and 15.5 points.
They did cover as a 25.5-point dog to begin the season, but that came against a crosstown rival in Butler.
IUPUI has also had its last three games canceled due to COVID-19 issues, and I expect it to struggle even more than usual as it shakes off the rust. The Jaguars have not played a game since December 21st.
They rank outside the top-300 in nearly every offensive category, per KenPom, and are one of the slowest teams in college basketball. The Jaguars will struggle to even keep up with Wright State at either end of the floor.
Lay the points with the Raiders as high as 23.
Pick: Wright State -19.5 (Play to -23)
Kansas vs. Texas Tech
Texas Tech has played its four biggest games — and really only four games against level competition — in a neutral or road environment this season.
This is the first big home game of the Mark Adams era in Lubbock, and despite being shorthanded, the Red Raiders were really unlucky to lose to Iowa State based on the quality of shots generated at both ends of the floor.
The Texas Tech defense allows teams to shoot a ton of 3s, more than almost any team in the country. Only Syracuse and UNC Greensboro allow more.
The Red Raiders prioritize elite interior defense, rebounding and use their length to disrupt shooting from the perimeter. Denying the middle and the mid-range while forcing Kansas to shoot over the top is the way to slow down this Jayhawks offense.
The Jayhawks’ offense does appear to have a bit of regression coming in the half court, too. Both Ochai Agbaji and Remy Martin — the Jayhawks’ highest volume shooters — are shooting well above their 2020-21 numbers.
You’d expect some improvement, but Martin has jumped from a career 34% 3-point shooter to nearly 40% this season. Agbaji is one of the best players in the country, but his jump from 37% to 45% seems unsustainable at this point in the year.
For a team that hasn’t really been tested in a while, this is a good spot to fade Kansas and take Texas Tech to keep this competitive.