College Basketball Odds, Best Bets: 7 Picks for Saturday’s NCAAB Games, Featuring Seton Hall vs. Marquette, UTEP vs. FAU
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UTEP’s Christian Agnew.
While the NFL Divisional Round grabs the nation’s attention, we don’t forget about college hoops here at Action Network — and you shouldn’t either.
The slate is loaded on Saturday, and there’s plenty of excellent betting value to be found all over the board.
So, dive in below for our staff’s seven best bets that include the best college basketball odds for Saturday.
Our 7 College Basketball Best Bets for Saturday
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 of 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.|
TCU vs. Kansas
Since both teams are coming off a loss, this is more of an auto play on TCU as an underdog than any sort of situational spot.
This Horned Frogs corps has gone 14-5-1 ATS as an underdog over the past two seasons and generally thrives in this role. There’s just too much talent and athleticism to not fancy them catching 7.5 against pretty much anybody on any court at any time.
I also believe they match up quite well with the Jayhawks. This game features two elite transition offenses (and defenses), but I’ll take Mike Miles Jr. and company over just about everybody in a transition fest, which this will likely turn into.
TCU should also be able to get to the rim and control the offensive glass, which are two areas of relative vulnerability for Kansas.
The Jayhawks likely pull this out, but I believe it will be close throughout. The TCU physicality and experience should prove uber-valuable here.
For what it’s worth, these teams split their regular season series last year, with the Horned Frogs only losing by four in Lawrence, even with Miles in extreme foul trouble throughout.
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When betting on TCU, it’s pretty simple: you want to bet on the Horned Frogs as underdogs.
The opening line of nine points was disrespectful. Yes, they’ve lost three of their last four, but one came on an Iowa State buzzer beater, and the other was a late collapse on the road against Texas in a game they led for most of the night.
The Horned Frogs’ defense is dominant. They’re top-25 defending the perimeter and 19th in turnover rate. This is a disruptive group that’s extremely deep and has the length and aggressiveness to pose problems for any team.
Jamie Dixon’s team ranks third in minutes continuity — meaning it returned basically every player from last year’s rotation — and that goes a long way given his zone and consistent defensive changes.
It’s also worth noting that since Damion Baugh returned from suspension, TCU is the 14th-ranked team in Bart Torvik’s rankings. Offensively, it’s dominant on the glass and draw fouls at a high rate. It’s a poor 3-point shooting team, but that’s not the identity of this unit.
The Frogs love to run-and-gun and are relentless with their drives toward the rim.
Miles and Emanuel Miller have been the engines of the offense — with the help of Baugh’s facilitating — and Eddie Lampkin Jr.’s size and physicality has led to a high rate of second-chance opportunities. Lampkin is 12th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.
As we saw against Kansas State, the Jayhawks can find themselves in foul trouble. They’re outside the top 200 in FTA/FGA, which is where TCU loves to attack.
Kansas is 343rd in bench minutes and relies heavily on its starting five for production. Meanwhile, TCU can consistently throw fresh bodies on the court and remain physical from start to finish. That’s why it’s always live underdogs.
This game just feels like too many points. Kansas’ offense will be able to score behind Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick — though it’s worth noting Wilson had just 31 points in 100 minutes vs. TCU last year.
I highly doubt the Horned Frogs will dig themselves into a deep hole here.
Kansas is also an average free-throw shooting team, which is a positive when this game remains close in the final minutes. Even off a loss, I expect the Jayhawks to struggle to break down this experienced TCU defense in what will be a close game wire-to-wire.
Texas A&M vs. Kentucky
By Brett Pund
As someone who recently invested on this team in the futures market, I have had this spot circled, hoping to get a solid number to back Texas A&M at Kentucky. We certainly have that at +5.5 at FanDuel.
It’s easy to get enamored with how well Alabama and Tennessee have been playing in the SEC, but you could argue that the Aggies’ form has been just as impressive.
A&M joins the Crimson Tide as the only undefeated teams in the SEC, with coach Buzz Williams’ squad doing so in impressive fashion.
In its five wins, Texas A&M owns an average margin of victory of 15.4 points per game, which includes a pair of wins over Florida and Missouri (who beat the Wildcats).
Yes, John Calipari’s program is coming off its best two games of the season, but this is an A&M squad that has been improving over the last month. I make this contest closer to Kentucky as a very slight favorite or a coin-flip game, so I’ll take anything over 3.5 points with the visitors.
This game will come down to which team can win the rebounding battle, and I think the Aggies will have enough to potentially win this game outright at Rupp Arena.
Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State
Mike Boynton and Oklahoma State got a massive victory in Bedlam on Wednesday night against the rival Sooners.
I believe Saturday presents itself as a great situational spot for the Cowboys to build off that momentum against a good but not great Iowa State team.
The Pokes need to stack together some wins to get back on the right side of the NCAA tournament picture, and with how loaded this year’s Big 12 is, Boynton knows better than anybody that you have to handle business on your own floor.
Oklahoma State possesses a top-10 defense in the entire country, shown in the fact that the Cowboys have yet to give up 80 points all year.
Opponents are shooting just 43% from the floor against the Pokes, and for as good as Iowa State has been, it’s still a very mediocre team offensively.
Gallagher-Iba Arena should be rocking for this one, and I trust the Cowboys to shoot it better inside the friendly confines of their own building than the road Cyclones.
Expect a lower-scoring, grind-it-out kind of game between two elite defensive units.
I like the home team to get it done, and I would back the Cowboys all the way up to -130 on the moneyline.
Marquette vs. Seton Hall
Marquette is now the most efficient offense in the country, per KenPom, and the Golden Eagles’ offense is remarkably similar to that of Gonzaga.
They’re elite in transition and play as fast as anyone. They don’t turn the ball over, they make everything in and around the rim and shoot just enough from 3 to get by from the perimeter.
The offense is clearly at the top of the market here, though, and the total is inflated because of it.
The matchup against Seton Hall also suggests that the Pirates will be able to slow them down. KC Ndefo is one of the best rim protectors in the country, and Seton Hall is a top-25 rim defense because of him.
The Pirates are also in the 83rd percentile, per Synergy, in transition defense, which is a major key against a Marquette offense that will run at every opportunity.
The Pirates defend ball screens and pick-and-roll well, too, and the length of their backcourt can disrupt Marquette’s offensive rhythm.
Teams don’t get to play in transition that much against Marquette because it scores so efficiently, but the Golden Eagles’ transition defense is also quite good when needed.
Shaheen Holloway will want to get this game into the half-court and limit Marquette’s explosiveness.
The total is inflated at 144.5, and I’d bet it down to 143.
By D.J. James
The Marquette Golden Eagles have been one of the more surprising teams this season and will head to Newark, New Jersey to play Seton Hall.
Even though the Golden Eagles boast the top Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, per KenPom, they do slow teams down on defense. Opponents are averaging 18.7 seconds per possession against Marquette on the year.
Seton Hall is also a slow team. It ranks 234th in Adjusted Tempo. It holds opponents to 18 seconds per possession, but this team prospers defensively.
The Pirates rank 17th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and hold opponents to 28.6% from 3-point range and 46.7% on 2-pointers. They do have a tendency to foul a bit, but they should hold Marquette in check.
One issue for the under in this game is that the Pirates rank 291st in turnover rate, and the Golden Eagles turn opponents over 21.8% of the time.
In addition, both of these teams tend to foul often defensively. Marquette ranks 298th in free-throw attempt percentage on offense. Seton Hall ranks 13th, so the Pirates will likely have the free-throw attempt edge at home.
However, the Pirates are only shooting 67.7% from the strike.
Lastly, Seton Hall ranks 39th in the nation in open 3 rate, per ShotQuality, and holds opponents to 0.95 points per possession on defense in the half-court.
Since both teams slow the opposition down, this game should go under the total.
Florida Atlantic vs. UTEP
Everything is going way too well for Florida Atlantic at the moment. The Owls are 15-1 and currently ranked inside the top 25 for the first time in school history, but they have been a bit fortunate, and this is a good spot to try and fade them.
They played UTSA on Thursday and rolled past it, but I think UTEP will be a different story.
Listen, UTEP can’t shoot the ball from distance to save its life, but it’s a team that’s built to get the ball to the rim. The Miners have one of the lowest 3-point percentages in the country, but also one of the lowest 3-point rates.
They also get to the free-throw line at a top-20 rate, but they are shooting an astonishing 58.6% from the free-throw line this season, which is the second-worst percentage in the country behind only Brown.
UTEP also is a top-30 team in terms of spacing and has a top-10 frequency utilizing back cuts. Florida Atlantic is 325th at defending back cuts, per ShotQuality.
Florida Atlantic is a really good 3-point shooting team, and it’s top-50 in 3-point rate, shooting them on 43.6% of its field goal attempts. UTEP is only allowing 30% from behind the arc, which is top-40 in the country.
Also, defensively, UTEP is top-30 in turnover percentage and is allowing the third-lowest open 3-point rate in Conference USA.
Finally UTEP is 7-1 ATS as an underdog this season.
This is a good spot here for Miner Nation to pick off Florida Atlantic.