College Basketball Odds, Best Bets: Our Top 7 Picks for the Final Regular-Season Saturday (March 5)
Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)
- The final full college basketball Saturday of the season is here.
- We're looking to go out on a high note, as our staff broke down seven bets for the day, including North Carolina vs. Duke and Baylor vs. Iowa State.
- Check out all seven of our top picks for Saturday below.
Welcome to the final Saturday of the regular season. While we will hand out our first auto bid (the Ohio Valley Conference), let’s not forget about the regular season games that offer value.
Below, we have seven best bets to help you formulate your college hoops betting card on March 5. We start in the ACC before closing things out west in the Mountain West Conference.
Saturday’s Regular Season 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. Louisville
By D.J. James
Louisville has had an underwhelming season, and the same can be said about Virginia. The two will play each other on Saturday in what is expected to be a defensive affair.
The first time these two played this season, UVA won by eight, but the defenses thrived. Expect a similar result.
Unless UVA makes a long run in the ACC Tournament, it is on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament. However, Tony Bennett’s group still touts the same style of play as it has in year’s past.
The Cavaliers play at the slowest tempo in college basketball, per KenPom. They occupy about 20.4 seconds per possession on offense and 19.3 seconds per possession defensively.
One of their main issues has been guarding the 3-point line (34.6% allowed), but per ShotQuality, they are a top-10 team in Open 3 Rate on defense. Since Louisville is one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the conference, it is hard to see an outcome where too many outside shots land for the Cards.
Louisville does not have much else on offense, but the team’s strength lies on defense. The Cardinals have allowed opponents to shoot 34.5% from deep, however. Luckily, UVA has only shot 32.1% as a team.
Finally, neither squad is particularly strong at offensive rebounding, so do not anticipate many put-backs off of second-chance boards.
All of these signs point to the under.
Pick: Under 125.5 (Play to 123.5)
Arkansas vs. Tennessee
The No. 14 Arkansas Razorbacks tip off against the No. 13 Tennessee Volunteers during Saturday’s early window in Knoxville, Tennessee.
These two programs last got together on Feb. 19, when the Razorbacks secured the 58-48 win in a game with 106 total points.
Defense will be on full display for this noon tip-off, as both teams feature top-ranked units.
The visiting Razorbacks boast the 12th-ranked defense in AdjD, allowing just 91.4 points per 100 possessions. They are particularly consistent on this end of the floor, ranking inside the top third of teams for statistically significant defensive metrics.
Tennessee has played shut-down defense all season. The Volunteers rank fifth nationally in AdjD, allowing only 89.4 points per 100 possessions.
The lion’s share of Tennessee’s success has come from forcing turnovers. The Volunteers rank 12th in the nation in defensive turnover percentage, causing a change of possession on 24.9% of possessions.
Both programs feature competent offenses. However, neither team has shot very well this season. Tennessee and Arkansas rank 185th and 207th in effective field goal percentage, respectively.
The Razorbacks play up-tempo ball (30th), but the Vols’ middle-of-the-pack tempo (147th) should be able to temper their onslaught.
I’m projecting 135.9 points to be scored in this game. This is a near four-point advantage to the available line of 139.5.
Take the under in this SEC matchup, as defensive production should come at a discount.
Pick: Under 139.5 (Play to 138.5)
Kentucky vs. Florida
In the first meeting between these two teams at Rupp Arena in February, Kentucky had no problems handling Florida. But the Gators are now fighting for their tournament lives in their home finale on Saturday.
The Wildcats’ defense totally shut down the Gators in the half-court in the last meeting, as Florida posted just 0.74 expected PPP in those settings, per ShotQuality. But the Gators have gone more up-tempo offensively since then, and are up to 113th in offensive average possession length.
The Wildcats have a considerably worse defense in transition than they do in the half-court — about 50 spots worse by national rank (79th in transition defense) — and Florida actually found a ton of offensive success in the first meeting when it ran out in transition.
The Gators’ defense profiles pretty well as a team that could slow down Kentucky if the Wildcats aren’t sharp. Florida takes away the 3 pretty well, defends the mid-range at a top-40 rate and is elite at turning over opponents.
Colin Castleton has the size and defensive ability to matchup with Oscar Tshiebwe in the middle, and for that reason, I’ll back the desperate Gators at home to give an all-in effort and make this game a toss-up.
Pick: Florida +4.5 (Play to +4)
Indiana vs. Purdue
If there’s one thing that Indiana has proven this year, the Hoosiers have shown that they’re going to be in pretty much every game they play.
Finish it off and secure a needle-moving win? Well, that’s a different story.
I don’t see why Saturday in West Lafayette will be any different. The Hoosiers find themselves squarely on the bubble and in desperate need of a road win over their arch-rival.
The Boilermakers will definitely have revenge on their minds after falling to IU, 68-65, earlier in the year in Bloomington.
That said, there are plenty of things to like about how the Hoosiers match up with Purdue.
Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson can bang on the inside with Zach Edey and Trevion Williams, and if one gets in foul trouble, Michael Durr has shown he can be reliable off the bench.
A lack of consistent guard play has continued to cost the Hoosiers in several close losses this year, but they just need to hang inside single digits to cover the number here.
Expect a last-stand type of effort here from Mike Woodson’s team, knowing how important a road win at Purdue would be for it.
Do I have confidence in this group to do enough to pull off the road upset? No, but 10 points is more than enough for me to feel comfortable backing IU here.
Pick: Indiana +10
Iowa State vs. Baylor
By Doug Ziefel
This is Baylor’s biggest game yet. It will enter the day tied with Kansas for first in the Big 12, and a win here would be massive for its postseason outlook.
A win and a Kansas loss would give the Bears the regular-season Big 12 title, and it also helps their case of being a No. 1 seed come tournament time.
Other than the motivation factor, the Bears are getting an Iowa State team that just put up its worst offensive performance of the season. Now the Cyclones have to go on the road to a surging Baylor team that has won five straight.
The Baylor defense is the last thing a scuffling Cyclones team wants to see right now, as the Bears have put it back together after losing a key presence inside.
During their four-game win streak, the Bears have held each of their opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 46% or less. To put that in perspective, Baylor, on average, allows opponents to record an eFG% of 47%. That’s good for 55th. Its recent play would bump it up nearly 15 spots.
While their defense has picked up, the Bears have remained elite on offense and the glass. James Akinjo and Adam Flagler have become the primary options on an offense that’s ranked ninth in adjusted offensive efficiency.
We have also seen Jeremy Sochan and Matthew Mayer pick up the slack on the boards and maintain the Bears’ place of seventh in offensive rebounding percentage.
This Baylor team has done an excellent job of reinventing itself down the stretch and should handle business against the Cyclones.
Pick: Baylor -12 (Play to -13)
North Carolina vs. Duke
A revenge spot, a team on the bubble and a rivalry — this game has it all.
In what will be Mike Krzyzewski’s last game in the historic North Carolina/Duke rivalry, this is shaping up to be a fun track meet at Cameron Indoor.
In its last matchup, Duke jumped out of the gates with an early lead and never looked back. It took over 10 minutes of play for the Tar Heels to reach 10 points. They ended up cutting the lead to 10 at half, but could never make up enough ground, as Duke cruised to a 20-point win.
UNC got uncharacteristically dominated on the boards, 40-24, an event I don’t see happening again.
Duke has one of the most versatile offenses in the country, boasting a plethora of weapons who can attack inside and out. Paolo Banchero has stepped up as one of the best players in the nation and is a potential top-three NBA draft pick.
If UNC wants any chance to play spoiler in Coach K’s last home game, it will need to keep pace with Duke’s scoring. The Tar Heels’ defense is still a dumpster, so it will be up to the offense to make this interesting.
To do that, UNC will need to go back to its roots and crash the boards. This will open up second-chance points on offense and help start the fast break on defense.
While I fully expect Duke to do its part, it will be up to UNC to really help us get over the number.
If North Carolina’s outside shooting is once again hot, and fast-break opportunities and second-chance points continue to be a factor, the Heels will have a puncher’s chance to secure the upset — and more importantly, help our over ticket cash at the window.
Pick: Over 151 (Play to 155)
San Diego State vs. Nevada
Just like last game at Boise State when Nevada was catching 10 in a close loss/cover, I think the Pack are undervalued at home here once again.
I just don’t think the market is properly pricing a Nevada team that is now fully healthy. Remember, this is a team that some picked to win the conference prior to the season.
And while SDSU can clinch the No. 2 seed in the MWC Tournament with a win, there isn’t much difference between that and a 3-seed for a team safely in the NCAA Tournament field.
It’s also an Aztecs squad that might be a bit exhausted in its third game in five days in three different cities. After a huge win in the altitude at Wyoming on Monday, the Aztecs played in a physical double-overtime win against Fresno State on Thursday.
This SDSU team can defend, but the offense is still a little wonky. It’s a team I don’t mind fading.