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

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

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Arizona Wildcats shorts

For the first time this season, college basketball has a standalone Saturday without a full slate of college football.

We don't just have wall-to-wall games from 11:30 a.m. ET to the final tip-off at 10 p.m. ET, but there are also intriguing matchups on the board — something we couldn't say for most of the previous Saturday slate's this season.

And most importantly, there's a plethora of betting value.

Our staff dives into Saturday's schedule below and offers up their best college basketball picks.

Saturday's 3 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.

3 p.m. ET
Under 126
3 p.m. ET
Houston -9.5
7:30 p.m. ET
Arizona -1
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.

San Diego State vs. Saint Mary's

Saturday, Dec. 10
3 p.m. ET
Under 126

By D.J. James

San Diego State and Saint Mary’s pair up for a clash in Phoenix between two primarily defensive-minded programs.

The Gaels have a 6-4 record on unders so far this season.

Meanwhile, SDSU is 3-5 on unders after speeding up its tempo from the last few seasons. Much of this has been caused by the likes of Arizona, Ohio State and Arkansas, who run quick offensive sets.

This game should be a grind, though. Saint Mary’s ranks 322nd in Adjusted Tempo (per KenPom), utilizing 19.6 seconds per possession on offense and 17.6 seconds per possession on defense.

San Diego State, on the other hand, may run at the 109th-ranked Adjusted Tempo, but as alluded to above, that number is inflated. The Aztecs, on average, force opponents to take up 18.1 seconds per possession on defense, which ranks 305th in the NCAA.

Both teams have elite defenses and mediocre offenses. Saint Mary’s ranks eighth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency and SDSU is 19th.

The only hole in the Gaels’ defensive approach is allowing open looks from 3-point range. Luckily for them — and under-backers — the Aztecs shoot a collective 29.2% from deep this season.

Alternatively, SDSU gets a ton of points from both the free-throw line and 2-point range. The Gaels rank 51st in free-throw attempt percentage and ninth in 2-point field goal percentage on defense. This eliminates much of the offensive approach from the Aztecs.

On the other end of the floor, Saint Mary’s mainly gets points from field goals — not the strike — so this eats into SDSU’s propensity to foul at times. The Aztecs are also holding opponents to 30.6% from outside the arc, while Saint Mary’s is shooting over 37%.

Expect the Gaels to miss more deep balls than normal.

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Alabama vs. Houston

Saturday, Dec. 10
3 p.m. ET
Houston -9.5

By Doug Ziefel

All eyes will be on the Fertitta Center as the No. 1 Houston Cougars play host to the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Cougars claimed the top spot in the nation when Alabama beat North Carolina, and another upset is well within the realm of possibility.

Speaking of the Crimson Tide, they have gotten off to another excellent start. In addition to their big win over North Carolina, they also picked up a victory over a ranked Michigan State team.

This appears to be a tough defensive matchup, but the market disagrees. We have seen the total jump multiple points since opening, and that leads me to go in a different direction.

Alabama's reliance on the 3 is a bad recipe against Houston's defense. Even if the Crimson Tide alter how they play, their success will be limited in all aspects.

That will lead to many cold streaks, which is when Houston will have the opportunity to go on runs and pull away.

Back the best team in the country to make a statement.

Arizona vs. Indiana

Saturday, Dec. 10
7:30 p.m. ET
Arizona -1

By Tanner McGrath

I’m still relatively low on Indiana. This roster was nothing last season until its red-hot, early-March run, yet the public perception is Indiana is a top-10 team because of its returning nucleus.

Trayce Jackson-Davis is an All-American, no doubt about it. But is Xavier Johnson going to make the jump needed for this backcourt to be tournament-ready? Is Jalen Hood-Schifino healthy? Can Miller Kopp take another step toward replicating his Northwestern production?

Plus, I question Indiana’s strength of schedule. The win over North Carolina means nothing, given that the Tar Heels are in rough shape. The Hoosiers also lost to Rutgers.

The best win on Indiana’s resume is its two-point road win over Xavier, which is fine, I guess.

But this Arizona team is a well-oiled machine. And Tommy Lloyd is looking for a bounce-back win after getting embarrassed by Utah. I give the Utah loss a pass, as every team returning from the Maui Invitational looked horrendous in its first mainland game.

Otherwise, Arizona has steamrolled Cincinnati, San Diego State and Creighton. No team could stop the Wildcats on the interior (first in 2P%) or keep them out of transition (second in transition frequency).

Theoretically, Indiana has the statistics to compete with Arizona. The Hoosiers are lengthy, good at transition defense and solid on the interior.

But this is a monstrous step up in competition for a team I’m still selling relative to the market.

It’s Indiana’s biggest test of the season, and it’s basically a semi-away game, given Arizona fans are more likely to show up in Vegas than Indiana fans.

I’ll be fine if I’m proven wrong about Indiana, but I’ll be fading the Hoosiers until I’m fully convinced otherwise.

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