College Basketball Odds, Picks, Predictions: Calabrese & McGrath’s Pick & Roll, Including 4 Best Bets
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- Welcome to the first Saturday slate of the college basketball season.
- Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath are back to share their top bets for the day, including picks for Gonzaga vs. Baylor and NC State vs. Colgate.
- Check out all four breakdowns and betting picks below.
Welcome back to the Pick & Roll, college hoops fans!
Action Network analysts Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath spend every Friday night hunting lines and finding value for big-time Saturday college basketball slates. And every Saturday morning, their loyal readers will get the tandem’s two favorite spots for the day’s card.
Their two-man weave starts today.
McGrath sees value in two mid-majors catching points against power-conference schools. Meanwhile, Calabrese is targeting a Big East big favorite and an under in this week’s marquee matchup.
Given the two’s expert analysis, this column will be a must-read for the rest of the season. So, check out their favorite “Picks” and “Roll” into a profitable Saturday.
McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Colgate vs. NC State
The Colgate offense is a force of nature. Last season, the Raiders led the Patriot League in scoring (85.2 points per game, which was second in the nation only to Gonzaga), field-goal percentage (49.3%), 3-point percentage (40.3%) and turnover rate (14.3%).
Sure, Colgate lost the Patriot League Player of the Year in Jordan Burns, but it also returned four other starters and several key reserves.
I could drone on about the Colgate offense last season (fifth in eFG%, fifth in turnover rate, third in 3P%), but it’s also worth mentioning the unit posted these numbers in a conference-only schedule.
But just trust me on this: the Raiders are going to have a field day against North Carolina State.
The Wolfpack defense finished 223rd in defensive effective field goal percentage last season (51.3%). While Colgate loves to get out in transition (25th in percentage of shots taken in transition, 29.2%), the Wolfpack were lousy defending that (1.058 PPP allowed in transition, 21st percentile).
And while Colgate loves to chuck 3s (41.1% of its shots last season came from deep), NC State finished outside the top 200 in 3-point defense (34.3%).
Plus, while Colgate is experienced, State lost two starters, including one of its top scorers in Devon Daniels. The Wolfpack rank 253rd in experience (1.24 years).
Given the extra year of eligibility provided by the pandemic, mid-majors with roster continuity are going to be cash cows in non-conference play. Well, Colgate ranks 38th in experience (2.44 years) and it is already 1-0 following a seven-point victory over Northeastern.
NC State couldn’t cover against Bucknell and it won’t cover against Colgate.
Pick: Colgate +10.5
Vermont vs. Maryland
Defending America East Player of the Year Ryan Davis missed the season opener due to a “non-COVID illness” and his status is day-to-day.
But it was no Davis, no problem for the Catamounts on Thursday.
Vermont man-handled UNI. UNI is a talented and experienced team and a dark horse to win the Missouri Valley, but John Becker’s squad embarrassed them without their best player.
Isaiah Powell stepped into Davis’ role and executed it to perfection. He posted 17/5/2 with a block and a steal and he stretched the floor by going 3-for-9 from deep. His performance attests to Vermont’s depth.
Vermont returned four of five starters from last season and eight players overall. The Catamounts are the eighth-most experienced team in the country (2.74 years).
They also paced the America East in both offensive and defensive efficiency last season.
Now, the whole band is back.
Meanwhile, it’s clear Mark Turgeon is still trying to figure things out. The Terps didn’t cover against both Quinnipiac and George Washington, even trailing at the half against the latter.
This leads into a bigger trend about the Big Ten at large. The conference is now just 2-8 ATS in early non-conference games.
I’m starting to raise questions about how Vegas is valuing those teams.
In terms of actual basketball: this is a bad matchup for Maryland.
Vermont will shoot 3s (40.7% of its shots came from behind the arc last season, 84th in the country) and Maryland’s perimeter defense is questionable (34.8 3P% allowed last season, 233rd in the country).
The Catamounts will stay inside this number with ease.
Pick: Vermont +11.5
Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Saint Peter’s vs. St. John’s
Saint Peter’s head coach Shaheen Holloway inherited a tire fire of a program back in 2018. The Peacocks had registered just one winning season in the previous seven prior to Holloway’s arrival and hadn’t taken the MAAC regular-season title since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
After a transition season, Holloway has Saint Peter’s playing well, notching a 32-23 record across the last two seasons.
It’s that strong track record in recent years that has this number in the low teens and not 20+. But for all of the progress Holloway has made, particularly on the defensive end, SPC still has an identifiable weakness: turnovers.
Over 21% of SPC’s possessions ended in a turnover last season (310th), which translated to nearly 15 per game. St. John’s thrives on creating turnovers and easy run-out buckets. Only two Power Conference teams (South Carolina, Baylor) forced more turnovers per game last season than the Johnnies.
Posh Alexander, in particular, is going to hound SPC’s primary ball-handlers and spur the Johnnies’ fast-break game from the open tip.
St. John’s scored 22 first-half, fast-break points in its opener, overwhelming MVSU out of the gate.
I foresee a similar outcome here and I would advise bettors to consider the SJU first-half line for this very reason.
Pick: St. John’s -13.5
Texas vs. Gonzaga
The Kennel is an over-bettor’s best friend. Dating back to the start of the 2019 season, overs have hit at a 63.3% clip in Spokane, besting the closing number by an average of 2.9 points per contest.
It helps that Gonzaga has finished each of the past three seasons as the nation’s top-rated offense in terms of efficiency and points per game.
But it takes two to tango on an over, particularly one north of 151 points. Gonzaga is an uptempo team by nature, but Mark Few has demonstrated an ability to slow the pace with large leads without sacrificing efficiency.
That’s why the Longhorns’ preferred pace is so critical in this game.
Chris Beard has time and time again succeeded with a slow-down game plan. When Beard has faced offenses ranked in the top 40 of offensive efficiency in the past three seasons, the under has cashed 55% of the time, with a pair of overs aided by overtime periods.
For this matchup, this total will be won or lost in the paint, specifically on the offensive glass.
Texas will rotate four bigs with an average height of 6-foot-7 against a Gonzaga front that trots out Chet Holmgren (7-foot-0), Drew Timme (6-foot-10), Anton Watson (6-foot-8) and Julian Strawther (6-foot-7).
If the Longhorns can limit second-chance opportunities, it’ll take a lights-out shooting night from the Zags to eclipse 151.5 total points.
Given Tre Mitchell and Timmy Allen’s work on the glass last season at UMass and Utah, respectively, I believe they can hold their own on the low block and keep this scoring pace from getting out of control.
Pick: Under 151.5