College Basketball Best Bets: Our 3 Top Picks for Saturday’s NIT Games (March 19)
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen DeLoach.
- The NCAA Tournament obviously takes center stage, but there's still value to be had in the NIT.
- Our staff has their eyes on the VCU-Wake Forest game, as they offer up two picks.
- Formulate your NIT betting card with the picks below!
Saturday has always been a big day for college basketball, and today is no different. The NCAA Tournament, NIT and CBI are all in action throughout the day.
Along with our favorite NCAA Tournament bets for Saturday, our staff has compiled its three best bets for the NIT, including Oregon vs. Texas A&M and VCU vs. Wake Forest.
And be sure to stop back tomorrow because we’ll have even more best bets for the NCAA Tournament, as well as the NIT and CBI.
So, check out our three best NIT bets below, and let’s take a ride to Green Dot City.
Saturday NIT 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.|
(5) Oregon vs. (1) Texas A&M
The Texas A&M “axe to grind” tour continues as the Aggies host Oregon after being narrowly bumped from the NCAA Tournament.
The Aggies have the 39th-most efficient defense in the nation, allowing just 94.5 points per 100 possessions.
The Buzz Williams-led team is excellent at forcing turnovers, ranking eighth in the nation in defensive turnover margin. Look for the SEC Tournament runners-up to have no problem slowing down the Ducks on the road.
Oregon is no slouch defensively either and will be able to contain a Texas A&M offense that ranks 266th in tempo. The Ducks have the 91st-most efficient defense in the nation and will present a strong matchup for the Aggies.
I’m projecting the total for this game to be 132.91 points in College Station.
Both teams have been excellent against the total this season with Texas A&M and Oregon hitting the over in 62.9% and 63.6% of games this season, respectively. I think that this has contributed to Vegas hanging a total that’s too high.
This game is checking all of the boxes for me with a model advantage, a reason to fade the season-long betting narrative of overs and wise-guy activity on our side of the trade.
Both defenses will drive the storyline today. Play this total that’s five buckets too high.
Pick: Under 143.5 or better
(3) VCU vs. (2) Wake Forest
Wake Forest has major turnover issues. That’s a recipe for disaster against a VCU defense that forces turnovers at the fourth-highest rate in the country.
The Rams press as much as any team in the country, which should pay dividends here against a Demon Deacon squad that grades out below average against the press. Plus, Wake won’t really make VCU pay for its own turnover issues on the other end of the court.
Lastly, VCU defends the rim extremely well, which is paramount against Wake.
This is too many points in a game I think could go either way.
Pick: VCU +5.5
(3) VCU vs. (2) Wake Forest
Two NCAA Tournament bubble teams meet in the second round of the NIT, as VCU takes on Wake Forest on Saturday.
VCU plays with a chaotic style that focuses on pressuring its opponent the length of the floor for all 40 minutes. That playing style forces turnovers at the fourth-highest rate in the country, but it also allows for easy transition buckets if teams can break the zone.
The Rams forced Princeton — which ranks 193rd in tempo — into a track meet that featured 163 points scored.
Wake Forest, which ranks 36th in tempo, will embrace that playing style. The Demon Deacons averaged 80 points per game this season while dominating inside the paint, hitting 59% of its 2-point shots (third-best in the nation).
The Rams’ fast pace has led them to foul at the 319th rate in the country. With Wake Forest dominating on the inside, I see it getting to the charity stripe at a high rate in this matchup.
Wake Forest utilizes minimal shot clock before getting a shot attempt up offensively. That will lead to a fast pace, as VCU looks to do the same.
This matchup is poised to be an up-and-down affair with both teams finding transition buckets.
Pick: Over 142.5 (Play to 145)
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