College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: Stuckey’s 5 Spots for Saturday
Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike Miles Jr. (TCU)
With the NFL Playoffs kicking off on Saturday, I know it’s all about football for most.
However, the first game doesn’t kick off until 4:30 p.m. ET. So, if you’re looking for some action before the 49ers and Seahawks get underway, here are five spots I had circled for Saturday’s early afternoon college basketball slate.
I’m just using opening spreads — which I don’t bet into — so follow along on the Action App to see what I end up betting.
I also mention two spots in primetime that might be worth exploring.
Noon ET on ESPN
Full disclosure: I’m a Kentucky fan by marriage and now live in Lexington.
Also, full disclosure: I think this Kentucky team is going nowhere. It doesn’t run anything for its guards and John Calipari uses mind-boggling rotations.
That said, this number is too high in a great spot for the still uber-talented Cats, who just lost outright at home to lowly South Carolina.
They could probably benefit from getting away from the boo-birds in Rupp Arena. Plus, I’ve been looking for a spot to fade Tennessee due to inevitable looming regression on the defensive side of the ball.
Yes, the Vols have one of the nation’s top defenses, but opponents have shot just 20.9% from deep. To put that into perspective, over the past 20 years, no team has held its opponents below 25% from 3-point range for a season.
Norfolk State holds the record at 25.3% back in 2005.
Additionally, the Wildcats’ Adjusted Defensive Efficiency sits at 82.5, per KenPom. Houston sits in second at 86.0. No defense has finished below 84.0 for a season over the past two decades.
The defense is good, but it’s not other-worldly. Opponents are going to start hitting shots, and Kentucky might be the first to start that regression train.
For what it’s worth, double-digit road dogs after losing outright as double-digit favorites have hit at a 57.5% clip over the past 30 seasons.
Noon ET on ESPNU
George Mason has to be one of the unluckiest teams in the country to date. The Patriots keep dropping games on the road by a possession or two after holding late leads.
You can blame their horrendous free throw shooting for part of those issues. On the season, they are shooting just 63.2% from the charity stripe, which ranks 345th in Division I.
That will continue to be a struggle.
However, they have also shot 10-of-46 on the front end of one-and-one’s this season. That’s 21.8%, and just downright unlucky.
After another heartbreaking loss at Saint Louis, this team remains undervalued in the market against what I think is an overrated Davidson club.
As far as this matchup is concerned, Davidson doesn’t really foul and won’t turn teams over, which are the two glaring weaknesses for a George Mason club that ranks 36th and 65th in Effective Field Goal % on offense and defense, respectively.
Noon ET on ESPN2
The ‘Eers dropped a game in overtime at Kansas State on New Year’s Eve, which started their current four-game losing streak to drop them to 0-4 in the Big 12.
Meanwhile, the Sooners have started 1-3 in league play after a close loss to Kansas the other night.
I have West Virginia rated as the slightly better team overall, and I like backing the road team in a desperation battle. That’s especially the case in Norman, which I don’t value very highly in terms of home-court advantage for a power school.
From a matchup perspective, Oklahoma will turn it over even though it has had success against the press. That plays right into the hands of West Virginia’s pressure.
Also, the Sooners don’t really draw too many fouls, which should provide welcome relief for that Bob Huggins pressure defense.
The Sooners also have some looming negative shooting regression on the defensive end.
This one should come down to the wire, so I’m happy to grab the full field goal.
2 ET on ESPN2
The Wildcats have certainly exceeded expectations to date, but they’ve also gone 3-0 in overtime and won another game by two on a blown call against a depleted LSU team.
They’ve been quite fortunate to say the least.
This particular spot boils down to much more than a buy-low, sell-high on TCU. The Horned Frogs get out and run as much as any team in the country and boast an elite transition offense.
That spells trouble for a Kansas State defense that ranks below average in transition defense, per Synergy.
The Horned Frogs should also dominate the offensive glass and just have too much length across the board.
2 ET on ESPN+
This is too many points for a North Texas team that travels well due to its snail’s pace and stifling defense that can take any crowd out of a game.
When these teams recently met in Denton, Florida Atlantic staged a comeback to win 50-46 after closing on a 13-0 run over the final four minutes and change.
In this revenge role, I’ll trust the better coach in Grant McCasland to make the more effective adjustments in what will likely turn into another closely-contested rock fight.
- Texas Tech warrants a look as the Red Raiders try to bounce back from a 34-point blowout loss to Iowa State. They will take on a Texas team that just used a ton of energy to come back against TCU. It’s desperation time after an 0-4 start in the Big 12 for a defense that can take away what Texas wants to do in the half-court.
- Speaking of desperation, Wyoming may have some value in the late-night spot at home against a Boise State team fresh off an impressive win at UNLV. The Pokes are still shockingly seeking their first Mountain West win and aren’t at full strength, but this is a potential great buy-low, sell-high spot on the Cowboys in a tough place to play. They are also looking to avenge a loss to the Broncos in last year’s Mountain West Tournament.