College Basketball Pick & Roll: Calabrese & McGrath’s 4 Best Bets for November 27, Including Marshall vs. Indiana
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We’re two weeks into the college basketball season and The Action Network’s Saturday two-man weave column is already 6-2 on the season.
Analysts Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath are on fire, and they’re back with two more college hoops picks for you to tail this Saturday.
As everyone knows, Saturdays are packed with games. But this duo gives you a starting point to attack from.
So, take their “picks” and “roll” into a profitable Saturday!
Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Oklahoma vs. UCF
Porter Moser is not only one of the nation’s best coaches, he’s also one of the best to bet on in situations just like this one.
In his 10 years at Loyola Chicago, Moser was a hair under 60% as a road underdog against the spread. His system isn’t easy to prepare for and his team’s comfort-level playing in close games shines through in crunch time.
Thus far in 2021, Moser’s Sooners have exceeded early expectations on the offensive end and are beginning to shore things up on the defensive end.
Oklahoma is now top 25 in shooting efficiency, percentage from the floor and percentage from inside the arc. Defensively, the Sooners’ pace and refusal to let teams get hot from long range has saved an otherwise mediocre power conference defense through six games.
Central Florida is lucky to be 4-0 given its lackadaisical defense. The Knights are 237th in opponent shooting efficiency allowed and are letting opponents get to the line far too often (17.5, 181st).
Given UCF’s soft interior, I’m pegging this non-conference tilt as the Tanner Groves breakout game. The transfer from Eastern Washington averaged 18 and eight last year, including a 35-point outburst against Kansas in the Big Dance.
After a steady start this season, I think Groves can spark an OU upset here, finding the sledding easy against an undersized UCF frontcourt rotation.
Pick: Oklahoma +1.5
Detroit vs. Hofstra
If you’re in search of two mid-major guards who can put on a show, look no further than this Titans-Flying Dutchmen matchup. Detroit Mercy has a homegrown superstar in Antoine Davis (if you overlook his turnovers), while Hofstra went the portal route, plucking Zach Cooks from NJIT.
The two “Point Gods” average over 18 points per game and have it in them to go for 30 plus without breaking a sweat.
And while the preferred pace of both teams may not scream “over,” their defenses certainly do.
Hofstra is one of the worst defenses in the country when it comes to defending inside the arc (56%, 309th). And when teams miss inside of 22 feet, they can usually count on getting hacked. The Pride send opponents to the line at the 212th-highest rate in the country.
Detroit is even worse defensively. And not by a little. You’d be hard-pressed to find teams that shoot better in warmups than teams do in actual games against UDM.
Opponents are burying close to 40% of their treys (314th), 60.4% of their twos (348th) and rarely hit double digits in terms of turnovers against the Titans.
This defense is absolutely horrific, which is why their preferred slow pace doesn’t bother me one bit in this game. Hofstra is going to run out to an early lead and Davis is going to have no choice but to start bombing away to get UDM back in this.
To give you a glimpse of Davis’ scoring ability, the senior guard dropped 25 or more in 11 of his last 13 games last season. And he just gave Louisville 27, including six threes, last week.
Bank on a shootout here and root for an early Hofstra lead to push the pace.
Pick: Over 146.5
McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Marshall vs. Indiana
It’s been a rather difficult non-conference season for Big Ten teams, as the league is a lousy 27-29-1 ATS so far. Now, that hasn’t applied to Indiana of late, which has covered in three of its last four games.
However, that doesn’t make me afraid to continue fading Big Ten teams. In steps the Conference-USA favorite Marshall, which returns 70% of its minutes from last season, including its top scorer and rebounder (Taevion Kinsey).
Indiana runs everything through Trayce Jackson-Davis, which is generally wise. However, Marshall’s interior defense has been good (42.5 2P% allowed, 34th nationally) and coach Dan D’Antoni has 6-foot-10 Mikel Beyers and 7-foot-0 Goran Miladinovic to throw at TJD.
Meanwhile, Marshall is going to run on offense. The (aptly named) Thundering Herd rank second in tempo this season and have ranked inside the top 10 in six of the seven years under D’Antoni. Marshall takes the second-most shots in transition of any team in the country (39.4%) and ranks in the 81st percentile in terms of transition points per possession (1.137).
Meanwhile, Indiana’s main weaknesses under Archie Miller were guard play and transition defense. Mike Woodson was brought in to help alleviate some of those issues, but he hasn’t done such a great job.
Indiana turns the ball over 21.3% of the time (263rd nationally) and has allowed opponents to take 31% of shots in transition (15th-highest nationally). In those situations, the Hoosiers have allowed a 58.7 eFG% (65th-highest nationally).
So, Indiana’s issues play right into Marshall’s strengths. The worry is that Indiana’s interior defense, which paces the nation in 2-point defense (30.2%) will overpower a Marshall offense that plays inside the arc (59.3% of points come from 2-point range, 34th nationally).
However, if all else fails, we can always fall back on the horrific Indiana free-throw shooting (bottom-70 nationally in five consecutive seasons). It’s never let me down before.
Pick: Marshall +13
Morehead State vs. UMKC
Alright, here’s the situation:
We’ve got a Morehead State team that, while battle tested, is 0-3 ATS this season. The Eagles are playing on a back-to-back after taking on Arkansas State on Friday night. This will also be their third game this week.
For a team that only runs eight deep (two on the 10-man roster play less than 10% of the minutes), that’s already an intriguing fade spot for me.
Granted, UMKC will take on Arkansas State on Sunday (in this three-team “Arkansas State Event”). But the Kangaroos will be fresh for this Saturday matchup, as they haven’t played since Monday.
Plus, UMKC is building momentum, having won two straight games outright as underdogs (Missouri and Idaho State).
There’s not much talent on either side, but UMKC is hitting shots (54.4 eFG%, 56th nationally) and defending the perimeter well (30.4 3P% allowed, 101st nationally; .69 spot-up PPP allowed, 32nd nationally).
The latter should prove big against a Morehead State team that loves to shoot the deep ball, taking over 40% of its shots from 3. Again, Morehead State is coming off three losses to three KenPom top-50 teams, but absolutely nothing has been falling (45.5 eFG%, 266th nationally).
I’ve been riding with the ‘Roos this season, and I believe in them to take down another opponent as an underdog — especially in a favorable spot.
Pick: UMKC +2
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