College Basketball Pick & Roll: McGrath’s 5 Best Bets for Saturday, Including Iowa State vs. Creighton

College Basketball Pick & Roll: McGrath’s 5 Best Bets for Saturday, Including Iowa State vs. Creighton article feature image

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  • It's a full slate of college basketball on Saturday, and Tanner McGrath has picks for bettors.
  • He has targeted five games that he sees great value in throughout the day, starting at noon and ending at 7:30 p.m. ET.
  • Check out McGrath's detailed breakdowns and picks below.

Through three weeks, The Action Network’s two-man-weave of analysts Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath are 9-3 in their Saturday best bets. This column has been the hottest thing on the site during non-conference basketball season.

Unfortunately, Calabrese is indisposed this weekend. Luckily, McGrath is not, and is making up for the lost production by doing his best Jimmer Fredette impression.

McGrath is eyeing five value-loaded bets for Saturday, with picks ranging from noon to dusk. So, start building your Saturday basketball card with his “picks” and “roll” into a profitable Saturday.

Saint Joseph's vs. Villanova

Saturday, Dec. 4
12 p.m. ET

Villanova plays slow. Jay Wright’s offense is predicated upon ball-screens, motion and crisp passing. It’s a slow progression to find the best shot.

However, the best shot is generally a 3. Villanova is 27th nationally in 3-point rate (47.5% 3PA/FGA) and the Wildcats make those at the 13th-highest clip (40.9%).

So, while they work slow, the Wildcats still score over 80 points per game and often in bunches.

Villanova Basketball.

— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) February 7, 2021

Meanwhile, the Hawks feature one of the worst perimeter defenses in college basketball. Saint Joseph’s is 341st in 3-point defense (41.7%), 321st in defensive turnover rate (15.5%) and 247th in spot-up PPP allowed (.935).

And offensively, the Hawks are the opposite of the Wildcats. They’ll get out and run, working at the 66th-highest tempo nationally. Plus their 16.4 average length of possession allowed also cracks the top 60.

So, i’m expecting plenty of shots to fall for Villanova and lots of run-outs for Saint Joseph’s. It is a noon tip-off, but I still love this game to go over.

Pick: Over 144

Marquette vs. Wisconsin

Saturday, Dec. 4
12:30 p.m. ET

This is too many points for Shaka Smart.

In his career, Smart is 41-22-1 ATS as a road underdog, good for a 65.1% hit rate. He’s also covered in eight of his last 10 road dog opportunities.

And this season, Marquette is 3-1 ATS as an underdog. So, I love Smart’s Golden Eagles catching so many points in this spot.

Wisconsin has had an unbelievable start to the season, but its last six games have been decided by an average margin of five points. Plus, the Badgers play very slow, running at the 317th-fastest tempo nationally. That gives an edge to big underdogs.

There isn’t much here from a basketball standpoint. But the number is simply too high for a matchup between two high-caliber teams.

Pick: Marquette +7

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Loyola Chicago vs. DePaul

Saturday, Dec. 4
4 p.m. ET

In the preseason, I was low on DePaul. For a team that had to replace so many pieces from last season with a first-year head coach, I felt this season would be a rebuild.

I was wrong. DePaul is killing it. Tony Stubblefield is the transfer portal king of this college basketball season.

With five key power conference transfers, DePaul is 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS. The Blue Demons are particularly dominant on the interior, ranking in the top-20 nationally in both 2-point shooting (57%) and 2-point defense (40.9%).

Loyola Chicago is a very talented basketball season, but the Ramblers are just 3-3 as a favorite this season and are playing its first true road game. Plus, the Ramblers' style isn’t cohesive to blowouts, considering they rank 305th in tempo and will try to grind out defensive-minded victories.

With the Ramblers' reputation, the public is going to be all over this road chalk. That makes me love the frisky Blue Demons as a home dog even more.

Pick: DePaul +5

Dartmouth vs. Florida Gulf Coast

Saturday, Dec. 4
7 p.m. ET

Dartmouth is so fun to watch.

The Big Green are essentially the Golden State Warriors of the Ivy League. They’re shooting over 51% of their shots from deep (ninth nationally) while making them at a 36% clip.

Dartmouth lacks size, ranking 234th in 2-point defense (which is also good for our over), but it tries to compensate by out-shooting teams on the other end.

Meanwhile, similar to Saint Joseph’s, FGCU is bad at perimeter defense (243rd in 3-point defense, 35.2%) and runs at a very fast pace (69th in tempo).

But FGCU also loves to let it fly. The Eagles take over 48% of their shots from deep (20th nationally) and make them at a 39% clip.

So, this game is going to be a 3-point barrage. I’m expecting a shootout, and will happily play the over at this relatively low number.

Pick: Over 136

Iowa State vs. Creighton

Saturday, Dec. 4
9 p.m. ET

This season, ranked teams on the road against unranked teams are 1-14 ATS.

There is no worse ranked team, from an analytics perspective, then Iowa State. The Cyclones are 80th in KenPom’s rankings and 81st in Bart Torvik’s rankings despite huge wins over Xavier and Memphis.

However, I believe Iowa State is due for regression. Opponents are shooting just 25.8% from 3 this season — like when Xavier shot 3-for-21 from deep while Iowa State shot 10-for-20 in that game.

The Cyclones remind me a bit of last year’s Northwestern team. The Wildcats were ranked after a 7-1 start to the season, including three Big Ten wins to start the year. However, Northwestern was shooting the lights out and when those stopped falling, the Wildcats dropped 13 consecutive games.

Greg McDermott is going through an entire rebuild and he’s changed his stylistic approach to his roster.

Last season, Creighton overpowered teams from beyond the arc. But this year, the frontcourt rotation of 7-foot-1 Ryan Kalkbrenner and 6-foot-7 Ryan Hawkins lead a team that’s ninth in 2-point shooting (59.6%) and 40th in 2-point defense (43.7%).

I find Creighton’s interior approach more dependable than Iowa State’s perimeter approach and I am ready to follow the trends and bank on a Cyclone letdown.

Pick: Creighton -4

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