College Basketball Betting Odds, Picks: Calabrese & McGrath’s Saturday Pick & Roll (January 8)
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images. Pictured: Sasha Stefanovic (Purdue)
- Another Saturday means another edition of the college basketball Pick & Roll from Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath.
- Both offered up two of their best bets from Saturday's slate, including Villanova vs. DePaul and Colorado State vs. San Diego State.
- Check out all four of their favorite bets below.
With a 2-1 day last week, The Action Network’s two-man weave has moved to a cool 16-7 on the season, leading our followers to over eight units of profit (assuming average odds of -110).
As we mentioned last week, the nation is beginning to turn its collective subconscious toward college basketball. That energy was high this week, as everyone’s Twitter timelines were packed with college hoops picks and Johnny Davis reactions.
But given the success our team has seen so far this season, this article should be your first point of reference for Saturday’s picks and reactions.
Our team has done the research and found four winners for Saturday’s loaded slate. So, as we do every week, take our “Picks” and “Roll” into a profitable day.
Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Purdue vs. Penn State
Purdue is fresh off of a loss while Penn State is surging behind a pair of impressive wins. So, why the sudden urge to bank on both teams pulling an about-face in Happy Valley?
It has everything to do with Purdue’s historic offense this season under Matt Painter.
The Boilermakers rank top-10 nationally in the following offensive metrics:
- Points Per Game (85.9, 3rd)
- Assists Per Game (18.9, 3rd)
- 2-Point Shooting (57.8%, 9th)
- 3-Point Shooting (41.1%, 6th)
- Off. Rebounding Percentage (38.3%, 3rd)
Purdue has hit the 80-point per game threshold just one other time in Painter’s previous 16 seasons in West Lafayette. That 81 points per game average came in 2018 and included a trip to the Sweet 16.
But that Purdue team was different from this year’s incarnation in one major way. When the Boilers went cold from the field, they couldn’t make up for it on the glass.
I remembered that team struggling mightily that season ATS, but it wasn’t until I dug into the stats that the full story revealed itself. Despite an offensive ranking of fifth nationally, and a defensive rating of 22nd, the Boilermakers went 6-14-1 ATS in Big Ten play, while ranking 295th in offensive rebounds per game.
When they went cold from the field, they were cooked.
This year is different. Not only can Painter turn to three separate players to lead his team in scoring on a given night (Jaden Ivey, Zach Edey, Trevion Williams), but they’re ferocious on the offensive glass.
Penn State is going to be hard-pressed to keep pace given the fact that it struggles to score consistently and can’t generate extra opportunities with turnovers (9, 354th) or offensive rebounds (8.2, 205th). The Nittany Lions have failed to reach 65 points in six of their last eight games.
This has potential blowout written all over it, especially with Purdue focused coming off of a loss. Painter-coached teams have a 58% ATS record coming off of a loss.
My power rankings call for this one to be Purdue-12.5, so I’ll be playing it all the way up to 10.5 in this spot.
Pick: Purdue -8.5 (Play to -10.5)
Colorado State vs. San Diego State
The public appears to still be in “wait-and-see” mode when it comes to the Rams. And frankly, I can forgive the oversight. Colorado State hasn’t won more than one game in a single NCAA Tournament since Lyndon Johnson was the President. That’s pretty much the opposite of a blue blood.
But this season Niko Medved has the goods. This team has been gaining confidence over the past few years and is now on a 52-20 run dating back to the start of the 2019 season.
On the floor, they have perhaps the nation’s most underrated point guard in Isaiah Stevens. The three-year starter came to Fort Collins as a polished scorer, but he’s blossomed into a true point guard. He currently sports a 5:1 to assist-to-turnover ratio, while pouring in over 14 points per game.
To put that in perspective, only one player has pulled off that feat in the past five years (Monte Morris at Iowa State).
Stevens is the maestro presiding over the Rams’ offensive orchestra. Colorado State leads the nation in shooting efficiency and is top five from the field, 3-point range and the line.
They don’t turn the ball over and already have captured three wins over KenPom top-60 teams (Saint Mary’s, Creighton, Mississippi State).
San Diego State, on the other hand, is coasting on its reputation. The Aztecs entered their 2021-2022 campaign on a 53-7 run, but this year, the stats reveal a drop-off within the program.
The Aztecs can’t score (64.5, 281st) and they’ve been the beneficiary of some tremendous luck in close games. Opposing teams are shooting 63% from the charity stripe against SDSU (seventh), and foul shooting differentials helped it slide past Arizona State and UT Arlington earlier in the year.
But my major issue with SDSU this season is not the games its slipping past inferior opponents, it’s how it has handled itself when forced to play up. San Diego State has been boat raced by USC and Michigan, while splitting a pair of games against quality WCC opponents (BYU, SMC).
Colorado State has the offensive might to force the Aztecs out of their comfort zone, pace-wise, and they shoot nearly 81% from the line.
Give me the Rams on the moneyline and the alternate line up to -2.5 (+150).
Pick: Colorado State ML +120 | Alt Line up to -2.5 (+150)
McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Villanova vs. DePaul
World, meet DePaul: this season’s overachievers.
Well, at least from an ATS perspective. After losing four starters from last year’s team, Tony Stubblefield leads a squad that’s 9-4 ATS overall, 7-2 at home and 4-1 as an underdog. Whenever DePaul has a line posted at any book, I’m looking the Blue Demons’ way.
I particularly love them in this spot, catching a decent amount of points at home — a situation in which they’ve covered in both opportunities this season. But there’s more to it than just historical trends.
The Blue Demons are on a three-game losing streak but have played four of their last five games on the road. Moreover, DePaul went on a COVID pause between Dec. 14 and Dec. 29, meaning these three losses came right after the pause in play.
Meanwhile, Villanova is coming off of a dominating victory over Creighton at home. The Wildcats now play in Chicago on Saturday in a tiny sandwich spot, as Jay Wright is likely looking ahead to playing Xavier in Cincinnati on Tuesday.
This is the most obvious buy-low, sell-high spot I’ve seen this season. Villanova will be looking to get in and get out with a victory, while DePaul will be motivated following a losing streak. And hopefully, the Blue Demons are back on track following the pause in play.
But do we even trust the Wildcats? The team has looked inconsistent at times and shaky at others, and the Wildcats are just 4-5 ATS in road games this season. Since Wright’s last championship, his Wildcats are only 18-20 ATS as a road favorite.
I’ll back DePaul.
Pick: DePaul +7.5
UAB vs. Rice
UAB is built to blow out bad teams. The Blazers work fast offensively (top 60 in average length of possession) and like to force opponents into longer sets (bottom 150 in average length of possession allowed).
The Blazers also don’t turn the ball over, hit the glass hard on the offensive end and shoot lights out from 3. Meanwhile, the defense allows the 67th lowest opponent 3-point rate while being top 20 in 2-point defense and defensive turnover rate.
So, if you’re a middling, ball-lazy basketball team with a lousy defense and an offense over-reliant on shooting, it’ll be a long day against UAB.
World, meet Rice: this season’s (C-USA) underachievers. At 8-5 overall and 5-8 ATS, the Owl fanbase is disappointed after returning all five starters following years of improvement underneath Scott Pera.
Rice is actually decent at defending shot opportunities, but the Owls will not pressure UAB. Rice is an astounding 353rd in defensive turnover rate, ranking sub-300 in block rate, steal rate and non-steal turnover rate.
On offense, the Owls are top 30 in 3-point rate themselves. The team has been making a high percentage of those opportunities, but they’re also sub-300 in turnover rate and offensive steal rate.
Plus, I see regression coming on both ends for the Owls, who are 161st in offensive shot quality and 291st in defensive shot quality. Rice’s ShotQuality record is actually 6-7 as opposed to 8-5.
This game is playing right into UAB’s hands, and I’m expecting a blowout. UAB is 11-3 ATS this season, including 3-1 ATS on the road and 8-3 ATS as a favorite. Meanwhile, Rice is 0-3 ATS catching points.
Give me UAB at anything better than -9.5.
Pick: UAB -8.5