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College Basketball Betting Pick & Roll: Calabrese & McGrath’s Favorite Picks for Saturday’s Slate

College Basketball Betting Pick & Roll: Calabrese & McGrath’s Favorite Picks for Saturday’s Slate article feature image
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Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images. Pictured: Ben Jacobson (UNI)

  • A Saturday college hoops slate once again brings with it the Pick & Roll via Mike Calabrese and Tanner McGrath.
  • Their top bets include Northern Iowa vs. Southern Illinois and Arkansas vs. LSU.
  • Check out all of their favorite picks for Saturday's slate below.

It goes without saying that basketball is a game of runs. Unfortunately for our two-man weave, last week was a prolonged scoring drought.

But don’t expect them to slow the pace down to a Tony Bennett-coached level. These two only know how to run n’ gun, which is why they’re back with four plays to add to your Saturday card.

So let’s hope for some early winners to restore the momentum and get this column on a run of its own.


McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks

Texas vs. Iowa State

Saturday, Jan. 15
2 p.m. ET
ESPN+

T.J. Otzelberger is a wizard. Any coach that takes a 2-22 team and flips it into the top 15 within the same calendar year is to be lauded.

Otzelberger has turned up the defensive pressure, specifically on the perimeter (fifth in defensive turnover rate), and Penn State transfer Izaiah Brockington has transformed the feel of the team.

There’s some regression coming for the Cyclones, but it may already be here. ISU has lost three of its first four Big 12 games, against Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas.

But that just means the Cyclones are hungry, and this hungry dog runs very fast. Otzelberger is 7-4 ATS as a home dog in his career, and his Cyclones are 6-1 ATS when catching points this season.

Iowa State is running into a solid situation, too. Texas coach Chris Beard is just 18-20 ATS as a road favorite in his career, and his Longhorns are only 1-4 ATS on the road this season. That includes straight up road losses to Seton Hall and Oklahoma State.

Iowa State is mostly due for regression in the 3-point defense department, where its 26.5% 3-point defensive percentage is simply unsustainable. But Texas isn’t going to take advantage of that, as the Longhorns are 212th in 3-point rate (36.8% 3PA/FGA).

Beard’s offense works very slow (353rd in tempo), moves the ball (69th in assist rate) and tries to get a good interior look from anyone that’s open. Those shots generally go to Timmy Allen, Marcus Carr or Andrew Jones.

Well, look for ISU’s athletic 1-through-4 to shut down those passing lanes and smother Texas’ main offensive weapons. The Cyclones rank highly in several key interior-motion defensive metrics, such as:

  • Pick-and-roll PPP allowed (.608, ninth)
  • Off-screen PPP allowed (.627, 43rd)
  • Hand-off PPP allowed (.581, 40th)
  • Post-up PPP allowed (.659, 26th)

I love the matchup for the Cyclones. I love the spot for the Cyclones. I love buying low on the Cyclones. And I love selling high on Texas.

Take Iowa State down to +1.

Pick: Iowa State +2.5 (Play to +1)


Arkansas vs. LSU

Saturday, Jan. 15
2 p.m. ET
ESPN2

The LSU fade train is not a smooth ride. LSU is a remarkable 13-3 ATS this season, including 10-1 ATS at home and 12-2 ATS as a favorite.

But there has to be a stop button — a price where it’s time to sell the Tigers.

I believe this is that spot.

In LSU’s narrow victory over Florida, the Gators shot 7-for-21 from 3 and 11-for-22 from the charity stripe.

That’s crazy.

But LSU has been getting lucky all season. The Tigers have the fifth-highest opponent 3-point rate (48.4% 3PA/FGA), but those opponents are hitting at just a 26.3% clip.

Once again, that’s crazy.

Perhaps LSU will finally see some regression against Arkansas, which is desperate for a victory. The Razorbacks are just 2-5 in their last seven games, including losses to Vanderbilt and Hofstra (yikes).

But Arkansas has some 3-point regression coming for it, as well. The Hogs are making just 29.7% of their attempts from deep this season. But they tinkered with their lineup against Mizzou, and blew out those Tigers by 44 points.

While it’s only a win over Mizzou — the worst power conference team in the nation — it means something.

In fact, it means Arkansas shouldn’t be catching over seven points in a conference game.

Pick: Arkansas +7.5

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Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks

Northern Iowa vs. Southern Illinois

Saturday, Jan. 15
8 p.m. ET
ESPN+

The Panthers enter this one on a real heater. After a pair of two-point losses out in the middle of the Pacific (Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic), UNI has rebounded with four straight wins (3-1 ATS).

The Panthers’ resurgence has coincided with the improved play of two players.

AJ Green — the heart and soul of the Purple and Gold — dropped 33 points in an upset over Missouri State two games ago and helped orchestrate a last-minute comeback against Indiana State, leading to an OT win in the last contest.

Green has also been supported by Noah Carter, who is scoring consistently for the first time in his career.

The recent success has UNI all the way up to 106th in KenPom, despite one of the nation’s worst “luck” ratings (331st).

It’s easy to envision one or two more wins for the 8-7 Panthers this season, but as a gambler, I’m glad they have four losses by four points or less. It allows me to grab them at a more reasonable price, which is exactly what I’m doing against this overmatched Saluki team.

Southern Illinois may be 9-6 SU, but this team isn’t equipped to score with the Panthers. The Salukis are 280th in scoring per game (65 points), and they really struggle to generate second chance opportunities.

This is the worst offensive rebounding team in the Missouri Valley (6.3, 327th), and they don’t pull teams out of their comfort zones defensively. SIU only generates 11.5 turnovers per game (279th) while playing at the sixth-slowest pace in the country.

If they made the most out of their opportunities or generated more scoring opportunities, I’d like the methodical pace. But their work on the glass and non-existent pressure defense puts me in a position to fade them against a team that can really score.

UNI fits the bill, averaging 85 per game during this winning streak.

UNI just played against a team that prefers a snail pace (Evansville, 327th) and drilled them, covering an 11-point spread in a 22-point victory. I smell a repeat performance.

Pick: Northern Iowa +1


BYU vs. San Francisco

Saturday, Jan. 15
11 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network

The Dons have been an over-machine since the calendar turned to 2022. Three straight USF games have breezed past the closing number by an average of 26 points.

Jamaree Bouyea continues to provide the Dons with stellar play at the point, but it’s been the combination of Yauhen Massalski and Khalil Shabazz that has really revved up the USF offense.

Massaiski and Shabazz have teamed up to average 38 points per game during this hot streak, helping the Dons move up to 12th in effective FG percentage nationally.

In short, this offense has come alive.

BYU overs, meanwhile, have cashed in seven of the last 10 contests, and the Cougs are coming off of an 84-point performance against Gonzaga.

The inside-outside nature of the BYU attack — Alex Barcello at the point and Fousseyni Traore on the low block — has helped the Cougars score consistently over the past two months.

Traore has also been a welcomed addition to the BYU lineup in terms of rebounding. The freshman has gobbled up 12 rebounds per game in his last six. His 2.88 offensive boards per game is one of the best rebounding rates among freshmen nationally, and he didn’t start playing consistent minutes until December 22nd.

The final reason that this is one of my top plays is the foul shooting potential in a close game. BYU shoots a healthy 74.3% from the charity stripe, and USF has three primary ball handers (Bouyea, Shabazz, Gabe Stefanini) who all shoot 76% or better from the line.

If either team is chasing at the end and sending the opposite to the line, I like my chances to grab 10+ in the final 90 seconds of this one.

Pick: Over 142

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