NCAAB Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Pick & Roll, Featuring This WCC Duel
Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Gonzaga Bulldogs
- Another loaded Saturday college basketball slate means another Pick & Roll from Tanner McGrath and Mike Calabrese.
- Both experts picked two games from Saturday's slate, including Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga and Indiana vs. Purdue.
- Check out all four of McGrath and Calabrese's top bets for Saturday's college basketball games below.
Tanner McGrath and Michael Calabrese are reunited after Breese’s recent stint on the Pick & Roll’s injured list.
The flu may have laid Breese up, but Tanner and Cooper Van Tatenhove laid out a stellar card once again (3-1), improving this column’s season record to a sterling 25-18 ATS (58.1%).
This week, Tanner goes high and low with a play on the nationally-ranked matchup between Purdue–Indiana and a bottom-of-the-board wager on the battle of Long Island between Hofstra and Stony Brook.
Breese, bucking his season-long trend, is actually serving up a pair of nationally-televised matchups.
The first takes us out to the Big East’s western outpost in Omaha before heading to the Bay Area for the nightcap between Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s in the WCC.
McGrath’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Purdue vs. Indiana
Sigh. Here we go again.
Another day fading the Purdue Boilermakers.
I was almost finished. For a quick second, I looked at the ShotQuality data, which rates Purdue as the best team in the nation, and promised I’ll never fade this team again.
I can’t help myself.
Purdue is 6-1 in games decided by five points or less. The Boilermakers rank in the 98th percentile in PPP allowed on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers.
The Boilermakers are at the absolute peak of their market and are due for regression. Plus, I like the matchup for the Hoosiers, especially in a bounce-back spot after losing to Maryland.
I still am apprehensive about Purdue’s ball-screen defense, which has fallen to fourth in Big Ten play at ShotQuality. The Boilermakers have been exposed off the dribble against teams like Rutgers (Cam Spencer) and Maryland (Jahmir Young).
Well, the development of Jalen Hood-Schifino will be monstrous here. The JHS pick-and-roll set has been deadly since Xavier Johnson went down, especially when paired with All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis (i.e., the JHS-TJD set).
Jalen Hood-Schifino was calm in the pick and roll game. Strong finish on the first play and a good, quick read to find Reneau on the second. pic.twitter.com/logNEeduAC
— Zion Brown (@z10nbr0wn) October 30, 2022
Speaking of TJD: if there is a player that can neutralize Zach Edey’s monstrous interior advantage, the Greenwood, Indiana product is the guy. Jackson-Davis is playing the best two-way basketball of his career, and he’s arguably the best two-way forward in the nation.
And if you can contain Edey, you can force the Edeyettes to do too much. That’s what Michigan State did with Mady Sissoko, resulting in a Sparty home-dog cover (a one-point loss at +4).
Thinking about it, Purdue has been super underwhelming on the road. Here are Purdue’s road performances this season:
- 79-69 at Florida State
- 65-62 overtime win at Nebraska
- 71-69 win at Ohio State (No Zed Key)
- 64-63 win at Michigan State
- 61-39 win at Minnesota
- 75-70 win at Michigan
The JHS-TJD Hoosiers are begging to turn a corner and launch themselves into March, and this is an ideal spot for the Hoosiers to start that quest.
I’ll take Indiana at -2 (-110) or better.
Pick: Indiana -1
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Stony Brook vs. Hofstra
You may have heard of the Hofstra Pride over the last week. Someone finally knocked off Charleston, ending the Cougars’ 20-game win streak.
That someone was Hofstra.
Hofstra then picked up a win over Towson to cap off a four-game win streak. The Pride have won eight of their last nine. Aaron Estrada and Co. have vaulted up the CAA standings and find themselves in a tie for first place.
What a perfect spot for a letdown, especially at the market’s peak. And Stony Brook is not the team you want to have a letdown against.
Geno Ford’s Seawolves often throw zone at their opponents, and while it’s not a great zone, it can throw teams for a loop. That’s especially true with how much size the Seawolves have, as they’re top-75 nationally in average height and feature two seven-footers at the center rotation.
In fact, this exact zone threw the Pride out of whack just last season. Stony Brook beat Hofstra by 17 in the non-conference season, with Estrada scoring only six points on 2-for-10 from the field. He was most notably 0-for-5 from the interior.
Hofstra is a good 3-point shooting team, but the Pride like to work inside-out. For example, Estrada ranks in just the 37th percentile in 3-point rate this season.
I can easily see the Pride struggling to manage interior buckets against a massive interior, zone-based defense.
That’s especially the case if Hofstra is fast asleep at the wheel. And especially if it’s already happened before.
And especially if Hofstra is monstrously overvalued.
The Pride haven’t just won four straight, but three of those four were graded as analytical losses by ShotQuality. That’s probably why Stony Brook is just a 10-point underdog via the site’s model.
Giving Stony Brook 15 points is way too many here.
It’s also worth mentioning that Stony Brook will likely crush Hofstra on the glass. Hofstra is arguably the worst rebounding team in the CAA, and Stony Brook couples its size with the league’s fourth-best defensive rebounding rate.
Look for Frankie Policelli to have a big game. The 6-foot-7 forward had to play too much center for an undersized Seawolves team last season, but now is sucking in rebounds and shooting the lights out from the 3.
He’s a perfect mismatch for a team that doesn’t rebound or run guys off the 3-point line.
Stony Brook should keep this game within 10.
Pick: Stony Brook +15
Calabrese’s Top 2 Saturday Picks
Villanova vs. Creighton
The series between the Wildcats and Bluejays has become a study in home court advantage.
Creighton headed to the Main Line last January to take on Villanova at the Pavilion and were run off the court, losing by 34.
The year before that, Villanova took a beating in Omaha, falling by 20.
The seesaw battle played out just like that in the previous two meetings, as well, with the home team winning by double digits.
But this play is more than just tailing a recent blowout trend. Creighton has turned the corner, erasing the memory of a six-game losing streak by reeling off eight wins in the last 10 games.
The Bluejays’ current five-game winning streak got kick-started with a six-point win over Providence, and since then, they have taken their play to an elite level.
Their last four games have been routs, dropping conference opponents by 19 points per game. They’ve risen to 34th in offensive efficiency and 26th in eFG%. KenPom is as high on the Bluejays as anyone, ranking them 12th nationally.
Villanova has taken a step back in its first season post-Jay Wright, sliding to seventh in the Big East (4-7) and 109th in defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. Villanova hasn’t been outside of the top 100 in that metric in 11 seasons.
Offensively, the Wildcats are encouraged by the return of Justin Moore, but the senior still has a lot of rust to shake off after a prolonged recovery from his Achilles’ injury.
It’s not ideal for the Cats to be relying on him to be their shot in the arm offensively at the moment.
The game within the game that I feel is decidedly in Creighton’s favor is on the low block. Villanova’s pair of 6-foot-8 forwards — Eric Dixon and Brandon Slater — have done little to slow down opposing bigs, evidenced by Nova’s 2-point defense this season (50.8%, 206th).
The Wildcats’ soft interior defense should translate to a big game from Ryan Kalkbrenner. The Bluejays’ big is hitting over 70% from the field during their five-game win streak, and I foresee that hot streak continuing.
I would play Creighton up to -13 in this spot.
Pick: Creighton -9.5 (Play to -13)
Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary’s
Contrast makes fights. Gonzaga wants to push the tempo (74.3 possessions, 31st) and make the most of its second-ranked offense. Saint Mary’s wants to slow things way down (351st) and lean on a defense that refuses to give up quality looks.
The Gaels are 10th in 2-point defense and fourth in opponent assist-to-made-basket ratio. They do it all without fouling and sending opponents to the charity stripe all that often.
And opponents struggle to turn the Gaels over and get into their transition game.
When you add it all up, it’s no wonder that SMC only surrenders 56.9 points per game (4th).
Then there’s the reality that Gonzaga has taken a step back this season in WCC play. After plowing through the conference for the better part of the last decade, Gonzaga has now played three close WCC road games (San Francisco, Santa Clara, BYU) and lost one at home to Loyola Marymount.
Gonzaga isn’t the same juggernaut that could simply impose its will on the WCC.
As a result, teams have successfully slowed the Zags down in conference play. The under has paid out in six of the Bulldogs’ nine WCC games this season.
What I know for a fact is that SMC will look to slow this game way down, so it really is tethered to who I believe can win this game.
The Gaels have played second fiddle to Gonzaga for years, but they finally have the defense (4th in efficiency) to pair with their plodding offensive style.
Akin to a triple-option team with an elite defense, the Gaels maximize the value of every stop and have been fantastic in the second half this season (31.3 pts per half, 7th).
Logan Johnson gives them a steady hand and a lockdown perimeter defender, but it’s been the emergence of Aidan Mahaney that has taken them to national prominence.
The freshman wing is averaging 15 points per game on 43% shooting from long range. He made the game-winning jumper against BYU on Jan. 28 and has three 20+ point performances in the WCC in the past month.
I would recommend waiting until closer to tip to play this under because I believe some late money will come in on the over and potentially push this total to 141 or 141.5.
Either way, I foresee a real slog between these two teams and a game played in the 60s.
Pick: Under 140.5
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