Saturday College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Pick & Roll, Featuring Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga

Saturday College Basketball Betting Picks: Our Pick & Roll, Featuring Saint Mary’s vs. Gonzaga article feature image
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Photo by Getty. Pictured: Mark Few (Gonzaga)

A long and strenuous college basketball season is coming to a close, as only a few full-day Saturday slates are left.

Our pick-and-roll team of Tanner McGrath and Mike Calabrese has dominated Saturdays all season long by zeroing in on four specific spots each Saturday.

Our two-man weave doesn’t sleep, and they're looking to finish the season strong with bets on teams from the Big Ten, SEC, America East and West Coast conferences.

Every game means more down the stretch, and our team realizes that. So, take their “picks” and “roll” into a profitable late-February Saturday.



McGrath's Top 2 Saturday Picks

Michigan State vs. Iowa

Saturday, Feb. 25
Noon ET
ESPN

I’m always happy to bet on Big Ten home teams. The home-court advantage in the league is so strong.

Well, we’ve got a great situation with Iowa on Saturday.

Michigan State is, obviously, off a very emotional win against Indiana, creating a monster letdown spot for Sparty.

Meanwhile, Iowa is looking to bounce back off consecutive losses. But I also expect a ton of positive regression from the Hawkeyes here.

First, Iowa’s loss against Wisconsin was graded as an analytical win by ShotQuality.

Image Credit: ShotQuality

Iowa got a bit unlucky in Madison this week and is probably undervalued.

Second, both of Iowa’s losses came on the road. The Hawkeyes now return to Carver, where they’re a ridiculous 12-3 against the spread (ATS) this season.

For the sake of full transparency, I don’t know how Iowa gets stops. The Hawkeyes aren’t a good defense overall and will probably get eaten up in A.J. Hoggard/Tyson Walker ball screens.

However, which Spartan stops Kris Murray? Jaden Akins is too small, while Joey Hauser isn’t laterally quick enough. Tom Izzo’s best bet is to stick Malik Hall on Murray and hope for the best.

In the first matchup, Murray finished with only 11 points, but he shot 0-for-5 from 3. Moreover, the entire Iowa team shot just 3-for-17 from 3 in Breslin and only lost by two despite Sparty shooting 8-for-20 from deep.

Iowa has won the past two matchups with Michigan State at Carter, both times winning by two possessions.

I expect the Hawkeyes to pull out another convincing home victory against Sparty on Saturday.

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Maine vs. Binghamton

Saturday, Feb. 25
2 p.m. ET
ESPN3

If you follow me on Twitter, you know the America East is my specialty. So, I am ecstatic to share that my favorite play for Saturday’s slate is on the Binghamton Bearcats.

Binghamton is coming off back-to-back road losses against UMass Lowell and Vermont, the two best teams in the America East (by far).

But both games were much closer than the final scores indicate. The Bearcats led the Catamounts by five with less than 12 minutes remaining and were within six points of the River Hawks with less than 10 minutes left.

So, after playing better than the box scores, the Bearcats come home to face a serious step-down in competition.

While I love what Maine has done this season under first-year head coach Chris Markwood, the Black Bears are still mercurial. You never know what you’ll get from the Bears on a night-to-night basis.

And this is a tough matchup for Maine. The Black Bears rely on their dynamic Jaden Clayton-Kellen Tynes backcourt and forward Gedi Juozapaitis to create offense.

However, Binghamton has one of the best backcourts in the America East — Jacob Falko and John McGriff — and the Bearcats boast a stout interior defense.

Basically, the Bearcats can neutralize Maine’s strengths and force it into a down night.

It’s worth mentioning that Binghamton’s McGriff is questionable for this game after missing Wednesday’s contest. However, Binghamton was able to cover against Vermont at Patrick Gymnasium — the toughest place to play in the conference — without McGriff, so I think it'll be fine at home against Maine.

But most importantly, Binghamton will be far more motivated in this game.

Maine has qualified for the America East Tournament, and the Black Bears are locked into the seventh or eighth seed.

Meanwhile, at 8-6, Binghamton is tied for third place with both Bryant and New Hampshire.

The tournament seeding implications from the final two games are monumental for those three teams. However, Binghamton is the team playing at home in a solid situational spot against an inferior opponent.

I’m willing to bet the house on that angle.

Given the ShotQualityBets model projects Binghamton as a 7.5-point favorite and EvanMiya projects the Bearcats as a 6.1-point favorite, I’m willing to play Binghamton up to a 4.5-point favorite.



Calabrese's Top 2 Saturday Picks

Arkansas vs. Alabama

Saturday, Feb. 25
2 p.m. ET
ESPN2

Nick Smith Jr. was gently worked back into the Razorbacks’ lineup after dealing with a long-term knee injury.

With a lottery selection all but locked up, it would have been forgivable for the gifted scorer to shut things down in 2023. Instead, he’s gotten himself back into game shape and is now logging starter's minutes for Eric Musselman.

The freshman wing played 32 minutes against Florida and 29 minutes against Georgia. Smith used his increased minutes to drop 26 points on the Bulldogs, shooting 9-of-14 from the field.

With Smith in the lineup, the Hogs are 7-2 SU, and when he plays 18 minutes or more, they’re undefeated. He elevates their overall offensive ceiling, which is good news for a team that's 50th in KenPom’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency metric.

If they hope to beat teams on Alabama’s level and make a deep run in both the SEC and NCAA tournaments, the Razorbacks will need to improve on the offensive end.

Much like the majority of the SEC, Arkansas has struggled from long range (31.5%, 305th), so adding in a slasher like Smith could lead to more wide open looks for his teammates.

What we know for sure is that he’ll help them add points from the charity stripe.

As a team, the Hogs shoot a hair below 70% from the line (263rd), but Smith is a pro at getting to the line and making his shots. The freshman from Jacksonville, Arkansas, is shooting 80.7% from the line.

If the Razorbacks' offense takes a step forward, they have the defensive chops to knock off the second-ranked Crimson Tide. Arkansas is 12th in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency metric and it's a tremendously disruptive team.

The Razorbacks force 14.5 turnovers per game, which is fourth in the SEC and 55th nationally. Arkansas' effective field goal percentage defense is even better at 19th in the nation.

But the key stat for this game that I have circled is the Razorbacks' perimeter defense. Opponents are only making 5.4 3-pointers per game against the Hogs (9th).

If they can slow down Brandon Miller and prevent him from turning in the kind of game that bailed out Alabama against South Carolina earlier this week, their perimeter defense will do the rest against a Crimson Tide team that lives and dies from long range.

Alabama takes and makes the fourth-highest amount of 3s in the country. In recent losses to Tennessee and Oklahoma, the Tide shot just 15-for-46 (32.6%) from long range.

If they’re not special from deep, there’s a decent chance to upset them, and at this price, I’m willing to bet that’s exactly what Arkansas does in T-Town.


Saint Mary's vs. Gonzaga

Saturday, Feb. 25
10 p.m. ET
ESPN

From one long shot to a team seeking revenge.

The Zags outplayed SMC for the majority of their meeting in Northern California.

In a low-scoring game, the Bulldogs held an eight-point lead with under eight minutes to go.

But the Gaels' defense stymied the WCC juggernaut. Also, Aidan Mahaney scored all the crucial baskets down the stretch, forcing the game into overtime before scoring three points and assisting on two other hoops in the OT.

Since then, let’s just say we’ve witnessed a rare Gonzaga team. I call them the Zombie Zags, left for dead from a national perspective.

Since that stinging loss, they’re averaging 98 points per game and over 1.2 points per possession.

That 4-0 run straight up, combined with their nearly flawless offensive play has elevated the Bulldogs to KenPom’s top spot in terms of offensive efficiency and 13th overall.

The Gaels have headed in the opposite direction since their landmark win over the WCC’s resident bully. Saint Mary’s lost its next game to Loyola Marymount, nearly choked away a massive lead against San Diego (11-18 overall) and was in a one-point game with BYU in the final two minutes.

A big issue the Gaels are having right now is that if Mahaney isn’t carrying their offense it’s a real slog for the Gaels to get buckets.

Mahaney has shot better than 46% from the field just once in his last eight games. That’s not going to cut it against a blood-thirty Bulldog team playing in front of a raucous Kennel crowd.

If Logan Johnson doesn’t come to the rescue for SMC, I’m not sure it can stay within single digits in a great situational spot for Gonzaga. He was ineffective in their last meeting, shooting just 4-for-14 from the field.

He's caught fire as of late, reaching 27+ in four of his last five games as Mahaney has taken a backseat. But it’s worth noting that Johnson has wilted against Gonzaga throughout his career. He’s shot 30% or worse from the field in four of his last six meetings with GU.

I would play this up to Gonzaga -9.5 on the alternate line if you can get +200 or better on your money.


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