NCAAB Saturday Picks: Our Pick & Roll, Including Bama vs. Oklahoma, More

NCAAB Saturday Picks: Our Pick & Roll, Including Bama vs. Oklahoma, More article feature image

Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Grant Sherfield (Oklahoma)

  • Cooper Van Tatenhove fills in for Michael Calabrese today to be the Pick & Roll partner for Tanner McGrath.
  • The duo has four total picks, including an early Big East affair and matchups from the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
  • Cooper is also looking at a Missouri Valley mid-major clash.

Cooper Van Tatenhove subs in this week for Mike Calabrese as Tanner McGrath’s two-man pick-and-roll partner. Many will say our team has to survive the non-Calabrese minutes, but McGrath is confident our ball-screen sets will be just as efficient despite the change.

Metaphors aside, our team has been grinding every Friday night for the four best Saturday college hoops betting spots week in and week out. The process is working, as the team is 23-17 ATS this season.

This week, Tanner targets two dogs in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, while Cooper targets a Big East buy-low spot and a Missouri Valley team looking to snap a losing streak.

So, go ahead and take our guys' “picks” and “roll” into a profitable college basketball Saturday.

Tanner's Top 2 Saturday Picks

Alabama vs. Oklahoma

Saturday, Jan. 28
2 p.m. ET

The theme of this column will be the Big 12.

The Big 12 is, bar none, the best conference in the nation. It’s not particularly close, considering the depth and talent from top-to-bottom.

That angle gives us a unique betting opportunity on Saturday with the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Specifically, I’m looking to bet mediocre Big 12 teams against supposedly “elite” SEC teams.

These Big 12 teams will be relatively undervalued compared to their competitors, but the difference in day-to-day strength of schedule is so vast that I expect these squads to look like monsters against a step-down in competition.

No game emphasizes this idea more than the AlabamaOklahoma game.

Bama is a world beater, now sitting at 8-0 in SEC play and 18-2 overall. Nate Oats’ analytically-friendly style of play is well-known, where the Tide shoot 3s and attack the rim.

However, Brandon Miller has significantly raised the ceiling in Tuscaloosa, and the Tide have stepped it up on defense.

That said, here are the Tide’s last four opponents:

  • KenPom No. 123 LSU (106-66 win)
  • KenPom No. 91 Vanderbilt (78-66 win)
  • KenPom No. 46 Missouri (85-64 win)
  • KenPom No. 52 Mississippi State (66-63 win)

That’s not a very impressive stretch of opponents. ShotQuality even graded the Vanderbilt win as an analytical loss.

The Tide will now travel to Norman in a letdown spot.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma is hunting for quality wins after falling to 2-6 in league play, and a win over Alabama could significantly improve the Sooners’ seed line.

Again, I expect Oklahoma to look like a different animal in a clear bounce-back spot. The Sooners are coming off three straight losses to:

  • KenPom No. 39 Oklahoma State
  • KenPom No. 16 Baylor
  • KenPom No. 13 TCU

Oklahoma will have some advantages on defense, where the Sooners are elite at running opponents off the 3-point line.

Offensively, it’s tough. Grant Sherfield and Tanner Groves are the best pick-and-roll combo in the Big 12, but Alabama is the SEC’s best pick-and-roll defense.

But then again, I bet those numbers are skewed because of the difference in conference competition.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Sherfield-Groves tandem outplay Bama in ball-screen sets while the Tide struggle to get its normal array of 3-point looks. That's all because the Tide aren’t ready for Big 12 play.

The situational spot heavily favors Oklahoma, and the on-court matchup isn’t horrific. And I haven’t even mentioned we’re catching over three possessions with a home dog.

And if all else fails, I trust Porter Moser more than most coaches. I bet he can steer Oklahoma through this monster game for 40 minutes.

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Texas vs. Tennessee

Saturday, Jan. 28
6 p.m. ET

Once again, we’re going with a “mediocre” Big 12 team against an “elite” SEC team.

What is Tennessee?

The best defense in the nation?

A team that lost to Colorado?

A dominant offensive rebounding team?

A team due for nearly 10% of defensive 3-point negative regression? (Per ShotQuality.)

I don’t know what to make of the Vols, but I’m almost always willing to sell Rick Barnes. And the sheer amount of negative shooting regression the Vols are due for is enough to fade them almost every game.

The Vols are 311th in 3-point rate allowed, but only 21.6% of opposing attempts are falling — a wildly unsustainable number.

And whatever Tennessee is, the Vols are still an SEC team trying to compete with a Big 12 team. And we’re catching three possessions with the Big 12 team!

For what it’s worth, Texas is the better defensive team by Adjusted Defensive ShotQuality. Texas does many things right, including protecting the rim and preventing transition opportunities.

Most importantly, Texas forces a ton of turnovers. The Horns are 22nd nationally in defensive turnover rate, forcing almost 17 per game.

Texas’ active defense should prove huge against a shaky Tennessee ball-handling team. The Vols are eighth in the SEC in offensive turnover rate and 243rd nationally.

Offensively, Marcus Carr is going to be huge in this game. Tennessee is vulnerable to off-the-dribble 3s and mid-range shooters, and Carr is a true three-level scorer with a smooth jumper and 51.1% / 41.5% / 80.3% shooting splits.

I’m looking for Carr to cook this SEC defense just like this:

Marcus Carr siendo el buque insignia de Texas
21 PTS
7-11 TC
2-2 3PT

— NCAA 🇨🇱🏀 (@TreNCAAChile) January 25, 2023

For 40 minutes, please.

Again, the difference in talent level between the two conferences makes the Horns undervalued.

Tennessee is good, but the Vols are in for a wake-up call, both from a shooting regression standpoint and a sheer physicality standpoint.

I’ll take the points with the Horns.

Cooper's Top 2 Saturday Picks

Xavier vs. Creighton

Saturday, Jan. 28
12:15 p.m. ET

There are few better spots in college basketball than a team playing on its home floor with revenge on its mind.

This is precisely what we have with this Big East showdown between Xavier and Creighton.

In the first matchup between the two, Xavier was able to escape with a 90-87 victory. Since this win, the Musketeers have gone 3-1 in Big East play, picking up victories against both Marquette and Connecticut.

When you take a closer look at these two wins, you can see both could have gone either way.

In addition, the Bluejays have truly bought in defensively in Big East play, which was the end of the floor that was their demise against Xavier the first time around.

In Big East play, Creighton has the No. 1 Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (96.3), due in large part to its ability to limit teams' success from the 3-point line. The Bluejays lead the Big East in 3-point attempts allowed, giving teams just 29.6% of their shot attempts from distance.

This perimeter defense will be crucial in making Xavier a one-dimensional offensive team and allowing for Creighton’s offense to outpace the Musketeers.

Creighton will be able to outpace Xavier by getting plenty of quality shots from long-range. The Bluejays already shoot 41.1% of their shots from beyond the arc and will be facing a Xavier defense allowing 34.7% of its opponents' shots from distance (94th nationally).

Overall, this is a great revenge spot to invest in a Creighton team that has continued to improve on the defensive end since giving up 90 points to Xavier in the first matchup.

Match this with Creighton only being defeated one time this season on its home floor, and I am all in on the Bluejays in this game.

Northern Iowa vs. Indiana State

Saturday, Jan. 28
2 p.m. ET

The Sycamores have been one of the most up-and-down teams in all of college basketball.

Currently Indiana State is down, losing its last five games. Although on paper this skid appears dire, the Sycamores are due for some positive regression, which will get them back on the winning side.

Four of these five losses have come by single digits, with two games being decided by a single possession.

What has really hurt coach Josh Schertz and Indiana State is its inconsistency from the 3-point line. The Sycamores attempt 45.8% of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc, but have only been able to connect on 29.9% of them in Missouri Valley play.

This is a perfect spot to turn these outside shooting numbers around, as Northern Iowa is allowing an astonishing 40.9% of its points from 3-point range, the fifth-highest rate in all of college basketball.

Additionally, Indiana’s State’s front court duo of Courvosier McCauley and Robbie Avile will be able to create a balanced offensive attack through their play on the interior. McCauley and Avile combined for 44 of Indiana State’s 68 total points against Drake on Tuesday.

These two have an advantageous matchup against a Northern Iowa defense allowing teams to get high-quality looks on the interior. The Panthers allow their opponents to connect on 53.1% of their 2-point attempts.

Lastly, I believe the Sycamores will be able to use their tempo (26th nationally) to speed up a Northern Iowa team that has struggled to match up-tempo offenses.

Give me Indiana State in a desperation spot where they are primed to see some shooting progression.

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