Saturday NCAAB Picks: Stuckey’s Top 9 Betting Spots

Saturday NCAAB Picks: Stuckey’s Top 9 Betting Spots article feature image
Credit:

James Gilbert/Getty Images. Pictured: Texas A&M’s Wade Taylor IV.

Another Saturday college basketball slate is upon us, so get ready for some wall-to-wall NCAAB action.

Just like last year, each week for the remainder of the college basketball season, I will share my favorite spots for the Saturday slate.

In addition to my raw projection, I will focus on matchups, situational spots, injuries, potential regression and other ancillary factors.

This week, I will highlight my nine favorite spots on Saturday's slate and finish up with a trio of quick hitters.

For reference, I write these up early on Friday evening after the openers come out. The market will obviously move overnight, so I always will list the price at which I'd play each game.

  • 2022-23: 33-22 (60.0%) +9.24 units
  • 2023-24: 20-23-1 (46.5%) -4.64 units
  • Overall: 53-45-1 (54.1%) +4.6 units

Stuckey's Saturday College Basketball Spots

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that Stuckey is targeting from Saturday's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
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Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Duke vs. Wake Forest

Saturday, Feb. 24
2 p.m. ET
ESPN
Wake Forest ML -110

This looks like a prime spot to sell Duke — which has played a very easy league schedule to date — after five straight victories, including its most recent victory against a severely shorthanded Miami club.

Not only has the competition been underwhelming, but Duke has also benefited from some pretty extreme 3-point variance with those five opponents connecting on just 28-of-118 3-point attempts (23.7%), while Duke has made a silly 23-of-45 (51.1%) over its past two games alone.

Duke has performed better away from Cameron of late, but it still hasn't defeated an NCAA Tournament team in a true road game with losses against Georgia Tech, Arkansas and North Carolina.

The Blue Devils' road wins have come against Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami. Color me not impressed.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest has been an absolute juggernaut in Joel Coliseum, where the Demon Deacons have a perfect 14-0 home record.

While the competition hasn't been great in ACC play, they have absolutely dominated league foes in Winston-Salem with a perfect 7-0 record with an average scoring margin of 19.5 points per game while averaging just under 86 points per game.

From an advanced metrics standpoint, they've basically been a top-10 caliber team in home games (adjusted for opponent) since Efton Reid III made his debut in early December.

Plus, Wake should benefit from an extra day of rest and preparation against a Blue Devils squad hitting the highway for a second consecutive road game.

From a matchup perspective, Wake Forest can exploit Duke's issues defending off the dribble and in isolation. And on the other end of the floor, Wake's drop defense with Reid should force Duke to operate in the midrange, where the Blue Devils haven't been overly efficient.

The Demon Deacons also do a superb job of limiting spot-up shooting opportunities (eighth percentile, per Synergy), which is critical against one of the better spot-up shooting clubs in the country.

In a road loss 12 days ago in Durham, Wake remained competitive throughout despite shooting just 6-of-26 from deep with Duke getting a friendly home whistle.

I think the Demon Deacons get their revenge and all but lock up an at-large berth.

Pick: Wake Forest ML -110 (Play to -1.5)

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BYU vs. Kansas State

Saturday, Feb. 24
2 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Kansas State +2.5

The roles are reversed for the second meeting between Kansas State and BYU.

In the first matchup in Provo, Kansas State found itself in a brutal situational spot after upsetting in-state rival Kansas at home with BYU looking to bounce back after a blowout loss at Oklahoma. Regardless, the Wildcats still found a way to cover the spread in a six-point defeat.

Well, now BYU finds itself in a tricky spot after beating Baylor earlier in the week with a trip to Lawrence to take on Kansas looming on deck.

Plus, the potentially sleepy Cougars have struggled away from the Marriott Center, ranking 355th in Haslametrics' Away From Home metric. They've gone 2-5 in true road games with their only wins coming over West Virginia and UCF.

Their defense, which lacks athleticism on the perimeter, has been routinely shredded in those contests with even Oklahoma State putting up 93 points in a recent victory in Stillwater.

They also won't really expose Kansas State's incessant turnover woes.

I think this is also a good spot to buy low once again on Kansas State, which has lost three straight after that aforementioned upset over the Jayhawks. The Wildcats still boast one of the nation's elite defenses and have been as good as any team in the country in these home spots over the past two seasons.

Plus, it's not like they haven't been competitive in their last three losses, which have come by a combined 15 points against three tourney-bound clubs. Only one of those losses came at home when TCU hit a crazy game-winning three at the buzzer in a game where Kansas State finished just 1-of-15 from 3-point land.

Speaking of which, while Kansas State profiles as a bad perimeter shooting team, it does have some potential positive regression looming. The Wildcats are not as bad from the outside as they've been in eight games (1-7) over the past month, shooting just 27.2% from deep.

With Kansas State's tourney hopes on life support, a loss here would all but put the nail in its coffin. I'd expect a fully focused effort in the Octagon of Doom.

Pick: Kansas State +2 (Play to +1.5)



East Tennessee State vs. Samford

Saturday, Feb. 24
2 p.m. ET
ESPN+
East Tennessee State +14

This is a tough spot for Samford, which came from behind in thrilling fashion on Wednesday night to beat Furman by a bucket to essentially lock up the SoCon regular-season title.

Due to tiebreakers, it would only need to win one of its final three — which includes a home date vs. The Citadel — to clinch the No. 1 overall seed in the conference tournament.

More importantly, the Bulldogs could be severely shorthanded for this meeting. Before that win against Furman, both Achor Achor and AJ Staton-McCray were both seen in boots. While the latter didn't suit up, Achor tried to give it a go but left after just nine minutes of action.

I'm just speculating here, but I would guess neither plays in this one.

While ETSU doesn't inspire much confidence — especially on offense — it did take Samford down to the wire in the first meeting in a three-point loss. The Buccaneers lived at the line with 28 free throw attempts and dominated the offensive glass (39% offensive rebounding percentage), which represent their two primary strengths on that end of the floor.

That should once again be the formula to keep this within the number against a Samford team that ranks 292nd in offensive rebounding percentage allowed and 270th in foul rate. And those stats are primarily with their best rebounder and defender in Achor.

ETSU chucks way too many 3s (66th) for a horrible shooting team (337th), but it does have some potential positive regression looming on that front after connecting on just 27% of its 3-point attempts in the month of February.

Pick: East Tennessee State +12.5 (Play to +11.5)



Cincinnati vs. TCU

Saturday, Feb. 24
3 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Cincinnati +5.5

After a bad loss at home to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night, it's now or never for the Bearcats, who would in all likelihood miss the NCAA Tournament if the season ended today. This is almost a must-win on the road against a TCU team it already beat at home earlier this season.

While TCU will be out for revenge, it's worth noting that Cincy pulled out that win in overtime despite going 11-of-21 from the line (52.4%) with TCU shooting 11-of-25 from 3 (44%).

Plus, there are a few things I like about this matchup.

Cincinnati does an excellent job at defending in transition and at the rim, which are both paramount against the Horned Frogs, who relentlessly attack the rim and look to get out in transition whenever possible.

The Bearcats also do an adequate job of defending without fouling and can at least compete on the defensive glass — two things that are both super important against Jamie Dixon's club.

The Horned Frogs also have some looming negative shooting regression. While not a 3-point-reliant team, they actually lead all Big 12 teams in league play from deep at 37.9%, which will more likely than not tick down a few notches over their final five regular-season contests.

Conversely, over the past month, the Bearcats have shot just 28.6% from beyond the arc across nine games, which ranks in the bottom 20 nationally. While they're not a great shooting team, they aren't that poor, having shot 34.5% from deep over their first 17 games to rank 125th over that span.

I'm a bit worried about Cincy creating offense in the half-court in addition to potential live-ball turnovers leading to TCU runouts, but it should have a field day on the offensive glass (No. 8 nationally), where TCU is vulnerable.

I think this is a good spot and a decent enough matchup to buy low on the desperate Bearcats, who could have some positive shooting regression work in their favor on both ends.

Plus, it's not like Cincy has been completely inept on the road in league play, as it owns wins over BYU, UCF and Texas Tech in addition to close losses against Kansas (by 5), Baylor (by 3) and West Virginia (by 4).

In fact, they have yet to lose a road Big 12 game by more than five points, and seven of their eight overall league losses have come by five points or less.

Pick: Cincinnati +5.5 (Play to +4.5)



Alabama vs. Kentucky

Saturday, Feb. 24
4 p.m. ET
CBS
Kentucky ML -110

I like Kentucky's chances to bounce back at home after blowing a 15-point lead in a brutal buzzer-beater loss at LSU. More importantly, Alabama just isn't the same team away from Tuscaloosa.

The Tide have shot just 33.5% from deep on the road compared to 41.1% at home, which is actually just below Kentucky's elite percentage at Rupp.

Similarly, their defense falls off a cliff on the road, ranking 190th in Adjusted Efficiency compared to 35th at home, per Bart Torvik. As a result, it's no surprise that Alabama ranks 352nd nationally in Haslametrics' Away From Home metric.

college basketball-betting-odds-previews-predictions
Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: UK's Antonio Reeves.

I also don't expect Latrell Wrightsell to suit up due to a concussion. He's critical on both ends of the floor. Not only has he been Alabama's best perimeter defender, but he's also arguably been the best shooter in the conference during SEC play. On the season, he's hitting almost 45% from beyond the arc with that percentage jumping up to over 50% in league play.

Plus, since he missed Alabama's last game against Florida, the Tide's backcourt duo of Mark Sears and Aaron Estrada had to log 42 and 40 minutes, respectively. Consequently, legs could be an issue for a quick turnaround in Lexington after a hard-fought overtime win in what profiles as an absolute track meet.

Both defenses have major issues, but I trust Kentucky's full-strength backcourt a bit more at home in the friendly confines.

Plus, the Wildcats have responded on the defensive end over their past three games after getting shredded by Gonzaga. The sample size is small, but the Cats rank fifth nationally in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency over the past two weeks.

Better effort and a few schematic changes have definitely led to improvements on that end of the floor.

Pick: Kentucky ML -110 (Play to -1.5)



Texas Tech vs. UCF

Saturday, Feb. 24
4 p.m. ET
ESPN+
UCF +1.5

This marks a potential sleepy sandwich spot for the Red Raiders, who travel to Orlando after coming back to beat TCU in thrilling fashion with Texas on deck.

This also sets up as a chance to buy low on UCF, which has lost four straight overall.

UCF is not a good shooting team, but it's overdue for some positive regression in that regard against a Texas Tech defense that forces opponents into plenty of jumpers.

In the month of February, the Knights are shooting just 25.9% from deep, which ranks in the bottom 20 nationally.

Additionally, the other avenue for success against the Red Raiders comes on the offensive glass, where UCF can take full advantage, especially with Ibrahima Diallo back in the lineup. He was sorely missed in the first meeting in Lubbock, which was still a one-point game with under two minutes remaining before Tech pulled away late from the charity stripe.

Plus, the Red Raiders — who have one of the best home-court advantages in all of college basketball — have not performed at the same level away from home, where they are just 2-5 with one of those victories coming by one at Oklahoma. That's especially true on the defensive end, where their production has dropped precipitously.

Those metrics could take an even further dip if Warren Washington — who was still in a boot last game — misses another contest. Without Washington, Texas Tech really lacks size in the middle, which causes its rim defense to suffer immensely.

Similarly, UCF has performed astronomically better at home. The Knights rank 358th in Haslametrics' Away From Home metric and rank outside the top 150 in overall road efficiency compared to top-50 at home, per Torvik.

The Knights boast an elite defense that ranks 18th nationally in Adjusted Efficiency, per KenPom. Those numbers are even better if you remove the two league games (both losses) that starting guard Shemarri Allen missed.

Texas Tech does have elite shot-makers and has graded out well against the press and zone, which is definitely concerning against UCF.

However, I still like the spot and matchup if Washington can't go or is limited, so I'm going to wait for a bit more intel before firing.

Pick: UCF +1.5



UTSA vs. North Texas

Saturday, Feb. 24
4 p.m. ET
ESPNU
UTSA +16.5

Despite shooting over 41% from deep over the past month, the Mean Green are just 3-5 in their past eight games. This is just not the same team without Rubin Jones and CJ Noland.

While UTSA isn't a world-beater, this is probably the bottom of the market on the Roadrunners, who have lost 11 of their last 12. However, they've been playing better of late, which gives me some confidence in taking the scary dog here.

From a matchup perspective, UTSA doesn't turn the ball over (80th), which is critical against a North Texas defense that forces turnovers at a top-50 clip in the country.

Plus, the Roadrunners can live on the offensive glass (67th) against an undersized UNT squad that ranks 328th in offensive rebounding percentage allowed, per KenPom.

North Texas doesn't allow anything at the rim, but UTSA isn't a rim-attacking offense by any stretch.

Plus, while UTSA wants to run whenever possible, it has been much more efficient on offense when operating in the half-court.

It ranks in the 46th percentile in half-court efficiency, per Synergy, compared to just the ninth percentile in transition. That could bode well for Steve Henson's club in what should be more of a half-court game against North Texas, which has the second-slowest Adjusted Tempo in all of college basketball — ahead of just Virginia — and excels at limiting transition opportunities.

While the UTSA defense has no redeeming qualities to speak of, opponents have hit over 41% from 3 in league play. That should regress a bit down the stretch.

In a game where the Mean Green will look to slow down to a crawl as always, this looks like too many points for a UTSA team that still has a very capable offense, especially since Jordan Ivy-Curry made his season debut in mid-December.

Remember, this Roadrunners squad kept two meetings with Charlotte to within single digits, took Memphis and Florida Atlantic to overtime and almost just upset South Florida at home in their most recent game.

Pick: UTSA +16.5 (Play to +15)



Cal Baptist vs. Tarleton State

Saturday, Feb. 24
5 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Cal Baptist +6.5

This looks like a prime spot to fade Tarleton State off a huge comeback win against first-place Grand Canyon, which marked its seventh-straight victory.

While interim coach Joseph Jones has done a tremendous job with the Texans, they have certainly benefited from some luck, especially of late. In the month of February, they have shot 42% from 3 while holding their opponents to 29%.

Tarleton has also been extremely lucky in close games, so it's no surprise it ranks No. 1 in KenPom's Luck metric. Eight of the Texans' 12 league wins have come by five points or less with six of those coming by one possession.

Meanwhile, Cal Baptist has lost four straight games, so this is a bit of a buy-low opportunity. Plus, the Lancers — who won the first meeting by 14 — match up fairly well with the Texans.

They can defend without fouling and limit Tarleton on the offensive glass while living through both avenues on the offensive end.

They also don't turn the ball over, which is critical against the Texans. There's also a chance they get Dominique Daniels back for this one.

Pick: Cal Baptist +6.5 (Play to +5.5)



Texas A&M vs. Tennessee

Saturday, Feb. 24
8 p.m. ET
ESPN
Texas A&M +12

I know Tennessee has revenge on its mind from a blowout loss in College Station, but the Vols could still get caught looking ahead to Auburn and Alabama next week (followed by South Carolina and Kentucky) in games that will ultimately decide the SEC regular-season champion.

Meanwhile, I'd expect an absolute maximum effort from the Aggies, who have suffered three straight losses, putting their at-large chances in serious jeopardy with two of those defeats coming against Vanderbilt and Arkansas.

Buzz Williams' bunch needs this game in the worst way.

Plus, I just think A&M matches up fairly well with Tennessee since it can match its physicality, which not many teams can say. Plus, Dalton Knecht is a major liability defensively in this particular matchup, as we saw in the first meeting when he and Rick Barnes were going at it on the sidelines throughout the game.

Plus, the Aggies can do three things very well: offensive rebound (No. 1), get to the foul line and take care of the ball. They rank in the top 50 nationally in all three categories, which is critical against an aggressive Tennessee defense that turns opponents over at a top-50 clip and is vulnerable to fouls and offensive boards.

On the other side of the ball, the Aggies' swarming defense will give up plenty of looks from deep, but Tennessee isn't an elite 3-point shooting squad.

I'd expect bounce-back games from the backcourt duo of Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford after an abysmal outing against Arkansas.

This is still a veteran A&M bunch that won't be afraid of the stage or atmosphere in Knoxville and has already shown multiple times this season it can hang with the better teams in the country away from home, taking Houston down to the wire and beating Iowa State on a neutral court.

Believe it or not, only five teams in all of college basketball have more Quad 1 wins than Texas A&M: Houston, Purdue, UConn, Wisconsin and Arizona.

Lastly, for what it's worth, Williams-coached teams have always thrived in the underdog role. In fact, since 2005, he's the second-most profitable coach among 870 in our Action Labs database when catching six or more points. Over that span, including the postseason, he owns a splendid 59-36 (62.1%) ATS record in that role.

Let's just hope A&M can at least make a few outside shots like it did in the first meeting.

Pick: Texas A&M +12 (Play to +10)



Quick Hitters

  • Coppin State (+11.5) is horrendous but has been on the short end of the stick in a number of close losses. It may catch a bit too many at home against a Norfolk State team fresh off two huge wins to take command of the MEAC standings. The Spartans have also benefited from playing five of their past six at home with their lone loss coming on the road at lowly Maryland Eastern Shore. In the first meeting, despite playing without Justin Winston, Coppin did hold a lead in Norfolk with 10 to go. After dealing with a plethora of injuries, Coppin State is at least as healthy as it's been in a while and did already see the unique Norfolk State zone. I may hold my nose and back the Eagles against a Norfolk State club that has yet to win any league game by more than 10. Expect both teams to force an inordinate amount of turnovers — both defenses rank in the top-15 nationally in turnover rate and each offense outside the top 300 — just like the first meeting where Norfolk finished with a whopping 28% turnover rate.
  • Staying in the MEAC, Morgan State (+7.5) is a team I've looked to back in recent weeks since it's now fully healthy. And despite shooting just 22.1% from beyond the arc in the month of February, the Bears have still gone 3-1 overall, while winning five of their seven in MEAC play following a six-game losing skid. Conversely, Howard still isn't at full strength and already lost to this Morgan State team at home in late January. Matchup-wise, Morgan State wants to run as frequently as any team in the country, which should pay dividends against a dreadful Howard defense that's lost in transition. Howard does have a dynamic offense with pristine cutting action but doesn't really grade out well where Morgan State is the weakest on that end. Plus, the Bears defend cutting action at a high level and have been much better on offense against zone — which they should see plenty of against Howard — than man. In a game that should see plenty of press, turnovers and free throws, the still-undervalued Morgan State can stay within this number.
  • Long Beach (+2.5) finds itself in a brutal travel spot, having to head to Hawaii after playing on Thursday night at Bakersfield. Meanwhile, Hawaii has had the entire week off after last Saturday's loss in Santa Barbara. I think the Bows, who have been playing better of late, get revenge on the island.

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Nick Sterling
Apr 21, 2024 UTC