College Basketball Best Bets: Our Picks for Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, Rutgers vs. Nebraska & More (Monday, March 1)
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Oklahoma Sooners guard De’Vion Harmon (11).
March is here.
It’s officially the best time of the year for college basketball bettors and fans alike. In just a few days, conference tournaments will ramp up significantly before Selection Sunday comes around on March 14.
To celebrate the new month, our college basketball crew broke down four of their favorite games from Monday’s slate.
It all starts with UMass vs. Saint Louis at 6 p.m. ET, which is followed by Rutgers vs. Nebraska and Campbell vs. Gardner Webb at 7 p.m. Then, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State round out our best bets at 9 p.m.
Check out full breakdowns and picks for each game below, and feel free to navigate to any game by using the table below.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
All listed odds have been updated as of Monday morning. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing on Monday morning.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
UMass vs. Saint Louis
UMass is in need of a victory at home over Saint Louis in order to secure a double-bye in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
If it loses, it will still land at the six-seed and will be out of the dreaded first-round matchups.
Both of these teams have been hit by COVID-19 hard. Saint Louis was forced to stop play for 34 days at the end of December. The Minutemen have played only 12 games this season, including just three over February. UMass lost by four and won by three in last year’s battles against Saint Louis.
The Minutemen run the second-fastest pace in the Atlantic 10, only behind VCU. They are a guard-heavy team that applies pressure all over the court.
UMass has five different players who average scoring double digits this season, and leading that group is 6-foot-9 center Tre Mitchell. Mitchell averages 18.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
Saint Louis has a strong center itself in Hasahn French, who’s scoring 8.9 points and pulling down 7.2 rebounds per game. That is going to be a phenomenal matchup and should play a huge factor in which team comes out on top.
The Minutemen match up well with this Billikens squad that hasn’t been playing its best basketball as of late. After getting destroyed by Dayton, 76-53, the Billikens also suffered a two-point loss to a VCU team that was missing Bones Hyland in that game.
The Minutemen are treating this like a postseason game, as gaining the double-bye would be huge for the program.
I’m backing UMass as a double-digit underdog in a game that should be a back-and-forth affair with tournament vibes to it.
Pick: UMass +10.5
Rutgers vs. Nebraska
Rutgers is sort of a one-trick pony on the offensive end of the floor. It tries to get the ball inside as much as possible, as only 32.6% of its field goal attempts come from beyond the arc.
Even when the Scarlet Knights do shoot 3-pointers, they only hit 32.2% of them, per KenPom. The major problem for them coming into this matchup is that Nebraska, despite its terrible record, is the No. 1 3-point defense in the Big Ten, allowing only 31.6% in conference play.
To make matters even worse for Rutgers, it owns one of the worst free-throw rates in the Big Ten and shoots only 62.3% when it does get to the stripe. So, the Scarlet Knights are going to have to do all of their scoring down low tonight.
Nebraska is the worst offense in the Big Ten, averaging a pathetic 0.90 points per possession in conference play. The Cornhuskers really can’t do anything well, as they are dead last in turnover rate, free throw percentage, and second-to-last in 2-point field goal percentage.
The real chance they have of being successful offensively is getting hot from behind the arc, since that is where Rutgers is weakest, allowing almost 35% from 3-point range.
The Scarlet Knights have been really solid defensively this season, allowing only 1.02 points per possession in Big Ten play and ranking in the top 15 in defensive efficiency per KenPom. They will be well-equipped to shut down Nebraska’s anemic offense.
I have this total projected at 136.33, so I think there’s value on under 141 points and would play it down to 139.
Pick: Under 141 (down to 139)
Campbell vs. Gardner-Webb
The Big South Tournament Quarterfinals kick off with four games on Monday.
No. 3 seed Campbell will host No. 6 Gardner-Webb after the Bulldogs advanced on a COVID-19 forfeit by 11-seed Charleston Southern.
Both teams enter on a regular-season winning streak, but Campbell has been more impressive, winning seven games in a row.
The Camels have also played well against the top competition in the Big South. They lost to Winthrop, 94-93, back on Dec. 30, when the Eagles were steamrolling everyone. They also lost in three overtimes to Radford on Jan. 19.
In conference play, Campbell’s offense has been elite. It ranks first among Big South teams in 3P (40.4%) and 2P (54.8%), while also ranking first in effective field goal percentage.
Defensively, it stifles its opponents from long distance, allowing just 29% from beyond the arc. Gardner-Webb needs to hit from deep to stay competitive, as it generates 36.9% of their points from 3P against Big South competition.
In their first meeting this season, Campbell held Gardner-Webb to just 29% (8-of-27) from deep in a 70-61 Camels’ road victory.
Campbell is vulnerable on the boards, something the Bulldogs can’t really exploit. Both teams shoot free throws poorly, but Gardner-Webb is worse at 68% in conference play.
Sophomore forward Joshua Lusane (8.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG) missed the first game due to injury but has been a huge contributor with 10 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4 APG over Campbell’s past three contests.
It’s a coin flip game based on the spread, so I’ll gladly take the home team with the better conference metrics. The first two meetings between these teams were at Gardner-Webb. The home team Camels will take the rubber match.
Pick: Campbell +1
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
The Pokes are not only the best over bet in the Big 12, but OSU is pretty much the best over bet in all of major college basketball surpassing the closing number 68% of the time.
I wouldn’t categorize the Sooners as plodding from a pace perspective, but they had been consistently playing games in the 120s before a recent scoring burst. Oklahoma has cashed three of its last five overs, including a pair of games that broke through the 180-point barrier.
The Cowboys play at the quickest pace in the Big 12 and rank 19th nationally in possessions per game. On top of that, Cade Cunningham has come alive as a go-to scoring threat, pumping in close to 25 per game across his last five games. This includes his 40-point outburst on Saturday in Norman.
But the real reason I love the over here is Oklahoma State’s ability to speed up its opponents.
Teams facing Oklahoma State average 62.8 shot attempts per game, which is among the highest totals in major college basketball. Given Oklahoma’s offensive efficiency (58th), I think those added opportunities will translate to points in a high-scoring rematch.
As of writing, over 80% of bets are on the over in this one, and I anticipate this total closing in the 143/143.5 range.
I would play this up to 144 at -110 and would consider over 150 at +180 or better.
Pick: Over 142