NCAAB Early Betting Predictions | DiSturco’s 5 Best Spots to Target This Week (March 4)

NCAAB Early Betting Predictions | DiSturco’s 5 Best Spots to Target This Week (March 4) article feature image

Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Jared McCain (Duke)

It’s the final week of the regular season for the power leagues, as mid-major conference tournaments are officially underway. There's no sweeter time in college basketball than March, and there remains plenty of perfect spots to bet during this regular season.

Last week, after starting 0-2, we managed to rip off three straight wins to profit yet again on this spots piece. Special thanks are in order to Ohio State, Creighton and Santa Clara. Not you though, Texas A&M.

Don’t worry though, we’re not betting the Aggies this week. I don’t think I can handle that again, to be perfectly honest.

Keeping that in mind, here’s five of my NCAAB early betting predictions for games ranging from Tuesday through Sunday, assuming the numbers remain in line with projections such as KenPom and T-Rank.

Alabama vs. Florida (Tuesday)

Tuesday, Mar 5
7:00 p.m. ET

Alabama is finally showing its vulnerability late in the season. It all started a couple weeks ago when Florida nearly upset the Tide in Tuscaloosa. While Alabama was able to pull away in overtime, it's since fallen to both Kentucky and Tennessee.

It’s time for Florida to exact revenge on its home floor, and the Gators are projected as three-point underdogs, per KenPom. I think this is the perfect spot to back Florida, a team that can use its size to its advantage.

Alabama’s defense is its Achilles’ heel. The Tide are outside the top 240 in turnover rate, defensive rebounding and foul rate. When it comes to defending the interior, Bama is 194th (50.7% 2-point percentage).

The offense is often able to cover up the underlying weaknesses, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Florida is the No. 3 offensive rebounding team in the country and has a lineup that can throw three bigs 6-foot-10 or taller at any team. Micah Handlogten is the best second-chance generator in SEC play while Tyrese Samuel and Alex Condon both rank inside the top 15.

The Gators were able to grab 17 offensive rebounds in the 98-93 loss a couple of weeks back, but they struggled to match the physicality on the other end (Alabama had 21 offensive rebounds). I’m expecting things to be different this time around, as Florida is a plus-defensive rebounding squad.

Florida was able to match the intensity and slow down Alabama in the first matchup, and I’m expecting more of the same here. We also could see a flat spot for the Tide after a physical and deflating home loss to Tennessee on Saturday.

Now they pack their bags and head to Gainesville, where Florida will be hungry to finish the job for good this time.

Pick: Florida +1.5 (Play to -1)

Tennessee vs. South Carolina (Wednesday)

Wednesday, Mar 6
7:00 p.m. ET

Tennessee has a chance to lock up a share of the SEC — and possibly the outright title if Alabama loses to Florida on Tuesday — in a perfect revenge opportunity against South Carolina.

The Vols were stunned on their home floor just over a month ago, scoring just 59 points (0.91 PPP) against South Carolina. Despite a dominant defensive performance and Dalton Knecht scoring 31 points, the Vols shot just 23.8% from 3.

But this is a different Tennessee team. Since Feb. 14, when the Vols started their current six-game win streak, they're Bart Torvik’s fourth-ranked team. During this streak, the Vols have wins over both Auburn and Alabama.

South Carolina continues to defy advanced analytics, and Lamont Paris has turned this team into a surprise SEC contender. The Gamecocks are outside the top 40 in both Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency, though with Collin Murray-Boyles, they've become a stronger 2-point defense (37th in the country, third in SEC play).

In that same time frame that the Vols are No. 4 in the country, South Carolina is down at 50. After a surprise home loss against LSU, the Gamecocks have ripped off three straight, including two coin flips against Texas A&M and Florida.

This time around, I expect a much better Tennessee offense. Rarely do you see a player like Zakai Zeigler score two points (no field goals), and Jonas Aidoo battled foul trouble throughout, playing just 21 minutes.

Knecht is a bonafide superstar and the supporting cast should give Rick Barnes’ squad enough firepower to take down South Carolina in a big way on the road.

Pick: Tennessee -5 (Play to -7)

Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Zakai Zeigler (Tennessee)

Boise State vs. San Diego State (Friday)

Friday, Mar 8
10:00 p.m. ET
Fox Sports 1

San Diego State closes its season out on Friday for not only Senior Night, but a revenge opportunity against Boise State.

Rewind about six weeks ago and Boise was able to fend off SDSU on its home floor in a one-point win. It took the Broncos shooting 37.5% from 3 — they were held to just 40% inside thanks to Jaedon LeDee, among others — while the Aztecs were a measly 6-of-24.

Dig deeper into the numbers and Boise was a bit fortunate to shoot so well from distance. SDSU ranks inside the top 25 in defending catch and shoot 3s — which Boise shoots on 27% of attempts — as well as 53rd in off-the-dribble 3s, per ShotQuality. Only 17.4% of total 3s are left open.

Personally, I expect San Diego State to bounce back in a big way. Boise’s defense, while 14th in 3-point percentage, grades outside the top 140 in every metric, per ShotQuality. The Broncos are also 253rd in 2-point defense, an area in which LeDee should have no problem exploiting.

He was relatively quiet in that game against Boise (13 points), but it was mostly because no other Aztec was able to take advantage of open looks, especially when he was doubled and kicked it out for 3.

Not to mention this Boise State offense should see some regression coming against a SDSU defense that's inside the top 10 in Adjusted Efficiency once again. The Broncos have scored 79+ in each of its last five entering Tuesday and 89+ three separate times.

Motivation is always a spot I love to bet into, and San Diego State has plenty of it. Whether it’s revenge or a raucous crowd for Senior Night, Boise is going to have an uphill battle on Friday.

Pick: San Diego State -5 (Play to -6.5)

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Clemson vs. Wake Forest (Saturday)

Saturday, Mar 9
6:00 p.m. ET
ACC Network

It’s been a tumultuous week for Wake Forest. After storming the court in an upset win against Duke, the Demon Deacons have lost two straight to Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

It seemed as though Wake was going to coast to the NCAA tournament, but a must-win against Clemson now presents itself.

If you’ve followed me at all this season, you know my affinity for backing Wake Forest at home. KenPom ranks LJVM Coliseum as the fourth-best home court when it comes to projections, and the Demon Deacons haven't lost a single game there all season.

In Wake Forest’s last six home games, Steve Forbes’ squad has won by an average margin of 19 points per game. In conference play, Wake is 6-2 ATS at home, a +42.7% ROI.

Wake Forest is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. It's 16th in 3-point percentage and should be able to take advantage of a Clemson defense that's struggled to guard the perimeter.

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The Tigers are 163rd in 3-point percentage, mid 200s in catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble 3s, per ShotQuality, and 346th in turnover rate. That means Wake should have no issue sustaining long possessions and getting strong looks.

These are pretty similar teams based on their strengths and weaknesses. Neither will create a ton of second-chance opportunities, though they excel on the defensive glass. Drawing fouls comes minimally, and both take care of the basketball.

At the end of the day, I side with this motivated Wake Forest team that's yet to let me down at home. Back the juggernaut in its final home game of the season, as the seniors go out with a bang and pick up a resume-boosting win.

Pick: Wake Forest -3 (Play to -5)

North Carolina vs. Duke (Saturday)

Saturday, Mar 9
6:30 p.m. ET

North Carolina’s 3-point defense continues to be an issue (even if it's still a national title contender), and now it draws a revenge-hungry Duke squad that can light it up from the perimeter.

Since its loss to Wake Forest, Duke has gone out and subsequently thrashed both Louisville and Virginia.

North Carolina, on the other hand, has flirted with danger way too often. In their last two wins, the Tar Heels erased a 10-point second-half deficit to beat NC State and fended off a Miami team down its starting backcourt.

About 27% of all 3s on North Carolina are left open, an area where Duke can take full advantage of. The Blue Devils are 11th in 3-point percentage, with Jeremy Roach and Jared McCain shooting over 41% apiece from 3.

McCain, in particular, has stepped up in a huge way, and his presence allows for Roach and Kyle Filipowski to find themselves in isolation opportunities. Filipowski’s ability to stretch the floor as a center can help drag Armando Bacot out of the paint.

In the first matchup, Duke shot 60% on 2s, but it was its 3-point shooting ironically lacking. The Blue Devils shot 26%, while UNC was blistering (37.5%).

I’m expecting that script to flip on Saturday. Duke’s defense is more than capable of limiting UNC's offense. The Heels love to run-and-gun, but Duke’s defense actually ranks inside the top 20 in defending transition, per ShotQuality.

Cameron Indoor is going to be rocking on Saturday, especially since this is Duke's final home game of the season.

In the first game between these two teams, I was leaning towards Duke as a road underdog because of its shooting — and UNC’s underlying concern defending the perimeter.

Also, since Feb. 13, Duke is Bart Torvik’s No. 1 team in the country. North Carolina is down at 26th.

Nothing changed leading up to this rematch, and I'm fully expecting the Blue Devils to make a statement in what could very well be a game for a share of the ACC regular season crown.

Pick: Duke -4 (Play to -5.5)

Extra Note

  • Purdue squares off with Illinois on Tuesday. If the Boilermakers are able to secure a win against the Fighting Illini and lock up the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten, then a perfect spot would be backing Wisconsin (projected +10, per KenPom) on Sunday in the home finale. I will be looking to bet the Badgers down to +8, if Purdue were to take down Illinois. This is a perfect flat spot for the Boilermakers after partying and securing that top seed. Wisconsin, meanwhile, is going to give an all-out effort in a desperate attempt to save a season in a tailspin.

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