College Basketball Odds & Picks: Three Man Weave’s Top 3 Best Bets, Including Xavier vs. Butler, Wisconsin vs. Penn State & More (Saturday, Jan. 30)
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Chuck Harris.
- Saturday's college basketball slate is loaded with plenty of action, and Jim Root of Three Man Weave came prepared.
- Root broke down three games from Saturday's schedule, including Wisconsin vs. Penn State, California vs. Arizona, and Xavier vs. Buter.
- Check out each individual breakdown complete with a betting pick below.
Saturday’s college basketball slate is packed, and we’re prepared to make the most of it.
The Action Network has partnered with the guys at Three Man Weave to bring college basketball best bets for the Friday and Saturday slates. The trio of Matt Cox, Ky McKeon and Jim Root highlight the top three games they’re betting for each day’s college basketball slate.
Saturday’s best bets have been provided by Jim Root. Follow Jim and the rest of the crew on Twitter at @3MW_CBB, and download the Action App to easily track your bets for Saturday’s college basketball action.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
All listed odds have been updated as of Saturday morning and via William Hill. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing on Friday night.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Wisconsin vs. Penn State
We all knew the Big Ten would be a bloodbath this year, so it comes as no surprise that the best under-.500 team in the country resides in that league.
Poor Penn State ranks 42nd in KenPom’s national rankings, yet the Nittany Lions are just 5-7 overall, and it does not get any easier with another top-25 opponent coming to town.
The matchup sets up quite well for the visiting Badgers here, as Penn State’s thin frontcourt is frequently gashed inside, surrendering an appalling 56.7% success rate on 2-point field goals. That ranks the Nittany Lions 331stt in the country, a far cry from their past success in that stat, as they ranked in the top 100 for seven straight seasons under Pat Chambers.
This roster simply does not have any size or shot-blocking, leaving it vulnerable to post-ups from Wisconsin’s twin towers, Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers.
Plus, if that lack of size forces interim coach Jim Ferry to pack the paint and double the post, the Badgers are a lethal perimeter shooting team, ranking 32nd nationally in 3-point percentage (37.9%).
On the other end, Penn State has leaned into its roster imbalance by shifting to a pick-and-roll-heavy scheme, giving freedom to attack in space to its guards.
Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, Wisconsin is one of the most well-schooled defenses in the country under Greg Gard, and the recent lineup change to play only one true big at a time has made the Badgers more capable of defending such an offense.
The host Nittany Lions will also be without the services of Sam Sessoms, one of their best shot creators and a deadly perimeter sniper.
Wisconsin is also dominant on the defensive glass, taking away Penn State’s other primary source of points. PSU’s John Harrar works his tail off, but faced with the Badgers’ size and physical box-outs, he may struggle to generate second shots at his usual rate.
Put it all together, and Wisconsin as a short road favorite looks mighty appetizing.
California vs. Arizona
Betting against Arizona at the McKale Center has often felt like a fool’s errand in the past, but not this year: the Wildcats are a dismal 4-7 against the number at home, failing to cover by an average of 3.0 points per game.
Whether or not California can continue that trend remains to be seen, but Arizona clearly does not have the same home mystique as in years past.
The visiting Golden Bears have actually covered four straight games, all right around this spread range as an underdog, even winning outright at Utah two weeks ago.
Mark Fox has instilled a solid fundamental mindset in his team, and Cal makes up for some talent shortcomings via savvy shot selection and intelligent defense.
Oh, and that talent gap is much narrower than it was a week ago, as star guard Matt Bradley returned from a five-game injury-related absence.
He racked up 26 points and 10 rebounds at Arizona State on Thursday, and it’s impossible to overstate his importance, as he allows the rest of the roster to slot into more appropriate roles.
Fox is also a smart tactician, and he surely knows Arizona’s splits when facing man-to-man versus zone defenses. Against the former, the Wildcats score in the 82nd percentile nationally, per Synergy, but that tumbles to the 50th percentile when facing zones; that has long been a Sean Miller bugaboo.
Cal is not traditionally a zone-heavy team, but it will shift that way at times, and expect Fox to use it as a clever curveball.
The Golden Bears should also have some statistical help on the way: opponents are shooting an absurd 41.0% from deep against them in conference play, by far the worst mark in the league, and that number should regress toward the Pac-12 mean of 35.1% as times progresses.
Arizona may be an angry home team after losing to Stanford on Thursday, but with Bradley back and some prudent choices defensively, Cal should be able to keep this competitive the whole way.
Considering this opened +12, the market definitely seems to agree.
Xavier vs. Butler
It seems like a lifetime ago, but remember when Xavier was actually the first program in the 2020-21 season to achieve an 8-0 record?
Back on Dec. 20, the Musketeers were thriving after a bonkers Adam Kunkel 3-pointer beat the buzzer and edge Marquette, briefly giving coach Travis Steele and his Muskies the best record in the country (joined later that day by the legend that is Drake).
The month since has been a whirlwind: two losses sandwiched around Christmas, a promising 2-0 start to the new year, and then a COVID-19 shutdown that sidelined the Musketeers for two weeks. Xavier has not played since Jan. 10, and that three-week layoff will likely hinder Steele’s squad:
46-62-3 42% ats 14+ days off.
— Stuckey (@Stuckey2) January 29, 2021
Even worse, Xavier will be down a player, though Steele did not specify who will be sitting this one out.
Butler knows the feeling, having been spanked by Villanova back on Dec. 16 after its own three-week COVID-19 shutdown, and the Bulldogs have also dealt with a bevy of injuries.
However, the remaining skeleton crew — head coach LaVall Jordan will play a rotation of just seven players — is quite solid, and the Bulldogs are likely undervalued in the market because of poor performances while shorthanded.
Crucially, Butler has been far better in the friendly confines of Hinkle Fieldhouse, going 3-3 against the spread there compared to 2-5 anywhere else.
With a veteran leader at point guard in Aaron Thompson, Butler is well-positioned to get a victory in a cozy home spot against a rusty opponent in Xavier.
Pick: Butler +2 (Play to -1)