Saturday College Basketball Betting Picks: Virginia vs. UMass; Memphis vs. Ole Miss
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Penny Hardaway
College basketball tournaments are in full swing with a ton of great hardwood action taking place at neutral court locations.
While some teams are on location, others that chose to forgo playing in tournaments have instead challenged themselves with difficult non-conference games.
Let’s take a look at one example of each when No. 1 Virginia faces UMass at Mohegan Sun Arena and Ole Miss travels to No. 16 Memphis.
Saturday College Basketball Betting
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Virginia vs. UMass
- Spread: Virginia -16.5
- Over/Under: 114
- Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPNN
UMass (5-0) has gotten off to a fantastic start. The Minutemen feature five players who are averaging over 10 points per game. They are the ninth-best 3P shooting team in the nation, connecting on 43% of their shots from beyond the arc. They have displayed one of the most efficient offenses in the country, ranking 17th in effective field goal percentage.
However, they have yet to play any team as skilled defensively as the Cavaliers.
Despite losing its top three scorers from last year’s national title team, Virginia (4-0) has maintained its legendary defensive efficiency. Head coach Tony Bennett’s squad ranks first overall nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage, and 2P% defense. Most importantly for this game, Virginia is holding opponents to just 27% from beyond the arc.
The Cavaliers are at their best when facing teams that are not familiar with their style of play. They force their opponent to adjust their offensive preferences, which will cause trouble for a young and inexperienced UMass team.
The Minutemen have benefitted from playing four of their first five games at home. Their only road game was a close 62-60 win at Fairfield, the 275th ranked team in KenPom at the time.
The biggest mismatch is on the boards, where Virginia holds a sizable metric advantage over UMass. The Cavaliers are 24th in the country at limiting their opponents’ offensive rebounds, while ranking Top 100 in offensive rebounding percentage. The Minutemen struggle to keep opposing teams off the boards, sitting 276th overall in defensive rebounding percentage.
UMass has greatly benefitted from unsustainable 3-point efficiency. An overwhelming 37.5% of their scoring has come from the 3P line, something that is unlikely to occur against the Cavaliers.
In their only road game, UMass faced a Fairfield team that allowed over 37% from beyond the arc, and they still struggled offensively. A young, inexperienced UMass team that is dependent on the three-pointer is a poor match against the defending national champs.
I’ll take Virginia and lay the 16.5 in the opening game of the Air Force Reserve Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Mohegan Sun.
The Pick: UVA -16.5 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]
Mississippi at Memphis
- Spread: Memphis -4
- Over/Under: 145
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
Memphis is ranked 16th in the country, which is largely based on their results with 5-star, 7-foot-1 freshman James Wiseman.
Wiseman has been suspended 12 games for two violations of NCAA rules. He is eligible to play on Jan. 12 against South Florida. Memphis is 2-0 without Wiseman, with wins over Alcorn State (102-56) and Arkansas-Little Rock (68-58.)
Without Wiseman, this Memphis team is not worthy of their No. 16 ranking. Wiseman leads the team in points (19.7), rebounds (10.7), and blocks (3.1), while shooting a respectable 70.4% from the free-throw line.
The Tigers will face an Ole Miss team that is very much their equal on both sides of the ball. Memphis ranks 46th in adjusted defensive efficiency while Mississippi ranks 47th. The Tigers have an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 106.2 (mostly with Wiseman) while the Rebels boast a 104.6 rating.
Mississippi head coach Kermit Davis preaches the importance of defense and his players have certainly bought in. The Rebels rank fourth in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency while forcing an average of 17.8 turnovers per game. Their defense at the 3P line is stifling, allowing opponents to shoot a microscopic 22.5% from beyond the arc.
The Mississippi trio of senior Breein Tyree (14.3 ppg, 3.8 apg), sophomore big man KJ Buffen (14.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg), and junior Devontae Shuler (13.5 ppg, 46.7% 3P) provide a solid veteran foundation that will be ready for a tough road game at FedEx Forum.
Another huge difference between the two teams exists at the free-throw line. Memphis ranks 264th in the country at 65.7% while Mississippi is Top 60 nationally at 74.8%. The free throw advantage is always important when taking the points with a road underdog.
Memphis is just 1-2 ATS in their last three games and will face their stiffest test this season against a veteran team with an outstanding coach. The loss of Wiseman makes a huge impact against the SEC’s Runnin’ Rebels. I’m taking Kermit Davis to pull the upset against the ranked Tigers.
The Pick: Ole Miss +4 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]