College Basketball Odds & Picks: 3 Best Bets for Saturday Evening, Including Arizona vs. USC & More (Saturday, Feb. 20)
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jemarl Baker Jr.
- Our college basketball Saturday continues this evening as Jim Root of Three Man Weave takes over our best NCAAB bets for Saturday.
- Root hand-picked three games from Saturday's slate — including Eastern Illinois vs. Austin Peay and Arizona vs. USC — and shared a betting pick complete with full analysis.
- Check out each pick and breakdown for all three games below.
It’s a new week, but the story remains the same: Saturday’s college basketball slate is packed, and Three Man Weave is 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.
Saturday College Basketball Odds & Picks
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Eastern Illinois vs. Austin Peay
That’s right, we’re getting this thing started with the alma mater of Sean Payton, Tony Romo, and Jimmy Garoppolo — but more importantly, the alma mater of my parents!
Due to a seemingly unprecedented string of injuries, Eastern Illinois is a tough nut to crack at this point in the year. Every single rotation player has missed at least one game, and all but Marvin Johnson have missed four games or more.
Those injuries have forced head coach Jay Spoonhour to start 12 different players at various points in the season, leading to a staggering 19 different starting lineups in the Panthers’ 24 games, a truly baffling number.
That kind of ridiculous rotational merry-go-round has taken its toll; EIU has plummeted from 167th in KenPom’s preseason ratings all the way down to 305th, tanking its value in the betting markets at the same time.
This is the perfect time to jump in and back the Panthers, though, as the big guns are back in the lineup, most notably key wing Josiah Wallace, the team’s emotional leader and a proven shot creator.
If that’s not enough of a ringing endorsement, then also consider that this veteran EIU team will have revenge on the mind. The Panthers nearly completed a furious rally to beat Austin Peay on Jan. 9, but a superhuman effort from APSU’s Terry Taylor (38 points, 17 rebounds, game-winning buzzer-beater) caused that comeback to fall just short.
The spread in that first meeting closed EIU -1, so this one being double-digits the other way is “the sky is red” bonkers. Of course, that shift is due to the aforementioned injury-related swoon, but with Wallace and others back in the lineup, this is a different Panther squad, as evidenced by its outright win at Murray State as a 15-point underdog on Thursday night.
Austin Peay has played better of late, blowing out teams like UT Martin and SIU Edwardsville, but with healthy reinforcements in the lineup, EIU is nothing like those pushovers.
Arizona vs. USC
Let’s head out west for a battle with major Pac-12 title implications.
USC currently sits atop the league standings at 12-2, one game ahead of both UCLA and Oregon in the loss column. Arizona, meanwhile, is simply flotsam in the logjam in the middle, but considering that the Wildcats are banned from postseason play this year, this sets up as a “last stand” type of game.
The Wildcats can play spoiler and throw the title race into madness, a worthy cause for a school with very little else left for which to play.
From a matchup lens, the key component here is Arizona’s size and disciplined work on the defensive boards. USC’s best offense is playing volleyball on the glass with the Mobley brothers and Chevez Goodwin, and it’s no surprise that the Trojans rank seventh nationally in Offensive Rebound Rate.
The visiting Wildcats can compete there, though, as the towering frontcourt of Azuolas Tubelis, Christian Koloko, Ira Lee and Jordan Brown are all well-equipped for this entanglement.
Arizona ranks 34th in Defensive Rebound Rate, and if the ‘Cats can neutralize the Trojans’ onslaught, USC could have real trouble finding points in this one.
Of course, Arizona has to be able to score, too, and USC’s massive length up and down the lineup makes that rather difficult inside the arc.
Fortunately, Arizona has several capable shooters, bolstered even further by the late season addition of Kerr Kriisa, who has hit seven triples since entering the starting lineup three games ago.
If all else fails, we can hopefully rely on one last bullet in the chamber: USC ranks just 318th nationally in free-throw percentage, meaning the back door could be open if Arizona is forced to play the foul game in the final minute.
This game should be Arizona’s Super Bowl: a season-ending trip to the Washington schools is meaningless (you may want to add ‘Fade Arizona’ to your calendar next weekend), so expect an A+ effort from the Wildcats in this one.
Long Island vs. Central Connecticut State
The artist formerly known as the Blackbirds, LIU has delivered on our preseason expectations: talented but enigmatic, proving to be a frustrating team to back thanks to erratic performances.
The now-Sharks boast transfers from UMass, Akron, and Detroit in their starting lineup, but an inability to knock down shots has left them squarely in the middle of the league standings.
The NEC has been a topsy-turvy tube of insanity, and the conference’s COVID-related adjustment to its postseason tournament — only the top four make it — has amplified that mayhem.
LIU is one of the many schools chasing a berth, and while the Sharks are on the outside looking in right now, a weekend series against the worst team in the conference gives it a terrific opportunity to gain some ground.
CCSU has been wiped out in three straight home games, losing by a combined 48 points, and considering that the Blue Devils have been eliminated from postseason contention, they may have some “let’s just pack it in on the year” vibes. That’s exacerbated by a couple key injuries to leading scorer Greg Outlaw and sharpshooting wing Tre Mitchell.
LIU has been especially frustrated by teams like Mount Saint Mary’s, Merrimack, and Wagner, three programs who like to slow games down more than most NEC foes; the Sharks went just 2-4 against those opponents.
CCSU, though, will run up and down with the Sharks, and that means blood in the water. With much more talent and a clear motivation edge, LIU is a great bet to pick up a blowout victory on Saturday night.
Pick: Long Island -9 (Play to -11)