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College Basketball Pick & Roll: McGrath’s 3 Top NYE College Basketball Betting Picks

College Basketball Pick & Roll: McGrath’s 3 Top NYE College Basketball Betting Picks article feature image

Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Shantay Legans (Portland)

Typically Michael Calabrese and Tanner McGrath pair together to create this weekly Pick & Roll piece.

This week, with Breese out of commission, McGrath takes over to provide three best bets for this Saturday's college basketball slate.

Can McGrath build upon the duo's strong 15-9 overall record this season? Dive in now for Saturday's college basketball Pick & Roll.

McGrath's Top 3 Saturday Picks

Virginia vs. Georgia Tech

Saturday, Dec. 31
12 p.m. ET
ACC Network

This is just way too many points. I took Georgia Tech on the opener at +9.5 and would hammer it at +7.5 or better. It’s playable in the +6.5 to +7 range, but it would be a smaller play.

I have several projection systems I trust when handicapping games. They all make the Yellow Jackets a significantly smaller underdog:

  • BartTorvik: Georgia Tech +4.1
  • EvanMiya: Georgia Tech +4.4
  • KenPom: Georgia Tech +7
  • VSIN’s Greg Peterson: Georgia Tech +7.5

This bet is mostly a pace and situation play.

Virginia plays at its glacial pace, ranking 361st in Adjusted Tempo. As a result, Tony Bennett’s squad is not a team you want to back as a favorite, especially a near-double-digit favorite.

Bennett’s career is legendary, as he’s a whopping 240-188-6 ATS since 2006, covering 56.1% of the time for an 8.8% ROI. However, those stats lag significantly in these spots due to his scheme.

As an in-conference road favorite of at least 8.5 points, Bennett’s Cavaliers are just 40-38-1 ATS for a small loss.

And the Cavs are an amazing 0-7 ATS this season when laying points. The scheme just isn’t conducive to covering.

Georgia Tech doesn’t do much well, but it's been fairly effective at taking care of the basketball. The Jackets’ seventh-ranked offensive turnover rate gives me faith that they can produce longer possessions and avoid costly turnovers.

Additionally, the Jackets have been frisky defending the interior, ranking top-50 in block rate behind Jalon Moore and Javon Franklin.

Situationally, Georgia Tech is coming off of a 10-day rest after falling to 0-2 in conference play. Meanwhile, Virginia played at home on Wednesday, failing to cover against Albany. The Jackets aren’t good, but they’re a step up in competition from Albany.

It’s also important to note that star guard Reece Beekman didn’t play with a hamstring injury on Wednesday and is questionable for Saturday. Whether he’s out or playing hurt, it provides some extra spread value for Georgia Tech.

Reece Beekman: Questionable for Saturday –

— RotoWire🏀CBB (@RotoWireCBB) December 29, 2022

This is one of those gross, hold-your-nose picks. But there’s way too much value with Josh Pastner and company to pass up.

Pick: Georgia Tech +9.5 (Play to +7.5)

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Utah vs. Stanford

Saturday, Dec. 31
4 p.m. ET
Pac-12 Network

This is the Pac-12 spot of all spots.

Stanford is coming off three straight in-conference wins, including a four-point road loss to Arizona State and a three-point home loss to Colorado. A 10-point road loss to Texas is mixed in there, as well.

Stanford hasn’t run very well, losing close games while shooting only 30.7% from 3 despite ranking top-100 in 3-point rate.

Meanwhile, Utah is cruising along, having just lackadaisically crushed Cal (58-43) to move to 3-0 in Pac-12 play. The Utes have a dominant defense, but they’ve been somewhat lucky to be here, as opponents are shooting just 25.6% from 3.

ShotQuality confirms my suspicions. Utah is due for 16 percentage points of negative regression, while Stanford is due for 19 percentage points of positive regression.

This is a motivated Stanford team due for positive regression that needs a win against a Utah team in a letdown spot due for negative regression.

That’s always a bet I’m willing to make.

I’m slightly worried about Stanford’s ability to defend Branden Carlson on the interior, but I know the Cardinal will rebound well. And while Stanford has turnover issues, Utah is not the team to press ball-handlers, ranking 314th in defensive turnover rate.

Again, this is the Pac-12 spot of all spots. I’ll bank on Stanford pulling off a much-needed home conference victory.

Portland vs. BYU

Saturday, Dec. 31
9 p.m. ET

You’ve probably heard about Portland. The Pilots made some noise in the Phil Knight Invitational, battling North Carolina and Michigan State while beating Villanova.

If you want to know more, know that Shantay Legans is a legend. He should already have a statue built in Portland, considering he won seven WCC games last year after Terry Porter won a combined seven in the five seasons before.

The 2021-22 Pilots had the most wins and best winning percentage of any Portland team since 2010.

Portland dominated the early season because Shantay steered the program in the right direction and returned all five starters and the top seven scorers.

On top of that, Portland added significantly to its depth — it spent weeks last season playing a six-man rotation.

All this to say: Portland is damn tough. The Pilots are top-50 in average height and top-65 in bench minutes. Tyler Robertson and Alden Applewhite are as good of a one-two punch as you’ll see in the mid-majors, and that doesn’t include double-digit scorers Kristian Sjolund and Moses Wood.

The Pilots share the ball well, get good looks, defend without fouling and rebound well. They’re just a solid, fundamental, all-around team.

But the Pilots have also been playing their worst basketball. They’ve lost three straight games, most recently getting blown out by 20 at home to Loyola Marymount.

I think we’ll see a change in tone from Shantay and Co. now that the expectations have been lowered again. This is a great bounce-back spot.

Especially against BYU, which is due for a letdown game following an elite six-game run. After wins against Creighton and Utah — combined with dominant victories over Lindenwood and Pacific — it’s about time that BYU produces a letdown game.

I also like that this Cougars team is 2-7 ATS as a favorite this season. I’m willing to bet against them one more time.

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