Stuckey’s 12 Favorite Situational Spots on Saturday’s College Basketball Card
Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Hunter
There’s lots to get to today on a glorious full Saturday slate of college basketball betting.
Let’s dive right into my favorite situational spots with a couple of noon tips.
Odds as of Saturday at 9 a.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.
2018-19: 47-32-2 (59.5%)
2019-20: 9-12-0 (42.9%)
George Washington +9.5 vs. Rhode Island
Noon ET on CBSSN
The hope here is that Armel Potter (questionable) can play, as GW is just a different team with him in the lineup.
But even if not, this is too good of a situational spot to pass up on the Colonials.
This is all about a potentially flat Rhode Island team. The Rams have been rolling of late but might get caught a little sleepy for a noon tip at the Smith Center with an enormous game on Tuesday against Dayton for first place in the Atlantic 10.
GW is extremely young with a roster that has some promise over the next few seasons. However, because of that youth, it’s a very inconsistent team this year. And not surprisingly, the Colonials play much better at home where they have won three straight in conference after two close losses to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure.
It’s not a great matchup for GW — especially if Potter can’t go — but I’m banking on an unfocused Rhode Island team in a horrid situational spot.
LSU +5 at Auburn
Noon ET on ESPN
It’s a good spot here for an LSU bounce-back after an embarrassing road loss to Vanderbilt. That game actually marked the first time in 20 years that a team with an 8-0 conference record or better lost to a team with an 0-8 conference record or worse. I think LSU got caught looking ahead a little to this matchup with Auburn for first place in the SEC.
Meanwhile, Bruce Pearl’s bunch comes in with a five-game winning streak. However, two of their last three wins came in overtime — one of which came at Ole Miss in double overtime after they trailed by 19 in the second half. They also came back to win at Arkansas in overtime.
I think there is just a little too much love in the market for Auburn at the moment. I have these teams power rated dead even down to the tenth of a decimal point.
Throw in 3.5 points for Auburn’s home court and I’ll gladly take the five with an LSU team that has consistently proven it can compete on the road with the upper echelon of the SEC over the past two seasons.
I think LSU can do enough on the offensive glass and the free throw line to at least keep this within five.
Saint Louis +13 at Dayton
2 p.m. ET on CBSSN
This Saint Louis team has been one of the most disappointing teams for my money this season. I had high hopes for juniors Hasahn French and Jordan Goodwin on a team I thought would make the tourney.
But the offense just hasn’t been there. The Billikens simply can’t shoot, especially from the free throw line where they rank dead last of 353 teams at 57.2%. That stat alone makes them a particularly bad bet as a favorite but more appealing as an underdog, which they are here.
When these two teams first met in St. Louis earlier this season, Dayton stole a win in overtime on a buzzer beater by Jalen Crutcher.
JALEN FREAKING CRUTCHER
Dayton survives 78-76 in OT.
ICE IN HIS VEINS. pic.twitter.com/6s9nwWciWt
— A10 Talk (@A10Talk) January 18, 2020
I’m a huge believer in this Dayton team as a bonafide Final Four contender. Obi Toppin is a superstar surrounded by an outstanding cast of upperclassmen that simply don’t take bad shots.
However, this is just a good matchup for a Saint Louis team that has the muscle to contend with future lottery pick Toppin, who hasn’t exploded in any of the four meetings against SLU over the past two seasons. The Billies also excel on the glass, which is Dayton’s one area of weakness. I think they can get enough second chance points to stay inside this number.
Plus, you could have a slightly flat Dayton team with a showdown against Rhode Island for first place in the conference looming on deck.
Oklahoma +2.5 vs. West Virginia
2 p.m. ET on ESPNU
I’m also a believer in West Virginia, which I have at 10th in my power ratings. The Mountaineers have size for days and can dominate opposing teams on the glass when they aren’t having great shooting nights, which is often. Bob Huggins’ bunch also plays elite defense from start to finish.
That said, the results away from home (where they own a top-notch home-court advantage) have been a little underwhelming. WVU is just 3-4 on the road with those three wins coming against non-tourney teams in Youngstown State, Oklahoma State and Pittsburgh. The road losses to Texas Tech and Kansas are not bad losses, but it also dropped road games against St. Johns and Kansas State.
This is an enormous game for Oklahoma, which sits squarely on the bubble. A win over a top 10 team would go a long way in boosting its tournament resume, so you can expect a fully focused effort here. And focus may be a little lacking for West Virginia with two gigantic games against Baylor and Kansas on tap for next week.
From a matchup perspective, I also like the fact that Oklahoma simply doesn’t turn the ball over, which is critical against West Virginia’s suffocating defense. Not surprisingly, the Mountaineers rank first in the conference in turnovers forced percentage but they will be facing an Oklahoma team that ranks seventh nationally in turnover percentage.
The Sooners also have enough length to compete down low. I also expect a big game from Brady Manek, who could pose some matchup problems on the offensive end.
Also, if the whistles are going Oklahoma’s way, they are lights out from the line — a place where WVU struggles mightily.
Indiana ML vs. Purdue
2 p.m. ET on ESPNU
It’s a good spot here for Indiana at home after a week off following three straight losses. This game could end up deciding whether or not the Hoosiers make the tournament and if the Big Ten gets a potential record-breaking 12 teams into the dance.
Revenge will also be in the air for the Hoosiers against a Purdue team fresh off of an absolute massacre win at home against Iowa.. The Hoosiers were swept by Purdue last season, including a game in Bloomington in which a Matt Haarms tip-in in the final seconds gave the Boilermakers a 48-46 win in a game Indiana led 45-41 with 2:30 to go. That marked the first time in school history that Purdue has won three straight in Assembly Hall. Purdue has actually won all five meetings over the past three seasons.
This game means so much for an Indiana team that already has three top 20 wins at home against Florida State, Ohio State and Michigan State. And that number could easily be four if not for a late collapse in a 1-point loss to Maryland. I think the Hoosiers get it done here against a Purdue team that just hasn’t looked the same away from Mackey Arena this season.
And from a matchup perspective, Purdue thrives on the offensive glass with all of its height. However, that’s also an area of strength for Indiana; both teams actually rank in the top 15 in average height nationally. In conference play, Purdue ranks first in offensive rebound rate but the Indiana defense also ranks first in that same category.
The line doesn’t have a ton of value at -3 now but I feel comfortable throwing Indiana in an even money ML parlay with BYU at home in a revenge spot against San Francisco.
UT Arlington -2.5 vs. Coastal Carolina
2 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Maybe I’m just stubborn, but I continue to believe in this UT Arlington team, which will be out for revenge from a home loss last week against Coastal Carolina.
I’m also looking to fade this Coastal team down the stretch after the recent departure of Keishawn Brewton, who decided to enter the transfer portal last week. He was the second-leading scorer and one of its best outside shooters. Losing him is not ideal for an offense that was pretty ugly even with him in the mix.
The Mavericks also have the much better defense. They should get enough stops, value possessions much more and ultimately close this out at the line where they excel.
I think you get the best effort from a UTA team that has had some decent conference results on the road. A loss could put them in real jeopardy of missing the Sun Belt Tournament.
Missouri +2 vs. Arkansas
3:30 p.m. ET on SECN
This Arkansas team is fading fast and I expect that to continue without the services of sharpshooter Isaiah Joe, who was recently lost to injury.
Arkansas is also still running way too hot in regards to 3P defense. The Hogs are holding opponents 24.8% shooting from three, which ranks first in the nation. That’s in the discussion for best single-season 3P defense since 2000 and I don’t think it’s sustainable.
The turnover issues for Missouri are concerning but I think there’s value in this line with a much healthier Mizzou squad. Jeremiah Tilmon finally returned last game off the bench and should be closer to a full go today.
It’s just a much different team with the 6-foot-10 junior in the lineup at full strength…remember the Tigers beat Illinois on a neutral court (and should’ve won at Xavier) before his injury. I’m also hearing Mark Smith, who missed the past two games, should suit up as well.
And if the whistles are going Missouri’s way at home in what I expect to be a close game, you have to like the Tigers’ chances as they’re one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country.
Missouri has been dreadful for most of the season but I think the Tigers pick up their third home conference win to add to the previous victories over Florida and Georgia.
Minnesota +6 vs. Penn State
4 p.m. ET on BTN
Simple approach here. I’m fading PSU after that monumental win at Michigan State and taking on a desperate Minnesota team that is in tourney survival mode.
This is also one of the few home courts Im not afraid of in the Big Ten. Plus, Minnesota eventually has to get some better fortune from the 3-point line where they rank dead last in 3P shooting and defense in conference play. The shots will start falling soon.
Texas +3 vs. Texas Tech
4 p.m. ET on ESPN2
While I love Chris Beard and freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey is an absolute stud, I’m just not a believer in this extremely young Texas Tech team.
It’s a team I think is overvalued in the market right now with just two Quad 1 wins on the season — one of which came at home against WVU in a game they shot the lights out from 3. The Red Raider youth has really shown away from Lubbock (one of the best home court advantages in the country). They only have one road win: at Kansas State.
I also expect some major shooting regression to come Tech’s way as it currently leads the conference in 3P shooting at 38.5% and 3P defense at 27.1%. Neither number is sustainable in my opinion.
For reference, the team that went to the national title game last year that was much better than this team finished 36.3% from 3 and held opponents 33.6% from deep.
A correction should come soon in both departments. And what better time for that to happen than today in Austin against a Texas team that bombs away from three.
It’s not a great rebounding Texas squad but, that’s also not a strength of Texas Tech. I think the Horns get it done at home in a game they likely need for any shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Long Island ML vs. Merrimack
4:30 p.m. ET on NEC Front Row
Merrimack has been my nemesis all season but I have to admit it’s one helluva story for a team to sit atop the conference standings in its first year transitioning to Division I.
Good story aside, this Merrimack team has been very fortunate all season in close games, boasting a perfect 7-0 record in games decided by four points or less. As a result, they actually rank No. 1 in KenPom’s luck ratings.
Merrimack has an abysmal offense but its pressure zone defense has perplexed opponents all season. The Warriors play zone in just under 95% of its defensive possessions, which ranks second-highest in the nation, trailing only Syracuse.
Merrimack wing bumps in their 2-3 zone defense: pic.twitter.com/qtSl7q3wKO
— Jordan Sperber (@hoopvision68) January 13, 2020
That said, Long Island just faced this zone last Saturday, so it should know what’s coming and be much better prepared to attack it. I think that’s a huge edge here for LIU against such a unique defensive style.
Long Island has been underperforming throughout conference play and will likely be without Jashaun Agosto again but I think its experienced backcourt shows up here after dropping three straight.
I’m personally throwing the Blackbirds in a moneyline parlay with Arizona.
Utah State -9.5 vs. Boise State
10 p.m. ET on SportsNet RM
Utah State has been playing much better since getting fully healthy and owns one of the nation’s best home-court advantages.
But more importantly, I’m sure the Aggies have had this game circled since improbably blowing an 18-point lead in the final minutes of an overtime loss at Boise State in one of the most shocking losses of the season.
Boise has won four straight since but not against the greatest competition. Plus, the Broncos may be without Oregon transfer Abu Kigab, who missed last game due to injury.
Shooting regression for the rest of conference play should also work in Utah State’s favor. The Aggies are shooting just 29.4% from deep in conference play — almost 7 percentage points lower than what they did last year with a very similar roster.
Meanwhile, Boise is shooting 38% from beyond the arc while holding opponents to a touch over 29% in MWC play. Don’t be surprised if the 3P variance goes Utah State’s way tonight. And Boise should get minimal second looks against an outstanding defensive rebounding team in Utah State.
Ultimately, I think Utah State comes out with its hair on fire from the opening tip looking to avenge that previous loss which could end up keeping them out of the NCAA Tournament. I will split this between game and first half.
Saint Mary’s +6 vs. Gonzaga
I think it’s time to sell Gonzaga high here in a line I think is one of the most inflated of the day.
This nightcap should be a blast in Moraga, which will be rocking throughout.
This will only mark the fifth team Gonzaga will face this season currently ranked inside my top 50. Here are the results from the other 4:
- Won by 1 in OT on a neutral court against Oregon
- Lost by 18 to Michigan on a neutral court
- Won by 4 at Arizona
- Won by 23 at home over BYU
The Zags could easily be 2-2 if that coin flip game against Oregon went the other way. And keep in mind that Yoeli Childs (BYU’s best player) didn’t play for the Cougars when they faced Gonzaga. And this will only mark the second road game of the season against a top 50 opponent.
There’s no doubt Gonzaga is one of the top 10 teams in the country; I have Mark Few’s team at No. 3 in my power ratings. The Zags run one of the most efficient offenses in the country (No. 1 adjusted efficiency, per KenPom) but they’ve also benefited from a very favorable schedule.
Led by star point guard Jordan Ford, the Gaels also run a very efficient offense (10th in Adjusted Efficiency). They run beautiful sets and grind opposing defenses down in snail-like fashion, ranking 348th in average offensive possession time. They take exactly 5.0 more seconds per possession than a fast-tempo Gonzaga team that ranks No. 7 in that same category.
Mary’s not only grinds teams down, but it doesn’t turn the ball over, which means Gonzaga will be limited in transition. And while both teams thrive in the half court offensively, it’s actually St. Mary’s that leads the nation in points per possession in the half court at 1.033, per Synergy. (Gonzaga ranks third for what it’s worth.) You’re in for a treat if you like watching efficient offenses.
The size advantage for Gonzaga is definitely a bit of a concern, but I love the Gaels here catching 6 at home in a game I make Gonzaga only a 2-point favorite.