Stuckey’s 10 Favorite Situational Spots on Saturday’s College Basketball Slate
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Noah Locke
It was a rough Saturday last weekend on just a bunch of flat out bad calls. Now it’s time for a bounce back day on what is a gorgeous college basketball Saturday, highlighted by a few must-see marquee matchups with major seeding implications.
I hope you can take at least a couple valuable nuggets out of this to either push you toward or away from a side you were thinking about, which is ultimately the goal. Let’s dive right into my favorite spots of the day, starting with a noon tip.
Odds as of Saturday at 6 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: 18-26-2 (40.9%)
Kansas +2 at Baylor
Noon ET on ESPN
Kansas obviously has revenge here from a rare home loss suffered at the hands of Baylor earlier this season. That makes this a classic spot that Bill Self wins often. I’m not a huge trend player but the numbers speak for themselves:
- 26-18-1 ATS overall as an underdog (14% ROI)
- 10-3-1 ATS as a road underdog against top 10 teams, covering by an average margin of 5 points per game. Self is the second-most profitable coach to back in this situation of 470 coaches in our BetLabs database
- 5-0-1 ATS on the road as an underdog against top 5 teams
- 23-1 SU in same-season revenge games, including an astonishing 18-6 ATS record
The Jayhawks are led by the dynamic inside-out duo of Azubuike and Dotson — two potential first team All Americans. Keep in mind that Dotson hurt his hip a few minutes into the first meeting against Baylor and just wasn’t the same player the rest of the way as he tried to play through it. He was noticeably limping and even missed the next game against Oklahoma as a result.
The Kansas role players are also playing a lot better than they were at the beginning of conference play when these teams met.
I still think Baylor is vulnerable against elite bigs and Kansas certainly has one. As long as Azubuike stays out of foul trouble (which is always worth monitoring), he should clean up inside.
I’ve had the Jayhawks as my top rated team for a few weeks now and given the situation, I’d take them at anything +2 or better. Baylor has proven me wrong all season and continued to rob my bank — but I’m still rolling with what I see here by trusting my numbers and the spot.
MaCio Teague could potentially miss for Baylor (or not be at 100%) which would only help KU as well.
Memphis +2.5 vs. Houston
2 p.m. ET on ESPN2
I’ve been lower on the market on this Memphis team all season. For the most part, I’ve either stayed away from the Tigers or faded them — but I think this is the spot to jump on Penny’s kids at home in what should be a raucous arena in a game that could determine their tournament fate.
Houston should also be shorthanded at FedEx Forum today as sophomore guard Quentin Grimes is doubtful with a hip pointer. The Kansas transfer is the team’s second-leading scorer and much more important to the Cougars than the raw stats indicate. He’s the straw that stirs the Cougar drink.
And with a week off after this game before a date with Cincinnati next Saturday, I’d imagine he sits this one out.
Plus, I’d imagine Houston sees some 3P defense regression down the stretch. Conference opponents are shooting a mere 25.6% That’s simply unsustainable.
I see value in the number and given the spot and likely no Grimes, give me Memphis as a short home dog.
Purdue ML vs. Michigan
2 p.m. ET on ESPN
It’s a great situational spot to back Purdue.
The Boilermakers have been dynamite at home for most of the season with some absolute massacre wins against good competition at Mackey Arena. It’s really an ideal chance to buy Purdue low after three straight losses in which its opponents shot a combined 35-77 (45%) from three.
Speaking of, Purdue should have some in-conference shooting regression coming its way on both ends of the floor in the coming weeks. And after the last few outings, I expect a fully focused effort defensively on the perimeter in close to a must-win game against a Michigan team that struggles to shoot from beyond the arc without Isaiah Livers, who I don’t think will play.
Michigan has looked lost for long stretches this season without Livers, who wore a boot on the bench at Rutgers as he nursed his bum ankle. The junior forward leads Michigan is scoring and his shooting really opens up the offense for Juwan Howard’s bunch. He’s a game-time decision but my guess is he sits.
Purdue also has revenge from a game it lost in Ann Arbor earlier this year in double overtime. Meanwhile, Michigan could come into West Lafayette a little fat and happy after four straight wins.
I do make this line over -3 but feel safer taking the moneyline (I personally parlayed Purdue ML with Washington) to protect against some of Purdue’s struggles from the free throw line, which could leave the backdoor open.
South Alabama +1 at Coastal Carolina
2 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Back to a team I’ve been riding all year in South Alabama, which I have had rated higher than the market from pretty much day one of the season.
Big man Josh Ajayi returned last game and looked okay to me for a Jaguar team that’s rolling of late, having won five straight. They also will have revenge on their minds for a blowout home loss at the hands of Coastal Carolina early on in conference play.
South Alabama has one of the most experienced teams in the country and I expect this group to continue this recent surge through the end of the regular season and into the Sun Belt Tournament. The recent play of senior guard Andre Fox has made the offense much more dynamic.
Coastal should own the glass but this is a horrid shooting team that should struggle against a South Alabama zone defense that’s really starting to click.
Xavier +1 vs. Villanova
2:30 p.m. ET on FOX
I’ll pay for Villanova to beat me by shooting 18-26 again.
I ultimately trust a very experienced Xavier team that’s been trending up to take care of business at home in a massive game for its tournament hopes. The Musketeers also defend the perimeter at an elite level, holding opponents to 29.5% from beyond the arc (22nd nationally) — which is a must against a Villanova team full of shooters that benefit from outstanding ball movement.
Villanova’s defense also doesn’t force many turnovers, which is an area the Xavier offense struggles with at times. I think Xavier comes out inspired in front of a crazed Cintas Center and controls the glass en route to a huge revenge victory.
Let’s just hope X doesn’t miss a billion free throws, which is always a worry.
Missouri State +1 vs. Loyola Chicago
3:30 p.m. ET on CBSSN
I’m banking on big man Tulio da Silva to play for Missouri State after missing the last game with the flu.
I make Missouri State a short favorite here and like the way the team has been playing of late. The Bears also match up fairly well with a Loyola Chicago team that they swept last year.
The Bears have the size to contend with Cam Krutwig and company inside and they don’t turn the ball over, which is how the Loyola defense pays the bills.
The Ramblers did get the better of Missouri State in their first meeting this year but it was a game that could’ve went either way. The Bears actually led by double digits in the first half and had the lead for a majority of the second half.
Not only is Missouri State looking to avenge that loss, this is a huge game for the Bears in regards to the Missouri Valley standings if they want to avoid playing in one of the two dreaded first round games at Arch Madness.
I think we’re getting some value here on a Missouri State team that previously dealt with some injuries and has gone 1-4 in conference games decided by four points or less. I think the Bears finally win a close one today and even the score on the season series.
Eastern Illinois +4.5 vs. Austin Peay
4:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
The hope is that EIU isn’t too hungover from one of the wildest comebacks I’ve ever seen (and benefited from as I backed them +5 against Murray State, which blew a 50-23 lead with 12 minutes to go). But this is one of the most experienced teams in the nation, so I think there’s a better shot they carry over that momentum into another big home game.
EIU actually matches up fairly well with Austin Peay, which sits all alone atop the OVC standings. EIU doesn’t turn it over and its lack of size doesn’t hurt that much against an equally small Governors squad. The Panthers actually won the rebounding margin in the first meeting.
The Panthers will have a good shot to avenge a close 4-point loss at Austin Peay earlier this season in a game it led by 12 at one point. The Governors have been dynamite at home all year but can be beat on the highway.
Plus, I make this line closer to +1, which isn’t surprising since I’ve been higher on EIU than the market all year. I bet EIU +9 in the first meeting in what was an easy cover and see no reason not to go back to the well here.
Florida +4.5 at Kentucky
6 p.m. ET on ESPN
The surging ‘Cats won their fifth straight at LSU on Tuesday but saw two of their best players go down with non-serious injuries. Nick Richards (14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg) hurt his ankle while Ashton Hagans (12.0 ppg, 6.6 apg) injured his thigh.
Word on the Lexington streets is Richards will give it a go but Hagans may not. That’s big for their leading assist man who will play at the next level.
This is a sneaky sell-high spot on a Kentucky team that has won five straight. Florida is playing better basketball of late and should come into Lexington as the more desperate team with its tourney life still up in the air.
Also, this is a super inexperienced Kentucky team that appears to play looser on the road as they’ve let inferior teams hang around all year at Rupp Arena. I think the Gators keep this close.
DePaul -2 vs. Georgetown
9 p.m. ET on FS1
Who wants to back DePaul after losing by 29 to Creighton and 20 to Villanova? Me, of course.
In those two losses, Creighton and Nova shot a combined 31-52 from beyond the arc. That’s a 59.6% clip!
After two straight embarrassing losses in large part due to some bad shooting luck, I fully expect a spirited effort from a DePaul squad looking to end an eight-game losing skid. The Blue Demons also have recent revenge from a game that could’ve gone either way at Georgetown two Saturdays ago.
And don’t forge that this DePaul team was extremely competitive in almost all of its conference losses prior to the last pair.
Also, I don’t think Mac McClung will suit up for Georgetown and big man Omer Yurtseven is listed as questionable. Without both, the Hoyas basically have a six-man rotation that has to essentially play the entire way. Those minutes are going to catch up to them down the stretch, especially since this is already a roster that lost a few key players earlier in the season.
Hold your nose and back the Blue Demons at home laying a short number.
BYU +4.5 vs. Gonzaga
9:30 p.m. ET on NEC Front Row
What a treat this should be. Gonzaga has another uber-talented team as Mark Few and his staff continue to crush the recruiting trail all across the globe. The Zags currently have a ridiculous seven players averaging double figures, which no team has done in decades. They’ve also won 40 straight regular season WCC games!
The offense is a treat to watch but so is the BYU offense, led by a now healthy Yoeli Childs inside, surrounded by shooters all over the court. The Cougars lead all of college basketball with a 41.1% clip from beyond the arc and also rank fifth in offensive adjusted efficiency. And I still do have some questions about the Gonzaga defense, which isn’t close to as elite as the offense.
BYU will be out for blood in front of a zoo in Provo, looking to avenge an embarrassing loss earlier in the season at Gonzaga (but Childs didn’t play in that game and BYU is simply a different team with him in the lineup).
I could go on and on about the matchups but this one is pretty simple for me: I make the line Gonzaga -1.2, which means I see a ton of value in the current line of BYU +4.5.
I’m a believer in the Cougars even if I’m a little worried about some 3P regression as they’re shooting a touch over 44% in conference play. My fears are put at ease a bit by the fact that Gonzaga’s defense has also been fairly fortunate in WCC play in regards to opponent free throw and 3P shooting.
Also, don’t forget that Gonzaga struggles from the free throw line at 68% (265th in the nation) which could potentially open up the backdoor if Gonzaga leads late.
Call me crazy but I think Gonzaga’s remarkable WCC streak is in jeopardy tonight. Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn into another St. Mary’s debacle from a few Saturdays ago. Yikes.
- Campbell +4.5: I think Gardner Webb is a fade down the stretch without Jose Perez (see my injuries piece) and Campbell should be extremely motivated to avenge last year’s conference tournament loss in the semifinals as well as an earlier season home loss in a game it could’ve won.
- Washington -9: This looks like a take-out-your-frustrations game for the Huskies, who have lost nine straight and have been as unlucky in close games as any team in the country. They will also be looking for revenge from an early January loss to Cal.
- Brown -2.5: I’m not sure how an undermanned Cornell team without its leading scorer bounces back both physically and mentally after a double overtime loss to Yale last night in which two of its guards played over 45 minutes.
- Arizona -4.5: The Wildcats are rolling and a team I want to ride the rest of the year, which is one of the reasons I placed a future this week on this uber-talented young team that is rapidly improving with each passing day. With three potential first-round draft picks and some impact transfers, this team is as deep and as talented as any in Division I. I think they keep it rolling at home against an Oregon team it probably should’ve beat in Eugene in an overtime loss earlier this year.