Stuckey’s 10 Favorite College Basketball Situational Spots: Hold Your Nose Edition
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tulane guard Caleb Daniels
- Which college basketball teams are primed for a letdown on Saturday? Which could come out flat or get caught looking ahead?
- Stuckey details his 10 favorite betting situational spots, starting with a noon Big East tip between Providence and first place Marquette.
It’s the last Saturday in February. We are only days away from betting on college basketball in the marvelous month of March.
And with the start of conference tournaments on the horizon, we have a few matchups today that could potentially decide which team ultimately wins a conference. The two biggest games are Tennessee-LSU and Kansas-Texas Tech, which will both have massive implications on the SEC and Big 12 races, respectively.
However, for this particular piece, I’m going to focus on a number of off-the-radar games that I think present value from a situational perspective.
The four most popular situational angles include letdowns, lookaheads, sandwiches and revenge (which I went into greater detail on a few weeks ago).
But those are just the first four high-level factors to consider; there are plenty of others that pop up. I simply use this exercise to circle the best situational spots on the card, then I use my numbers and analyze the matchups to finalize my bets.
There’s no easy formula with situational spots. It’s definitely more art than science. But you should at least be aware of the non-mathematical angles when capping college kids playing basketball.
My ultimate goal is to either point out a spot or two you may have overlooked — or push you toward or away from a side you were contemplating.
Without further ado, let’s jump into this week’s 10 best spots, starting with our only early tip in a Big East matchup between first place Marquette and Providence at noon ET on FOX.
And caveat emptor: some of these sides are extremely ugly. Get ready to hold your nose when submitting your bets.
Season Record: 30-19-1 (+9.36 units). All odds as of 1 a.m. ET.
Providence +3 vs. Marquette
Noon ET on FOX
This is lookahead city for Marquette, which sits all alone in first place in the Big East. Before making a trip down I-95 to take on Villanova for a game on Wednesday that could ultimately decide the Big East regular season champion, Marquette will first have to take on a Providence team that sits in a tie for last place in the Big East. Even with a loss today, Marquette can still essentially win the regular season with a win at Nova this upcoming week.
There’s a lot to love about this Marquette team, which is one of the reasons I recently invested in a national title future at 80-1. The Golden Eagles clearly have an elite offense, led by star guard Markus Howard, but they also are playing superb defense this year. However, Providence can compete with them on the glass and their defensive length can force some turnovers against a Marquette team that can get sloppy with the ball.
Providence also has revenge from a loss earlier this season at Marquette. The Friars led that game by eight in the half, which I think they can draw on for confidence headed into this one. The Golden Eagles simply couldn’t miss in that second half, scoring at a ridiculous clip of 1.50 points per possession. I’m willing to put my money up to say they don’t sniff that number in either half in this particular spot on the road.
I think we see a very flat Marquette team out of the gates and this one comes down to the wire. I’d also take a long look at the under.
UT Arlington -1 vs. UL Monroe
3 p.m. ET on ESPN+
This is one of my favorite buy low/sell high spots on the card.
UL Monroe is coming off a huge upset win on the road against first place Texas State. Meanwhile, UT Arlington has lost three straight — most recently at home to Louisiana. I think this is the perfect time to buy a hungry UTA squad that turned it on at this exact time last year to make a late season push to the conference title game.
And not only are the Warhawks coming off of a big win — they will be playing their third consecutive road game since last Saturday. That’s not ideal for a team that doesn’t have depth (337th in the country in bench minutes, per KenPom).
Even after their recent three-game losing streak, a win over UL Monroe would go a long way in helping the Mavericks secure one of the coveted four byes in the Sun Belt conference tournament. I think they get it done in a very odd matchup on paper that matches up strength-on-strength when UL Monroe is on offense and weakness-on-weakness when UT Arlington has the ball.
Missouri +10.5 at Florida
4 p.m. ET on ESPNU
This is a very sleepy spot for a Florida team that suddenly finds itself on the right side of the bubble (according to most). But after two straight road upsets over Alabama and LSU — and a very easy upcoming three-game stretch against the basement dwellers of the SEC — I think the Gators get caught napping here.
Turnovers do worry me a ton on the road, as the Tigers simply don’t take care of the ball. The Missouri offense ranks 321st in the nation with a turnover percentage of 21.5% (and dead last during conference play at an even worse 22.4%). That could lead to disaster against a suffocating Florida defense that forces turnovers as well as any team in the country (No. 8 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC during conference play).
However, Missouri should dominate the glass on the offensive end against a Florida defense that ranks outside the top 300 nationally in that department. And I ultimately think Florida will be flat enough that Missouri can keep it within single digits.
I expect this game to play out similar to Florida’s home game against Vanderbilt in another awful situational spot when the Gators had to pull away late for a 9-point win after coming out very flat.
Oklahoma State +10 at Kansas State
4 p.m ET on ESPN2
Hold your nose for another road double-digit underdog.
Kansas State is really banged up right now. Not only is Cartier Diarra still sidelined, but Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade are each dealing with foot injuries. Yes, they both played Monday, but head coach Bruce Weber knew they had four days off before a very winnable home game against Oklahoma State on deck.
However, with a trip to Lawrence looming on Monday (where the Wildcats haven’t won at since 2006) that could decide the Big 12 regular season champion, I think they will be much more cautious with Wade and Stokes.
I imagine Kansas State just wants to get this win and get out of dodge healthy. Weber will not be concerned at all about style points and should pull his starters as early as possible.
Oklahoma State should come in with some confidence after it snapped its losing streak on Monday against TCU. The four-day break should also help a decimated Cowboys roster that has no depth, but has still continued to at least compete on the road in conference.
It’s also worth noting that Kansas State is miserable from the line (314th in the country), which could play a role late and swing the cover in favor of the Pokes, who will look to avenge a blowout home loss at the hands of Kansas State earlier this season.
Furman -1 vs. Wofford
4 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Part of me hates to do this because I love this Wofford squad. I’ve said since back in November that the Terriers can make real noise in March. And I still believe that, but I think this is the spot to fade them.
This Wofford team is going to give someone fits in March. Probably the worst shooting night they’ll have all year and we’re right there until a late run
— Stuckey (@Stuckey2) November 7, 2018
Wofford comes off an absolute beatdown of UNC Greensboro last Saturday. That 30-point rout gave the Terriers a school record 14th straight win and clinched the regular season Southern title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. If Wofford is going to drop a game in conference this season, it’ll likely come today at Furman.
After a midseason semi-slump, Furman is finally playing at the level it did earlier this season when it entered the Top 25 after a road win at Villanova.
From a matchup perspective, this game will pit the league’s best offense (Wofford) against the league’s best defense (Furman). If you are going to slow down Wofford, you must defend the perimeter, where the Terriers are lethal — led by sharp-shooter Fletcher Magee. Well, Furman can certainly do that. It has held opponents to just 31.0% from deep (37th in the country) and an even more impressive 29.0% during conference play (best in the Southern).
Furman should also have some success on the offensive end, especially inside with Matt Rafferty, who leads an offense that ranks ninth in the country in 2P%.
And don’t sleep on Furman’s home-court advantage. Believe it or not, the Paladins have been one of the ten most-profitable college basketball teams to bet on at home since 2005 at 85-60-1 ATS for a 14.3% ROI. Just like it did last season, I think Furman gets revenge at home for an earlier season loss in Spartanburg.
Notre Dame +4 vs. Virginia Tech
4 p.m. ET on ESPN
Just keep your fingers on your nose, because it doesn’t get any prettier.
We are buying low on a Notre Dame team that has been ravaged by injuries and just lost at home to Wake Forest. Virginia Tech can relate to Notre Dame’s bad injury luck, as the Hokies have suffered a few key losses of their own. As a result, head coach Buzz Williams has essentially had to make due with almost no bench — and I think all of the minutes their starters have been logging will start to have a detrimental effect over the next few games.
This is also a horrid situational spot for Virginia Tech, which will travel to South Bend in between home games against Virginia and Duke. The Irish don’t have too many advantages on paper, but they won’t turn the ball over, which is an area where the Hokie defense usually thrives.
Tulane -2 vs. East Carolina
8 p.m. ET on ESPNU
If you thought we had to hold our collective noses to bet Notre Dame, brace yourself. This is the ultimate hold your nose spot.
Yes, I am betting on Tulane — as a favorite. A team that is 0-13 in the American. A team that has lost 15 straight games since its last win on Dec. 17 against Texas Southern.
However, I think this is the spot they pick up their first conference win. I can’t see ECU (which only beat Tulane by a single point in January) getting up for a one-game road trip to play lowly Tulane. In their last game, the Pirates lost in OT at home — their second OT loss in their past three games. They also have a home game with Houston on deck, which will be their Super Bowl.
Tulane is beyond dreadful, but so is ECU, which has yet to win a road game this season. I don’t think the Pirates show up, while we should get a desperate effort from Tulane in what is likely its best chance to avoid going winless in conference.
San Diego +2 vs. St. Mary’s
9 p.m. ET on theW.tv
San Diego is becoming a weekly Saturday staple in this piece. I’ve said many times before how much I love this senior-laden roster as a dog in this conference. The Toreros have just had to deal with a lot of bad injury luck in their backcourt this season. Well, they are now fully healthy and I think you get an inspired effort tonight at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Yes, St. Mary’s comes off a dominant 58-32 win at Pacific in which it held the Tigers to two total assists! However the Gaels still haven’t beat anybody with a pulse on the road this year.
San Diego not only has revenge from a 17-point loss at St. Mary’s last month, it has lost 10 straight overall to the Gaels. San Diego’s second-leading scorer, Olin Carter III, didn’t play in that first matchup. Carter is one of a couple seniors who have played each of the past four years for the Toreros. Over that span, San Diego has lost all seven matchups with St. Mary’s. The seniors have to really want this win.
I expect San Diego’s best effort here in its fourth straight home game, which just so happens to be its last of the season — Senior Night! (Our first 2019 mention of Senior Night, which can actually work against teams in some cases, but I think San Diego will thrive in this spot.)
This game should be special for Carter, Isaiah Wright, Isaiah Piniero (the best player you’ve never heard of) and company.
UNLV +1 vs. San Diego State
10 p.m. ET on ESPNU
I hate this UNLV team and SDSU has recently grown on me, but I have to reluctantly play the Rebels in this spot since I have them as a very short favorite.
I’ll make San Diego State prove to me it can back up that huge home upset win over Nevada on Wednesday night. This game also classifies as a sandwich spot for the Aztecs, who have Utah State on deck.
The Rebels should at least come in with some confidence after three straight wins (albeit against the bottom of the Mountain West). UNLV also has revenge from a blowout loss earlier this season at SDSU.
Plus, San Diego State has no road results to write home about this year. The Aztecs are 3-5 in true road games with unimpressive wins over Illinois State, Colorado State and San Jose State. They also have a few questionable road losses against Air Force, Cal, Boise State and New Mexico.
Oregon +1 at UCLA
10 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The revenge spot of the day. You know Oregon wants this one bad after what happened in the first meeting against UCLA. In that first matchup, Oregon somehow lost in impossible fashion in a game it led by 13 with 2:30 left.
The Ducks have responded well after their three other two-game losing streaks this year, going 3-0 with a margin of victory of at least 20 in all three contests. You should get a fully focused effort tonight from Oregon, which should force plenty of turnovers against an extremely careless Bruins squad. Oregon should also have an edge at the free throw line, where UCLA is just dreadful (340th in the country).
And it’s not like UCLA has had stellar results at Pauley Pavilion this year, which was fully evident in back-to-back home losses to Utah and Colorado. I think Oregon gets its revenge from that aforementioned collapse.
Editor’s note: The opinions on these games are from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.