Stuckey’s 10 Favorite Situational Spots on Saturday’s College Basketball Slate
Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Woolridge
Nice bounce back Saturday last weekend. So let’s keep it moving on a bittersweet Saturday.
Yes, tomorrow is March but this is also the last full Saturday regular season college basketball betting slate of the season.
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. Revenge is the theme of the day.
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: 25-29-2 (46.3%)
Providence +7 at Villanova
Noon ET on FOX
I’ve been higher on the Friars than the market for pretty much all season and it’s a team I have circled to continue riding through the end of the year.
With its tournament hopes in limbo, you should get a desperate effort from an extremely experienced Providence squad that’s playing its best basketball of the season.
PC also has revenge from a home loss as the hands of Villanova earlier this season. Despite shooting 3-23 from deep, the Friars still had a shot to come away with a victory — but fell just short.
And not only did they lose earlier this season Jay Wright’s bunch, they lost all three meetings last year, including one in the Big East tournament that sent them to the NIT. There should be no shortage of motivation here for Providence.
Providence actually matches up pretty well as its physicality and perimeter defense can give Villanova problems. Plus, starting guard Collin Gillespie, Villanova’s floor general, may miss this contest with a thigh bruise.
Even with Gillespie, I still see some value on a Providence team I prefer to back as a dog given its struggles at the free throw line. I think the Friars will have a shot to pull off their fifth road Big East win of the season.
Evansville -2.5 vs. Illinois State
2 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Yup, I’m backing a team that hasn’t won a game in 2020 as a favorite. Evansville, which has one of the oddest wins of the season against Kentucky at Rupp Arena back in November, has lost a school-record 17 straight games to drop to 0-17 in the Missouri Valley.
So, why am I backing the Purple Aces here? Well, I’m just not sure how much Illinois State will care about this game and I know Evansville desperately wants to end its historic losing streak and avoid a winless conference season.
Part of the losing skid can be explained by losing DeAndre Williams to injury for 12 games during conference play. The sophomore leads the team in both points and rebounds. He returned to the lineup three games ago and hasn’t looked great but I expect him to be close to a full go today after shaking off some of the rust.
Similar to Providence, Evansville also has revenge from an earlier season loss, in addition to three losses against Illinois State last season, including one that ended their season in Arch Madness.
In a matchup of two teams locked into the dreaded first round of the MVC tournament, I’m siding with the home team, which should have a massive motivational edge here. The long overdue shooting regression on both ends for Evansville may also finally come to fruition.
Plus, I have no issues fading a Redbirds squad that has looked disinterested most of the year, especially away from home where they are 0-14. That includes an 0-11 mark in true road games — 10 of which came by double digits and the other by eight.
Akron +1 at Buffalo
2 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Since November, I’ve loved Bowling Green, which now sits in first place in the MAC East. However, I still have Akron rated as the class of the conference.
The Zips are coming off a bad loss against Bowling Green in which they shot 5-35 from beyond the arc. That’s a shocking number when you consider Akron ranked in the top 20 in 3P shooting percentage prior to that brickfest.
I expect a fully focused effort after that blowout loss in a game I’m sure Akron has had circled for over a month. In late January, Buffalo picked up a big road win at Akron on a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Gabe Grant makes game winning three for Buffalo at Akron pic.twitter.com/jjAlHN5WiL
— Main Team (@MainTeamSports) January 29, 2020
And this might sound familiar…I’m sure an extremely experienced Akron squad would also like to avenge all three losses at the hands of the Bulls last season, including an embarrassing 82-46 loss to end its season.
I expect Akron’s corps of upperclassmen to get this done on the road. I also don’t anticipate Buffalo, which really struggles at the line, to go 21-24 from the charity stripe as it did in the first meeting.
Marquette ML vs. Seton Hall
2:30 p.m. ET on FOX
I’m backing another experienced team looking for revenge from an earlier season loss and three straight overall, including a 2-point defeat in last year’s Big East tournament.
Seton Hall may also get caught looking ahead a little bit here. The Pirates hold a one-game lead in the Big East standings over both Creighton and Villanova — two teams they will face next week to close out their regular season.
I think Markus Howard finds a way to outduel Myles Powell in what should be one of the most entertaining games of the day.
Michigan State +2.5 at Maryland
8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Two teams I have in my top 10 power rankings will face off in College Park on Saturday where College GameDay will be for the first time in 15 years.
A few weeks ago, it was GameDay in East Lansing when Maryland used a late 14-0 run to pull off an improbable win, which helped them build what is now a 2-game lead in the Big Ten standings.
An improbable comeback win shouldn’t sound unfamiliar when talking about the Terps. Just take a look at some of these absurd wins:
- 1 point home win over Illinois after trailing by 15
- Came back to beat Northwestern after trailing by 15
- Beat Indiana by 1 after trailing by 8 with 6 to go
- Came back to win at Illinois after trailing by 14
- 14-0 run to end the game to beat Michigan State after trailing by 7 with 3 to go
- Came back from 17 down to win by 1 at Minnesota
They even trailed in non-conference games by early on against Rhode Island (12), Harvard (11), Temple (9) and George Mason (7), respectively.
For whatever reason, the Terps continue to start slow and then find ways to win late.
Clutch or lucky? Probably a little bit of both.
Meanwhile, Michigan State hasn’t covered against a team with a pulse in over a month. Something has just seemed off with Sparty all year but the metrics are still there. I think they’ve just been running a little unlucky. This is a team that still ranks first in both offensive and defensive effective FG% during Big Ten play.
Tom Izzo’s bunch does have issues with turnovers but Maryland is not a team that will turn you over.
Also, keep in mind that Maryland doesn’t have much depth, ranking 349th out of 353 teams nationally. That could start to show in March and might be a factor here after two hotly contested road games — and this being the third game in six days.
The crowd should be wild but sometimes that energy can work against a team. The number is sharp but I’m going to trust my gut here on the spot and the good fortune discrepancy between these two Big Ten teams.
I think Izzo will make enough adjustments and the 3P shooting splits won’t be as tilted in Maryland’s favor as they were the first time around. I think Sparty gets it done but make sure you also get some 1H in if you like them just in case Maryland continues to win how it’s been winning all year.
Morehead State +5 at Eastern Kentucky
7 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Pretty simple logic here for this rivalry OVC game. Eastern Kentucky is locked into the No. 4 seed in the upcoming OVC tournament while Morehead State can lock up a spot in the postseason with a win.
Morehead will also be looking for payback from an earlier season home loss at the hands of the Colonels in which the Eagles shot 3-25 from three. They’re a horrific shooting team, but nowhere near that poor.
EKU runs one of the fastest offenses in the country, ranking fourth in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. That’s directly related to their chaotic pressing defensive style that excels at forcing teams to cough the ball up. However, that’s actually one of Morehead’s few strengths.
Led by senior guards Jordan Walker and Djimon Henson, Morehead ranks in the top 100 nationally in turnover percentage at 17.8%. And that percentage has been even lower during conference play. In their first meeting, the Eagles only turned it over nine times, which is an excellent number against an EKU defense that ranks sixth in the country with over 18 turnovers forced per game.
Pepperdine +7.5 vs. BYU
6 p.m. ET on CBSSN
I love the BYU offense as much as anyone. It’s a joy to watch and one of the reasons I played the Cougs last week against Gonzaga. However, this is a prime letdown spot for a team coming off that huge win with a ticket to the dance already punched.
Also, there’s no way the can maintain a 44%-plus clip from beyond the arc. And I still have questions about the BYU defense.
Pepperdine has suffered some unlucky losses of late but has been playing good basketball overall.
Expect a spirited effort from the Waves in a nationally televised game in Malibu against a top 25 team. And I’m sure they’ll have the last meeting on their mind when BYU embarrassed them 107-80 on a night when the Cougars shot a ridiculous 17-28 from deep.
It’s a fairly sharp number but I’m banking on a flat effort from BYU.
Nevada +5.5 vs. San Diego State
8 p.m. ET on ESPN2
San Diego has started to show cracks the past few games and it might have to do with some fatigue for a team that doesn’t boast much depth. I also think this number is just too high.
I wasn’t a believer in Nevada early on in the season but have done a 180 on the Wolfpack, primarily as a result of Jalen Harris — who can go for 30-plus with ease. He might be the best player most have never heard of.
Yes, Nevada would like to avenge an earlier season loss at the hands of the Aztecs (as well as one in the MWC tournament last year) but I just think this is a pretty good matchup for a Nevada team that has won six straight. The Pack don’t turn the ball over and play stellar perimeter defense, which are musts against San Diego State.
Nevada has one of the most underrated home court advantages in college basketball to boot. It’s won 20 straight conference games over the past three years in Reno. I think Nevada pulls off the upset.
UCSB +7 at UC Irvine
10 p.m. ET on ESPN3
UC Irvine has everything wrapped up in the Big West. The Anteaters have already won the regular season championship and will be the No. 1 seed in Anaheim for the conference tournament. They’ve made quick work of almost everyone in the conference but one of their two losses came against UCSB.
I was super high on UCSB coming into the season but the Gauchos just couldn’t put consistent results together. That is until recently when they’ve seemingly figured some things out in the midst of a three-game winning streak (and six of seven overall). I think the turning point was a buzzer-beater win against UC Riverside earlier this month.
A win against Irvine tonight will go a long way in helping the Gauchos secure the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, which would be huge as it means they can avoid a potential date with Irvine until the championship.
I think the market hasn’t caught up yet to how UCSB has been playing of late which is creating some decent line value here.
Saint Mary’s +13 at Gonzaga
10 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Let’s hope this works out better than the first time these two teams met in Moraga when Gonzaga thrashed the Gaels, 90-60.
You should get an absolutely inspired effort here from Saint Mary’s after that embarrassing loss earlier this month. The interior defense does scare me a bit but I simply can’t pass up the line value in a game I make Gonzaga a favorite of just under 10 points.
Expect head coach Randy Bennett to make some key adjustments and for the Gaels to keep this within the number.
- Wagner +2.5
- Miami Ohio +3
- Maine +2.5
- Oklahoma State -7
- TCU +7