Stuckey’s 6 Favorite Saturday College Basketball Situational Spots and Regression Candidates
Devontae Shuler #2 talks wtih Breein Tyree #4 of the Mississippi Rebels during the second half against the Wichita State Shockers on January 4, 2020 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas. (Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
It’s easy to forget about missing college football when you look at a drool-worthy college hoops betting slate like we have today. And there are quite a few situational spots that I circled on the docket, which I will share each Saturday as I did last season once college football ended.
The four most popular situational angles include letdowns, lookaheads, sandwiches and revenge (which I went into greater detail on last year).
However, 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.
Let’s dive into this week’s list, starting with three noon tips. I’ll also finish up with a few three-point regression candidates worth noting.
2018-19: 47-32-2 (59.5%)
2019-20: 0-0 (0.0%)
Odds as of 6 a.m. ET on Saturday and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Oklahoma State +6 vs. Baylor
Noon ET on ESPN2
If there’s one thing we know about this season, it’s that nobody is unbeatable. Just when you think a team can maintain an elite level of play, they seem to drop a game on the road to a unranked opponent.
And it wouldn’t shock me to see the red-hot Bears drop one at Gallagher-Iba today.
The Pokes are no doubt reeling, having lost four straight, but the defense has been solid all year. The problem has been on the offensive end of the floor where the shots just aren’t falling. The Pokes are shooting just 29% from beyond the arc and an even worse 22.2% during conference play.
Don’t expect that to continue as this is essentially the same group of starters that shot 37.2% from deep last season — good enough for a top 50 finish nationally.
After a huge win at Kansas and getting revenge over Iowa State for an embarrassing loss last year in the Big 12 Tournament, this is a prime letdown spot for Baylor. Expect a fully focused effort from the Cowboys in front of a rowdy crowd now that the students are back.
I will also throw half of my bet on the first half spread at +3.5.
UNC +4 at Pittsburgh
Noon ET on ESPN
I’ve been low on UNC all season but I think this is the spot to finally jump on board.
If you can’t play the Heels here, I’m not sure when you can. Losers of three straight and seven of nine overall, you have to imagine you get UNC’s all-out best effort after a week off with recent revenge on its mind from a home meltdown loss against these Panthers earlier in the month.
I think that effort and desperation will particularly help with the perimeter defense, which has been abysmal all season for UNC. The Heels have been giving up a ton of threes and allowing opponents to drill them at a high clip.
UNC should dominate the glass on both ends, especially on the offensive end of the floor where they rank in the top 20 nationally. That should go a long way against a Pitt defense that ranks 335th out of 353 teams in offensive rebounding percentage allowed.
Penn State +2 vs. Ohio State
I’ve had this one circled since the first meeting in early December, when the Buckeyes put up triple digits and rolled the Nittany Lions by 32.
However, if you watched that game, you’d know Penn State didn’t really get a fair whistle in Columbus. Star forward Lamar Stevens, who almost never fouls out, only played 18 minutes in that contest after fouling out.
And fellow senior forward Mike Watkins only played 17 minutes as a result of foul trouble in a game that really unraveled late. The score was definitely a bit misleading as Ohio State only led by nine when Stevens fouled out with over 13 minutes left.
After dropping three straight in conference, I think a very experienced Penn State team comes out with its hair on fire and gets its revenge in Happy Valley.
Yes, Ohio State also hasn’t been great of late, so I don’t think it will overlook Penn State. The Buckeyes will also get both Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington back for this game but I’m lower than the market on the Buckeyes, who I think were just running very well to start the year.
I will gladly side with the short home dog in a game I make Penn State -0.5.
Texas A&M 1H ML vs. South Carolina
1 p.m. ET on SECN
South Carolina is coming off an enormous home win against Kentucky in which the Gamecocks won with an improbable buzzer beater.
Frank Martin’s bunch must now try to get up for an early tip on the road against a pretty bad Texas A&M squad. That might be a tough ask, especially considering they have Auburn on deck. This is probably your sandwich spot of the day.
Don’t get too wrapped up in the Kentucky result. This is still a South Carolina team that lost home games against Stetson and Boston this year.
SOUTH CAROLINA BEATS KENTUCKY AT THE BUZZER 🚨 pic.twitter.com/pqlWPIKO7w
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) January 16, 2020
Meanwhile, the Aggies have been playing better ball of late with two conference wins by double-digit followed up by an overtime loss against LSU. The defense has been fine all year but the offense has been atrocious. That’s primarily due to some historically poor shooting from the outside. Texas A&M is shooting just 25.6% from three on the season, which ranks 351st in the nation — ahead of only Jackson State and Maryland Eastern Shore.
How bad is that number? Just take a look at the teams that have finished below 25% from three-point range since 2000:
- 2013 Howard: 24.9%
- 2009 NJIT: 24.8%
We’ve already started to see some improvement in their two most recent games 19-51 (37.2%). That should do a lot for their confidence in a very winnable game against a potentially flat opponent.
I actually prefer the first half over game to maximize the potential flat impact of South Carolina and also won’t have to worry about a late Texas A&M meltdown as free throws and turnovers can be an issue.
Missouri +7 at Alabama
3:30 p.m. ET on SECN
It’s a classic buy low/sell high spot here with Alabama in a prime letdown spot after an enormous, emotional win over undefeated in-state rival Auburn. Meanwhile, Missouri is coming off an absolutely embarrassing 27-point road loss at the hands of Mississippi State. Expect Cuonzo Martin to have his troops ready after that debacle.
Yes, Mizzou will still be without Jeremiah Tilmon but I still like the matchup for a few reasons. Missouri will slow this game down, which will take Alabama out of its comfort zone. Plus, Missouri can defend the perimeter and force turnovers, which are both keys to stopping the Alabama offense.
Ole Miss +4.5 vs. LSU
8 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Just like with Oklahoma State, I think it’s time to back a home dog that has lost four straight overall.
I also have been waiting for the right spot to fade what I think is an overvalued LSU team in the market. Yes, the Tigers sit atop the SEC standings with a perfect 4-0 conference record, but take a closer look under the hood at those four wins:
- Comprehensive win over an undermanned Tennessee team
- Win in final seconds at home over Arkansas
- Buzzer beater win at home vs. Mississippi State
- Won in overtime at Texas A&M
LSU could easily be sitting at 1-3 in the conference and perception would be much different.
Expect a best-effort performance from the Rebels at home in Oxford in primetime.
3P Regression Candidates
Arkansas (-1.5 vs. Kentucky) is holding opponents to 22.8% shooting from deep, which tops the nation. And West Virginia (-6 at Kansas State) isn’t too far behind at 23.8%, including a ridiculous 19.8% clip during conference play.
Those two numbers are simply unsustainable.
For reference, Houston led NCAA in three-point defense last season at 27.9% and only two teams have finished a season with a 3-point percentage allowed of under 27% since 2000:
- 2008 VCU: 26.9%
- 2005 Norfolk State: 25.3%
Georgia State (-7 at Troy) has exceeded a lot of preseason expectations so far but the Panthers have been very fortunate in regards to 3-point shooting on both ends.
They’re shooting 40.1% from deep (4th in the nation) while holding opponents to 28.9% from beyond the arc (22nd). And those numbers are even better when you just look at conference play. It’s safe to expect some shooting regression to come Georgia State’s way in the near future.