Stuckey’s 6 Favorite College Basketball Situational Spots for Saturday
Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrew Nembhard
It’s all about college basketball this weekend in the sports world, and we have quite a few situational spots worth noting for Saturday’s slate.
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 a noon tip.
2018-19: 47-32-2 (59.5%)
2019-20: 3-4 (42.9%)
Odds as of 6 a.m. ET on Saturday and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Michigan ML vs. Illinois
Noon ET on ESPN2
It’s a pretty basic buy low and sell high spot here for the Wolverines, who have lost three straight overall and four of five in conference. Meanwhile, Illinois comes in after an impressive blowout win at Purdue to give the Illini their fifth straight win.
There are also two important personnel notes here as Illinois won’t have the services of Alan Griffin, which really hurts their depth. Meanwhile, based on a recent Instagram post, I’m assuming Michigan will get Isaiah Livers back today. The stretch wing is shooting 50% from deep on the season and is absolutely essential for opening up the Michigan offense.
I think the Big Ten home team trend continues here in Ann Arbor. For what it’s worth, I think the trend makes sense as there is so much parity among the top 10-12 teams in what is the deepest and toughest conference in the country for my money.
Combine that with a conference full of great home-court advantages and you can easily see why it’s been so difficult to win on the road in the Big Ten this season. That said, it’s a trend the market may begin to start overvaluing, so don’t assume it will continue the rest of the year.
I even think we are getting a little bit of inflation here today. As a result, I’m personally throwing the Wolverines in a moneyline parlay with Utah State.
I think the Aggies are a tad bit undervalued at home now that they finally look to have a fully healthy roster. Yes, Colorado State has won five straight but against the bottom of the weak Mountain West. I’m not buying what the Rams are selling.
Pick: Michigan/Utah State ML parlay
Providence +2 vs. Villanova
1 p.m. ET on CBS
Yes, Villanova has won five straight but four of them came at home, which included an overtime win against DePaul and a game in which it pulled away late against UConn.
The Wildcats also had to make a furious comeback in the only road game during that stretch at Creighton. They’ve also been running extremely well during conference play in regards to opponent 3-point shooting as conference foes are shooting a league-worst 26%.
To put that number into perspective, Villanova has led the Big East in 3P defense a few times in recent years but at right around 33%. It’s more than reasonable to expect some regression in that department in the near future.
Meanwhile, Providence will come back home after two straight road losses for what sets up to be a massive game for its NCAA Tournament chances. And don’t think that the Friars, one of the most experienced teams in the country, haven’t forgotten about last year when they lost three times to Villanova.
I think this is a perfect peak to fade the Wildcats at against a Providence team that should come out with its hair on fire. Trust the more physical and experienced Friars to get this critical victory at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
Pick: Providence +2
Texas +1 vs. LSU
2 p.m. ET on ESPN
Shaka Smart is deservedly on the hot seat down in Austin as the whispers got a little louder after an embarrassing 38-point loss at West Virginia earlier this week.
That said, this is the perfect time to buy low on the Horns and back them in a prime situational spot against an LSU team that I think is overvalued in the market. The Tigers sit in first place in the SEC with a perfect 6-0 conference record, but they’ve won five straight by four points or less and could easily only have one or two conference wins instead of six.
The sense of urgency should all be on the side of Texas for this late January non-conference matchup.
Texas does have the size to match up with LSU in the interior and the Tigers don’t really have the outside shooting to exploit a vulnerable Texas perimeter defense.
Plus, the LSU defense doesn’t really exploit one of Texas’s main weaknesses of turning the ball over. The free throw shooting discrepancy in LSU’s favors is a bit worrying but I can’t pass up backing Texas as a home dog in a sweet situational spot where you should get its maximum effort.
Pick: Texas +1
Illinois State -2 vs. Southern Illinois
3 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Hold your nose spot here for the Red Birds, who have lost six straight.
This is also a potential flat spot for the Salukis, who find themselves in a classic sandwich spot in between games against two of the best teams in the Valley.
After a huge home win over Northern Iowa, SIU has a date with Loyola Chicago on deck. Plus, we are talking about a Southern Illinois squad that is winless on the road (0-7) with neutral court losses to both Delaware and Oakland. The results away from home have been pretty bleak to say the least for a very inexperienced club.
Illinois State also has fairly similar home/road splits with a 6-3 record at Redbird Arena compared to an atrocious 0-10 clip on the highway.
SIU has also been running a little too good in regards to 3P defense during conference play, so we should see some regression there in the near term. The Salukis also aren’t strong on the glass, which is where opposing teams have just abused Illinois State.
It’s hard to trust the home team based on some of their recent results but trust the spot.
Pick: Illinois State -2
Georgia Tech +1 vs. NC State
4 p.m. ET on FSN
Don’t be fooled by Georgia Tech’s record or the fact that the Yellow Jackets are ineligible for postseason play. This team has still been fighting and is very scrappy. Yes, they’ve lost three straight but each have come by five points or fewer — and they just had a chance to win late at Louisville the other night.
They will also catch NC State in a very sleepy spot after three straight wins — the latest coming in dramatic fashion at Virginia — with home dates against in-state rival UNC and Louisville on deck.
This is also not a great matchup for the Wolfpack, particularly inside as Georgia Tech can really defend the interior against an NC State team that doesn’t thrive shooting the ball from deep.
It’s one of the reasons GT has won three straight in this series. Look for big games out of Moses Wright and James Banks, who has owned the Pack.
Florida -2 vs. Baylor
8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Let’s keep this last one short and sweet as this fits more in the art than science category of situational spots. It’s the No. 1 team in the nation going on the road for an out of conference game on a Saturday night in front of what should be a rocking crowd in Gainesville.
Baylor has been flirting with a loss over its past two games as it looks a tad fat and happy.
Back the young Gators to continue their recent hot shooting to pull off this non-upset “upset”. Let the No. 1 carousel continue!
Pick: Florida -2