Stuckey’s 10 Favorite College Basketball Situational Spots: Mississippi State-Kentucky and More
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Mississippi State guards Nick Weatherspoon and Quinndary Weatherspoon
- Which college basketball teams are primed for a letdown on Saturday? Which could come out flat or get caught looking ahead?
- Stuckey runs through his 10 favorite situational spots, including two noon ET tips and Mississippi State vs. Kentucky.
It’s Saturdays like these that make it easier to forget that you miss college football.
Not only do we have some mouth-watering top 25 matchups, there are countless great situational spots on today’s college hoops slate. Unlike last week when I only had six that made the final card, we are back to 10 this week.
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.
Let’s dive into this week’s list, starting with two noon tips. I’d like to get another sweep this Saturday, but 6-4 will suffice.
Season Record: 15-11 (+3.12 units). All odds as of 3:30 a.m. ET
Providence +7 at St. John’s
Noon ET on CBS Sports Network
The Red Storm come into this one with massive letdown potential after pulling out an enormous 1-point road win at Marquette last time out. The noon tip will make this even tougher on St. John’s, which should come out sleepy against a reeling Providence team that just lost its third straight.
It’s a classic buy low/sell high spot. It’s also worth noting that St. John’s has been vulnerable at home in this spread range this year, losing outright to both Georgetown and Depaul as 6/7-point favorites.
I expect a desperate PC team to keep this close. The Friars should have an edge on the glass, can get to the line and their legit defense can keep this competitive.
Miami 1H +9.5 at North Carolina
Noon ET on ACCN
I prefer the first half here with the Hurricanes, who have absolutely no depth. Head coach Jim Larranaga only uses a seven-man rotation (which is really closer to six), which leaves Miami vulnerable to wearing down late (see: NC State game and various other examples). Miami has four players who average 30-plus minutes a game. UNC has zero.
That’s especially an issue against teams that like to run, which UNC certainly will do. The Heels currently rank in the top 5 in Adjusted Tempo and should get stronger as the game goes on. Just look at when these teams met in Coral Gables. UNC won by nine, but the game was tied at the half.
This is just such a sleepy spot for the Tar Heels, who have won six straight (covered five in a row) and have UVA on deck on Monday. The noon tip should only make that sleep a little deeper and the crowd a little less rowdy.
Miami’s lack of size and depth will eventually do it in (although it did pull off a stunner in Chapel Hill last year), but it can hang around for the first 20.
Mississippi State +4.5 vs. Kentucky
1 p.m. ET on CBS
There is no doubt the Cats are rolling, but this line is simply too inflated.
Not only are you selling Kentucky high, you are buying low on Mississippi State, which just suffered its second conference OT loss in its last game against LSU.
In terms of SEC standings and postseason implications, this an enormous game for the Bulldogs, who have lost three of five overall to drop to 4-5 in the SEC. A loss puts them squarely among the bottom six, while a win gets them in the jumbled middle of the pack.
You should get their best effort of the season today — similar to what we saw two Saturdays ago in a home win against Auburn.
And, yes, Mississippi State has major in-season revenge from a blowout loss it suffered in Lexington last month. But it’s more than that. Senior leaders Quinndary Weatherspoon and Aric Holman have never defeated Kentucky in their four years in Starkville. I expect a big game from both.
Don’t expect Mississippi State to shoot 3 of 20 from deep again (as it did in the first meeting) against a UK team that has been vulnerable at times when defending the perimeter.
Marquette -1.5 vs. Villanova
2:30 p.m. ET on FOX
If you read our Marquette-Villanova betting preview (which you should), you already know I like the matchup for Marquette.
I also love the spot.
After suffering its first home loss of the season, Marquette should come out with its hair on fire against a Villanova team that beat it three times last season. I can also simultaneously sell high a Villanova team that has won 10 straight (a very soft 10 straight) to start Big East play.
The Golden Eagles can defend the perimeter and crash the defensive boards — the exact recipe to slow down Jay Wright’s bunch. In a matchup of two teams I have rated almost evenly, give me the home squad laying the short number.
Furman -2 vs. ETSU
4 p.m. ET on ESPN+
Tough, tough spot for ETSU after losing that heartbreaker in OT to first-place Wofford on Thursday night. With any realistic shot of the regular season Southern Conference title now gone, I don’t see how the Buccaneers get up for this one two days later in Greenville.
Meanwhile, Furman returns home after a 3-0 road trip and will be looking to avenge an embarrassing 23-point loss at the hands of ETSU earlier this season. Furman also will remember the 1-point loss it suffered at home against ETSU in the final seconds last season — a season that ended in the conference tournament to none other than ETSU.
San Diego -2.5 at Pepperdine
I said it in last week’s piece when we played San Diego on the road against Gonzaga and I’ll say it again: the Torreros remain one of the most undervalued teams in the WCC as a result of some injuries that caused a slow start in conference play.
With the return of senior guard Olin Carter in their last game, the Torreros are now fully healthy, led by a three-headed monster of seniors in Carter, Isaiah Wright and Isaiah Pineiro.
This senior-laden USD team will not only be out for revenge from a home loss to Pepperdine earlier this season (a game in which Wright didn’t play), it also doesn’t mind going on the road, which it showed in close losses at Oregon, Ole Miss and Washington.
Yes, a third straight road game isn’t ideal, but this game has enough impact on the WCC standings to realistically expect a now fully healthy San Diego’s best effort.
Grand Canyon -1 vs. New Mexico State
9 p.m. ET on ESPN3
I immediately circled the Antelopes after Thursday’s wacky WAC results when Grand Canyon suffered a shocking home loss to Rio Grande and New Mexico State somehow pulled out a 1-point road win at Cal State Bakersfield.
Not only will Grand Canyon be out for blood after a rare home loss, it wants to avenge a loss earlier this season to rival NMSU (on a half-court shot at the buzzer) in addition to a loss in the WAC championship last season, which prevented Dan Majerle’s bunch from making its first ever tourney appearance.
— WACsports (@WACsports) January 11, 2019
The “havocs” should be electric in a sold out gym and you should get everything Grand Canyon has tonight in a game it must have for a shot at the WAC regular season title.
I think everyone steps up and makes up for the loss of senior guard Gerard Martin to get the Antelopes the win.
Arizona State -1 vs. Washington
10 p.m. ET on ESPN
If Washington wins this game, I will officially bow down and take out a future on the Huskies.
This is a spot I almost take in my sleep. After a rare road win at the McKale Center, the Huskies will finish up the Arizona swing with a trip to Tempe against a Sun Devil squad that just got waxed at home by Washington State (no, I’m not joking).
Like most of the Pac 12, Arizona State is tough to gauge on a nightly basis — but at least ASU has shown promise this season with a home win over Kansas — and neutral site wins against Utah State and Mississippi State.
This is a “best effort” spot for the Sun Devils, who should dominate the offensive glass in front of a raucous crowd. They should find a way.
Also, while I think Washington (aka Syracuse West) is the only legit team in the conference, it has benefited from an extreme amount of 3-point luck that simply can’t be sustained.
The Huskies have shot an insane 41.1% from deep during conference play, while holding opponents to a silly 28.1% — both lead the Pac 12 and both can’t last.
- Baylor -2.5 vs. Kansas State (6 p.m. ET on ESPN2)
- Arizona -11.5 vs. Washington State (7:30 p.m. ET on PAC 12)
It’s a good spot to buy Baylor off a loss at home against a Kansas State team coming off an enormous emotional win over rival Kansas.
In regards to Arizona, it is in desperate need of a blowout win after four straight losses — and a Washington State team fresh off a stunning upset at Arizona State is the perfect candidate.
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.