Each week, I share my favorite circled spots for Saturday’s college hoops slate. For this week, I only had four highlighted with a lighter known schedule due to the start of conference tournaments.
As a reminder, I write this article before openers (referenced below) have settled once limits open up, so make sure to follow along in the Action Network App to see what I end up betting since the value in the number holds the most weight.
Also, with the college basketball regular season coming to an end, this will mark the final Saturday spots column until next college football season. I hope you cashed a few winners with me or at least took a few key nuggets away each week.
Good luck in whatever you decide to wager on today and throughout March.
- College Football 2022-23: 45-20-1 (69.2%) +22.72 units
- College Basketball YTD: 28-22 (56.0%) +4.24 units
- Overall College: 73-42-1 (63.5%) +26.96 units
Noon ET · CBS
On Wednesday, Alabama won its fourth consecutive game to clinch the outright regular-season SEC title.
Despite that mini winning streak, the Tide have been leaking a bit of oil recently, starting with an overtime win at South Carolina followed by a three-point home win over Arkansas and a miraculous comeback from 17 down against in-state rival Auburn (also at home).
That’s an emotionally draining stretch for a team dealing with a lot of off-the-court distractions at the moment. We could see a fairly flat effort out of the gates in College Station for a noon tip.
Also, from a matchup perspective, this sets up fairly well for the Aggies. Buzz Williams’ bunch excels in three primary areas:
- Offensive rebounding
- Getting to the line
- Forcing turnovers
Well, they should have enough success in each of those departments against the Tide. Plus, Alabama won’t turn Texas A&M over, which has been a problem area for the Aggies on offense this season.
Now, I should note the Aggies allow an extremely high frequency of 3-point attempts schematically by design, which means this game will have a ton of 3-point variance considering Alabama shoots the 3 at one of the highest rates in the nation.
That said, I expect an inspired effort for the Aggies, who should march to the charity stripe all day long with a friendly home whistle against a potentially flat and distracted Alabama squad.
Noon ET · ESPN
Three weeks ago, Ohio State closed as a 4.5-point favorite at home against Michigan State. Now, we can get 7.5 in East Lansing with a Buckeyes team playing much better basketball? Back to the Bucks we go for a third straight game.
Yes, they got blown out in that game, but most analytical sites graded that game as a coin flip. Ohio State simply couldn’t make a 3, finishing 6-of-29 (20.7%) from beyond the arc.
Speaking of which, I still maintain Sparty has some negative shooting regression looming on both ends of the floor. They lead the conference in 3-point percentage on both offense and defense in league play at 40.4% and 29.4%, respectively.
You might hear many reference Senior Day for the Spartans (and other teams this weekend), but there’s no edge historically in betting those teams at home. In fact, I’ve learned over the years, if anything, it can work against those players. They tend to be a little too juiced up and press a bit too much.
Regardless, I think this line is too high for an Ohio State team that clearly hasn’t quit on the season. Head coach Chris Holtmann has seemingly found more proper rotations since losing Zed Key to an injury for the year. Plus, their overall size and athleticism on the perimeter can give Sparty some issues.
2 p.m. ET · ESPN+
This looks like a prime sell-high spot on the Wildcats after four straight victories. Three of those came at home where they’ve been untouchable, while the other came against a sinking ship in Stillwater in a game I actually graded as an Oklahoma State win.
As I mentioned, Kansas State has been nearly untouchable at Bramlage Coliseum this season.
However, West Virginia should’ve won there in their first meeting. The Mountaineers blew a 14-point first-half lead and eventually fell in overtime, primarily due to shooting a paltry 20-of-38 (52.6%) from the line. For reference, WVU is shooting a respectable 73.4% on the season.
Not only is this a decent situational spot, but it’s also a pretty good on-court matchup for the ‘Eers. West Virginia has only three reliable avenues to offense:
- Offensive rebounds
- Getting to the line
- Forcing turnovers
Sound familiar? Yes, a similar profile to Texas A&M and similarly favorable matchup. The Wildcats — who I believe have a bit of looming negative shooting regression on the defensive end — rank 294th in free-throw rate allowed, 271st in turnover rate and 218th in defensive rebounding rate.
Give me WVU to officially lock up a tourney bid at home in a great spot and matchup.
And 2 Quick-Hitter Spots
- Tennessee overcame the loss of Zakai Zeigler in its last game, but you see that right after a team loses a key player. Ziegler is super important for the Vols, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He will be sorely missed in the Jungle, where the Auburn (+1) guards play so much better overall. This looks like a perfect spot to buy an Auburn team that has been snakebit throughout SEC play, including a two-point loss in Knoxville earlier this season due to a late blown call by the officials. Bruce Pearl will have his troops ready here.
- Just like Alabama, we saw many Kansas players pointing to their fingers the other night after clinching an outright conference title. Also, similar to Alabama, Kansas has failed to meet market expectations of late, barely escaping with a pair of home wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. I’m a bit worried about the Jayhawks’ depth, which might be starting to take a toll late in the season. In their last game against the Red Raiders, their starting five basically played the entire game. This also is a fairly decent matchup schematically for Texas (-2.5), which has been dynamite at home this year.