The Super Bowl obviously takes center stage this weekend, but we cannot forget about the enormous college basketball slate on Saturday.
That’s why our staff dove into three different games as we help you formulate your betting card for hoops. These games include a top-20 Big 12 showdown early in the day, a massive AAC duel that includes the No. 6 teams in the country and the red-hot Providence Friars hosting a Big East bottom feeder.
Below, you will find our plays as we get set for another dramatic day in the sport before the big game.
Saturday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Texas vs. Baylor
This is too many points here for a Texas team that continues to prove it’s elite defensively. The Horns have the size and depth to go toe-to-toe with Baylor on the interior.
UMass transfer Tre Mitchell is starting to play much more aggressively on the offensive end, and Timmy Allen was fantastic all night in Monday’s win over Kansas.
Scott Drew has done a great job of reloading following last year’s title run, and I’d put Baylor among the 10-12 teams I believe are good enough to win the whole thing this year.
That said, I’m starting to think Texas can be one of those teams, as well.
It has taken Chris Beard longer than some expected to get this group to gel, but there are signs that the Longhorns could be on their way.
Every bucket will be earned in this game, which had me initially looking at the bottom here. But 129.5 is too low for me to bite, so I will instead be backing Texas with the points.
Marcus Carr and Courtney Ramey will need to continue to be better with the ball, as they were against the Jayhawks. Look for Andrew Jones to get back on track and knock down some shots, which will help Texas hang inside the number.
Give me the road underdog in a game I anticipate being decided in the final minutes.
Pick: Texas +6 (Play to +5)
Memphis vs. Houston
The No. 6 Houston Cougars host the Memphis Tigers at 3:30 pm ET on Saturday.
The Cougars are back home after a two-game road trip that was capped off with an 85-83 loss to SMU in Dallas. Memphis, meanwhile, comes to the Fertitta Center riding a four-game heater.
This presents a great bounce-back opportunity for the Cougars, as they own the nation’s second-longest home winning streak (37 straight behind only Gonzaga’s 64). Houston is 7-for-12 (59%) against the spread at home this season, and has failed to cover in back-to-back games only once.
Look for Houston to bounce back in an emphatic way after the tough road loss earlier in the week. Under head coach Kelvin Sampson, the Cougars have avenged their last 23 losses in the following game.
The Cougars are one of the most complete teams in the country and are arguably better than their current rankings, garnering a No. 2 and 4 ranking from BartTorvik and KenPom, respectively.
The one potential flaw in Houston’s game is its free-throw rate, but I’m willing to throw caution to the wind in regards to this stat given the measured pace that the Cougars play at.
Senior guard Kyler Edwards leads an offense that ranks second in the nation in AdjO, with a whopping 119.2 points per 100 possessions. Edwards leads the team in scoring and has been averaging 14.0 points per game.
Defensively, Houston is equally as good and complete as it is on the other half of the hardwood, showcasing an AdjD of just 89 points to rank fifth nationally. It excels in forcing tough, contested shots, ranking fourth in the nation in defensive effective field goal percentage at 42.8%.
I’m projecting Houston as 15.2-point favorites. This represents a 5.7-point differential from the stated line and over 50% alpha to the opening line of nine and a hook.
Lay the near double-digit chalk as the stout Cougars defense will earn the cover in this bounce-back spot.
Pick: Houston -9.5 (Play to -10.5)
DePaul vs. Providence
By Doug Ziefel
This play is all about the defense from both teams.
Providence has been one of the better defensive teams in the nation this year, as it ranks 45th in adjusted defensive efficiency. However, DePaul is not too far behind at 95th.
While the efficiency numbers are good, the deeper metrics show just how hard it is to score on these defenses.
Providence is 40th in effective field goal percentage allowed, and that’s because it’s in the top 60 in 2-point and 3-point percentage allowed.
It’s matched up with a DePaul team that doesn’t shoot all that well, and ranks 213th in effective field goal percentage. The Blue Demons also do not get to the line, as they own the 240th-worst free-throw rate in the country.
On the other end of the court, there are two factors that point towards the under when Providence has the ball.
First, the Friars generally play a slow and methodical style of basketball. Their leading scorer is big man Nate Watson, and they generally need to run sets so they can feed him after he gets into position on the low block.
Secondly, DePaul has the size, numbers and ability to defend Watson and the Friars inside the key. It’s 45th in 2-point percentage allowed.
The Blue Demons will also have Nick Ongenda, a lanky 6-foot-11 center, to defend Watson. He’s also a good defender in his own right, as he has the 42nd-highest block rate in the nation.
Finally, one thing that we can use to our advantage at this point in the season is the numbers from when these two teams met earlier this year.
Providence came out victorious, 70-53, which adds up to a total of 123. The Friars also held the Blue Demons to just 29.8% from the field. So, I’m confident we will see a similar game to the first meeting.