It can’t be said enough: Saturday’s college basketball slate is straight up stacked.
There are five all-ranked matchups, including a top-five and a top-10 duel. That’s without even mentioning the CBS Sports Classic, which places four blue bloods in Madison Square Garden.
So, with that in mind, our staff has five best bets for Saturday’s slate. Dive in now to get your top college basketball odds and picks.
Saturday’s 5 College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Saturday’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Alabama vs. Gonzaga
I love this spot for the Zags for a couple of different reasons.
First off, this is a massive revenge opportunity for Gonzaga after being upset by the Crimson Tide a year ago in Spokane.
Mark Few’s team has not had as strong of a non-conference performance as it has had in recent years, so this is one of the last real chances to secure a big resume win before West Coast Conference play begins.
Additionally, Alabama enters this contest prime for a letdown. The Tide are fresh off a road win at Houston last Saturday, followed up by a hard-fought home win over Memphis on Tuesday night.
I don’t believe Alabama is as good as its No. 4 ranking suggests, and I expect some negative shooting regression to occur Saturday afternoon in Birmingham.
Drew Timme should be able to have his way in the paint against the Bama front line, and Few is starting to get more consistent production from his guards.
This is still a top-five offense nationally (per KenPom), so I don’t have concerns about the Zags being able to keep pace with Alabama if this turns into a track meet.
Alabama will score its fair share, but I expect the Zags to be the more efficient and determined ball club in this one.
I’m rolling with Gonzaga on the moneyline in what should be a fun one on Saturday.
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Houston vs. Virginia
This is one of my favorite buy-low, sell-high spots for Saturday’s slate.
Houston dropped below Virginia in the rankings following a surprising home loss to Alabama, and now has a chance to make a splash inside John Paul Jones Arena against a Cavaliers team that has avoided danger over the last couple of weeks.
That Alabama loss has definitely stuck with Houston, which blew the lead late (2.6 win probability at one point for the Tide).
In its last two games, Virginia beat both Florida State and James Madison by five points. That’s despite suffocating the two offenses and forcing them to shoot a combined 29.5% on 2-point field goals.
Now they draw a physical Cougars offense that relies on physicality, both on the glass and around the rim. Houston ranks No. 5 in offensive rebounding rate and should take advantage of a weak Virginia perimeter defense.
The Cavaliers are 169th in keeping opponents off the offensive glass and an even worse 214th in defending 3s. While Houston isn’t a great 3-point shooting team itself, it’s only a matter of time before Marcus Sasser returns to form following a slow start to the season.
Sasser is the star of the Houston offense and shot 43.7% from the perimeter a season ago. That number has dropped to 30.6% this year.
Houston’s defense should also cause plenty of disruption for this Virginia offense. The Cougars are inside the top three in defending both 2- and 3-point attempts and rank 13th in turnover rate.
As always, Kelvin Sampson’s defense is suffocating and is the No. 1 scoring defense in college basketball.
UVA’s Reece Beekman is questionable with a hamstring injury, but I doubt he’ll miss this game. If the junior does miss Saturday, though, it’s just another positive in the direction of Houston.
This is going to be a hard-nosed, low-scoring game. But I think Houston is better built to dish the blows and force transition. It’s only a matter of time before Sasser returns to his old self, too, and there’s no perfect time than against the No. 2 teams in the country.
Texas A&M vs. Memphis
Memphis Team Total Over 77
By Brett Pond
If the same Texas A&M defense is going to show up away from home, I don’t see how the Aggies are going to be able to slow down this Memphis squad.
In games outside of College Station this year, Buzz Williams’ team has allowed opponents to go over this same total in three of five, which were contests where the Aggies allowed 88 to Murray State (225th AdjO), 103 to Colorado (69th AdjO) and 86 to Boise State (188th AdjO).
Meanwhile, this same bet has cashed in four of the last five for the Tigers, who were able to put up 82 points on the road at No. 19 Auburn (7th AdjD) and No. 4 Alabama (14th AdjD).
On the season, Penny Hardaway’s club ranks 30th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, so there is a clear advantage here.
Another spot for the Tigers to pounce will be on the offensive glass, where Memphis is inside the top 40 in offensive rebound percentage. On the opposite side, the Aggies are outside the top 200 in defensive rebounding.
You have a poor defensive squad that also allows multiple second-chance opportunities. When you add in the fact that these are two teams that like to play at higher tempos, it really makes this a great spot to back Penny’s team to fly over the team total.
pick: Memphis Team Total Over 77 (Play to 79)
Nebraska vs. Kansas State
By DJ James
Kansas State and Nebraska meet in Kansas City on Saturday for the Wildcat Classic. KSU has a slight edge against the spread, coming into this game with a 6-4 record while Nebraska is 5-6.
KSU is better on both ends of the floor, ranking 78th and 41st in Adjusted Offensive and Defensive Efficiency, respectively, per KenPom.
The Cornhuskers rank 108th and 65th, respectively, but some luck has factored in for them. Opponents are shooting a touch over 60% from the free-throw line, which has nothing to do with Nebraska’s performance whatsoever.
Kansas State is not necessarily going to shoot a ton of free throws, but it shoots over 72% from the strike.
In addition, the Wildcats are an effective 54% from 2-point range, where they produce 55% of their total points. The Cornhuskers are abysmal at guarding inside, allowing opponents to shoot around 50%.
Defensively, the Wildcats will limit Nebraska’s internal shots, where the Huskers get 56.1% of their total point distribution. KSU is keeping opponents below 48%. Nebraska will need to find a way to produce from somewhere else because it’s only effective inside the perimeter.
Look for Nae’Qwan Tomlin to have a great day. Standing at 6-foot-10, no one on the Cornhuskers can match up with his length. He’s an excellent shot-blocker and should haul in plenty of rebounds.
KSU should win this ball game by about two possessions.
Oklahoma State vs. Wichita State
Oklahoma State travels to Wichita to face the Shockers in what will be a defensive slugfest.
Both teams rank inside the top-12 nationally in effective FG% allowed. This defensive matchup is reflected in a point total that sits at just 129 at the time of writing.
As well as both of these teams have played on the defensive end, they have left much to be desired offensively this season.
Both the Cowboys and Shockers rank outside the top 270 in 3P%, which is not likely to improve against two defenses that rank inside the top 50 at defending beyond the arc.
Additionally, Oklahoma State has struggled to take care of the ball this season. The Cowboys turn the ball over at one of the highest clips in the country at 21.7%. In a game that is likely to be low-scoring, every possession will be crucial.
The Cowboys’ possessions will also be limited by Wichita State’s pace of play. The Shockers are one of the slowest-paced teams in the country, averaging just 65.5 possessions per game.
I will gladly take the points with the home-team Shockers, who will win the possession battle in a defensive rock fight.