College Basketball Picks - ATS Predictions
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The Wolverines should be fully focused on tightening up their defense after allowing the Terrapins a 48.1 FG% and barely escaping with the win. The Cornhuskers haven’t offered up much offense in conference games averaging 66.86 points per game and have only reached 70 points in regulation in one of their last five. Defensively Nebraska has been consistently strong allowing only Purdue to reach over 70 points in their last seven. Michigan isn’t offensively challenged but they haven’t been shooting the ball well in recent games and were putrid against Maryland in their latest.
Youngstown State has won their last two contests at home, so it is safe to assess that the Penguins feed off of the home cooking. The opposite has been the case with Illinois-Chicago when it comes to road outings as they have won just once this year away from the Windy City. There are many ingredients here that could imply the Penguins are in position to pull off an upset, let alone cover. The Penguins love to play the tempo game as they are ranked 48th in the country in this department according to KenPom. This allows YSU to manufacture more points and that could be a tough riddle for the Flames to solve with the crowd working against them. When you toss in the fact that Youngstown State has played a much tougher schedule particularly in out-of-conference play (YSU’s Non-Conference SOS ranks 66th compared to UIC who sits at 224th), this Penguins team is battle-tested and will be no easy out for the Flames.
This may be the game that puts the end to Stanford’s run, but I’m willing to go to the well one more time. The Cardinal have been the underdog in four straight games and came away not only with the point spread cover, but the outright win, all versus PAC-12 teams. The Sun Devils haven’t looked the same team after opening their conference schedule going 2-3 with the two victories being by two over Oregon State at home and by three over Utah on the road.
The Buckeyes have averaged just under 80 points per game overall this season and that rises a point to 80.83 in their six conference games. In those six games we’ve seen them outscore their rival’s seasonal scoring defense average. Those statistics were leaning me to making a wager on the OVER, but after looking at the Wildcats offense and specifically Scottie Lindsay that is a risky proposition. Lindsay has been struggling mightily in his last six games shooting 21/81 (25.9% from the field. He’s not their only scoring option, but he is a big part of the equation. OSU is unbeaten in their six Big Ten games and won all but the Michigan game (72-62) by double digits outscoring their opponent by 17.5 points per game.
When many takers look at this market, they will likely do a double take. After all, Duquesne has a far better record and looks to be a contender for the Atlantic 10 and a coveted March Madness bid. However, Saint Louis’ defense is the real deal. According to KenPom, the Billikens own the 94th ranked defense in America. SLU achieved this against the 37th toughest schedule in terms of opponent offensive production. Overall, the Billikens have played a much tougher scheduler compared to the Dukes. SLU’s strength of schedule sits at 119th overall whilst Duquesne’s sits among the lowest at 350th nationally. The result of facing contrasting differences in quality of opposition will manifest on the court. It also helps that Saint Louis has won seven of their eight victories at home this season, so you can be assured they will have extra mojo. There is no reason why they shouldn’t comfortably earn yet another win here.
The Boilermakers are perfect in Big Ten play going 6-0, however they’re just 3-3 against the spread which includes an uninspiring 1-2 mark at home versus the conference. The Badgers already have nine losses on their resume and three of their last six defeats have been by double digits ruling out a point spread recommendation for me. The total offers the most value here. Wisconsin has averaged 62.4 points in five conference games surpassing 70 points in just one contest (71 points vs. Indiana) and the average is likely to decrease against Purdue’s top-level defense. On the other end of the court the Badgers have done a good job holding the opposition to 64.9 points per game overall and to 66.8 in Big 10 games and eight of their last ten opponents to 70 or fewer points.
Strength of schedule is often a great litmus test to gauge the quality of both participants. For Buffalo, the Bulls have played a far tougher schedule when compared to Northern Illinois. In particular, non-conference competition is the true separator. The Bulls’ Non-Conference Strength of Schedule according to KenPom sits at 51st in America whilst NIU stands at 299th. Despite this, Buffalo has the better win and loss record and an overall better body of work.
In addition to the clear-cut differences in resume, the Bulls are also a force to be reckoned with at home. Northern Illinois has struggled mightily out of DeKalb. When you combine this narrative with the facts that Buffalo is the more physical team on the boards combined with a fast tempo (22nd in the US, according to KenPom), this game may get out of hand early. Swallow the points.
The Jayhawks have proven to be over-rated this season with three losses by double digits in their last ten games and they’re been burning their backers’ money going only 4-6 against the spread through that stretch. That said, they catch the Mountaineers in a good spot coming off a loss after stringing together 15 straight wins. At the college level that usually results in a let down in their next game after losing the feeling of invincibility. The struggles on offense in their last two – shooting just 35% adds to the value. Taking the points is the right way to go in this game.
Historically over their last ten meetings betting the OVER has been very profitable with an 8-1-1 mark. The UTES have given up 94, 80 and 83 points in their last three, but one of the games was against offensively minded Arizona State and the last two they were short two very good shot blockers in forwards Donnie Tillman and Jayce Johnson. Both have a shot to play tonight with 7 footer Johnson the most likely. Utah likes to slow the tempo down and if they can do that against the Trojans which I expect them to do USC doesn’t have the shot makers to light up the visitor.
The Tar Heels have picked up their defensive game holding all but the Seminoles to fewer than 70 points in their last four. UNC can put up the points scoring a 30th ranked 83.4 points per game, but on Saturday they’ll be facing the 24th ranked scoring defense of ND a team that has held every conference foe to 60 or fewer PPG in conference play. Scoring points has been a problem for the Irish in recent games playing without star forward Bonzie Colson and guard Matt Farrell who account for a combined average of 37.3 PPG. Colson remains out and Farrell is doubtful.
There has been avid speculation as to whether or not this Ragin’ Cajuns team can win the Sun Belt and punch a ticket to March Madness. Given their play overall this season, there is no reason to doubt that they cannot do so. However, rivalry games produce the unexpected. There are fewer rivalries in the college athletic universe that are more potent than the Battle of the Bayou. This game is not just a football or basketball rivalry but a feud between two institutions. This makes spotting the points in this spot a dubious proposition.
Undoubtedly, the flawless home record of Louisiana-Lafayette can cause a lot of revelry and sell the stock of Louisiana-Monroe who has yet to win a game on the road, this season. However, the question is not whether the Ragin’ Cajuns are the better basketball team or even if they will win this contest. The inquiry is strictly focused on the number presented in this offering. Louisiana-Lafayette has covered successfully in each of their four wins leading up to this affair which means you will have to pay a premium to back them here while their stock is high. When you toss in the aforementioned narrative of a superior team with clear-cut home court advantage, the price is only accelerated higher. Take the points.
The Golden Eagles have scored 79 or greater points in eight of their last nine games and exceeding their opponents seasonal average scoring defense number in all nine games. The Bulldogs have allowed only 68.3 points per game at home this season, but many of the games were versus inferior opponents. In their last four games overall when stepping up the competition they have allowed 85 points or greater in all four. Offense hasn’t been a problem at home scoring 88 points per game including 101 against Villanova!
In the earlier match-up both teams took awhile to hit their stride scoring a combined 57 points in the first half. The polar opposite happened in the second half when 83 points were scored. At home NC State has averaged 91.5 points on 50.6% shooting and admittedly that is skewed by the quality of opponents. They did however put up 96 on Duke and we probably only need them in the low 70’s to get over the number tonight. Clemson doesn’t always light it up averaging 77.9 points per game this season, but in their defense, they have played some solid defenses and NC State’s D is not in that category.
The Wolverines normally try to control the pace of the game, limiting the offensive opportunities of their opponent. I don’t believe that approach will work tonight in Ann Arbor. The Boilermakers are ranked in the top 20 in scoring offense, field-goal percentage and 3-point shooting percentage. Michigan will need to rely on their recent sharp shooting to stay in this game (52.5 FG% L5) to keep them a fighting chance in this game.
Oklahoma in my opinion is undervalued in this spot. They’re 2-0 against the Big 12 this season which included a nice win on the road over a good TCU team – the Horned Frogs only loss this season. West Virginia certainly isn’t a pushover and has played exceptionally well on defense. However, the Sooners are very proficient on offense ranking No. 1 in the nation in scoring and note that in their two matches against conference foes they have put up season high points against their opponent. OU may not get the outright win, but they should be in this throughout and stay within the number.
There are several moving parts to this spot that make the Vikings a value play. First, as we have championed previously home court advantage is a huge angle to work with in college hoops. When we look at a team like Cleveland State, this narrative is on full display. The Vikings are winless on the road this year. The Panthers are 3-4 SU when they are not playing ball in Milwaukee. A situation like this one where the host is taking back points offers tremendous value in itself. The small line suggests that the hosts are in position to not only cover but win outright.
Secondly, Cleveland State has one of the worst luck quotients in America according to KenPom. The Vikings sit 321st in that department which means they have been on the losing end of close games at an abnormal rate. The Vikings are due for a correction to win some of these close games and given the variables this looks to be a premium spot to do so.
Look Joe Public doesn’t lose every game and while more often than not I am anti-public on sides, until Rutgers can prove they can compete against Big Ten teams they are fade worthy. The Scarlett Knights have dropped all three games this season against conference opponents with the smallest losing margin being by 10 points.
Jacksonville State is the more recognizable name in this contest because they won the conference hardware last year and earned a #15 seed in the Men’s Basketball Tournament whilst doing so. The Gamecocks also gave Kentucky a run for its money in the first round proving they were no easy out. Many takers are reminiscing upon the impression left by J-State in 2016 and are quick to pull the trigger here as they are against a basketball team that many have never heard of. However, analytics would prove the equity is in fact on the Tigers.
According to KenPom, the Tigers have played a far tougher schedule when it comes to non-conference opposition in contrast to the visitors. Tennessee State’s Non-Conference Strength of Schedule sits at 57th nationally whilst the Gamecocks have played the 343rd ranked docket in that respective department. Given the fact J-State has played nine games at home this season in comparison to Tennessee State who has played just five, this could explain the market’s reluctance to buy into the verity of the contrasting win-loss records. When the narrative of home court advantage is tossed into the mix, the Tigers are in a position here to create some discord in the early stages of conference play. The Tigers may win this one outright but when points are added, Tennessee State is a true value proposition.
There is no disputing the fact that both teams can score, but the Seminoles have played well on both sides of the ball. Their stout defense has allowed 67.5 points per game holding the opposition to an impressive 37.9 shooting. Florida State will have to play better on the boards than they did against Duke and I think they will with a return home to the Donald L. Tucker Center.
You must give the Red Raiders credit for their 12-1 record, but they haven’t compiled the best resume beating many mid-range teams. They did destroy a decent Northwestern team, but failed against Seton Hall and needed overtime against Nevada to come away with a win. The Jayhawks lost back to back games against Pac-12 teams in early December and didn’t extend the lead in wins against Texas and Kentucky. Taking the points seem like the wise way tro play this game.