CBB Betting: Saturday Best Bets

CBB Betting: Saturday Best Bets

This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.

Michigan State (+6) vs. Purdue

These two teams met only one time earlier this season, a 68-65 State victory in East Lansing. Based on the matchup, that outcome wasn't a fluke. Michigan State actually matches up well against Purdue, mostly thanks to the Spartans' defense. Purdue's offense is among the best in the country, and its success is based in part on its ability to shoot from behind the arc, where the Boilermakers make nearly 40 percent of their three-point attempts, third in the nation. This weapon is largely neutralized against Michigan State, a team with elite perimeter defense, as the Spartans allowed Big Ten opponents to make just 32 percent of three-point attempts, lowest in the conference. In the first meeting, Purdue made just one of nine attempts from behind the arc. On the other end of the court,  Michigan State's offense is overall proficient, and like Purdue, particularly strong at shooting three-pointers, making more than 38 percent, the 14th in the nation. It's hard to bet against Jaden Ivey and company, but Tom Izzo will have his group ready to play, keeping the game close until the last shot.

 Texas Tech (+1½) vs. Kansas

The Red Raiders top-ranked defense in the nation, per KenPom, making them a tough out in the postseason. Even though the Jayhawks' offense will certainly put them to the test, the Red Raiders' defense cannot be ignored, as it's held each of its last three opponents to less than 55 points. On paper, these teams seem pretty even, though Texas Tech appears to have a slight edge in the matchup based on how the season series played out. Texas Tech decisively won the first game at home and then narrowly lost the second game in Kansas in double overtime. This game could get ugly at times, but once the dust settles, I'm betting that Texas Tech's defense will get the job done.

Creighton vs. Villanova - Under 130

Since the conference season started, Creighton and Villanova have the first- and second-rated defensive efficiency in the Big East, respectively, setting up a defensive battle Saturday. Further helping the cause, Villanova plays at the slowest tempo in the conference, a consistent theme for the last several years. Villanova is favored by a decent margin, so the Wildcats likely will squeeze the clock, assuming they build a lead. If Creighton somehow takes a lead, it likely will rely on its defense to carry it to victory, as the Bluejays have won four games this season while scoring 60 or fewer points. Either way, expect a low-scoring game. KenPom is projecting a point total of 131 points, so I'll take anything close to that, though not much lower.

 Arizona (-1) vs. UCLA

The Wildcats have resided near the top of KenPom's overall adjusted efficiency rankings most of the season, so it's hard not to take the them at this price. Arizona decisively won the regular-season Pac-12 title, and with one game to go, is my pick to finish the job. In the first game between these teams when Arizona lost at UCLA, Azuolas Tubelis only played 15 minutes due to injury while Kerr Kriisa finished the game scoreless, missing all 12 shots, including nine from behind the arc. About a week later in Arizona, the Wildcats won the rematch convincingly in a 10-point victory. UCLA is undoubtedly a great team, but Arizona has been slightly better all season long, with fewer mistakes and losses along the way. Kriisa is out with a food injury, but the Wildcats are deep enough so that other talented players can absorb the minutes without too much drop-off, as they demonstrated in the semifinals against Colorado. With the rest of the starters healthy and available, I'll gladly give a point and take the better team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve Peralta
Graduated from USC in 2012 while interning for ESPN and FOX Sports. Following graduation, I started working full-time for FOX Sports and been there ever since. Been an avid fantasy player for over fifteen years. In addition to my fantasy teams, you'll also find me rooting for the USC Trojans and New York Yankees.
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