College Basketball Betting: Eight Questions That Need Answering This Weekend
College basketball’s regular season is winding down and tournament talk has hogged the headlines. Heading into this weekend’s betting action, we have eight questions that need answering.
Can someone in the WCC beat Gonzaga?
Thirteen league games and only twice has a WCC team managed to keep the score within double-digits against Gonzaga. BYU and St. Mary’s, on paper, should have been able to at least compete but where beaten by 23 and 30 points, respectively. This weekend, the Zags head to BYU in what will be arguably their toughest test until the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars were without the services of Yoeli Childs in the first meeting; a huge difference maker against the Zags’ length. Though they recently lost role player extraordinaire Dalton Nixon to an ankle injury. Saint Mary’s has had the best success against Gonzaga of late, winning in 2017 and in last year’s WCC Tournament. The Gaels were able to control the tempo in both efforts. That isn’t BYU’s style. In fact, the Cougars like to play fast and pass on crashing the glass or attacking the paint and getting to the free throw line. That means in order to win on Saturday, they’ll have to shoot their way to victory. BYU can do it as they lead the WCC in effective FG% (60.1) and 3-point% (44.5). Look for Gonzaga to be around a -3 road favorite.
Can Oregon compete on the road?
The Ducks are 2-6 ATS on the road in PAC-12 play with one point spread cover coming via overtime and another by a hook. They never led in Thursday’s 77-72 loss in Tempe as Arizona State came out the aggressor and held on late. And things don’t get easier on Saturday as Arizona will no doubt be in revenge mode after losing in overtime in Eugene earlier this season. After losing at home to red hot UCLA, the Wildcats scored three straight wins and covers including Thursday’s 89-63 blowout win over Oregon State. This is supposed to be Oregon’s time of year; remember last season when they went from 15-12/6-8 to 25-13 and a near upset of eventual champion Virginia in the Sweet 16? The Ducks are likely in the Big Dance but another loss puts then in danger of having to play in the first round of the PAC-12 Tournament which would dent their chances of earning a no. 5 or 6 seed come selection Sunday. Arizona projects to be a -4.5 home favorite.
Can LSU right the ship?
Losing four out of five in a tough and balanced conference is hardly cause for panic. But LSU has no doubt lost its mojo and it all started with an embarrassing 99-90 loss to previously winless (in SEC play) Vanderbilt. LSU then lost to Auburn in overtime, were fortunate in a come-from-behind win over hapless Missouri, and then fell short in two close losses to Alabama and Kentucky. The loss to the Wildcats was also concerning. LSU shot a healthy 7-of-20 from deep, attempted eight more free throws than UK, owned the glass to the tune of 45-33 and were never really close outside of a late rally that made the final score of 79-76 look closer than it really was. Normally comfortable allowing his kids to just “play”, Will Wade was visibly rattled and lashed out at his players. It’s a far different vibe than when the Tigers rolled to an 8-0 SEC start which included a slew of coin flip wins. How they respond will be very telling on whether or not we can trust this team come March. LSU could use a home game vs. Vandy but instead they draw back-to-back road games at South Carolina and Florida at seemingly the worst time.
Can Florida step up in class?
The most volatile team in college basketball is, for the time being, in good form. The Gators have won five of six and have looked good in doing so with efficient offense and stout defense. But none of those six games were against teams currently in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, the Gators have only one win all season (vs. Auburn) against a sure-fire tournament participant. Saturday at Kentucky and next Wednesday vs. LSU are prime opportunities for a 1-1 split and two point spread covers…assuming we get the “good” Florida.
Is two days off enough for Auburn to recover?
Even with a fairly deep bench, one has to question whether or not Auburn has anything left in the tank. Starting back in late January, the Tigers posted four overtime wins and a regulation victory over Kentucky as well. They were then outclassed on the road against conference bottom feeders Missouri and Georgia. The Bulldogs have arguably the worst defense in the SEC and held Auburn to 55 points in a 71-possession game. Home games against Tennessee and Ole Miss appear to be the perfect elixir but we’d be very cautious laying points with a team that is desperate for a win rather than a blowout.
Does DePaul care?
DePaul’s 2019-20 season will be studied be scholars long after you’re in the grave. Once 12-1 with wins at Iowa and Minnesota and at home vs. Texas Tech, the Blue Demons have lost 12 of 13 and have the look of a team that has quit on their season. To their credit, they managed to battle for much of Big East play but the last two games — a 93-64 loss at Creighton and 91-71 loss vs. Villanova — gave bettors zero confidence a big effort is on the horizon. Yes, those are two really good teams. But with five straight opponents that are all fighting for tournament berths, it’s tough to find enough courage to call for a turnaround. And while some sort of regression is bound to occur (Villanova and Creighton shot a ridiculous 31-of-52, 59.6% from 3), allowing that many attempts, let alone makes, is pretty good proof that this team has packed it in.
Can Stanford fight its way back into the tournament?
The Cardinals finally broke through with a road win at Washington. Like DePaul, the Huskies have been in free-fall so it’s tricky putting a lot of stock in the outcome. What we do know is Stanford is a quality team that ran into a few ill-timed injuries and unfortunate outcomes (2 OT losses and another at the buzzer). With Oscar da Silva now healthy (16 points, 9 rebounds vs. Washington), a sexy statistical profile compared to its 6-7 PAC-12 record, and a schedule that sets up well for a 4-1 finish, Stanford should be able to hear its name come selection Sunday.
Rutgers is dancing, right?
Being affiliated with a conference that is supposed to send as many as 11 teams to the tournament helps. So does wins over Penn State, Seton Hall, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Purdue, and Illinois. But we can’t help but notice how tough the Scarlet Knights’ schedule is the rest of the way. Saturday they head to Wisconsin and then circle back with a trip to Penn State. They then play host to red hot Maryland and close it out at Purdue. That’s four games in which Rutgers will likely be an underdog. Let’s say they lose all four, plummet down the standings, earn a tough first round draw in the Big Ten Tournament, and lose. That would put Rutgers at 18-14, 9-11. Remember, this is a program that hasn’t been to the Big Dance since 1991. They’re supposed to be this year’s Northwestern. An 0-5 finish is unlikely but the pressure could mount should they lose both upcoming road games.