College Basketball Best Bets (2/25/23)
Tipping off with Saturday hoops, where are a handful of battles. Get some college basketball best bets for 2/25/23.
Michigan State vs Iowa Best Bet
We start the day with a Big Ten matchup when the Michigan State Spartans hit the road to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. It will be a contrast of styles as the Spartans have rounded into a formidable defensive unit while the Hawkeyes once again play offense as one of the most efficient units in the nation.
Not only does each unit specialize on a different area of the court, but it will be a battle of tempo as Michigan State ranks 305th in Adjusted Tempo while Iowa sits at 57th.
When there is a contrast of styles, I always lean towards the defensive unit as they hold the edge in controlling the pace of play. That bodes well for us as a slower pace gives value towards our under ticket.
Michigan State has vastly improved on the defensive end throughout the course of the season, locking down the perimeter and forcing opposing offenses into low quality looks from deep. This funnels offense towards the interior, slowing the pace of scoring.
Iowa will have the size and skill advantage in the interior, being wise to relentlessly attack down low. Michigan State will be hard pressed to respond, still running anemic on offense. Head coach Tom Izzo has yet to evolve, still running their offense through the mid-range.
With the scoring pace looking slow and Iowa being forced into a slower tempo against the Spartans transitional defense, I will take the under at no lower than 145.
Best Bet: Under 145.5
Auburn vs Kentucky Best Bet
Let’s keep the theme of contrasting styles going as we move on to the Auburn Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats. A crucial conference battle with seeding implications that pits an elite defense against a high-powered offense.
After a rough start, the Wildcats were firmly on the bubble before they strung together some impressive wins, one including a drubbing of the Tennessee Volunteers. This has been backed off of efficient play on both ends, improving on the defensive end as of late.
As for the Tigers, it’s been business as usual as they have suffocated opposing offenses at an elite rate. They rank well above average in defensive effective field goal percentage, holding opponents to low quality opportunities throughout the course of the game.
Even better towards our under is that Auburn has regressed as an offensive unit which is alarming because that was already a weak point for the Tigers. They currently rank 66th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, failing to field any form of perimeter presence while trying to find looks in the mid-range.
With Auburn most likely going through scoring lulls against the Wildcats length and athleticism, as well as continuing their elite level of play on the other hand, I will take the under in what will be a defensive slugfest.
Best Bet: Under 144.5
Virginia Tech vs Duke Best Bet
We snap the theme we have been building by taking an over in what will be a thrilling ACC matchup. Virginia Tech is in desperation mode as they need to improve their resume to get off the bubble and a win over Duke may be just what they need.
In order to do so they will need to find their offensive identity as that has eluded them over the past few games. Virginia Tech bases their offense around efficient perimeter shooting in the halfcourt set, punishing reeling defenses.
Duke’s defense will give them ample opportunities to find open looks from deep as they have struggled to defend the perimeter at a respectable rate.
Duke does excel at defending the interior and smothering open looks at the rim, but that may not be as effective as usual with the Hokies hunting the perimeter. Should the Hokies find success early and often from deep, this will stretch out Duke’s defense and allow Virginia Tech to slash towards the basket.
As for the Blue Devils, they should have no issue generating scoring opportunities as the Hokies defense has been less than ideal throughout the course of the season. Filipowski has been one of the best big men in the nation and will have a massive size advantage in the interior in this matchup for high quality looks at the rim.
With both offensive units having key advantages over each other, I will take the over in what will be a thrilling ACC showdown.
Best Bet: Over 141.5
Virginia vs North Carolina Best Bet
North Carolina on the number isn’t the only bet I have for this matchup as you can read in my game breakdown as I also like the over.
Offense was optional in the first half against Notre Dame, impressively turning it around the second half in a desperate attempt to keep their season alive. The stakes are higher than ever as Virginia is a much more formidable defensive unit.
The issue for the Cavaliers is that they will be undersized in the interior and that is exactly where UNC will attack. Armando Bacot is a relentless force, attacking the rim and abusing smaller defenders.
RJ Davis has also formed into a facilitator, running the offense through him as he slashes towards the basket. This is how you crack open an elite defense, constantly moving the defenders and attacking the new formed gaps.
With gaps opening up through Davis and Caleb Love’s ball movement, UNC should have no issue pouring it on the Cavaliers in a scoring pace that will be difficult to keep up.
Virginia has maintained the same offensive identity that won them a championship yet are playing at a far less efficient level. This is also an improved Tar Heels defense, yet a unit that still has issues.
Notre Dame was able to exploit the defense with motion around the perimeter, an identity that Virginia will look to replicate. The difference this time is that Virginia will have little to no second chance opportunities with Bacot and Nance hovering around the interior.
I will once again back the Tar Heels in a desperation spot as they are far better on their own home court and will set a scoring pace that will far exceed Virginia’s ability to keep up with.
Best Bet: UNC -1.5