Get college basketball best bets for the 3/8/23 slate, featuring best bets for Georgia Tech vs. Pittsburgh, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, Wyoming vs. New Mexico, and Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State.
College Basketball Best Bets (3/8/23)
Conference tournaments are starting to heat up across the college basketball landscape, and I’ll have you covered with my favorite plays every day as we get closer to the big dance. As always, you can see all of my tracked plays in the spreadsheet linked here. On Wednesday, there are plenty of fascinating games to break down. Let’s get to work.
March College Basketball Bets Record: 28-14-1 (+11.43 units)
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
We bet Georgia Tech -1.5 in the first round of the ACC tournament against Florida State, and while they only won by one point to lose us the spread, the read was largely there. The Yellow Jackets have now won five of their last six games and rank 3rd in positive momentum per Haslametrics.
Having that first ACC tournament game under their belt should be huge for Georgia Tech. They started incredibly slow shooting the ball before heating up in the second half, and that slow start can be largely avoided in their second outing due to their rim familiarity and comfortability in the venue.
In particular, look for sophomore guard Miles Kelly to excel after he continued his hot streak against Florida State with 21 points on 7 of 15 shooting and 4 of 10 from the 3-point line. He’s now averaging 23 points over his last five games while shooting just under 40% from deep over that stretch.
Miles Kelly (Hargrave/Parkview) led Georgia Tech with 21 points in their comeback win against FSU to start the ACC Tournament. Won ACC Player Of The Week to end the regular season and is now averaging 23 PPG with 27 made 3’s at a 47% clip over GT’s last 5 games.@Kelly5Miles pic.twitter.com/0Nodfs33gs
— Trent Markwith (@TMarkwith14) March 7, 2023
Pitt will get three-point looks of its own as the Panthers rank 28th in three-point attempt rate and 10th in spacing per ShotQuality. The Yellow Jackets rank 331st in three-point shooting defense per the site and forward Blake Hinson hit five threes against them in their most recent matchup.
My biggest concern here is the gap in free throw rate. Georgia Tech ranks 308th in free throw rate on offense while Pitt ranks 37th. That’s how you saw the Panthers hit 36 of 40 free throws across the two matchups compared to 7-13 for the Yellow Jackets.
Still, Georgia Tech has multiple outs. Pitt could start rusty in an unfamiliar venue while Georgia Tech carries over momentum from yesterday. Alternatively, Pitt could get complacent with a lead in the second half given the nature of this event and what’s at stake. Either way, look for Georgia Tech to keep this closer than Pitt fans would like.
Best Bet: Georgia Tech +7 (play to +6)
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Things haven’t gone according to plan for the Buckeyes, a team many considered a dark horse contender to win the Big Ten this season. Their issues this year were highlighted in a nine-game losing streak, but they have gone 3-0 ATS to close the year in a stretch including wins over Illinois and Maryland.
During that nine-game losing streak, junior forward Zed Key was lost for the season, and that added further issues for a team stuck in a losing streak. However, the Buckeyes seem to have figured out their rotations as we get into the postseason.
In Key’s absence, Brice Sensabaugh has become the team’s go-to scorer with 16.5 points per game on impressive 48/41/83 shooting splits. In the Buckeyes’ game against Wisconsin this year, Sensabaugh fouled out, but he scored 13 points in 16 minutes and was pacing for a big effort.
If Brice Sensabaugh can consistently navigate self-created shots like this along the perimeter with the level of shooting he already possesses, we are talking about a high end offensive weapon who has proven he doesn't need much of a window to be an accurate shooter. pic.twitter.com/FVv0SL07lt
— Stone Hansen (@report_court) March 7, 2023
Sensabaugh is part of Ohio State’s offense that likes to work in the mid range – they rank sixth in mid-range frequency per ShotQuality, and while that’s generally a low-percentage area, it works well against a Wisconsin defense that ShotQuality ranks 324th in the country against mid range shots.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes should have the rebounding edge in this game as they rank 57th in rebound percentage while the Badgers rank 317th. The loss of Key, the team’s leading rebounder, hurts some, but senior Justice Sueing is averaging nine rebounds over his last four games.
Wisconsin’s frontcourt started to wear down as we got to the end of the season. Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl averaged over 30 minutes per game and the team had no other low-post players in the rotation. In a Big Ten full of physical frontcourts, that became a real problem for the Badgers.
With an additional four days to prepare for this revenge game against Wisconsin, I expect the Buckeyes to continue their recent upward trajectory with a win. Look for Sensabaugh to cook in the mid range and Sueing to dominate the glass en route to a statement victory.
Best Bet: Ohio State -1 (play to -2.5)
Wyoming Cowboys vs. New Mexico Lobos
It’s been a brutal season for Wyoming. It started with preseason Mountain West Player of the Year Graham Ike not playing a single game this season due to an injury, and it didn’t get any easier as head coach Jeff Linder used 16 different starting lineups due to injuries, illnesses, and defections.
Now with a few days of reprieve before the conference tournament begins, I expect Linder, a head coach I hold in high regard, to have a strong game plan in this one. New Mexico is the more desperate team – they’re a top-50 team per KenPom that needs to win this tournament to make the dance.
However, I believe that notion is creating value for Wyoming on the spread. Linder addressed the Lobos’ motivation in speaking to the media, saying “they’re going to have a level of urgency and effort that hopefully we can match or exceed.”
While the Cowboys haven’t had lineup consistency, they are still led by seniors Hunter Maldonado and Jeremiah Oden. Maldonado in particular, the team’s leader with 4.1 assists per game, should have success here. Wyoming runs pick and roll at the 35th-highest rate and New Mexico ranks 336th in ball-screen defense per ShotQuality.
New Mexico likes to work from two-point range more often than not as they rank 38th in mid range frequency and just 341st in open 3 rate on offense. Wyoming will force New Mexico into those low-percentage mid range looks as they rank top 50 in defending at the rim per ShotQuality.
Finally, Wyoming has a significant size advantage as they rank 22nd in height compared to New Mexico at 290th. While the Lobos have some exciting offensive talent, this is a bad matchup for them against a Wyoming team that beat them this season and only lost by one in the other matchup. I like this to go down to the wire.
Update: Head coach Jeff Linder is now away from the team as he tends to family matters with his father sick in the hospital. Sundance Wicks will be the interim head coach for the game tonight. If you haven’t already placed this bet, I would not do so. The line is moving in the direction of New Mexico and Wyoming could be flat tonight after a brutal season and with Linder away from the team. I’m still tracking this play as official since the writeup has been published for hours, but I personally cashed out of this play for a 0.1 unit loss.
Best Bet: Wyoming +7.5 (play to +6.5)
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
After looking like a real threat to make noise this season earlier in the year, Oklahoma State has fallen off a cliff down the stretch. They lost five straight games before a narrow win over a Texas Tech team in disarray to close out the regular season.
The loss of Avery Anderson III, the team’s leading assist man with 3.4 per game, has been a huge hit for an offense that already was struggling. Anderson totaled 26 points and eight assist across his two games against the Sooners this season.
The Cowboys rank 67th in frequency of pick-and-roll offense and 24th in frequency of catch-and-shoot 3-pointers. Those catch-and-shoot threes have been less effective without Anderson as a passer.
Oklahoma’s defense isn’t quite as good as Oklahoma State’s – the Sooners rank 48th in efficiency on KenPom compared to the Cowboys who rank 20th. However, the Sooners are an elite three-point defense as they allow opponents to shoot 31.4% from deep, which ranks 47th in the country.
The Sooners run three-point shooters off the line – they rank 18th in three-point attempt rate allowed – and they’re 26th in open 3-point rate allowed on defense. As such, the Cowboys will need to play through the frontcourt more often than they are comfortable with. Moussa Cisse had a season-high 18 points against Oklahoma earlier this year, but he’s still dealing with pain from an ankle injury that kept him out for a few weeks earlier in the year.
It won’t be a picnic for Oklahoma’s offense, but they should get opportunities in transition against the Cowboys who rank 321st in turnover rate and now don’t have their point guard. The Sooners rank 24th in ShotQuality expected points per possession in transition.
The Sooners are coming off an impressive win over TCU to close out the regular season, and they saw both Grant Sherfield and Tanner Groves score 20+ points together for the first time all season. Those two will lead the way offensively.
Oklahoma’s coach Porter Moser is an excellent postseason coach. Of course, he’s famous for leading Loyola-Chicago to the Final Four, but he also upset Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 tournament last year. That Baylor team was ranked fourth in KenPom’s efficiency metrics and were 7.5-point favorites over Oklahoma.
With a full complement of players, I like Moser to help his team build positive momentum off that win over TCU. Meanwhile, I’m fading this Oklahoma State team that has struggled down the stretch without Anderson leading an already inconsistent offense.
Best Bet: Oklahoma +1.5 (play to pick ‘em)
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. NC State Wolfpack
Last night, I faded this Virginia Tech team as they faced Notre Dame in a game I expected to be high-scoring and come down to the last few possessions. The Hokies escaped with the win despite Notre Dame’s backcourt duo of Marcus Hammond and Cormac Ryan giving them all they could handle.
Tonight, the Hokies face another outstanding backcourt tandem in NC State’s Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner, both of whom are averaging over 17 points per game. Smith has a sky-high usage rate of 28.6%, but his efficiency leaves a lot to be desired as he’s shooting just 36.8% from the field.
The Wolfpack offense isn’t overwhelmingly efficient in general as they rank 270th in shot selection and 294th in rim & 3 rate per ShotQuality. They also rank outside the top 300 in free throw rate and frequency of shots at the rim.
NC State’s biggest offensive strength is that they rank fourth in turnover rate. Virginia Tech is 14th in the same stat, so there won’t be many transition opportunities for either team tonight. That means we’ll see these offenses work in the half-court where the Hokies have the edge.
Virginia Tech has an elite half-court offense as they rank 15th in ShotQuality expected points per possession. The Hokies are effective at all three levels as Haslametrics has them pegged as a top 100 offense from 3-point, mid range, and close proximity territory.
In the four-point NC State win over Virginia Tech this year, the Hokies were without senior guard Hunter Catoor. He’s huge for this offense as he averages 10.8 points per game and shoots 43.3% from 3. The Hokies also saw Grant Basile play just 22 minutes as he got into foul trouble and shot just 1-8 from the field for four points.
This Hunter Catoor kid for Virginia Tech is going OFF right now.
He has 9 threes.
He’s now 9-for-11, 27 points. pic.twitter.com/z3nHTQC65G
— Vic Lombardi (@VicLombardi) January 29, 2022
Despite getting little from Basile and nothing from Catoor, two of the team’s top four leading scorers, the Hokies only lost by four to NC State. With those two playing much more of a factor tonight, I like Virginia Tech to get the win here, and I’ll happily take the points.
Best Bet: Virginia Tech +2.5 (play to pick ‘em)