College Basketball Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday, February 18th

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College basketball schedule today has 141 games

Another massive Saturday card has arrived, bringing 141 Division I vs. Division I games to the court. Per usual, I’m trying my best to focus on games that start at least 2 p.m. ET or later, just because of the time difference and the sheer enormity of the card. I’ll also be hosting VSiN Live Bet Saturday from 3-6 p.m. ET today, so you’ll be able to hear some more of my thoughts there. (Tracking sheet)

After running really good for a while, negative variance has arrived and it’s been a tough week. Hopefully it’s just a minor blip, but these things happen when you bet the daily sports. Never get too high or too low in this business. Just put in the work and do what you can to minimize the down periods.

 

It’s the NBA All-Star Weekend, so JVT has a much deserved few days away from the grind, but Andy MacNeil has NHL best bets today.

 

 

Here are some thoughts on the February 18 card (odds from DraftKings):

South Dakota Coyotes at Denver Pioneers (-3, 145)

Denver only has four wins in Summit League play, but one of them came on the road at South Dakota back on Jan. 19 by a 75-60 count. These two teams have very different offensive philosophies and Denver does something that very few teams in the Summit League do. They get to the rim.

The Pioneers have a shot share on Close Twos of 50.5%, which is far and away the highest mark in the nation. Western Illinois is the only team in the conference above 37%. South Dakota has allowed a 62.6% FG% on those shot attempts. Denver actually got to the rim less than I would have expected in the first meeting, but was 13-of-15 on those shots, while South Dakota was just 5-of-9.

Denver also has a top-20 free throw rate on offense by getting to the rim. They should have a big free throw advantage in this game. The worry is that South Dakota is 16th in the nation in 3P%, but they’re shooting 45% from 3 in 10 home games and 33.4% in 15 road/neutral games. This one will be on the road and also in elevation.

Lastly, Denver has a 21.1% TO% on offense, but South Dakota is 358th in the nation in TO% on defense, so the Pioneers should take better care of the basketball here and have even more chances to get inside.

Pick: Denver -3

Mississippi State Bulldogs (-3.5, 127) at Ole Miss Rebels

Mississippi State and Mississippi battle it out for rivalry bragging rights in Oxford in this one and there are several advantages for the Bulldogs that push me towards the road favorite. Let’s start at the rim, where Mississippi State has a shot share of 39.7% (78th) and a FG% of 63.4% (45th). Ole Miss gets to the rim at a higher rate of 40.4%, but the difference here is that the Bulldogs don’t let teams to the rim and the Rebels do.

Mississippi State’s shot share against on Close Twos is just 29.6%. That ranks 23rd in the nation. Meanwhile, Ole Miss’s shot share against is 353rd at 43.5%. They’ve defended well at the rim, but the Bulldogs are going to get more high-percentage looks.

The second big characteristic of this game that I like is that the Bulldogs force teams into a lot of 3s. Their 3P Rate against is 43.3%. Ole Miss is shooting 29.4% as a team from 3. Furthermore, Mississippi State is 15th in the nation in TO% on defense, so I see a lot of empty possessions for the Rebels in this one. This is a top-10 defense for Mississippi State by adjusted defensive efficiency and a top-20 defense by eFG%.

This game is likely to be pretty ugly, but Mississippi State will get the higher-percentage looks at the rim and Ole Miss has a very low offensive projection here. It was a bad matchup for Ole Miss the first time in a 64-54 loss and Mississippi State was only 14-of-28 at the rim and just 13-of-26 at the line, yet won by 10.

Pick: Mississippi State -3.5

Utah Valley Wolverines (-2, 144) at Seattle Redhawks

The WAC is a really good conference and the conference tournament in Las Vegas should be quite interesting. Utah Valley is the top team in the league and they’ve got a good chance of picking up another victory in this matchup against Seattle. Seattle’s a pretty poor offensive team, ranking 323rd in eFG% on offense. Utah Valley is ninth in eFG% defense. The Wolverines are fifth in 2P% defense and 69th in 3P% defense.

Seattle doesn’t get to the rim much, posting just a 31.5% shot share on Close Twos and they’re only shooting 54.7% on them anyway. Utah Valley has one of the best FG% against on Close Twos at 48%. Seattle won’t get to the rim much and won’t convert much if they do get there. Conversely, Utah Valley has a solid 58.6% FG% with a 39.3% shot share and Seattle’s 42% shot share against is 338th in the nation.

Utah Valley is holding opponents to 31.9% from 3, which is a problem for a Seattle team with a 3P Rate of 45.6%, which is among the highest in the country. They’re only shooting 31.1% on 3s, which is a big reason why their offense struggles so much.

Utah Valley was 22-of-29 at the rim in the first meeting, yet somehow lost 85-80 at home. Seattle was 12-of-32 from 3, while the Wolverines were 5-of-13. That game is still Seattle’s second-best showing by points per possession of the conference play season and a major outlier. Meanwhile, I don’t think Utah Valley’s 80 points were an outlier. I think Wolverines get their road revenge here.

There are some 1.5s out there. I’ll grade it at -2 since that’s the more available number, but find a 1.5 if you can.

Pick: Utah Valley -2

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