College basketball best bets today

Do you think if we put together a petition or something that we could get athletic directors to do a better job splitting up college basketball games? We had eight college basketball games scheduled for Friday and got a ninth because a transformer blew in Lafayette, Louisiana. On Sunday, we’ll have a total of 15 games. Today, we have 153 games. Not a bad selection when looking for college basketball best bets today, but it sure is a lot to handicap.

Games run from Noon ET to 11:59 p.m. ET with eight games in the 12 p.m. window and Cal Poly at Hawaii to finish off the night. As usual, I started my handicapping on the 3 p.m. ET games in the interest of fairness and lead time for the article. While that chops off a portion of the card, there is still more than enough meat on the bone.


Check the latest college basketball odds for legal U.S. sportsbooks across the country and our Vegas odds if you share a state with us here at VSiN. Also, give the college basketball betting splits a look for these or any other college basketball games today have your interest. Check out the Tracking Sheet for this season’s results and our college basketball home page for more CBB content.

Here are five college basketball best bets for today.

Samford Bulldogs (-5.5, 156) at East Tennessee State Buccaneers

4 p.m. ET

The Bulldogs suffered their first setback in conference play with a loss to Furman last time out. My belief is that Samford bounces back and returns to the win column here with a good effort in Johnson City.

Samford has one of the league’s most efficient interior scorers in Achor Achor and they take advantage of it with a 43.3% shot share on Close Twos. While Jadyn Parker is a top-tier interior defender for ETSU, they’ve still allowed a 42.3% shot share on Close Twos. They’ve just been able to hold the opposition to 55.3% on those attempts. I think Samford finds more success with Achor, who is shooting 67% on Close Twos and has 17 dunks on the season. If he can get Parker in foul trouble, ETSU will be in dire straits.

While that is definitely a factor for me, this is also one of the biggest mismatches in 3P% that you will find. Samford is shooting 40.4% from 3, while ETSU is shooting 29.4% from 3. Both defenses have allowed a similar 3P Rate and a similar 3P% against, but Samford is so much better from deep. Furthermore, not only is ETSU 330th in 3P% offense, but the Buccaneers are also 275th in 2P%, whereas Samford is 57th.

ETSU PG Quimari Peterson has a negative assist-to-turnover ratio in SoCon play and Samford is 11th in the nation in TO% at 22.6%. They push the tempo in games with pressure defense and ball movement in the offensive halfcourt. I don’t like either of those things for ETSU.

Finally, Samford was 6-0 in SoCon play before that aforementioned loss to Furman. Their conference opponents are actually shooting 40% from 3. ETSU is among the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation, so I don’t think they can take advantage. Think about Samford’s potential against teams that can’t shoot. That’s what I did and why I like the Bulldogs here.

Pick: Samford -5.5

La Salle Explorers at George Washington Revolutionaries (-5.5, 153.5)

6 p.m. ET

A little dinnertime A-10 action makes the cut for college basketball picks today with La Salle and George Washington. This game features a lot of the things I look for when backing a favorite and it will be the Revolutionaries on my card for today.

As you know, I’m big on shot selection. George Washington has a shot share of 43.2% on Close Twos, which ranks 43rd nationally. Meanwhile, La Salle has the lowest shot share in the nation on Close Twos at 23.9%. It is hard to make a living taking a lot of jumpers and La Salle is 260th in the nation in 2P% offense. George Washington is 31st in 2P% defense and also ranks 89th in 3P% defense.

The Revolutionaries are also shooting 37.9% from 3 for the season. That is a top-25 mark from beyond the arc and La Salle is 297th in the nation in 3P% defense. They do a good job of pushing teams off the 3-point line, but that may just end up pushing GWU inside, which won’t help matters either.

The one downside to GWU’s defensive profile is that they don’t force turnovers, but La Salle doesn’t turn the ball over anyway. By not being aggressive on defense, George Washington is second in the nation in free throw rate against. This is actually a top-80 team in eFG% offense and a top-35 team in eFG% defense. La Salle is 247th and 219th, respectively.

Add in GWU’s tempo and their 74.3% mark from the free throw line and I think they get the win and cover here. They have an 82.9% “Rim & 3” rate, which I love to see against suspect defensive teams.

Pick: George Washington -5.5

Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Rice Owls (-3, 148.5)

8 p.m. ET

The Rice Owls have been on my radar a lot this season. They went from Conference USA to a much stiffer American Athletic Conference and some of their most talented peers from C-USA joined them in the move. The step up in conference has not been good for them, as they’ve lost five of the six games that they’ve played and have some ugly numbers.

They are 13th in conference play in eFG% defense and 13th in 3P% defense. They’re also 13th in TO% on offense and 11th in 2P% offense. Tulsa’s numbers aren’t ideal in league play either, but they are the better offensive team and have faced the third-toughest conference schedule to this point, while Rice has faced the 12th-toughest.

Tulsa has had some close losses, including an OT loss to Tulane and a loss by a bucket to Memphis. They’ve been more competitive with the upper-echelon teams in the league and now get one of the conference’s bottom feeders in Rice.

Tulsa’s 19.2% TO% on offense is less of a concern here because Rice doesn’t force turnovers. Also, Tulsa has a 20% TO% on defense that could prove fruitful here, as Rice is a little more careless with the basketball. The Golden Hurricane are the better 3-point shooting team and the better 3-point defense.

Tulsa head coach Eric Konkol beat Rice and head coach Scott Pera in five straight games before taking the Golden Hurricane job. I would expect him to execute a good game-plan tonight.

Pick: Tulsa +3

San Diego Toreros at Pepperdine Waves (-7.5, 151.5)

8 p.m. ET

San Diego was kind to us on Tuesday night with an outright win on the road over Portland. I don’t know if they’ll win this game, but I’m back on the Toreros in this one against Pepperdine.

A lot of the same things I talked about on Tuesday apply here. San Diego’s game against Portland was postponed due to travel issues, so their first five games in West Coast Conference play were against Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, San Francisco, Pepperdine, and Gonzaga again. They lost to Pepperdine 83-77 at home, but that was a game played without point guard Deuce Turner.

It was also a game that San Diego led for nearly 36 minutes and led by as many as 11 in the second half before running out of gas. Pepperdine took their first lead of the game with 3:16 left and eventually put the game away.

Turner is back and USD is getting a healthy number of points. Pepperdine is 281st in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and 348th in eFG% defense. Unless a bad defensive team features an elite offense, I don’t really trust them in a favorite role of this size or larger. Pepperdine is 309th in 2P% defense and 360th in 3P% defense.

In the first meeting, San Diego was 8-of-13 from 3 and had 1.122 points per possession without their point guard and second-leading scorer, who is also a 35.3% shooter from deep.

Pepperdine has allowed 1.233, 1.136, 1.143, 1.122, 1.280, 1.095, and 1.358 points per possession in seven WCC games. That requires some elite offensive efficiency to cover a spread like this and I don’t think we see it from a team with a Rim & 3 rate around 63%.

Pick: San Diego +7.5

Idaho State Bengals at Weber State Wildcats (-12, 136.5)

9 p.m. ET

In this instance, we’ve got a bad defensive team in a huge favorite role in a game that will have very limited possessions as Weber State welcomes Idaho State to Ogden, Utah. There is no denying that Weber State is the better team, but it is really tough to cover a spread of 12 with the defensive numbers that we’ve seen out of the Wildcats.

Idaho State is just as bad, if not worse defensively, but I trust them to hold on long enough here to keep this one close. Nationally, Weber State is 342nd in 2P% defense and Idaho State is 338th. In league play, the teams rank eighth and ninth in 2P% defense. Idaho State is actually second in both TO% offense and defense, so they could scoop some extra possessions in this one.

And, honestly, Weber State’s numbers are propping up by pummeling both Montana and Montana State in the first two games of league action. Since then, Weber State has lost four of five and allowed over a point per possession in every game but one. They’re not really playing at a high enough level on either end of the floor to cover this sort of number in a game that will likely be played to somewhere around 62-64 possessions.

Idaho State has lost five games, but none of them have been by more than 12 points. Add in the low pace that we’re likely to see in this game and I think the Bengals keep it close.

Pick: Idaho State +12