College Basketball Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Tuesday, March 7th

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College basketball schedule today has 26 games

The number of college basketball games is winding down as we hit the home stretch of conference tournaments and look ahead to the NCAA Tournament, NIT and CBI. Several major conference tournaments tip off today and so do some of the minor ones, so we’ve got 26 games from start to finish, though “start” in this case means 8:30 a.m. PT, so that’s a bit tricky.

 

As I said, I’ll do the best I can to give out games with lead time. With the NCAA Tournament, I’ll work ahead and possibly post overnight so that the article is out there with time to consume the content and read about the games. I’m also working on my MLB team previews, which started yesterday with the AL East and also my “Stats to Know for 2023” refresh. I can’t link them for technical reasons, but you can find them under MLB and then “Adam Burke on MLB” on the homepage.

Let’s get to the college hoops. (Tracking sheet)

Here are some thoughts on the March 7 card (odds from DraftKings):

UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros vs. Tarleton State Texans (-7.5, 147)

The first meeting between these two teams had 133 points. The second game finished with 194 in overtime, but finished regulation with 166 points. The teams combined to shoot 23-of-47 at the rim in the lower-scoring game, but that was a game that featured 51 free throws in a game played to 68 possessions. 

The second game saw the teams shoot 43-of-58 at the rim and featured 72 free throw attempts. It was also a rare game in which the teams made 58 free throws. Tarleton State led the nation in FT Rate and UTRGV was second in FT Rate. Tarleton fouled a ton as well. Their FT Rate on defense was 362nd, while UTRGV was 322nd. I think we’re going to see a lot of free throw attempts in this game.

Tarleton State forces a lot of turnovers, so the lesser of the two defenses is likely going to be trying to protect the rim more often. That should lead to more points as well. These two teams also have high shot shares at the rim, but they do have low finishing rates. Tarleton State has a 41.2% shot share at the rim (43rd) and UTRGV has a shot share at the rim of 45.8% (5th). I’m not sure the teams will convert at a high rate, but they should get a lot of close looks at the rim, which helps in a neutral setting.

Between that and what should be a lot of free throw attempts and hopefully a game closer to the tempo of the second meeting, I think we could see a lot of points here and a really ugly, whistle-filled game, as a lot of WAC games tend to be.

Pick: Over 147

Cal Poly Mustangs vs. Long Beach State Beach (-9, 136)

Long Beach State opens up the Big West Tournament with a good matchup against Cal Poly. The Beach beat the Mustangs by 19 and 18 in the two regular season meetings and even led the 19-point win by as many as 27 points in the second half. Long Beach State pushes the pace, while Cal Poly is one of the slowest teams in the nation. The problem for the Mustangs is that they have a 20.9% TO% on offense (326th) that allows the Beach to get out in transition and push the pace.

LBSU had a shot share of 42.8% on Close Twos during the regular season (21st), while Cal Poly was 291st at 32.4%. The other issue for Cal Poly is that Long Beach State forced opponents into a 39.7% 3P Rate and the Mustangs only shot 28.9% on 3s with a 36.3% 3P Rate. Long Beach can’t shoot 3s, but they don’t really try with a 23.2% 3P Rate.

I see no reason why this game should go any different from the first two. Long Beach emptied the bench in the first two games and monitored minutes, which is something that they might do here as well.

Pick: Long Beach State -9

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