College Basketball Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Wednesday, March 8th

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College basketball schedule today has 36 games

Sometimes when you run bad, you run really bad. That’s the case right now, as the picks have not gone well in the last few days and the losses aren’t even close. Cal Poly scored 53 second-half points last night to upset Long Beach State by 20. The Beach (-9) led by five at half. Poly scored under 53 points NINE times for an entire game in the regular season and had one win in Big West play.

 

In yesterday’s other game, UTRGV scored four points in the first 10:03 of game time, yet the game still fell just three points short of the total, with three missed free throws and a missed 3-pointer in the last 14 seconds of action. Some losses hit harder than others. Some days picks jump out at you and it feels like you’re scrambling to find something you like on other days.

I’m a big believer in discussing the mental side of betting and the toll that it can take, especially during the leaner times. Some days the picks feel like they jump out at you and it feels like you have to scramble to find something you like on other days. It’s a lot of the latter right now, but all you can do is keep putting in the work and hope the games play out as you envision. Hopefully that happens today. (Tracking sheet)

Here are some thoughts on the March 8 card (odds from DraftKings):

DePaul Blue Demons vs. Seton Hall Pirates (-5, 137)

The second of three games in the first round of the Big East Conference Tournament is between DePaul and Seton Hall. This tournament is played at Madison Square Garden, which is pretty well-known for being a strong under venue as a tough shooting backdrop for college kids. That would seem to be an even bigger factor in the sparsely-attended early games.

DePaul is heavily reliant on the 3-point shot. Their 3P Rate is 38.1% and their 3P% is 36.1%. It’s been their saving grace this season, but only at home. The Blue Demons went 2-14 in road/neutral games this season in large part because of their home/road splits from 3. While DePaul shot 36.1% for the season, they shot 40% from 3 in 15 home games and 32.2% from 3 in 16 road/neutral games. The venue will be neutral, but the setting could be road, given that Seton Hall is about 20 miles from MSG.

Seton Hall has allowed opponents to shoot just 30.3% from 3 this season. The Pirates are far better defensively than they are offensively, but they’re a good offensive rebounding team and should win the battle on the glass here. If DePaul isn’t making 3s, they’re likely to have a lot of one-and-done possessions.

On the other end of the floor, Seton Hall’s shot share on Close Twos of 47.5% is second in the nation, though they have had major problems finishing with a FG% that ranks 305th in the country at 54.5%. DePaul’s shot share against on Close Twos is 40.6% (322nd) and their FG% against was 59.1% (198th).

I trust Seton Hall to take higher-percentage shots here and I think DePaul will greatly struggle from deep at MSG and against this defense. It would be nice if Seton Hall’s Kadary Richmond comes back, but they did just roll Providence and play Villanova tough without him.

Pick: Seton Hall -5

Oregon State Beavers vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (-11, 131)

The late game in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament features Oregon State and Arizona State. The Beavers hung in there in a five-point loss with ASU back on Jan. 14 and lost by 11 in Tempe on Feb. 2. They’re getting 11 here and I think they have a good chance to keep this game close.

Neither one of these teams has a high shot share at the rim. They both take a lot of 3s and Oregon State is actually a little bit better at it, shooting 32.4% compared to Arizona State’s 31.3%. That’s significant to me because Arizona State is excellent at the rim on defense with 7-footer Warren Washington clogging up the middle. Oregon State doesn’t really go inside much and shouldn’t be penalized for it because ASU is one of the nation’s best defensive teams in that shooting split.

Arizona State only has a 32.3% shot share at the rim, so they’re going to settle for a lot of long jumpers in a neutral setting. I think that makes it very difficult to win a game by margin. If ASU suddenly lights it up from 3, so be it, but Oregon State was an average team defensively on 3-point shots at 34% and ASU was 15-of-36 in the two regular season meetings, so they actually exceeded expectations, yet both games were pretty close. Arizona State’s biggest lead was seven in the 11-point win until the final minute of action.

Wayne Tinkle is a good head coach, despite this season’s results, as well, so he’ll try to slow this game down as much as he can. His team succeeded in the other two meetings, holding the first game to 66 and the second game to 64 possessions. The Beavers played several close games down the stretch and even had a win over USC about a month ago, so they’re still fighting and I think they fight hard here.

Pick: Oregon State +11

UTEP Miners vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (-2.5, 132.5)

Western Kentucky got some love in the overnight markets, as this line swung from a coin flip to a pretty clear favorite role for the higher-seeded squad. The Hilltoppers have a monster in the middle in 7-foot-5 Jamarion Sharp, who had six blocks in each of the two games between these teams. That is significant because UTEP doesn’t really have a traditional big guy to go up against him. 

WKU won both meetings by five points, including the Mar. 2 game in which UTEP was 10-of-20 from 3. That was a huge outlier for the Miners, who have shot 28.9% this season from beyond the arc. The Hilltoppers aren’t a great defensive team from 3, but this quirky conference tournament setting may be helpful to them with temporary courts set up in a football practice facility. UTEP doesn’t want to shoot 3s, with a 3P Rate of 30%, but the presence of Sharp and other long-limbed bigs makes it harder for them to get inside.

Their shot share on Close Twos was 37.7% for the season, but their shot share on Close Twos was 25% in the Mar. 2 game and 30.5% in the first game back on Feb. 4. Western Kentucky forced them into more jumpers and that should be a recipe for success again in this matchup.

As for the Hilltoppers offense, they had 1.093 and 1.054 points per possession in the two games against UTEP. The Miners are not a great defensive team aside from forcing turnovers, but they give back almost as many of those as they get with a TO% of 23% on offense (358th) and 23.2% on defense (14th). They rank 267th in 2P% defense, while WKU ranks 58th.

I’d say WKU just matches up well here and their ability to force teams into long jumpers should be a positive in this setting.

Pick: Western Kentucky -2.5

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