This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
Saturday's college basketball slate brings a handful of compelling matchups. Steve Peralta shares his best bets for the day.
Indiana at Rutgers
Two of the best defensive teams in the country are set to square off in New Jersey, as both Indiana and Rutgers enter this game ranking top-12 in adjusted defensive efficiency. The main difference between these two teams is that Rutgers struggles to score, while Indiana does not. The Scarlet Knights are currently ranked No. 109 in adjusted offensive efficiency, with Indiana way up at No. 13.
It won't be easy slowing down the Hoosiers' offense, but the Scarlet Knights are built to stop them as well as anybody. Rutgers' defense is ranked near the top of the charts in several key categories, as the Scarlet Knights have the fifth-lowest effective field goal percentage allowed, the fifth-highest steal rate and the second-lowest three-point field goal percentage allowed. Additionally, Rutgers has a knack for clamping down defensively at home. Last season against conference opponents, the Scarlet Knights allowed just 62 points per game at home, compared to 70 points per game allowed on the road. It's also worth pointing out that Indiana's offense has faced the 10th easiest schedule among all D1 teams, per KenPom. Rutgers is by far the toughest defensive team that Indiana has seen yet.
Add everything up, and this matchup has all the makings of a defensive battle. I'm on the under.
College Basketball Best Bet: Under 135.5
West Virginia at Xavier
These two teams are nearly equal in overall adjusted efficiency, but a deeper look reveals some key differences.
Xavier's offense is one of the best in the country, ranking No. 15 in adjusted efficiency, but unfortunately, it has to face a defense that's equally as strong. West Virginia ranks No. 23 in adjusted defensive efficiency and No. 11 in defensive turnover rate. The latter will likely play a factor in today's game, as turnovers are the one area on offense where Xavier has been awful. The Muskateers are getting the ball stolen at one of the worst rates in the country, ranking No. 347 in offensive steal rate. If you're a team like Xavier that struggles with having the ball stolen, facing a team like "Press Virginia" is a nightmare matchup.
On the other end of the court, West Virginia's offense isn't much worse than its defense, ranking No. 39 in adjusted efficiency. This is more bad news for Xavier because its defense is a work in progress. The Musketeers rank No. 78 in defense, which isn't awful, but they don't do anything particularly well. They've gotten the job done against lesser opponents, but the Musketeers have faced three teams this season that rank top-20 in offensive efficiency, and they've lost all three games.
The Musketeers are a sharp-shooting team, so it's possible they knock down enough shots at home to put the Mountaineers away, but ultimately I'm trusting West Virginia's defense to disrupt the home team just enough to stay in the game. I'll take the points.
College Basketball Best Bet: West Virginia +3.5
Mississippi at Memphis
Mississippi enters this game at 6-1, coming off a hard-fought five-point loss against Oklahoma. The Rebels played the Sooners tough, which is a relevant performance when examining today's game because Memphis compares very similarly to Oklahoma. The Tigers rank No. 28 in overall efficiency, and the Sooners rank No. 30. They both have an elite defense, and their offensive attacks rank No. 51 and No. 52, respectively, in adjusted efficiency. The Rebels held their own against the Sooners, so there's no reason to think they won't put up a fight against the Tigers.
Mississippi does several things exceptionally well. The Rebels have the seventh-highest offensive rebounding rate among all D1 teams, a notable advantage considering the Tigers rank slightly below average on the defensive glass. Furthermore, Mississippi's defense steals the ball at the 18th highest rate in the country, also an important number because Memphis gets the ball stolen on offense at one of the worst rates, ranking No. 305. Given these advantages, the Rebels are a good bet to win the rebound and turnover margins.
Memphis has a tough defense, but it hasn't been tested much so far this season. Mississippi, ranking No. 54 in adjusted offensive efficiency, represents the second-best offensive team the Tigers have faced so far this season. The only opponent with a better offense was Saint Louis back on Nov. 15, and Memphis got torched, losing 90-84.
All in all, Mississippi appears to match up favorably against Memphis. The Rebels are balanced while also possessing an edge in a few key areas, a beneficial combination that should keep them in the game. I'll take the points.
College Basketball Best Bet: Mississippi +7.5
Saturday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Saturday:
- Indiana at Rutgers - Under 135.5
- West Virginia +3.5
- Mississippi +7.5
For up-to-date information on the latest college basketball odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the College Basketball odds page on RotoWire.
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