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NCAA Basketball Odds For Saturday | Mar. 2

Thomas Snodgrass

Updated: Mar 2, 2024

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There’s a cluster of NCAA basketball games on the slate for this Saturday, including five games pitting two ranked clubs against each other.

The West Coast Conference, which has long been dominated by the Gonzaga Bulldogs, now features a new contender in the Saint Mary’s Gaels.

No. 23 Gonzaga vs. No. 17 Saint Mary’s this weekend could have huge implications for how the bracket could shake out.

As of right now, the Bulldogs have just a 59% chance of making the bracket, while Saint Mary’s has an 84% chance.

It’s hard to imagine not seeing Zags’ coach Mark Few on the sidelines during March Madness, but it’s been an uphill climb for the Bulldogs this season.

With Selection Sunday creeping closer by the day, it should be an interesting Saturday.

One thing I’ve got my eye on is the Minnesota Golden Gophers against the spread.

Minnesota has an ATS record of 24-4, and they’ll be visiting the Penn State Nittany Lions as +6.5 point underdogs.

The Gophers are 7-2 against the spread as road underdogs and Penn State is just 4-5 ATS as a home favorite.

I like the Gophers to remain Golden on the spread.

Best odds for Minnesota against the spread can be found at -6.5 (-106) on FanDuel.

Let’s take a look at some heavyweight matchups for the weekend, with all picks being paired with the best odds!

No. 24 Florida (+2.5, +110 ML) vs. No. 18 South Carolina (-2.5, -128 ML)

Both the Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks are 8-2 in their last ten games, but the Gators have been a solid 7-3 ATS on the road this season, and 3-1 ATS as road underdogs.

Florida covered in their last road game as underdogs, set as +10 point dogs against the Alabama Crimson Tide on February 21, and only losing by five points.

Gators’ guards Walter Clayton Jr. (16.8 ppg) and Zyon Pulin (15.3 ppg) have been playing well of late, with Clayton Jr. averaging 19.8 points in the last four road games and Pulin recording 18 points over his last four road contests.

According to KenPom, Florida is 30th in adjusted tempo, while the Gamecocks are 354th in adjusted tempo.

That large disparity in pace, and the fact that the Gators’ guards have been scoring well on the road should get Florida over in this one.

Pick: Florida Moneyline | Best Odds: (+110) bet365

No. 13 Illinois (+3, +130 ML) vs. Wisconsin (-2.5, -142 ML)

Similar to the Florida-South Carolina matchup, this game also has a big difference in pace.

The Illinois Fighting Illini are 60th in adjusted tempo, while the Wisconsin Badgers are 326th.

Also, if the Badgers don’t make their buckets, the Illini could load up on rebounds.

Illinois is averaging 45.2 rebounds per game (5th in the NCAA), and Wisconsin’s 36.8 boards per game is a distant 279th in the NCAA.

Illini’s Terrence Shannon Jr. has been a big time scorer, averaging 21.9 points per game, and the senior guard has been averaging 29 points over his last seven games.

As long as Shannon Jr. is scoring at this pace, there is nobody on the Badgers’ side that can match him shot-for-shot.

Shannon and Illinois for the road win.

Pick: Illinois Moneyline | Best Odds: (+116) FanDuel

No. 7 Kansas (+6, +200 ML) vs. No. 15 Baylor (-4.5, -225 ML)

The Baylor Bears have lost two of their last three games, with both L’s coming from the hands of the Houston Cougars and BYU Cougars.

Although both teams that recently defeated Baylor share the same mascot, they also have something else in common: a strong defense.

Both Cougars were ranked fairly high in the KenPom rankings in adjusted defense, with Houston coming in at No. 1, and BYU coming in at No. 56.

This weekend, Baylor will welcome the Kansas Jayhawks to Waco, and the Jayhawks will be bringing their No. 9-ranked adjusted defense with them.

The Bears are averaging 81.6 points per game, but last time they squared up with the Jayhawks, they scored just 61 points in a three-point loss.

Solid defense will win this game for the Kansas Cougars Jayhawks.

Pick: Kansas Moneyline | Best Odds: (+200) DraftKings

No. 5 Marquette (+4.5, +160 ML) vs. No. 12 Creighton (-4, -185 ML)

The Marquette Golden Eagles have been rolling, winning nine of their last 10 games, but they will face a tough test against the Creighton Blue Jays on Saturday.

Star point guard Tyler Kolek is dealing with an oblique injury, and he may be unavailable for this Big East showdown.

As well as Marquette has been playing, not having Kolek against Creighton will be too much of a potential subtraction.

The Blue Jays are 13-2 at home this season, and they should pick up the win against a slightly dented Golden Eagle’s unit.

Pick: Creighton Moneyline | Best Odds: (-185) DraftKings

No. 8 Iowa State (-3.5, -165 ML) vs. UCF (+3.5, +150 ML)

The Iowa State Cyclones have not only won eight of their last 10, but they’ve covered eight of their last 10 spreads too.

The UCF Golden Knights have lost six of their last nine, and if not for winning back-to-back games, this spread could be an even wider margin.

Iowa State’s offense is still the superior unit, sitting 51st on KenPom in adjusted offense, whereas UCF is 167th in adjusted offense.

The Golden Knights are also 283rd in effective field goal percentage (47.6%), while the Cyclones are an okay but still much better 98th in effective field goal percentage (52.4%).

Iowa State’s strong backcourt duo of Keshon Gilbert and Tamin Lipsey will be the difference.

Gilbert and Lipsey will immobilize the scoring from Central Florida’s guards Jaylin Sellers and Darius Johnson, and the Golden Knight’s top heavy offense won’t be able to stick around.

Pick: Iowa State (-3.5) | Best Odds: (-110) BetMGM

No. 25 South Florida (+3.5, +140 ML) vs. Charlotte (-3, -155 ML)

The South Florida Bulls, the newest club to crack the AP Poll top 25, will visit the quietly solid Charlotte 49ers on Saturday.

Charlotte is 12-1 at home this season including an ATS record of 11-2!

But, I’m going to buck the trends and back the Bulls here.

South Florida is in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, and if not for a four-point loss to the UAB Blazers on January 7, their winning streak would be at 20 games.

19-1 in the last 20 is still good though.

The Bulls picked up a 72-69 win over the 49ers when these programs last met on February 6, covering a two-point spread.

A win would secure the American Athletic Conference championship for South Florida, so I’m riding the Bulls.

Pick: South Florida Moneyline | Best Odds: (+140) FanDuel

UCLA (+6, +210 ML) vs. No. 19 Washington State (-5, -245 ML)

Just when it seems that the UCLA Bruins are turning a corner, they fall backwards.

After a solid 8-2 stretch, UCLA followed up their strongest run of the season with three consecutive losses, falling back to .500.

It’s been a different story for the Washington State Cougars, going 13-3 since the calendar flipped to 2024.

Both of these clubs play at a slow pace, with the Cougars sitting 317th in adjusted tempo and the Bruins at 349th in adjusted tempo.

Add those slow paces to Washington State’s 30th-ranked adjusted defense and UCLA’s 41st-ranked adjusted defense, and you’ve got the recipe for an under.

But, the total of 126.5 may have been overcorrected here.

The under still makes for an interesting play, but I’ll back the Cougars on the spread.

Washington State is still in the hunt for a Pac-12 title, so they’re going to pull out all the stops in Pullman, Washington.

Pick: Washington State (-5) | Best Odds: (-118) DraftKings

No. 1 Houston (-6.5, -250 ML) vs. Oklahoma (+6.5, +235 ML)

The Houston Cougars are the best team in the country in defensive efficiency, and they’re ranked 35th in offensive efficiency.

There may not be a more complete team in the NCAA right now.

Cougars’ guards L.J. Cryer (15.3 ppg) and Jamal Shead (13.1 ppg) are the best tandem of two-way guards in the nation, and they will silence the Oklahoma Sooners’ opposing backcourt.

Oklahoma is just 4-6 in their last 10 and they’ve covered just three of their last 10 spreads.

After a strong start to the season, the Sooners are struggling later.

Four of the Sooners’ last five losses have been by 10 or more points, and Houston’s riding a six-game winning streak with an average margin of victory of 10.7 points.

Oklahoma is fading, so I’ll fade Oklahoma.

Pick: Houston (-6.5) | Best Odds: (-105) BetMGM

No. 4 Tennessee (+3, +136 ML) vs. No. 14 Alabama (-2.5, -140 ML)

The Alabama Crimson Tide are starting to get on some people’s national championship radar, and to others, Alabama is just getting on their nerves.

After their 7-5 start to the season, the Tide have won 13 of 16 games, but frustratingly, all three of those losses have come by 18 or more points.

One of those losses was a 91-71 road loss to the Tennessee Volunteers.

Vols’ guard Dalton Knecht (20.8 ppg) put up 25 points in that contest and the senior guard has caught fire again recently, scoring 39 points against the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday.

None of those big losses came at home for Alabama, but they do have an eight point loss to Clemson at home this season, and who really knows when the next Bama clunker shows up?

Although the Crimson Tide has the No. 1 adjusted offense at KenPom and Tennessee’s adjusted offense is ranked 16th, these defenses are night and day.

The Vols are ranked eighth in defensive efficiency and Alabama is 227th in defensive efficiency.

Tennessee’s defense will pull off the W.

Pick: Tennessee Moneyline | Best Odds: (+136) DraftKings

Pick: Tennessee Moneyline | Best Odds: (+136) DraftKings

No. 23 Gonzaga (+3, +116 ML) vs. No. 17 Saint Mary’s (-2.5, -140 ML)

It appears that Gonzaga has finally begun to hit their stride, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Bulldogs have won seven consecutive games, including a win over then-No. 17 Kentucky in non-conference play back on February 10.

Gonzaga’s last loss actually came at home . . . to the Saint Mary’s Gaels.

These teams matchup very closely, and the 64-62 final score in the previous meeting is the evidence.

Saint Mary’s defense has been a brick wall at times, sitting third in defensive efficiency, and they’ve allowed the third-least points in the NCAA (59.1 ppg allowed).

By contrast, Gonzaga is 46th in defensive efficiency, but they are 92nd in points allowed per game (69.5).

This game is going to be a struggle, but ultimately, I don’t see the Gaels dropping this game on their home court.

In the West Coast Conference, this is Saint Mary’s year.

Pick: Saint Mary’s (-2.5) | Best Odds: (-110) DraftKings
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About the author

A fan of both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, which is rare! Thomas provides sports betting content with the intent to educate and enter...

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