With the NFL season coming to a close, we are firmly in NCAA basketball season. The top teams are clambering for the No. 1 overall seed, and the rest are trying to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
To put it bluntly, teams are running out of runway if they want to make the tournament. Some are already to the point where they have to win conference tournaments to make the NCAA Tournament, and dozens of teams are dangerously close to the bubble.
With the regular season winding down, games matter even more. Which teams are trending up, and which ones are going to spiral out of control? Let’s look at three of the best games for NCAAB picks and make predictions.
Marquette Golden Eagles vs. UConn Huskies
Tuesday, February 7, 2023 – 06:30 PM EST at XL Center
There are four games against ranked opponents this Tuesday, a rare event for a Tuesday this late in the season.
Out of them all, this is the closest spread. It’s because the better team is playing on the road, so we’re not sure what to expect. Regardless, the Huskies are favored at the best sportsbooks.
To be honest, I’m not that interested in the spread. It indicates a fun game, but I don’t see much value. Instead, give me the over. Both teams are more than capable of scoring in the 90s. It’s unlikely for both teams to do so, but an 80-76 game is certainly possible.
Neither defense is known for being that smothering, and both teams love to turn up the tempo and play with speed. This should turn into a track meet.
Plus, a close game has a higher chance of reaching overtime. If this game goes to overtime, there is no hope of the under staying intact. It’s not safe to bet on an over solely because you expect overtime, but the marginal boost it provides makes this play valuable as an over.
NCAAB Pick: Over 146.5 (-115) at FanDuel
NC State Wolfpack vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Tuesday, February 7, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at John Paul Jones Arena
Let’s look at another game between ranked opponents. This one is between two teams within a game of the top spot in the ACC.
Virginia is used to being the hunted, and that’s exactly what they’ll be in this game. Despite NC State’s ranking, Virginia remains leaps and bounds ahead of the Wolfpack.
However, the Cavaliers are coming off of a loss against Virginia Tech. The Hokies went into the game as close favorites, but Virginia still didn’t play like you’d expect from a team hoping to win the NCAA Tournament this year.
Virginia has weaknesses, it just comes down to whether NC State can exploit them. I don’t see that happening.
The Cavaliers love to play the game slower and win in the halfcourt. They don’t make many mistakes and instead force opponents to go above and beyond to win games.
The Wolfpack has that capability, but I haven’t seen it consistently enough to bet on them. While the Wolfpack have a better record against the spread, give me Virginia to bounce back against an ACC foe.
NCAAB Pick: Virginia -7.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Tuesday, February 7, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at Rupp Arena
Kentucky and Arkansas both had slow starts to the SEC slate, and both have picked things up in recent weeks. With these squads firmly on the bubble, these are the kinds of games you have to win in order to stray away from it.
Kentucky is playing at home, and I believe that makes all the difference. This team plays significantly better at Rupp Arena, and they’ll be able to win this game with marginal victories. They’ll win on the boards, commit fewer turnovers, and stay out of foul trouble.
I have both of these teams making the NCAA Tournament by the end of the year, but Kentucky takes one step closer to avoiding the bubble.
The under is a play worth watching because of Kentucky’s stubborn approach to winning at the rim and avoiding the three ball, but I have more confidence in the Wildcats to cover.
Kentucky has a reputation for turning the corner late in the season, and that’s what will happen in this game.
NCAAB Pick: Kentucky -5.5 (-105) at BetMGM