March Madness is moving in fast with February coming to a close. If you’re betting the NCAA basketball odds, we’re providing picks and predictions for the biggest Top 25 matchups on the college basketball schedule as well as need-to-know NCAA basketball betting notes for this weekend’s action.
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS AT IOWA HAWKEYES
Penn State is not playing well, following two straight losses with a slim one-point win over Rutgers Wednesday. The Nittany Lions have failed to cover the NCAA basketball pointspreads in each of those contests, unable to put in a consistent 40-minute effort in those outings.
Penn State is plagued by slow starts, scoring just 26 and 24 points in the opening half in losses to Illinois and Indiana before exploding for 42 points in the opening half versus Rutgers. However, PSU went ice cold coming out of the break and scored only nine points in the opening 10 minutes of the second half and finished with only 23 points in the final frame.
Iowa has been competitive in its last three outings, covering in each of those games. That’s been fueled by strong starts, with the Hawkeyes putting up first-half efforts of 33 and 46 points in games versus Michigan State and Ohio State and averaging almost 40 first-half points at home on the year. That could offer an opportunity with Iowa’s first-half spread hosting Penn State Saturday.
AUBURN TIGERS AT KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Kentucky has revenge on its mind facing the Tigers at home this Saturday. Auburn dealt Kentucky a 75-66 loss in Alabama on February 1 but the real stinger was a 77-71 defeat at the hands of War Eagle in the Elite Eight of last year’s NCAA tournament.
The Wildcats bring their best basketball into this SEC showdown, winning seven straight games while posting a 6-1 ATS mark in that span. What’s more impressive is that four of those games came on the road, including tough stops at Tennessee, LSU and most recently Texas A&M, and UK has checked those foes to just 65 points per game. The Wildcats are extra stingy on their home court, allowing under 38 percent shooting from the floor while limiting visitors to just over 29 percent success from distance.
The Tigers have stubbed their toe away from home in recent weeks, losing four of their last six road outings outright while needing overtime to pick up those two victories – going 1-5 ATS as visitors in that span. Bruce Pearl’s team watches its shooting percentage dip from 46 percent to 39 percent in opposing gyms, including just 26.3 percent from 3-point range on the road. We’re going to take a long look at Auburn’s team total inside Rupp Arena, leaning toward the Under.
MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS AT MARYLAND TERRAPINS
Maryland is breathing a little heavy after a narrow one-point win at Minnesota Wednesday, edging the Golden Gophers 74-73 and playing Over the 134.5-point total. The Terrapins have topped the total in three straight games and seven of their last 10 contests heading into Saturday’s huge home date with Michigan State.
The Spartans lost at home to Maryland on February 15 in a 67-60 contest that stayed below the 138-point number despite a fast and furious opening half which produced 70 points, including 39 first-half points from Maryland. Since then, Michigan State has hung scores of 86 and 78 points on the board, including 51 second-half points in Tuesday’s victory over Iowa.
These Big Ten rivals have been a winner for Under bettors in recent meetings, with a 2-7-1 Over/Under mark in their last 10 matchups. However, with the Izzone buzzing for this 8 p.m. ET national TV start and both team capable of lighting it up – depending on the opening total – we think the Over is worth a wager between Maryland and Michigan State.
MID-MAJOR TO WATCH: MONTANA GRIZZLIES (17-10 SU, 13-12 ATS, 13-12 O/U)
The Grizzlies are battling to stay atop the Big Sky Conference with four games left on their schedule, including this Saturday’s matchup with Sacramento State – the program’s third straight road game after playing at Montana State last Saturday and at Northern Arizona Thursday.
Montana was one of the hottest mid-major wagers in college hoops, having covered in six straight games heading into Thursday but came up short as a 2.5-point road favorite in a 57-56 loss at Northern Arizona. Keep an eye on its odds against the Hornets and how much Montana may have left in the tank after a tough week of travel.
|TEAM||ODDS TO WIN|
|DUKE BLUE DEVILS||+1,500|
|SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS||+2,200|
|MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS||+2,500|
|SETON HALL PIRATES||+2,800|
|PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS||+3,300|
|FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES||+3,300|
|OHIO STATE BUCKEYES||+4,000|
|WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS||+5,500|
|WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS||+7,000|
BETTING TRENDS AND NOTES
• One of the best under-the-radar NCAA basketball bets has been taking the Over in Seattle Redhawks road games this season. Seattle is just 4-7 Over/Under at home but a remarkable 10-2 Over/Under in the role of visitor. The Redhawks average 70 points for and allow 76.4 points against away from home – not exactly stat sheet-stuffing results – but continue to come in above the number in those road games. Bettors get one last kick at the can with Seattle road Overs when the team visits California Baptist this Saturday, its final away game of the regular season.
• The Butler Bulldogs could have guards Kamar Baldwin and Aaron Thompson back on the court for this Saturday’s showdown with DePaul. Both players were injured in a bad loss to Creighton on Sunday and are officially listed as day-to-day, but Bulldogs coach LaVall Jordan told a radio show that he believes the two starters will be available. Baldwin leads the team with 15.9 points per game while Thompson is scoring 6.8 points and dishing out almost five assists per outing. Both are among Butler’s best defenders, headlining a defense giving up only 62.8 points per game this season.
• A number of mid-major conferences play their final games of the regular season this weekend, with regular season titles and No. 1 seeds in the conference tournament still up for grabs. The Big South has a battle at the top between Radford and Winthrop, Wright State and Northern Kentucky play for No. 1 in the Horizon League Friday, and Robert Morris and St. Francis (PA) will duke it out for the Northeast regular season crown (in a weird twist with true No. 1 Merrimack ineligible to compete in postseason) on Saturday.