College basketball schedule today has 2 games
We’re back to NYC and Sin City for Saturday’s two games on the college basketball betting board. The games tip off at 6:09 p.m. ET and 8:49 p.m. ET, beginning with Florida Atlantic vs. Kansas State at Madison Square Garden and finishing with UConn vs. Gonzaga at T-Mobile Arena.
We’re nearing the end of the season, as we have two games today, two games tomorrow, two games on Tuesday, one game on Thursday, two games on Saturday and one game on Sunday. I can’t promise I’ll have plays for all of those days, but I’ll at least scribble some thoughts, along with the start of my daily MLB article coming up on Thursday for Opening Day. (Tracking sheet)
I’ve also got my new MLB podcast, VSiN Daily Baseball Bets that will be released every weekday. I’m also filling in on The Handle on Saturday from 12-3 p.m. ET with host Dave Ross.
Check out the latest VSiN College Basketball Betting Podcast episode with thoughts on this weekend’s Elite Eight games.
Here are some thoughts on the March 25 card (odds from DraftKings):
Even though this is the late game, I like a side in this one, so I’ll start with it. UConn blew out Arkansas in the Sweet 16 on Thursday, while Gonzaga spent a ton of energy digging a big hole, climbing out of it and then getting Julian Strawther’s game-winning 3 to avoid the embarrassment of blowing a 10-point lead in the final minutes.
That isn’t why I like UConn, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t part of the equation for me. That was a really emotional game for Gonzaga, whereas the Huskies had their game against the Razorbacks basically in control from the outset. What I saw from UConn in that game is part of why I really like them here. They are so big and so long. They’re going to be able to match up better with Drew Timme than UCLA did.
Think about it. Timme had 36 points and Gonzaga needed a 35-footer from Strawther to take the lead in the final seconds. If Adem Bona was healthy enough to go, that probably would have been a much different game. The Huskies aren’t deep, but they have six guys that are 6-foot-5 or bigger in the rotation and I really expect Timme to have his hands full with either Adama Sanogo or Donovan Clingan.
The Huskies rank third in adjusted offensive efficiency per Bart Torvik and 14th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Gonzaga does lead the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, but they rank 80th in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Bulldogs have faced the 72nd-ranked slate of opposing defenses per Ken Pomeroy and they have not seen this kind of length very often.
UConn is second in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and they’ve pulled down 30 offensive rebounds in three games. I do think it’s lazy to compare what UConn did to Saint Mary’s to the matchup with Gonzaga, since the Gaels are a much slower, less creative offense, but Saint Mary’s is inarguably a better defense than Gonzaga and the Huskies had 1.117 points per possession. Now the Huskies face a Gonzaga defense that is 202nd in 2P% defense and 255th in 3P% defense.
I think the Huskies match up well here and have the height to shut down Timme. Even if they don’t, I don’t think Gonzaga’s defense holds up well here.
Pick: UConn -2.5
This has the potential to be a really fun game. FAU survived bully ball from Tennessee and now draws a Kansas State team that isn’t as physical, but moves a lot better on offense. The Volunteers had a really stagnant offense with a lot of 3-point shots. Kansas State isn’t afraid to fire from deep, but their offense is predicated on high pick-and-rolls and the vision of Markquis Nowell. They move so well without the ball, so FAU will have to be really responsible on defense and not lose track of guys.
This is a really good FAU offense. They were unable to get a whole lot of inside penetration against Tennessee, who did a really good job staying active at the 3-point line to force the Owls into a lot of long jumpers. Ultimately, Florida Atlantic hit enough of them and made enough adjustments to advance. I do wonder if they’ll find the same success against Kansas State. The Wildcats are almost as stingy as Tennessee from 3 for the season and also adept at forcing turnovers.
I could see this being a bit of a higher-scoring game, especially if Kansas State can get FAU to run at the same tempo. If the Owls can play a more controlled style of play and not allow Kansas State to get runouts, then the total may fall short. Also, I still have worries about Madison Square Garden and scoring given the venue’s history. It didn’t stop Michigan State and Kansas State, but FAU and Tennessee were 14-of-50 from 3 and a combined 10-of-38 on mid-range jumpers. That was the polar opposite of K-State/Sparty, where the teams were 24-of-49 from 3.
I think this is a tricky handicap. Two good coaches, two good offenses, two solid defenses and questions about the pace. I will be curious to see if FAU can force a few more turnovers. Michigan State only forced five in a 73-possession game on Thursday night. I lean slightly with Kansas State, but not enough to play it.