Saturday’s college basketball slate is loaded with top teams and enticing matchups. A few of the most exciting games include the No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide versus the No. 1 Houston Cougars and No. 10 Arizona Wildcats versus the No. 14 Indiana Hoosiers.
All of these teams are ranked in the top 15 and feature some of the best offensive and defensive talent in the nation. Check out the list of best bets from the aforementioned games below and see if you think it makes sense to tail or not!
When: 3:00 PM EST
The Alabama Crimson Tide have started the 2022-23 collegiate season with an impressive 7-1 record; their only loss came against the now No. 5 ranked UConn Huskies. Alabama is paced by star freshman, and future lottery pick, Brandon Miller. Miller is a 6-foot-9 freshman who is averaging 19 points and nine rebounds on a 41/47/80 shooting split. While his efficiency inside of the three-point line could improve, his shooting from deep has been mind-boggling, especially for a player his size. The other key offensive player for Alabama is Mark Sears, who is averaging 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game. The Crimson Tide are currently 14th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin, ranking in the top 25 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.
Houston is a team we have covered fairly extensively on this page so far this season; it boasts an elite defense and terrific guard play, two essentials to have in March during the NCAA Tournament. My concern for Alabama in this game is its reliance on Sears and Miller. The Cougars have one of the two best defenses in the country, and it is expected that they will force anyone else besides those two to beat them. Despite a few games where its offense has evaded it, Houston has multiple weapons on that end of the floor (Marcus Sasser Tramon Mark, J’Wan Roberts, Jarace Walker, and Jamal Shead) who can be leaned on if the game gets tight. Houston will pull away at the end of the game and win by double-digits.
When: 7:30 PM EST
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Two top 25 teams clash in this showdown between the Arizona Wildcats and Indiana Hoosiers! This game will be played on a neutral court, MGM Arena, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Arizona might have a few more fans due to the proximity, but Indiana does have fans who travel well throughout the season.
Arizona boasts one of America’s most impressive and effective offensive attacks (2nd in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency) behind only the Purdue Boilermakers.
The Wildcats are led by 6-foot-11 junior Azuolas Tubelis, a forward from Lithuania, and seven-foot center Oumar Ballo. Together, Tubelis and Ballo form one of the best frontcourt tandems in all of college basketball, averaging over 39 points and 18 rebounds on eyebrow-raising efficiency. Arizona also has three guards averaging double-digit points per game. The combination of Courtney Ramey, Kerr Kriisa, and Pelle Larsson has surprisingly been among the best backcourts in college basketball.
On the other hand, the Indiana Hoosiers also have a solid offense (27th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency). However, they have a much more effective defense (11th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency.)
Indiana is anchored by All-American big man Trayce Jackson-Davis, a lethal rim-protector. TJD might be one of the best shot-blockers in the nation, even though he averages only two blocks per game. His timing, athleticism, length and defensive IQ make him a force on that end of the floor. The Hoosiers also lean on super seniors Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp, and Race Thompson to help provide their high-level defense.
As far as playing styles go, the Hoosiers and Wildcats both dominate the paint; they each rank in the top five in the nation in eFG% (effective field goal percentage.) Additionally, three-point shooting is not a strong suit for Indiana and Arizona, as they rank outside the top 75 in the nation in 3P% (three-point percentage.)
Arizona’s significant advantage in this game is on the glass. The Wildcats are one of the most elite rebounding teams in the country and have the size to back it up. Indiana is a tall team, but it will sacrifice several inches in the frontcourt. I think Arizona ultimately covers in this game, as Indiana will struggle to be as effective as it has been inside against the Wildcats’ length and size.
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