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Best College Basketball Picks Today | NCAAB Picks February 20

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published February 20, 2024
8 min read
Best College Basketball Picks Today

While the headliner for Tuesday night’s college basketball slate belongs to the No. 1 UConn Huskies versus the No. 15 Creighton Bluejays, there are still plenty of matchups to be excited about, including No. 11 Baylor versus No. 25 BYU and Maryland versus Wisconsin. See our best college basketball picks today for the latter two games below!

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No. 11 Baylor @ No. 25 BYU

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Baylor +3 (-110)

If the No. 11 Baylor Bears want a shot at the Big 12 regular season title, they will likely need to win this game. Baylor sits at 8-4 in the Big 12, one game behind the Iowa State Cyclones and Houston Cougars. One of those two teams will fall by the time this article is published, as they face each other on Monday night.

Whichever team is left standing will have five games left in their conference season to hold off Baylor and the loser to Monday night’s brawl. Baylor has virtually no room for error, which could be a challenging position for the Bears; they face the No. 25 BYU Cougars on Tuesday.

BYU has a solid 13-2 record on its home floor, including wins against Texas, No. 6 Iowa State, and No. 19 San Diego State. However, the Cougars have not been unbeatable by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, BYU barely held off Kansas State (six-point win) and UCF (two-point win) in its past two games at the Marriott Center. 

The Cougars had a hot start to the 2023-24 campaign but have since cooled off quite a bit, as evidenced by their most recent road loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who boasted a 2-9 record in the Big 12 before beating BYU. 

Offensively, the Cougars are an undeniable force, sitting in eighth place in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric and ranking 14th in effective field goal percentage and second in assists per game. 

This phrase might be overused, even by us, but BYU is exceptionally well-balanced offensively. It rosters seven players who average at least nine points per game, including Jaxson Robinson, Trevin Knell, Spencer Johnson, Fousseyni Traore, Noah Waterman, Richie Saunders, and Dallin Hall. 

The biggest strength for the Cougars is their rebounding. They rank 15th in total rebounding rate this season but have been outrebounded in two of their past four games. BYU is at its best when it crushes opponents on the glass and moves the ball so fast offensively that opponents’ heads spin. However, the Cougars have not entirely looked like themselves recently.

Conversely, the Baylor Bears have been balling recently, winning five of their past six games, with a narrow three-point road loss to No. 9 Kansas being the only blip in that stretch. Baylor has climbed to eleventh in the A.P. Poll after a solid past few weeks.

Baylor’s offensive attack allows it to beat anyone on any night. The Bears rank second in adjusted offensive efficiency and have the highest three-point percentage (40.9%) of any team in the country. Additionally, they are a fantastic offensive rebounding team, collecting 34.1% of their misses, which can be handy on “off” shooting nights.

On the other end of the floor, Baylor is highly exploitable, though. Scott Drew’s squad ranks 210th in opponent effective field goal percentage and fouls a lot, particularly on the road, where it commits just shy of 20 fouls per game. An injury to Langston Love could further complicate matters for Baylor. He is likely to be a game-time decision on Tuesday night.

Surprisingly, though, the Bears have found a way to continue winning without Love available in their past three games (2-1); they even almost knocked off the Jayhawks on the road. This is a terrific sign for Baylor, as Love’s injury seems minor. 

Further, Jayden Nunn has stepped up significantly, averaging 18.3 points on a 60/57/75 shooting split in those three games without Love. With so much on the line for the Bears, it is challenging to see them letting this game get away. 

Baylor also has a 5-1 record against the spread as an away team, covering four consecutive road games. If Love suits up, we will ride with the Bears and the points. However, if he is sidelined again, we will have to reassess.

Maryland @ Wisconsin

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Under 130 (-110)

What a fall from grace for the Wisconsin Badgers. After ranking as high as sixth in the country, the Badgers have since dropped out of the Top 25 A.P. poll. February has not been a kind month to this team, as they lost five of their six games this month, with a home win against the underwhelming Ohio State Buckeyes being the only success.

Nebraska took the wind out of the Badgers’ sails with an overtime win (80-72), and, unfortunately, Wisconsin carried that into its next game against the No. 2 Purdue Boilermakers. If the Badgers had beaten Nebraska and then Purdue on their home floor, they would have boasted a 10-1 record in conference play, giving them a reasonably comfortable lead for the Big Ten regular season title. 

Once Wisconsin realized it would not catch back up to Purdue, the wheels fell off completely; it lost three of its next four Big Ten games to Iowa, Michigan, and Rutgers. To be fair, all those losses were on the road. However, all three teams are below .500 in Big Ten conference play.

Despite the Badgers’ recent struggles, they still rank 19th in adjusted efficiency margin, including the 19th-ranked offense per KenPom. However, Wisconsin doesn’t shoot the ball all that well (102nd in effective field goal percentage and 149th in three-point percentage), so how does it rank so highly on that end of the floor? 

The main reason for the Badgers’ offensive success can be attributed to their discipline. They scarcely turn the ball over (33rd in turnovers per game.) It is a simple concept, at least for Wisky: limiting turnovers allows for more shot attempts. 

The core of former St. John’s guard/forward A.J. Storr, freshman guard John Blackwell, and the four key returners, Max Klemsit, Chucky Hepburn, Tyler Wahl, and Steven Crowl, is dangerous. Regardless of their rough patch of narrow losses, don’t underestimate this Badgers squad.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Terrapins are a compilation of one-score swings away from being towards the top of the Big Ten conference this season. In fact, Maryland has dropped four games by three or fewer points (and two more by five or fewer points) during conference play. Even if the Terrapins had been able to swing three of those four games, they would be tied for third place in the Big Ten and very much in the NCAA Tournament picture.

However, the Terrapins are now in a “win and in” position, meaning that securing the Big Ten conference tournament is likely their only way into the NCAA Tournament field this season. Before the beginning of the 2023-24 regular season, the Big Ten media poll projected Maryland to finish third in the conference behind only the Purdue Boilermakers and Michigan State Spartans. Expectations were high for this squad.

And rightfully so, as they brought back elite scoring guard Jahmir Young, dominant two-way big man Julian Reese, and veteran forward Donta Scott. Between those three returners, it didn’t seem like the Terrapins needed to do much to be a contender. They brought in former Indiana forward Jordan Geronimo and signed consensus four-star freshman DeShawn Harris-Smith, the fifth-ranked small forward in the 2023 class.

Maryland has met its expectations on the defensive end of the floor between Scott, Reese, and Harris-Smith, ranking sixth in the nation in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric. Further, the Terrapins hold opponents to the 15th-fewest points and the 12th-lowest effective field goal percentage despite having the 48th-hardest schedule in the country (Strength of Schedule Rating per KenPom). They would rank even more favorably if it weren’t for the fact that they have only pulled down only 73.1% of their defensive rebounds this season.

The biggest weakness for Maryland is its three-point shooting (28.7%), which ranks 346th in the nation. For some reason, the Terrapins still attempt more than 21 threes per game. Besides Vanderbilt, no other larger program shoots the ball that poorly. There might be some hope for Maryland if it could hit shots inside the arc, but it can hardly do that, either. The Terrapins only convert on 41.1% of their attempts from the field, which ranks 320th nationally.

Against elite defenses, this Terrapins team struggles to score more than 50 points. In fact, they posted only 53 points against Purdue, 53 points against Rutgers, and 54 points against Michigan State. Between their offensive shortcomings and exceptional defense (sixth in adjD), Maryland should lead us to a somewhat comfortable Under in this game. 

This play becomes even clearer when considering that Wisconsin is 320th in adjusted tempo and Maryland 306th nationally. Expect a snail’s pace in this game, with very little semblance of successful offense from either team.

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Andrew Norton

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Andrew has always been an avid sports fan and followed his hoop dreams all the way to college. He’s well-versed in everything betting with multiple years of experience and is qualitatively and quantitatively knowledgeable in sports statistics and analytics.

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