Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks February 26

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published February 26, 2024
11 min read
Best College Basketball Picks Today February 26

Monday night’s college basketball slate features two Big 12 matchups, including the No. 11 Baylor Bears versus the TCU Horned Frogs and the West Virginia Mountaineers versus the Kansas State Wildcats. Additionally, we are gifted an ACC battle, which features the Miami Hurricanes and the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels. Find our best college basketball picks for these three games below!

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No. 11 Baylor @ TCU

  • Date: Monday, February 26

  • Time: 9:00 pm EST

  • Moneyline: Baylor N/A | TCU N/A   

  • Spread: Baylor +2.5 (-110) | TCU -2.5 (-110)

  • Total: Over 149 (-110) | Under 149 (-110)

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

PICK: Baylor +2.5 (-110)

It is too little, too late for the Baylor Bears or the TCU Horned Frogs to win the Big 12 regular season title, but they can still improve their seeding for the conference tournament and their resumes for the NCAA Tournament

Baylor has been a juggernaut offensively this year despite losing its top three guards from last season’s team, including Keyonte George, Adam Flagler, and L.J. Cryer. George and Flagler are NBA players now, while Cryer is the second-ranked Houston Cougars’ lead guard. Somehow, head coach Scott Drew found a way to replenish talent, recruiting likely one-and-done combo guard Ja’Kobe Walter as well as four-star center Yves Missi, whose time in college could be limited to just this season.

Additionally, Drew snagged RayJ Dennis in the transfer portal, an effective lead guard who can score at all three levels and efficiently create for others. Former VCU guard Jayden Nunn was another key portal acquisition, especially recently, as he has logged two 20-point games in his past four outings. Add in returners Langston Love and Jalen Bridges, and you get one of the most high-octane offenses in the nation (fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency.)

The Bears’ fifth-ranked offense is highlighted by their three-point shooting (40.3%), which ranks second behind only Kentucky. Baylor’s elite three-point shooting even includes Walter’s struggling 33.3% average on a team-high 165 three-point attempts. If Walter gets hot, and the rest of the Bears continue shooting at their current level, Baylor might become nearly impossible to beat.

Earlier this season, the TCU Horned Frogs snuck an overtime win out in Waco against Baylor, which was one of only two home losses this season; the Bears will undoubtedly have revenge on their mind in this game, especially after a frustrating overtime loss at home a few days ago against the second-ranked Houston Cougars. Additionally, don’t expect the Horned Frogs to shoot 53% from the field and 40% from behind the arc again.

Further, Ja’Kobe Walter finally saw some shots fall from deep again in the Bears’ last game against Houston after a 13-game stretch where he shot at merely a 23.8% clip. If Walter rides that momentum, it is challenging to see TCU keeping up offensively.

West Virginia @ Kansas State

  • Date: Monday, February 26

  • Time: 7:00 pm EST

  • Moneyline: West Virginia N/A | Kansas State N/A

  • Spread: West Virginia +10 (-110) | Kansas State -10 (-110)

  • Total: Over 143 (-115) | Under 143 (-105)

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

PICK: Kansas State -10 (-110)

Let’s face it. Kansas State’s odds of sneaking back into the “bubble” of the NCAA Tournament are slim; however, they aren’t quite at zero. At least, not yet. The Wildcats are 16-11 overall this season, with a 6-8 record in Big 12 play, including wins over No. 25 BYU, No. 9 Kansas, No. 11 Baylor, and a non-conference win against Villanova. After their win this past Saturday against the 25th-ranked BYU Cougars, the Wildcats improved to a 3-5 record in Quad 1 games, which is nothing to scoff at. In fact, that is comparable to many bubble teams and even a few teams projected to be in right now with an at-large bid.

Now, Kansas State has four games left before the end of the Big 12 regular season, including this home game against West Virginia. Obviously, Kansas State doesn’t want to get ahead of itself, but a home game, where it has a 13-3 record so far this season, against the league’s worst team (West Virginia) is a likely win. A win in this game would put the Wildcats at 7-8 in league play. Then, if they won at home against sixth-ranked Iowa State and on the road against Cincinnati, things could get interesting!

Unfortunately, Kansas State only ranks 76th in the NET and 72nd in KenPom’s adjEM; however, it will likely jump up after a home win against the Cougars. And it could leap even higher with a double-digit mauling of the West Virginia Mountaineers on Monday night. Again, the Wildcats could sneak away with a few late-season wins in Big 12 play and, perhaps, in the Big 12 conference tournament, too. 

There’s no disguising or sugarcoating it: the Wildcats are a terrible offensive team. They rank 181st in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric due to their abysmal three-point shooting (30.7%), which places them in 311th out of 362 teams. While the Wildcats shot the ball exceptionally well from deep against BYU in their last game (7-for-15), they knocked down just 26.3% of their attempts against Texas and went 1-for-15 from three-point land in an unfortunate three-point home loss against TCU. A win in that game could have kept this team in “bubble” dialogues.

What keeps Kansas State in most games and allows it to beat inferior opponents with relative ease is its defense, which is 14th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency. The Wildcats are also 14th in opponent effective field goal percentage despite having the 33rd-hardest schedule (per KenPom’s Strength of Schedule Rating) nationally. 

Meanwhile, it has been a nightmarish season for the West Virginia Mountaineers; they have merely a 9-18 overall record and have only logged four Big 12 wins. In the Big 12 preseason media poll, WVU was projected to finish ninth, which isn’t fantastic but would have put it right on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the Mountaineers are dead last in the conference and have had a laundry list of injuries.

Last summer, West Virginia brought in a few huge transfer portal acquisitions, including Arizona guard Kerr Kriisa, Montana State standout Raequan Battle, Syracuse double-double machine Jesse Edwards, and Iona forward Quinn Slazinski. Unfortunately, four of their top five players, including three of the players listed above, have missed at least ten games due to injury or suspension. Now, the Mountaineers have virtually everyone healthy, but it is too late for an NCAA Tournament appearance unless they win the Big 12 conference tournament.

Kansas State’s recent three-point defense has been absurdly good; it has held its past three opponents to merely 23.8% shooting from deep, the 12th-best mark in the country in that span. The Wildcats are going up against a West Virginia team that ranks 177th in three-point percentage, too.

Additionally, in their earlier matchup this season, the Wildcats destroyed West Virginia on the glass, outrebounding the Mountaineers by 13 boards. We can expect a similar result here, as the Wildcats are a more physically imposing and aggressive team. 

Miami @ No. 10 North Carolina

  • Date: Monday, February 26

  • Time: 7:00 pm EST

  • Moneyline: Miami N/A | North Carolina N/A

  • Spread: Miami +14 (-110) | North Carolina -14 (-110)

  • Total: Over 154.5 (-112) | Under 154.5 (-108)

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

PICK: North Carolina -14 (-110)

Even though this game isn’t a rivalry game or a top-25 matchup, it holds great importance for the North Carolina Tar Heels, who are one game ahead of Duke for first place in the ACC standings with just four games remaining. Duke and UNC have three home games and one road game left in the regular season and will be facing each other in the last game of the season. The Heels will want to do everything they can to ensure they have at least a one-game lead heading into that game, as it will be at Cameron Indoor, a difficult place to win.

We have mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating: it has been a wild roller coaster for the North Carolina Tar Heels since Roy Williams retired at the end of the 2020-21 season. In their first season with Hubert Davis at the helm, the Tar Heels put together a halfway decent season, securing a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament; however, what happened during the tournament was magical, as they ascended to the championship game before losing to the Kansas Jayhawks.

After returning virtually every key player (Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, and Armando Bacot), except for Brady Manek, and bringing in Pete Nance, a Northwestern standout, the Tar Heels were ranked the No. 1 team in the following preseason (2022-23.) However,  North Carolina was on the wrong side of history that season, becoming the first top-ranked team in the preseason to miss the NCAA Tournament that year.

At the conclusion of last season, Caleb Love, North Carolina’s leading scorer, transferred to Arizona to join the Wildcats; they are now a top-five team nationally. Love’s absence didn’t sink the Tar Heels like some might have expected, though. Instead, they rallied around their other two key returners, Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis, who have played All-American-caliber basketball this season.

Head coach Hubert Davis did a terrific job putting the proper pieces around Bacot and Davis last summer, including transfers Cormac Ryan (Notre Dame) and Harrison Ingram (Stanford.) Reclassified five-star point guard Elliot Cadeau, who was initially supposed to graduate high school this spring, has also been an enormous help, especially as the season has progressed and he has gained experience. 

The most considerable improvement from the 2022-23 campaign to this one has been defensive, as UNC ranks eighth in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, 17th in opponent effective field goal percentage, 18th in opponent three-point percentage, and sixth in defensive rebounding percentage. Obviously, that is much improved from last year’s 46th ranking in adjD, and much of that is related to cohesion and effort. They have had the talent, and now, they have the chemistry that resembles the 2021-22 NCAA Tournament team.

Meanwhile, the Miami Hurricanes are fresh off their impressive Final Four run last season, losing to the UConn Huskies, the eventual national champion. Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller took their talents to the NBA (and G-League), but Miami still brought back Norchad Omier, Wooga Poplar, and Nijel Pack, three of its five leading scorers from last year’s team.

Additionally, the Hurricanes snagged Matthew Cleveland, a former Florida State standout, in the transfer portal. Between these four players, the Hurricanes should be one of the better offensive teams in the nation; however, they have been (relatively) poor, ranking just 72nd in adjusted offensive efficiency, 41st in three-point percentage, and 45th in effective field goal percentage. While the Hurricanes can get hot from deep at times, their Swiss cheese-like defense prevents them from securing many wins against top-notch opponents like North Carolina. 

Miami does not match up well with the Tar Heels at all. Despite almost knocking off UNC at home earlier this season, the Hurricanes don’t have the size (or motivation, especially at this point) to keep this game close.

Norchad Omier and Matthew Cleveland are talented 6-foot-7 forwards, but the Hurricanes don’t have anyone with the size, length, or strength to defend Armando Bacot. Bacot pulled down a monstrous 15 boards in their first matchup and didn’t have to do much offensively (ten points on 5-for-8 shooting) due to R.J. Davis and Elliot Cadeau combining for 44 points. 

Additionally, North Carolina ranks 11th in total rebounding rate on its home floor, while Miami ranks 335th (out of 362 teams) in total rebounding rate over its past three games. Boston College and Georgia Tech were two of its three opponents in that stretch, and those two teams are not exactly the cream of the crop this season.

Further, Miami has shot the 18th-most threes per game nationally in its past three outings, which it will not want to do against the Tar Heels, a team that ranks 18th in opponent 3P% this season. Between their strong perimeter defense, Miami’s lack of size, and the Tar Heels’ excellent defensive rebounding (sixth in the nation), there is no way we can back the Hurricanes.

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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.
Nationality: American
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