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It’s another Saturday in February, which means there is another terrific slate of games available for us to enjoy, and bet on, if the line is right. We are roughly six weeks away from the NCAA Tournament, the best part of the year, so there are still plenty of teams fighting for their postseason hopes.
This “best bets” article will cover our favorite bets for each of these three marquee games: Gonzaga versus Saint Mary’s, Purdue versus Indiana, and Kansas versus Iowa State.
The Boilermakers and Hoosiers make up one of the biggest rivalries in college basketball, so that will be thoroughly detailed below, along with the other two matchups. Check out the analysis and reasoning below to see if you’d like to tail!
When: 4:00 PM EST
It has not been the season that the Indiana Hoosiers, the preseason Big Ten favorites, had hoped for; they have underperformed in every big game, and are behind their rivals in the Big Ten standings. While the Hoosiers will likely make the NCAA Tournament, and have an outside shot at a double-bye in the Big Ten Conference Tournament, it still has been an overall disappointing season thus far.
Indiana has had several injuries throughout the season that have derailed things a bit. Starting point guard Xavier Johnson has been out since mid-December, and All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis had a back injury that kept him at less than 100% for most of the season. Johnson and Jackson-Davis are the best players on this team, and scarcely have they played together this season while both were at 100% health.
Now, the Hoosiers host their biggest rival, Purdue, in Assembly Hall. The Boilermakers happen to be the No. 1 team in the country, adding further fuel to the fire. The sportsbooks expect a tight game despite Xavier Johnson still being sidelined from his foot injury. So which team truly has the advantage in this one?
Purdue is a methodical team that moves slowly, but surely. The Boilermakers work through their big man and National Player of the Year frontrunner, Zach Edey. Edey is a 7-foot-4 center with an incredibly strong base and solid skillset for his size. Edey touches the ball almost every possession, and one of two things tends to happen: either Edey scores, or he kicks it out to open shooters if he is double-teamed.
The only issue for Purdue is that the player that will be matched up against Edey is All-American forward/center Trayce Jackson-Davis, who has been the best player in the nation over the past few weeks. As a matter of fact, TJD has averaged 23 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, and just shy of four blocks in his last nine games. Jackson-Davis might be six or seven inches shorter, but he, like Edey, has an incredibly strong base.
Meanwhile, Jalen Hood-Schifino should match up well with Purdue freshman guard Braden Smith. Smith can handle the ball well under pressure, run the offense, and knock down open shots. All things considered, this is going to be an extremely tight game.
The only danger with backing Indiana in this spot is if TJD gets in foul trouble. As long as he stays out of it, we should see a narrow Hoosiers victory. Purdue’s two freshmen guards have not been in an environment like this, and they won’t get any favors from the referees on the road in a rivalry game.
When: 12:00 PM EST
After dropping three-straight games in what could only be described as a gauntlet in their schedule, the Kansas Jayhawks have regrouped, winning their past two bouts against Kentucky and No. 7 Kansas State. The Big 12 schedule for every team in the conference is an absolute blood bath this season.
Iowa State and Kansas are each stalemated in second place (6-3) in the conference heading into this matchup, so this should be a heated battle in what could potentially lead to a regular season title.
How tough is the Jayhawks’ schedule this season? KenPom has their schedule ranked as the toughest in the nation (first in adjusted strength of schedule rating.) With all that being said, Iowa State is still not too far behind them in that metric.
These two teams faced off in mid-January, and Kansas escaped with a narrow, two-point victory at home. Iowa State held the Jayhawks to merely 62 points, which is about 15 points fewer than their season average. The problem is that Iowa State’s offense struggled to generate points outside guard Gabe Kalscheur.
This has been the case for the whole season, as the Cyclones rank 65th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, a rough mark for a team that ranks as high as they do in the AP poll. However, one thing has remained stable for the Cyclones: their play at home.
Iowa State is one of the best teams at home in the nation; it is 11-0 with wins over No. 7 Kansas State, No. 10 Texas, No. 11 Baylor, and North Carolina. I have to stick with the Cyclones and their incredible play in front of their fans.
When: 10:30 PM EST
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The two best teams in the West Coast Conference will duke it out on Saturday in what will likely make up the conference championship in a few short weeks. Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga are both title-contending teams with experienced and skilled players. Can Saint Mary’s overtake Gonzaga as the best team in the WCC?
The ‘Zags started the season ranked as high as No. 2. Unfortunately, that did not last very long; however, this is still a very dangerous basketball team with one of the best offenses in the nation (third in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency.)
The difference between this year’s team and last season’s team is defense, where it ranks quite poorly in several key metrics. As a matter of fact, Saint Mary’s boasts the defense that Gonzaga usually does: a stout, stifling, and merciless attack led by Alex Ducas and Logan Johnson, two experienced guards who are familiar with what it takes to win.
Gonzaga has the offensive firepower, but it does not have the defense necessary to beat a methodical, surgical Gaels team on the road. The Gaels are winners of 11 straight games and legitimately look like a top-five or ten team in the nation.
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.More info on Andrew Norton
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