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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks March 14

Written by: Andrew Norton
Published March 14, 2024
8 min read
Best College Basketball Bets Today March 14

We are in the midst of some major conference tournaments, including the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, SEC, and others! Several teams are on the bubble, and plenty more are in an even more desperate situation, where the stakes are genuinely “win-or-go-home.” For this Thursday slate, we will hone in on the St. John’s Red Storm versus the Seton Hall Pirates and the Ohio State Buckeyes versus the Iowa Hawkeyes. Find our best college basketball picks below for these two matchups!

St. John's @ Seton Hall

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

PICK: St. John’s ML (-190)

What a whirlwind of a season for the St. John’s Red Storm, who are currently hovering on the NCAA Tournament “bubble.” Head coach Rick Pitino’s first season at the helm for the Red Storm has not been as smooth as he had hoped. In fact, Pitino publicly criticized many of his players, throwing them under the proverbial bus. Pitino has since apologized, and the Red Storm seem to have turned things around, though.

St. John’s actually has logged five consecutive wins against Georgetown (twice), Butler, No. 8 Creighton, and DePaul. Interestingly enough, the Red Storm’s last loss came against the Seton Hall Pirates on February 18th. The Red Storm committed 28 fouls, turned the ball over 14 times, and shot merely 34% from the field and 24% from behind the arc, only losing by six points in that matchup. 

Since then, everything has been clicking for St. John’s. It has averaged nearly 89 points per game on 53% shooting from the floor and 41% from deep while committing fewer than eight turnovers per game. This has undoubtedly been the Red Storm’s best stretch of basketball, and it could not have happened at a better time!

In the past three games, St. John’s has averaged the fourth-most points on the ninth-highest effective field goal percentage. The Red Storm also rank 23rd in total rebounding rate, 16th in assists per game, tenth in block percentage, 22nd in steals per possession, and fifth in unadjusted offensive efficiency in that span!

St. John’s plays fast (84th in adjusted tempo) and loves to apply pressure on both ends of the floor. This season, the Red Storm rank 30th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 39th in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. The core of Jordan Dingle, Chris Ledlum, R.J. Luis Jr., Daniss Jenkins, and Joel Soriano is rock-solid and more than capable of making a run in the NCAA Tournament.

Unfortunately, the Red Storm are in a tough position, sitting firmly on the “bubble.” They need this win against the Seton Hall Pirates if they want to feel good about having their name called on “Selection Sunday.” 

Conversely, Seton Hall is on the right side of the bubble, listed as a team with one of the “last four byes,” per Joe Lunardi’s (ESPN) Bracketology. The Pirates finished in fourth place in the Big East, ranking only behind UConn, Creighton, and Marquette. In fact, they were only one game behind the Bluejays and the Golden Eagles by the end of the conference play!

With a 20-11 overall record and a 13-7 Big East record, the Pirates still need to display a sense of urgency. A loss likely won’t push them out of the NCAA Tournament field, as their resume is strong enough at this point to withstand some volatility this week, especially with a 5-7 record in Quad 1 games. However, anything can happen in March. The Pirates currently rank 55th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin and 62nd in the NET rankings.

Seton Hall is led by the trio of Kadary Richmond, Dre Davis, and Al-Amir Dawes, who combine for roughly 45 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and four steals per game! Regarding trios, the Pirates certainly have one of the best in the Big East.

However, this is ultimately a prime position to back the desperate Red Storm, who might be in a “win or go home” situation. St. John’s has an advantage in coaching, offense, and recent play. The last time these two teams met, St. John’s kept the game close (six-point loss) despite playing one of its worst games. Don’t expect that to happen again, as the Red Storm are red-hot offensively.

Ohio State @ Iowa

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

PICK: Ohio State -2 (-108)

In an unexpected turn of events, the Ohio State Buckeyes are a dark horse bubble team that could squeak into the NCAA Tournament if they win a few games in the Big Ten Tournament and a few other bubble teams underperform. This possibility seemed nearly impossible just a few weeks ago before the Buckeyes fired their former head coach, Chris Holtmann, in the middle of February.

With Jake Diebler at the helm, the Buckeyes have won five of their past six games, including wins over No. 3 Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan, Nebraska, and Rutgers. Their only loss in that stretch was on the road against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, which was just the second game after Holtmann was fired.

In short, this team is completely rejuvenated with a coaching change, playing hard every possession on both ends of the floor. In those six games, OSU has shot roughly 48% from the field, 35% from behind the arc, and 80% from the charity stripe, which are solid numbers but far from elite. However, the biggest change has been on the defensive end of the floor, where the Buckeyes have held opponents to 39% shooting from the floor and 30% from deep in those games!

In the past three games, Ohio State has the fifth-lowest (best) unadjusted defensive efficiency and opponent-effective field goal percentage, and the four teams that rank ahead of it in those two categories are mid-major programs. The Bucks have committed to that end of the floor, and the results have been good; they have beaten several quality programs!

On the other hand, the Iowa Hawkeyes are also on the dreaded “bubble,” but the likelihood of them getting into the NCAA Tournament with a win in this spot is probably higher than that of OSU, as the Buckeyes would probably have to win another game after this one to squeak into the field.

Iowa’s offense is amongst the most efficient in the country, ranking 15th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric, but its defense has oftentimes let it down this season. In fact, the Hawkeyes rank 147th in adjusted defensive efficiency, 255th in opponent effective field goal percentage, 282nd in opponent three-point percentage, 292nd in defensive rebounding percentage, and 158th in fouls per game.

Iowa’s consistent inability to finish possessions with a rebound and defend without fouling has made it relatively mediocre overall. Even the Hawkeyes’ offensive ranking (KenPom) might be slightly inflated due to their tempo; they rank just 77th in eFG% and 218th in OREB%.

Ultimately, Ohio State will cover in this spot. The Buckeyes have been one of the hottest teams in the country, and they are finally figuring out how to be effective on the defensive end of the floor. Their scoring prowess has scarcely been questioned due to the talented trio of Bruce Thornton, Jamison Battle, and Roddy Gayle Jr., who combine to score about 45 points per game. However, with the Bucks recently locking up on the defensive end, they could slow down the high-octane Hawkeyes offense.

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Andrew Norton

148 Articles

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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