Saturday's College Basketball Picks, Odds & Predictions: Gonzaga vs Baylor
This week’s Saturday slate is slim pickings in terms of true star power with the exception of the marquee matchup at 1pm between Baylor and Gonzaga (we’ll get to that one in a bit). After some digging, I believe I’ve found a few playable angles in a pair of under the radar tip-offs today. I also couldn’t resist taking a shot on the game of the week.
The Lipscomb Bisons were the preseason Atlantic Sun Conference favorites heading into this season, but head to Fayetteville short-handed this weekend due to Covid restrictions. The Bisons will be without starting point guard KJ Johnson and a few other rotation players as they take on the Razorbacks. Coach Lennie Acuff’s guys will not back down in this matchup, however, having already hung tough with Cincinnati on Wednesday night. The Bisons were up 9 in that game with 11 minutes left before running out of gas. If they can stay out of foul trouble in this one, I strongly feel like they can make this one a game. Arkansas has won their first three games in convincing fashion on the scoreboard, although their competition hasn’t been overly impressive. The Razorbacks average of 94 points per game is heavily impacted by the 142 they posted against a putrid MS Valley State team in their home opener. Arkansas likely has enough firepower to win this one outright against a Lipscomb team playing their fourth straight road game to start the year, but I suspect the Bisons keep it close enough to cover a big number here.
Official play: Lipscomb +16 (-108).
While all eyes will be on Zach Wilson and BYU’s football team on Saturday, their basketball team will take on Utah State in a rivalry that goes back about a century. The Cougars enter this one coming off a quality win over St. John’s at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Utah State meanwhile is 1-2 and now will be without head coach Craig Smith who tested positive for COVID this week. The Aggies are a poor defensive team to begin with and their biggest weakness comes from opposing teams who are lethal behind the arc. Enter Alex Barcello and the Cougars who want nothing more than to kill you from long range. Having played 5 games already over the course of the eight days, BYU comes in battle tested while the Aggies haven’t played since their lone win against Northern Iowa on November 27. Every metric I look at points towards BYU in this spot. Could this be a trap? Perhaps, but I’m willing to take a shot at BYU on the Money Line here for a little extra pop.
Official Play: BYU (+105).
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This one is so difficult to handicap, in part because we really don’t know how compromised star freshman guard Jalen Suggs truly is coming off his ankle sprain against West Virginia. The line in this game opened around Gonzaga -4 but heavy Baylor action dropped it down to -2.5 before settling in around the -3 it’s at in most spots by Saturday morning. While the Zags have come out like gangbusters early on, it’s hard to put up a more impressive performance than Baylor had against Illinois this week, throttling Kofi Cockburn and the Illini. Everywhere I look, folks seem to be grabbing the Under in this spot at around 159 but I have a difficult time betting against points when the top two offenses in the country go head to head. Unfortunately, I don’t have a strong enough conviction for an official play in this one, although I might look to back Gonzaga I can find a rogue moneyline under -135 or in that ballpark. Otherwise, si Lean: Gonzaga ML (-135) if available.