Weekend College Hoops: Betting Tips

C.J. Fair and the Syracuse Orange will look to hand top-ranked Louisville its first Big East loss of the season on Saturday.

To say this is a busy weekend on the sporting calendar doesn’t even cut it. It’s beyond busy.

The NFL has reached its conference championship stage and offers up a pair of intriguing matchups on Sunday. The NHL (finally) returns on Saturday with a 13-game slate. The NBA is heating up as we approach All-Star weekend. The Australian Open is underway. UFC on Fox 7 comes live from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday. And college basketball’s conference play is in full swing.

To give you a head start in the betting stakes, here’s our look at the best three games on the college basketball slate this weekend, starting with a big one in the Big East.

NOTE: Because lines have yet to be released on these games, Casino Review is holding off on letting you know who’ll cover the spread and whether the total will go over or under. We’ve given you a hint in terms of the spread though.


#6 Syracuse @ #1 Louisville

Saturday, 4 PM ET

Top-ranked Louisville (16-1, 4-0 Big East) will face a stern test in its first week at the top of the AP poll. #6 Syracuse (16-1, 4-0 Big East) is looking to stake a claim for the Big East crown and usurp the Cardinals on the way. A win on Saturday would be a good start.

Syracuse has one of the best offenses in the county. Ranked 16th in points scored (79.0 PPG), the Orange is terrific at rebounding the ball – a category it ranks fourth in the nation in (43.2 RPG) – which makes up for some lower-ranked, if not poor, shooting. Louisville’s defense will be in for a tough run of things.

But Louisville’s defense can handle itself. The Cardinals allow just 56.4 points per game (14th) and have registered 194 steals (4th), on the way to 16 wins.

Syracuse’s defense is no slouch either. The Orange allows just 57.8 points per game (24th), whilst recording 182 steals (7th) and 127 blocks (4th). Like Syracuse, the Louisville offense – which averages 76.9 points per game (33rd) – could be up against it on Saturday afternoon.

Louisville leads the head-to-head series 9-5.

Last Season: Syracuse took both games last season, defeating the Cardinals 58-49 at home and 52-51 on the road.

Take: SYRACUSE – Undefeated in true road games this season, the Orange will look to hand Louisville its first home loss, something it is more than capable of. These teams matchup very closely on paper, but take the Orange to ride the momentum of last season’s pair of wins.

FYI: Louisville (10-6-1 ATS) has been slightly better at covering the spread than Syracuse (8-4-1 ATS).


#21 Oregon @ #24 UCLA

Saturday, 4 PM ET

Oregon’s 76-74 victory over USC on Thursday night means the Ducks will go into Saturday’s game in Los Angeles with a six-game winning streak and an unbeaten record in conference play.

#24 UCLA (15-3, 5-0 Pac-12) won’t be intimidated. The Bruins are on their own 10-game winning streak and are also undefeated in Pac-12 play. That sets this game up nicely.

While plenty have been raving about #21 Oregon (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12) since the side handed Arizona its first loss of the season, there’s no denying that this team still has huge room for improvement. That starts with looking after the basketball; the Ducks have given up 247 turnovers (14.5 per game) this season. Whilst scoring points will win you games, giving up the ball will eventually catch up with you.

Expect this game to be a high-scoring affair. Oregon averages 76.4 points per game (36th) while UCLA scores 78.5 per game (21st). Both sides are efficient on the boards, and rank in the top 50 in field goal percentage. The Ducks are slightly better on the defensive end, but this could turn into a display of matador defense. However, be warned against taking the total to go over, something that has only happened in eight (out of 20) games involving these teams this season. Unless, that is, bookmakers throw you a bone with a ridiculous 115 points.

UCLA is 10-1 at home this season. That one loss came against Cal Poly on Nov. 25. Oregon is 2-1 in true road games, having lost in triple overtime to UTEP on Dec. 19.

UCLA leads the head-to-head series 48-20.

Last Season: Oregon defeated the Bruins in the only game between the sides last season, a 75-68 victory in Eugene, Ore.

Take: UCLA – The Bruins will find it tough, but take the side to make the most of home court advantage against a Ducks side that is still a little rough around the edges. Expect this to be an exciting game though.

FYI: Oregon (8-6-1 ATS) is superior to UCLA (7-10-0 ATS) when it comes to covering the spread.


#11 Ohio State @ #18 Michigan State

Saturday, 6 PM ET

With a win over Michigan on Sunday, Ohio State (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) staked a claim as a serious contender, not just in the Big Ten either. To maintain these credentials, the Buckeyes will need to defeat a Michigan State (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) side that has its own eye on the prize.

Saturday’s meeting will mark the first time the sides have met since last season’s Bit Ten Championship Game, a game in which Michigan State was victorious. Ohio State got the last laugh however, advancing to the national semifinals of the tournament.

The Buckeyes will enter the game with an advantage in scoring. The side averages 74.6 points per game opposed to Michigan State’s 70.9. The Buckeyes have also done a better job holding opponents, giving up just 57.8 points per game (23rd). The Spartans aren’t far behind though, as they allow 58.5 points per game (30th).

The Buckeyes have been much better at looking after the ball, giving up just 175 turnovers (18th), whilst the Spartans have gotten after teams, forcing 155 steals (25th). We could be in for a real catch as catch can encounter on Saturday.

Last Season: The two sides split a pair of regular season games last season, each winning on the road. More importantly, the Spartans defeated the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game, by a score of 68-64.

Take: MICHIGAN STATE – The Buckeyes have struggled on the road (1-2) so far this season, while the Spartans are unbeaten at home. Unlike last season, take the home team to come out of this one alive, just.

FYI: Ohio State (9-5-0 ATS) is much better than Michigan State (5-10-0 ATS) at covering the spread.


This Weekend’s Top 25 Schedule


#6 Syracuse @ #1 Louisville

#4 Kansas @ Texas

#7 Arizona @ Arizona State

#8 Gonzaga @ #13 Butler

#17 Missouri @ #10 Florida

#11 Ohio State @ #18 Michigan State

#12 Creighton @ Wichita State

#15 San Diego State @ Wyoming

Oklahoma @ #16 Kansas State

Rutgers @ #20 Notre Dame

#21 Oregon @ #24 UCLA

#22 Virginia Commonwealth @ Duquesne

#25 Marquette @ Cincinnati


#2 Indiana @ Northwestern

Clemson @ #14 North Carolina State