You won’t find a star-studded slate of games this Saturday for college basketball betting but you will find plenty of games that have bubble implications for at least one team. Here are three good examples:
Duke Blue Devils @ Maryland Terrapins
Odds: Blue Devils -5.5
The Terrapins have their backs to the wall in the hunt for an NCAA tournament at-large bid. Maryland does not play Duke or Miami again after this weekend, meaning that coach Mark Turgeon’s team will not be able to substantially improve its resume in the regular season. The ACC is down this year, so Maryland’s late-season games against North Carolina and Virginia won’t provide the value they’d ordinarily possess. This is the game Maryland must win in order to boost its resume. Without a win here, Maryland’s path to an at-large bid simply does not exist. The urgency of the occasion will be a very powerful motivator for the Terps, but can Maryland’s low-post defense hold up against a stronger Duke team? It’s doubtful that it will. Take the Blue Devils on the betting lines. Maryland’s bubble will burst.
Pick: Blue Devils
Kentucky Wildcats @ Tennessee Volunteers
Odds: Wildcats -2
This is a game Kentucky has to win. The Wildcats are running out of chances to win high-value games in the Southeastern Conference, but they must also avoid bad losses at the same time if they want to feel safe about their NCAA tournament chances. In this game against Tennessee – a team well below Kentucky in the SEC standings – the Wildcats will try to steer clear of a resume-damaging setback. However, they’ll be playing without center Nerlens Noel, their dynamic shot-blocking freshman who tore his anterior cruciate ligament – otherwise known as his ACL – this past Tuesday in a loss at Florida. This is not a high-value win for Kentucky, to be clear about the issue. This is a game Kentucky must win simply to avoid a negative hit on its resume. Can the Wildcats win on the road without Noel? They can, but it will be hard to expect them to do so against a revved-up Tennessee squad that will revel in its moment of opportunity.
Pick: Volunteers +1