Four Picks for Saturday's NCAA Conference Tournament Games

Madness came a little early Friday.

Saturday’s NCAA basketball conference tournament slate features underdog Oklahoma State looking to earn an automatic bid after upsetting No. 2 Baylor Friday, Oregon State in the Pac 12 title game, and long-shot Georgia Tech looking to win its first ACC tournament since 1993.

Are you not entertained? After going 4-2 yesterday, I think we’re in for another big betting day. Here are my favorite bets for Saturday’s conference tournament games, plus two lines to watch as the day unfolds.

Before we dive in, all odds in this article come from our partners at the FanDuel Sportsbook. Right now, new users can place their first bet risk-free up to $1,000. If your bet loses, the FanDuel Sportsbook will refund you in site credit. It’s an incredible offer that you can lock in by clicking this link.

Now, onto the picks (odds via FanDuel Sportsbook; subject to change).

Finals Games

Pac 12: Oregon State vs. Colorado (-8.5) – 10:30 p.m. ET

Can Oregon State pull off an automatic bid? You may scoff at the question, but they weren’t expected to beat UCLA and certainly weren’t expected to beat Oregon on Friday. Yet, they did both, overcoming a 16-point deficit to UCLA and dominating Oregon by double digits.

The Beavers are peaking at the right time, playing unselfish, inspired basketball. They spread the rock around and punish the boards (they outrebounded Oregon 38-24). While most sports fans probably ruled them out of winning the Pac 12 tournament, they exceeded expectations by a mile. It’s hard to bet against it.

As for Colorado, they’re coming off a near-collapse against USC on Friday, eventually winning with 3.3 seconds to go. They gave up a 15-point lead that allowed the Trojans back in the game. However, the Buffalo held on and live to fight another day. They take on an Oregon State squad they crushed this season, sweeping the season series, including a 29-point win in January.

But Colorado is trending down, while Oregon State is playing their best basketball of the season. While I’m certainly looking at the moneyline (+310), I’m taking the safer underdog spread. That said, while I like it at its current number already, money is coming in on Colorado. It behooves us to wait until closer tip-off to make our bet, as the number has strong potential to grow. I’ll take it up to +8.

The Pick: Oregon State (+8.5)

ACC: Georgia Tech vs. Florida State (-4.5) – 8:30 p.m. ET

If you followed my advice last week, you’re sitting on a +1000 Georgia Tech futures ticket you’re eagerly awaiting to cash. Sure, they might’ve been gifted a finals berth after Virginia pulled out of the tournament Friday (positive COVID-19 tests), but I stand by my assessment. Georgia Tech is the hottest team in the ACC right now, one no group should be excited to face. Not even Florida State.

When these two teams last met, Georgia Tech won by double-digits after forcing 21 turnovers, holding the Seminoles to just 21% from the beyond the arch, and shooting 76% from the line. That was before winning seven straight games coming into Saturday. They’re an even better team now, deserving of a serious look to win the game outright.

On the other hand, Florida State has since shored up its issues. Despite a not particularly excellent shooting performance yesterday against North Carolina, Florida State clawed their way to a win, 69-66, over the Tarheels. It was the type of gritty performance you expect to see out of a team of the Noles’ caliber. But could the win have taken too much gas out of Florida State? Against red-hot Georgia Tech, I’ll back the rested squad with a small wager to cover a tight contest.

The money is moving toward Florida State (as it should), so wait until closer to game time to place it. I think the number can get to +5, giving us a little bit more cushion.

The Pick: Georgia Tech (+4.5 or better)

Big 12: Oklahoma State vs. Texas (-1.5) – 6:00 p.m. ET

Two notes going into Saturday’s game: Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham is the best player in the country and byes matter in conference tournaments.

Though Texas got a bye they certainly didn’t want (Kansas pulled out of the tournament Friday because of positive COVID-19 tests), they got one. Byes mean something. An extra day of rest means an extra day to prepare for their biggest test of the season: Oklahoma State, possibly the hottest team in college basketball.

Usually, I’d hammer the Longhorns on rest, but Oklahoma State just ripped off wins against Baylor and West Virginia this week. It’s tough to win three days in a row, but sometimes, teams are just too hot to fade. That’s Oklahoma right now, who shot 50% from the field Friday. Cade Cunningham and Co. look like men on a mission – men I’m not betting against.

The Cowboys are 8-0 against the spread in their last eight, while the Longhorns have covered four in a row. This game is a comfortable no play for me but must-watch television.

The Pick: No Play

Semifinals Games

Big 10: Michigan (-6.5) vs. Ohio State – 1:00 p.m. ET

Grab Michigan as soon as you read this. The favorites have already grown a half-point (from -6 to -6.5) since I started writing this article. While the Wolverines certainly didn’t play their most complete basketball against Maryland on Friday, they closed out as all great teams should and easily covered an 8-point spread. Up next is a date with their biggest foes, Ohio State, in the Big 10 semifinals.

The Buckeyes almost lost to Purdue (again) on Friday in what seems to be a recurring theme. Ohio State went on a scoring drought for nearly five minutes in the second half, allowing Purdue back in the game and forcing overtime. The game was the perfect example of how slumping Ohio State limped into the Big 10 tournament and why they’re likely a fade in their second NCAA tournament game next week.

Purdue, which has a great team, is still one or two tiers below Michigan. When Michigan sees a brick wall, they run right through it. I think they can beat Gonzaga. What part of Ohio State should scare the? The Ohio State fade party starts now. Back Michigan and lay the chalk. 

The Pick: Michigan (-6.5)

SEC: Tennessee vs. Alabama (-3.5) – 1 p.m. ET

Get in where you can. This game is getting a ton of action. Both the sharp and public money started piling on Alabama early, creating the one actual liability for the sportsbook Saturday but has since corrected itself. The line opened at -3 (the number I grabbed them at), grew to -4.5, and is back down to -3.5. That’s significant movement for just a few hours. But even at its frequent change, I’m confident this Alabama team proves they’re a legitimate threat to win the NCAA tournament again Saturday.

The Crimson Tide took this season’s lone matchup between the two teams in January. Tennessee fell flat beyond the arch (19%), while Alabama impressively hit half their shots from downtown. But as mentioned Friday, Alabama can beat you everywhere. They’ve got an elite defense and undoubtedly are the best 3-point shooting team in the SEC.

In Friday’s blowout 85-48 win over Mississippi State, the Crimson Tide held the Bulldogs to just 5.3% shooting beyond the arch. Alabama shot nearly 50% from the field and shot 100% from the line.

Tennessee offers a better challenge to Alabama than Mississippi State, so the line is fair. The Volunteers have one of the SEC’s better defenses, but their shooting can go cold fast. Alabama’s shooting never goes cold. I’m with the rest of the country and backing the better overall team. This bet is my biggest today.

The Pick: Alabama (-3.5)

The lines to watch:

Big 10: Iowa vs. Illinois (-3.5) – 3:45 p.m. ET

Ayo Dosunmu is back. That should’ve been enough for me to bet Illinois on Friday, but I snoozed. I won’t make the same mistake twice, though I’ll wait and see if I can in-game bet around -2 or better if it doesn’t get there pre-game. This game sets up for a classic last-possession finish. Both offenses are as good as it gets in college basketball, so I’ll take the better defense.

The Pick: Illinois in-game (-2 or better)

Mountain West: San Diego State (-2) vs. Utah State – 6:15 p.m. ET

Despite Utah State sweeping the season series, I really like San Diego State here. They're a much more complete team and don't go on nearly as many cold spells as Utah State. That said, Utah State's dominance can't be ignored, as they could genuinely be a matchup nightmare for San Diego State. Still, my model projects the Aztecs to win this game by five points, so if I'm riding hot into tonight, I'm taking them.

The Pick: San Diego State (-2)

I think we're in for another profitable day. If I see anything else I like throughout the day, I'll be sure to tweet it.

What are your favorite bets for Saturday’s slate? Drop them in the comment box below.

Lastly, new users, don’t forget to take advantage of your risk-free bet up to $1,000 in the FanDuel Sportsbook. Lock in the promotion by clicking this link.

Erick Valenciano is a sports betting writer for OutKick. For more betting tips, follow @ErickValenciano on Twitter. Make sure you’re following our sports betting account, too: @OutKickBets.