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College basketball conference tournament play continues Friday with a ton of marquee matchups in the 36-game slate. I’m feeling pretty good about these games after a 2-0-1 Thursday even though my bet to win the Big XII (Kansas State) lost.
Below are handicaps and best bets for three different Power 5 conference tourney games including UConn-Marquette, Duke-Miami, and Arkansas-Texas A&M.
Big East Conference Tournament: 4-seed UConn Huskies vs. 1-seed Marquette Golden Eagles, 6:30 p.m. ET
These teams split the two-game season series with the home team winning and covering both. The Huskies (-7) beat Providence 73-66 in the quarterfinals Thursday and the Golden Eagles (-8.5) eked past St. John’s 72-70 in overtime.
UConn’s strength-on-weakness edge of Marquette in rebounding is too great to ignore. In their two regular-season meetings, the Huskies had a +15.0 rebound-per-game margin over the Golden Eagles.
According to KenPom.com, UConn has the highest offensive rebounding rate in the country and Marquette ranks 315th out of 363 programs in defensive rebounding rate.
The Huskies have a +3.5-three-pointer-made margin in their two games with the Golden Eagles this season. Marquette ranks 280th in 3-point percentage and 191st in 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) allowed.
UConn has a better shot profile than Marquette. Per BartTorvik.com, the Huskies have the highest rate of dunks in the Big East and the Golden Eagles have the 3rd-worst dunk rate allowed on defense.
College Hoops Best Bet #1: UConn -4 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4.5
ACC Tourney: 4-seed Duke Blue Devils vs. 1-seed Miami Hurricanes, 7 p.m. ET
Normally, I’d be suspicious of a 4-seed being a favorite over the 1-seed. However, not when it’s Duke, which is one of the most popular college basketball programs in the nation.
These teams split the season series but Miami covered both and out-performed Duke in all “four factors”. The Hurricanes had better 3-pointer-made, free-throw-attempts, rebounding and turnover margins than the Blue Devils.
This is a much better spot for Miami. Duke is 2-4 straight up (SU) and 1-5 against the spread (ATS) vs. ranked teams this season. The Blue Devils have a -7.0 SU margin and -7.5 ATS margin in those games.
The Hurricanes are 6-1 ATS as underdogs, 14-7 ATS in ACC play and 6-2 ATS in their last eight games vs. teams with a winning record.
Plus Duke 1-10 ATS after its last 11 covers and Miami 18-6 ATS after its last 24 ATS losses. I.e. it’s a sell-high spot for the Blue Devils and buy-low spot for the Hurricanes.
Lastly, Miami PG Isaiah Wong is the ACC Player of the Year and four Hurricanes have a better efficiency over replacement players than any Duke player, per BartTorvik.com.
College Hoops Best Bet #2: Miami +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings, down to +2
Big XII Conference Tournament: 10-seed Arkansas Razorbacks vs. 2-seed Texas A&M Aggies, 7 p.m. ET
Like the 1st two games discussed above, Arkansas-Texas A&M split their season series with the home team winning and covering both.
But, the Aggies are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games vs. the Razorbacks and Texas A&M out-performed Arkansas in three of the “four factors” this season.
Where the Aggies can win this game is at the foul line. The Razorbacks are 279th in the country in defensive free-throw-attempt rate (FTr) and the Aggies are 26th in offensive FTr, per KenPom.com.
Both teams are a little clumsy with the rock but force a ton of turnovers. However, Texas A&M has turned the ball over 6.5 fewer times on average in the two games vs. Arkansas this season.
The Aggies have been ballin’ down the stretch. Since the beginning of February, Texas A&M is 7th nationally in adjusted efficiency and Arkansas ranks 26th, according to BartTorvik.com.
Finally, Texas A&M is 13-5 ATS (+5.8 ATS margin) vs. SEC teams and 4-0 ATS vs. ranked teams (+10.4 ATS margin). Arkansas is 8-11 ATS in conference play and 3-6 ATS vs. ranked teams.
College Hoops Best Bet #3: Texas A&M moneyline (-115) at DraftKings
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