Trent’s NCAAB Best Bets for Saturday – February 10, 2024
TRENT’S NCAAB BEST BETS FOR SATURDAY – FEBRUARY 10, 2024 – The Kansas Jayhawks broke into the AP Top 25 with a big win over Houston and captured their number-four ranking, while the Cougars dropped to fifth. The biggest mover this week was South Carolina after beating Tennessee on their home court last week.
A few weeks remain until conference tournaments, and the intensity is ramping up. A few teams are fighting for their tournament lives, including a couple in this article.
Read on for Trent’s NCAAB Best Bets for Saturday – February 10, 2024
Creighton at Xavier
Xavier is currently on the bubble of Joe Lunardi’s projections, and a win against the nineteenth-ranked Bluejays would go a long way in helping them earn a tournament bid. They had better bring their A-game on offense, though. Creighton averages 80.8 points per game and shoots 48.4% from the field.
Xavier’s defense holds their opponents to a 47.2% effective field goal percentage, which ranks 42nd in the nation. They should be able to limit Creighton’s effectiveness, but they will not halt them. Xavier has to score points to beat this team.
The Musketeers average 76.2 points per game but have averaged 79 over the last three games, including 56 in a win against Villanova.
They scored 93 at DePaul in the prior game and 88 in a home win over St. Johns on the last day of January. They score points and show they can beat teams at their own game with their win over Villanova. Creighton’s points per game dip to 75.3 when on the road.
Baylor Scheierman and Trey Alexander lead the Jayhawks with 18.6 and 17.2 points per game, respectively. They have experience, especially Scheierman, who is in his fifth season and second with Creighton. Desmond Claude is the lone player returning from the Musketeers team that beat Creighton at home last season.
He and Quincy Olivari lead the team with 16 and 18.9 points per game. Xavier can defeat this team, but it will take some help from the crowd and a great effort on both ends of the floor.
The Pick: Xavier +1.5
Gonzaga at Kentucky
Joe Lunardi currently projects Gonzaga to miss the NCAA tournament. Kentucky is a six-seed but has struggled recently. They have lost three of their last five games, with two coming at Rupp Arena. Kentucky scores 89.7 points per game, which ties with Arizona for the highest in the nation.
They do not defend well, however. That is likely because they allow 9.5 offensive rebounds per game. It could be a big problem against the Bulldogs, who average 10.2 offensive boards per game. Gonzaga also scores 83 points per game, and they can score the rock.
Gonzaga’s weakness lies at the free-throw line, where they shoot 69.7%. They shoot 50.3% from the field, an example of their ability to create high-percentage shots.
Many of these shots come from offensive rebounds, but they also have one of the better point guards in the nation, Ryan Nembhard. He averages 5.8 assists per game and does a great job of getting Graham Ike and Anton Watson the ball when they seal off their man. They both average about 15 points and seven rebounds per game and lead this team from down low.
Kentucky is led by Antonio Reeves and Rob Dillingham. Reeves is a senior in his second season with the Wildcats. He scored 10 points off the bench in Kentucky’s loss to Gonzaga early last season. Anton Watson scored 10 points and had eight rebounds but was more of a role player on last season’s squad.
Gonzaga needs this win to get back on the right track to earn an automatic qualification if they cannot win the WCC, which is led by Saint Mary’s.
The Pick: Gonzaga +5.5
Arizona at Colorado
Colorado is the final team playing for their tournament bid on Saturday. Lunardi has them as one of the first four out. Arizona is projected as a one-seed, even though they are ranked eighth in the AP Top 25. They score points in bunches, as stated above, they are tied with Kentucky for the most points per game. They are efficient, shooting 48.7% from the field.
Neither team relies on the three much, but Colorado knocks down 39.1% of theirs. They do not shoot many, but they take open shots, and Arizona could offer them quite a few.
They allow teams to make 34.9% of their shots from behind the arc. Arizona also allows their opponents to score 26% of their points from three. It could be the equalizer the Buffaloes need to keep this game close. They average 12.4 turnovers, and the Wildcats average 8.8 steals per game, so the Buffs need an x-factor to keep this game close.
Caleb Love transferred to Arizona this season and has become their leading scorer with 18.9 points per game on 43.2% shooting. Oumar Ballo dominates the paint for them, averaging 12.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. KJ Simpson and Tristan da Silva lead the Buffaloes with 19.4 and 15.3 points per game.
They also have attempted the most three-point shots on the team, and they will need to knock down a few in this game. They could also benefit from the altitude in Boulder, which could affect the Wildcats.