This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
Several more conference tournaments tip off on Wednesday, and Steve Peralta once again breaks down the action for some notable matchups on the slate. Here are his best bets of the day.
Georgia Tech vs Pittsburgh
Despite playing against one of the worst teams in the ACC, Georgia Tech narrowly survived the opening round of the ACC tournament. With just two minutes remaining in Tuesday's game, Florida State had an 88 percent chance of winning, according to KenPom, and yet the Seminoles still found a way to blow it. Now, Georgia Tech must face a much tougher opponent, one that's already defeated the Yellow Jackets by eight-plus points in both of the previous occasions they played this season.
Georgia Tech has managed to string together a good amount of wins over the past month, but the record isn't as significant as it looks. The Yellow Jackets didn't beat any ACC teams with a winning conference record and massively struggled against superior teams all season long. Georgia Tech's most difficult challenge on Wednesday will be scoring. The Yellow Jackets recorded the second-worst offensive efficiency rating among ACC teams during conference play, including the lowest two-point field goal percentage, lowest free-throw percentage, and lowest free-throw attempt rate. Pittsburgh's defense shouldn't have too much trouble keeping them contained, as the Panthers were solid on that end of the court for most of the conference season, logging the seventh-best defensive efficiency rating in the ACC during that span.
Pittsburgh, in contrast, avoided having to play in the opening round thanks to its incredible season, putting itself in position to potentially win a regular season conference title down the stretch. The Panthers missed a share of the title by a game, but they are still a formidable team regardless. In addition to its defensive advantage over Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh also has a substantial edge when playing offense. The Panthers had the second-highest offensive efficiency rating in the ACC during league competition, and it's going against a defense that was fifth-worst in the conference during the same time frame. Moreover, Pittsburgh has a significant upper hand when it comes to interior scoring. Pittsburgh made over 52 percent of shots inside the arc during the conference season, the fifth-highest percentage in the ACC, while Georgia Tech's defense allowed over 54 percent from two-point range, the second-worst percentage allowed in the ACC.
Overall, these two teams aren't close to being on the same level. Pittsburgh fought all season long for a shot at making the Field of 68, while Georgia Tech has fought to avoid finishing near the bottom of the conference. The Panthers already defeated the Yellow Jackets twice this season without too much stress. I'm betting history will repeat itself on Wednesday.
College Basketball Best Bet: Pittsburgh -6.5
Colorado vs Washington
Colorado is one of the most enigmatic teams in the country. The Buffaloes have double-digit wins over Tennesee, Texas A&M, and Oregon, although they've also lost to California and Oregon State, the two worst teams in the Pac-12. Colorado has won most of its games thanks to its elite defense, which ranks 17th on KenPom's efficiency chart, with UCLA being the only Pac-12 team with a better defense.
Additionally, Colorado does one other thing incredibly well that should help its cause -- rebounding. The Buffaloes are one of the best rebounding teams in the conference, recording the highest defensive rebounding percentage in the Pac-12 and the fifth-highest offensive rebounding percentage during league competition. The latter is particularly noteworthy because Washington is among the worst defensive rebounding teams in the country, recording the ninth-lowest defensive rebounding percentage among all D1 teams. In fact, the Huskies are the worst rebounding team in the Pac-12, ranking in the bottom three of the conference in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages during conference play.
Washington, on the other hand, doesn't have too many highlights this season. The Huskies' best win of the season came way back on November 24 when they defeated Saint Mary's in overtime, but other than that, excluding their two games against Colorado, the Huskies didn't have a single impressive performance against any quality opponent. They needed overtime to beat Arizona State and Oregon, and both of those games were played in Seattle. And when looking closer at the numbers, it's not a surprise that they didn't have more success considering they don't do anything particularly well. During the conference season, Washington ranked in the bottom five of the Pac-12 in offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, offensive rebounding, and defensive rebounding.
All in all, the Buffaloes rank higher than Washington in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and they also have a better resume. Washington somehow got the better of Colorado in the first two times they faced off against each other, but it's going to be difficult for the Huskies to win a third time against a team that is superior in most respects. Now on a neutral court under the pressure of elimination, I'm betting that Colorado will get its revenge. I'm taking the Buffaloes in this one.
College Basketball Best Bet: Colorado -4
Virginia Tech vs North Carolina State
Virginia Tech was up against the ropes in Tuesday's ACC tournament game, but the Hokies held on to survive. Now, instead of playing a team that was 3-17 in the ACC, they face off against a team that went 12-8. Virginia Tech had trouble against NC State the first time they met in Blacksburg back on January 7, as NC State jumped out to a 36-22 halftime lead and never looked back.
The Hokies don't match up very well against the Wolfpack, mostly due to the former's problematic defense. Virginia Tech ranks No. 114 in KenPom's defensive efficiency rankings, a far cry from NC State's offensive ranking at No. 34. Additionally, Virginia Tech is also at another disadvantage in this matchup in the rebounding categories. NC State ranks noticeably higher than Virginia Tech in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, both during and outside of the conference season, giving the Wolfpack a decisive edge in this area.
NC State ended the season with back-to-back losses, marking the first time all season that the Wolfpack lost consecutive games. Along the way, NC State collected wins over several prominent ACC teams, beating the likes of Duke, Miami, and North Carolina. And early in the season, NC State played a close game against Kansas before losing by a six-point deficient, more evidence proving that this team can compete at an elite level when playing at its best. This is partly due to its balanced attack, ranking top-six in the ACC in efficiency on both ends of the court during conference play. The Wolfpack's defensive performance will be pivotal because the Hokies' strength lies in their offense, so if NC State's defense can perform up to its regular standards then the Wolfpack shouldn't have too much problem pulling away.
Looking at the bottom line, NC State is simply the better team. Virginia Tech lost seven straight games just over a month ago, while NC State hadn't lost consecutive games all season up until a week ago. The Wolfpack have a couple of significant advantages in this matchup, and so I'm betting they'll come out on top once again. I'm taking NC State.
College Basketball Best Bet: NC State -2.5
Wednesday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Wednesday:
- Pittsburgh -6.5
- Colorado -4
- NC State -2.5
For up-to-date information on the latest college basketball odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the College Basketball odds page on RotoWire.
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