Two Parlays Are Better Than One: Weekend Picks For NCAA Basketball

Rainman M.

Saturday, February 24, 2018 2:51 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 2:51 PM UTC

Make Saturday special with two parlays. St. Johns, Duke and Alabama look promising in one ML Parlay. An extremely significant but not well-known trend will explain why Colorado and Utah make another profitable parlay.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: St John's, Duke & AlabamaBest Line Offered: at 5Dimes

St. John's vs Seton Hall today at noon ET. The Red Storm are favored by a point.

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When St. John's lost by five points on December 31 at Seton Hall, they were in the midst of an eleven game SU losing streak, which included seven other losses by seven points or fewer. The talented Red Storm are finally figuring out how to win. They beat three Ken-Pom top 50 teams to begin February: Duke, Villanova and Marquette. Now they get to have a re-match with a Seton Hall team that they match up well against.

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The Red Storm excel at forcing turnovers. They rank tenth nationally and first in the Big East in the category. A major reason why they were able to defeat a Duke team which ranks in the top 30 in both two-point and three-point shooting percentage and is the nation's top offensive rebounding team is that they forced 18 turnovers. Turnovers are crucial when a team is poor at rebounding because turnovers lead to easy baskets which do not require an offensive rebound. They also prevent a team from attempting a shot, thus obviating the need for a defensive rebound.

Seton Hall, even more so than Duke, struggles with turnovers. The Pirates rank 8th in the conference and 144th overall (64 spots worse than Duke) in turnover percentage allowed. Guard/forward/ Desi Rodriguez is their most ball-secure player, measured by turnover rate, and is also a major contributor overall. He has been ruled 'out' today with a knee injury. In the teams' first match-up, the Pirates committed 19 turnovers. They won mostly because they shot a ridiculous 13-for-29 from three. The Pirates are typically uncomfortable from behind the arc, ranking ninth in the conference in proportion of three-pointers attempted. They rely on scoring inside the arc, but the Red Storm's interior defense is stout, ranking first in the conference in opposing two-point percentage and block percentage. They will make Seton Hall uncomfortable on offense.

Alabama hosts Arkansas today at 6 ET. The Tide are favored by 5 points.

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Bettors should trust the Tide at home and especially in big games at home. They are 6-1 SU and ATS in SEC home games and in home games against KenPom top 50 teams. The one loss and non-cover was against Missouri, which was a let-down game after beating Oklahoma. I was able to witness personally the electric Saturday crowd that showed up for the Oklahoma game and the lack of excitement for the Missouri game. Overall, the Tide have been at their best on Saturdays, going 4-0 SU and ATS in home games on this day, when the students bring the most energy.

Match-up wise, Alabama has the edge with its interior game and its defense. The Tide boast the SEC's best two-point scoring by percentage against Arkansas’ statistically mediocre interior defense that ranks in the bottom half of opposing two-point and block percentage. Point guard Collin Sexton leads Bama with 18.4 points per game. He has really brought it in Bama's last two home games against ranked teams, combining for 12-of-20 shooting inside the arc. Sexton is also an important distributor, ranking 176th in assist rate. He is licking his chops to play Arkansas' 12th-ranked half-court defense and defense (measured by KenPom efficiency).

Bama boasts the SEC's top defense. It is especially stout inside, led by Donta Hall, who ranks 23rd in block percentage. Small forward Herbert Jones ranks 382nd in the category. Measured by opposing shooting percentage, Bama's two-point defense is second, as is its three-point defense. Bama excels at contesting three-point shots which is significant against Arkansas, who, based on its current point distribution, is much more reliant on scoring from three. Bama's last three KenPom top 50 opponents at home, excepting Missouri in the letdown game, converted less than 31% of their three-point attempts.

No. 5 Duke hosts Syracuse tonight at 6:15 ET. The Blue Devils are favored by 13 to close out our parlay.

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Duke lost last year at Syracuse, 75-78 on February, 22, when Syracuse was loaded with scoring talent. In that game, the Blue Devils attempted more threes than twos, but only converted 30.3% of their 33 three-point attempts. The unique structure of 'Cuse’s Carrier Dome interferes with the jump shooter's perception of the basket, thus messing up his shot. Imagine what Duke will do against Syracuse's defense in Cameron Indoor, where the Blue Devils complete 41.85% of their threes and are the nation's top three-point shooting team. Syracuse's zone defense allows the highest proportion of three-point attempts in the ACC, making the Orange an optimal matchup for Duke. Forward Gary Trent is the conference's best three-point shooter, converting 48.5% of his three-point attempts in ACC play. Guard Grayson Allen ranks 453rd in the category. Duke has actually been a better team when he, instead of currently injured forward Marvin Bagley, leads the team. The Senior has played a major role in Duke winning and covering its last four games, having scored between 19 and 28 in each of them.

Offensively, the Orange have the ACC's highest point distribution from free throws and the eighth-highest from two (compared to fourteenth from three). Duke has the ACC's best interior defense, based on opposing two-point percentage, and allows the second-lowest proportion of free throws nationally. Even without Bagley, its big men are strong defenders. Center Wendell Carter ranks 62nd in block percentage. Overall, Duke has the second-strongest defense based on KenPom’s efficiency and has held its last two opponents to less than 36% field goal.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Utah and Colorado

Utah hosts USC as 2.5-point favorites today at 2:30 ET and Colorado hosts UCLA on Sunday at 4 ET.

Bettors should start an open parlay with Utah and add Colorado tomorrow or incorporate Utah into the other parlay or just play Utah -2.5 straight and Colorado straight tomorrow. Both teams are in a superb spot. Teams that have faced either Utah or Colorado are 2-10-2 ATS since last season. This trend supersedes all match-up considerations because, no matter how poor the match-up is for Colorado/Utah, its opponent is too tired by the second leg of this Colorado/Utah road trip because both Utah and Colorado play at high altitude.

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