College Basketball Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Saturday, March 4th

By Adam Burke  ( 

March 4, 2023 10:23 AM

College basketball schedule today has 94 games

Plenty of conference tournament action is on the Saturday schedule, but we also have the conclusion of the regular season in most conferences. The AAC and Big Ten play tomorrow, but every other conference not in tournament mode will wrap up. Tread lightly with those games today and tomorrow, as there are going to absolutely be some no-shows from teams. We could also see some banged-up players get a rest if the game doesn’t matter for seeding or another reason. (Tracking sheet)

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Here are some thoughts on the March 4 card (odds from DraftKings):

Ole Miss Rebels at Missouri Tigers (-9, 148.5)

We’ve got a midday matinee in Columbia between Ole Miss and Missouri and the Tigers are looking to continue rewriting program record books and hope to move up in the seeding for the SEC Tournament. As it is, Missouri has won more games than they have since 2014, but they can tie that team from Frank Haith’s final season with a win here and have a chance to topple them in the first game of the conference tournament.

Those little niceties for teams are part of the handicap, but far from all of it. Missouri has converted at a 65.2% clip on Close Twos, which ranks in the top 25 nationally. While Mississippi has held opponents to a low conversion rate of 53.7%, they have allowed the 350th-ranked shot share on Close Twos at 43.1%. In the first meeting down in Oxford, Missouri was 14-of-20 at the rim and scored 1.292 points per possession in an 89-77 victory.

Ole Miss doesn’t like to shoot 3s and doesn’t do it terribly well. Their 3P Rate is 34.4% and their 3P% is just 30%. That is problematic against a Missouri team that tries to pack it in defensively and force long-distance jumpers. Missouri’s 3P Rate against is 44%, so Ole Miss will have to hope to knock down some triple tries.

Missouri, meanwhile, likes to shoot 3s and has shot 36.4% for the season. They lead the SEC at 35.3% from deep. They also lead the SEC in TO% on defense, so some extra possessions may be coming Mizzou’s way in this one. Ole Miss is 12th in 3P%, 2P% and FT% in conference road games.

Finally, I really wonder about Mississippi’s engagement level here. They’re already playing with an interim head coach and this game doesn’t matter. They’ll have one shot next week in Nashville. They rallied right after Kermit Davis was fired, but followed that up with a home loss to Texas A&M by eight. I don’t think they’re excited for this game and it’s a bad matchup to begin with.

Pick: Missouri -9

VCU Rams (-7, 146.5) at George Washington Colonials

VCU and George Washington wrap up the regular season on Saturday with a game that means a lot more to the Colonials than it means to the Rams. VCU won the regular season conference crown at home on Tuesday, getting a big boost from a 15-point win over crosstown rival Richmond just a few days prior. In this spot, VCU has nothing to play for against a team that they haven’t seen yet this season.

George Washington is playing for seeding, but also playing for the seniors on the roster. There are seven seniors on the Colonials’ roster, including several that have been there a while, including James Bishop IV, Ricky Lindo Jr. and Hunter Dean. The Colonials are playing well lately with four straight wins and have really turned it up offensively in that span.

George Washington is finishing at a 64% clip on Close Twos and draws a VCU defense that has allowed a high shot share of 43.5% at the rim. The Rams do force a lot of turnovers, but the senior-laden Colonials take pretty good care of the basketball all-in-all and rank in the top 15 in 2P%.

Ultimately, I just don’t think VCU is very focused on this game and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some players sit since the game has very little meaning to them. I don’t think they’re going to go on the road and blow out a pretty efficient offense in this spot.

Pick: George Washington +7

Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Syracuse Orange (-1, 156.5)

Unless something changes, it doesn’t seem like this will be Jim Boeheim’s final home game as the head coach of the Syracuse basketball program. I don’t think it would change my handicap if it was, but maybe I’d get another point or two on the Wake Forest side. The Demon Deacons have not played well down the stretch, but they’ve shot the ball pretty well from deep, which is the recipe they’ll need to follow here in order to beat Syracuse.

Offense hasn’t been Wake Forest’s problem all season. They’ve scored at least 1 point per possession every ACC game except for the random one-off against Clemson on Dec. 2. Otherwise, they’ve consistently been one of the conference’s better offenses, due in large part to shooting 37.7% from 3 in league play. They’re also taking a 3 on 46.7% of shots, which is a sound strategy against the Syracuse zone defense, especially because Syracuse has given up 61 3-pointers in the last four games.

Both teams get to the rim at a similar rate and allow the opposition to get there at a similar rate and both are good at preventing rim access. Syracuse is better with their zone, but Wake Forest forces teams into a lot of jumpers. Syracuse doesn’t like to take a lot of 3s, as their 3P Rate is just 29.6%. They’re forcing teams into a 3 on 47.8% of shots, though, so Wake Forest will be happy to bomb away, while Syracuse will try to get to the rim and take a bunch of mid-range jumpers if they can’t.

If Wake Forest is able to shoot in that 38% range on a heightened number of 3-point tries, Syracuse is going to have a tough time keeping up in my estimation. Wake Forest is way better on 2s and a bit better on 3s. Both teams have some defensive issues, but I think this is a game about outscoring the other team and I like the Demon Deacons to do just that.

Pick: Wake Forest +1

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