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College Basketball Computer Picks for March 3: Ohio State Keeps Surging Forward

Devin Royal Ohio State Buckeyes v Purdue Boilermakers
Devin Royal #21 of the Ohio State Buckeyes makes a basket during the first half of the game against the Purdue Boilermakers. Kirk Irwin/Getty Images/AFP

The sportsbooks have released their NCAAB odds for today’s college basketball action, and we’ll look at three games that interest me: Michigan vs. Ohio State, Evansville vs. Belmont and UAB vs. Memphis.

My recommendations are backed by my handicapping and OddsTrader’s Computer AI.

Picks Summary

  • Ohio State -9.5 (-110)
  • Belmont -10.5 (-110)
  • Memphis -7.5 (-110)

*All odds from Bet365 (check our Bet365 Review)


Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Sunday, March 03, 2024 – 04:00 PM ET at Value City Arena


Our computers project a strong victory for Ohio State, resulting in a Buckeyes cover. I agree with this and find that you should play the home team.

Ohio State Rounding Into Form

This is the time of year when, heading into tournament play, teams will want to play their best basketball, and Ohio State is doing just that: the Buckeyes enter today’s game having won two in a row and four of their last six.

While this might not seem so impressive, both of those losses came in tough road venues, with one of them being a classic let-down game.

During this stretch of play, the Buckeyes have, impressively, won at Michigan State. They further demonstrated their good form by surprising upstart Nebraska with a nine-point victory and, most impressively, upsetting Purdue.

The Buckeyes, especially at home, are evidently capable of beating the nation’s top teams, which entails that Michigan is one of the last teams in the Big Ten to pose a problem for them.

Improved Perimeter Defense

One thing that Ohio State is doing is improving defensively. This improvement is enabling the team to win even those games in which its offense fails to achieve its usual level of production. One example is its close win at Michigan State.

The Buckeyes’ major improvement on defense is three-point defense. They are doing a better job of contesting opposing three-point shooters.

Recent results show what I mean: Michigan State, a team known for its efficient three-point shooting, shot 26.7% from deep against the Buckeyes. Most recently, Nebraska, another normally good three-point shooting team, converted 30.3% of its three-pointers against Ohio State.

Why This Really Matters

Ohio State’s defensive improvement is especially relevant for today’s game because, throughout the season, Michigan has fielded an offense that is at its best from behind the arc.

Granted, in terms of efficiency, the Wolverines have really fallen off in conference play, with one example being Dug McDaniel, whose three-point conversion rate against Big Ten teams is 30.5 percent, which is nearly six percent lower than his career conversion rate.

Michigan’s Exploitable Perimeter Defense

Unlike Ohio State, Michigan’s perimeter defense is and remains porous. In its last game, a 30-point loss to Rutgers, the Wolverines allowed one of the nation’s worst three-point shooting teams in Rutgers to convert 40% of their three-point opportunities. Throughout the season, Michigan has been one of the worst teams at limiting opposing three-point efficiency.

Expect especially Jamison Battle to take advantage for Ohio State. He is the Big Ten’s fifth-most efficient three-point shooter right now.

Takeaway

These teams are heading in different directions: of Michigan’s last six games, they stayed one time within nine points of its opponent.

Whereas the Wolverines are losing constantly, the Buckeyes are surging forward with their combination of potent offense that readily approaches 80 points and strongly improved defense that will have no problem keeping Michigan to 60 points today.

NCAAB Pick: Ohio State -9.5 (-110) at Bet365


Evansville Purple Aces vs. Belmont Bruins

Sunday, March 03, 2024 – 05:00 PM ET at Curb Event Center


Our computers project a dominant Belmont win, and I agree. Expect Belmont to cover the spread.

Evansville’s Losing Streak

Evansville enters today’s game looking increasingly less competitive. They have lost six in a row, with those losses coming by the following respective deficits: three points, three points, seven points, nine points, twelve points and, most recently, 18 points.

This is a team that looks to have mailed it in.

Evansville’s Atrocious Perimeter Defense

Among other things, the Purple Aces do a uniquely terrible job of defending the perimeter. Nationally, they rank among the worst teams both at limiting opposing three-point efficiency and at limiting opposing three-point attempts.

These stats suggest that they are awful at contesting three-point attempts and at running teams off the three-point line. With so much failure on defense, Evansville is philosophically unsure of itself.

The Purple Aces generally want to play man-to-man, but their defenders simply lack the ability to execute. As these stats show, switching to zone defense is failing to provide a satisfying solution.

Belmont’s Offense

Belmont will thrive offensively because the Bruins love to shoot the threes and are great at making them. They attempt three-pointers at the nation’s 72nd-highest rate and rank 24th at three-point efficiency.

Several Bruins players will stand out today in this regard: Jayce Willingham and Ja’Kobi Gillespie convert over 37% of their three-point attempts. Cade Tyson shoots 47.2% from deep.

The Bruins are thus well-suited to take advantage of Evansville’s defensive porousness.

Evansville’s Slumping Offense

Evansville has enough offensive problems as it is – its point guard started out as a shooting guard, so it lacks reliable ball-handlers who can avoid turning the ball over. Moreover, partly due to its lack of size, it does a terrible job of competing on the boards.

But the Purple Aces, above all else, enter today’s game in an offensive slump. They are shooting poorly. In their last two games, they are averaging 60 points.

Their poor turnover and rebounding rates will make them have to be very efficient with their offensive possessions, but their terrible form will prevent them from approximating any favorable degree of efficiency.

NCAAB Pick: Belmont -10.5 (-110) at Bet365


UAB Blazers vs. Memphis Tigers

Sunday, March 03, 2024 – 05:30 PM ET at FedEx Forum


Our computers project a strong Memphis win, and I agree. I recommend investing in a Tigers ATS win.

Memphis’ Defense

On defense, the Tigers are long – ranking 37th nationally in height – and versatile. Their versatility allows them to switch on ball-screens and dribble-handoffs. Switching helps prevent dribble penetration and it impedes opponents from procuring propitious three-point looks.

Memphis is at its best applying pressure. You’ll sometimes see, among other tactics, a full-court press after a made basket. Its proclivity to apply pressure explains the high turnover and steal rankings for its defense.

The Tigers’ offense is so efficient partly because its steals – and blocks – suit their penchant for up-tempo action. The Tigers love to run, often following steals and blocks by scoring quickly.

UAB’s Outlook on Offense

The Blazers match up terribly against Memphis’ defense. They rank toward the bottom in their conference at limiting their turnovers on offense, because they lack reliable ball-handlers. This is a team that Memphis’ pressure can make perpetually uncomfortable.

If the Tigers are vulnerable anywhere on defense, its in their three-point defense. Their opponent, to have a good outlook, will need to shoot the three-ball well.

UAB, however, ranks 293rd nationally in three-point efficiency. The Blazers don’t have the shooters to beat Memphis’ defense.

UAB’s Defense Lacks Memphis’ Energy

As evident in its last game, a loss to Wichita State, UAB has problems limiting opposing efficiency from behind the arc.

Expect Memphis, one of the most efficient three-point shooting groups in the AAC, to capitalize on this weakness.

The Tigers will use especially transition points and three-point shooting to attain a high point total, whereas UAB’s offense will be suffocated by Memphis’ pressure and energy.

NCAAB Pick: Memphis -7.5 (-110) at Bet365

*21+ Seek help with a gambling addiction at 1-800-Gambler

*The line and/or odds referenced in this article might have changed since the content was published. For the latest information on line movements, visit OddsTrader’s free betting odds tool.

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