NCAAB Best Bets February 28: Tennessee Volunteers to Tame Tigers

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Top NCAAB Pick: Tennessee -6 (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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We have a full NCAA Basketball card on Wednesday that includes one of the Games of the Year in the SEC. We are here with our three best bets we think offer the best value based on our NCAAB odds.

These are value-based bets based on our proprietary model, so not all the plays will involve major conferences for you to cash at top-rated online sportsbooks. That is not the case with our best bet in that heavyweight SEC matchup, but we do also have two mid-major plays from the Missouri Valley and AAC conferences.

Auburn Tigers vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 – 07:00 PM ET at Thompson-Boling Arena

We begin in the SEC with easily the game of the night. In a matchup of two Top 6 Kenpom teams, we are betting #6 Tennessee to cover the spread at home over #5 Auburn.

Tied for Conference Lead

The Volunteers are 21-6 and tied atop the SEC standings with Alabama at 11-3. They are also 13-1 at home in Knoxville with a whopping average winning margin of +22.3 points!

This is a team with no real weakness that plays great defense ranking second in the country in defensive efficiency, and with a nice complimentary offense ranked 20th in efficiency.

The defense is ranked third in eFG% allowed and excels on all points of the floor, ranking third in 2-point defense and 33rd in 3-point defense. Furthermore, the defense has been especially impenetrable at home, where Tennessee is allowing a scant 59.7 points per game on an incredulous 34.5% shooting from the floor.

.500 Team on Road

The Tigers are an identical 21-6 and sit one game behind the leaders in the conference at 10-4.

Admittedly, Auburn practically mirrors Tennessee overall in both efficiency and eFG% on both offense and defense. In fact, Auburn leads the nation in eFG% allowed defensively. However, while Tennessee has been nearly perfect at home, Auburn has not been nearly as good on the road.

The Tigers are just 4-4 on the road, where they allow 70.2 points per game on 40.3% shooting. Yes, those numbers are still very good. However, the home/away splits show a much bigger disparity between these defenses than the overall numbers.

Furthermore, in the four road wins, the highest-ranked Kenpom team the Tigers have beaten is 73rd-ranked Mississippi State. They even lost at #85 Appalachian State out of conference.

The Pick

So, while these teams would profile closely on a neutral floor, the home/away splits clearly suggest backing Tennessee in Knoxville.

Predicted Score: Tennessee 77 – Auburn 66

NCAAB Pick: Tennessee -6 (-108) at Heritage Sports

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Southern Illinois Salukis vs. Bradley Braves

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 – 08:00 PM ET at Carver Arena

We move on to the Missouri Valley Conference for our next play, where we are looking for a comfortable home win for a great shooting Bradley team over Southern Illinois.

Inside Dominance

The Bears are having a nice season at 20-9 while sitting third in the conference at 12-6 behind Indiana State and Drake.

Those MVC standings line up perfectly with the order in which those teams rank on Kenpom, with Bradley being the third-highest MVC team at 71st overall. The Braves are above average in defensive efficiency, which is all that has been needed given their great offense.

That is because Bradley ranks 18th in the country in eFG% while being accurate from all points. They rank 24th in 3-point shooting at 37.4% and 27th in 2-point shooting at 55.1%. That percentage inside the arc is a major key in this contest, as the Braves should dominate on the interior against a Southern Illinois team that ranks 246th in 2-point defense at 51.9%.

No Second Chances

The Salukis are 19-10 and this is a huge game for them. They sit just one game behind Bradley in the Valley at 11-7. However, SIU is outside of the Top 100 on Kenpom at #105.

While they are decent offensively, we do not think they are good enough to overcome the inside looks allowed by their defense here.

To make matter worse, the Salukis do not generate many second chances, ranking 285th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. That means they may need to rely on their 3-point shots to fall to stay close in this game, and while they are slightly above average there at 34.5% (national average 33.8%), we again do not think that is good enough to hang with a potent Braves offense.

The Pick

With Bradley expected to dominate inside and Southern Illinois not expected to get many second looks on offense, lay the points with the Bears at home in Peoria.

Predicted Score: Bradley 76 – Southern Illinois 63

NCAAB Pick: Bradley -7.5 (-110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Wichita State Shockers vs. UAB Blazers

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 – 08:00 PM ET at Bartow Arena

We wrap things up in the AAC, where we are betting on an easy double-digit win for UAB at home over disappointing Wichita State.

Chance for Second Seed

The Blazers are 18-9 and sit fourth in the American at 10-4. However, they can still gain a 2-seed in the upcoming AAC Tournament. They are a half-game behind FAU and Charlotte tied for second with four games remaining. Thus, they need to win games they are supposed to win like this one, especially with two tough games remaining at Memphis and home to SMU.

UAB is a good 85th in offensive efficiency at 112.0 points per 100 possessions. Much of that success has stemmed from being an excellent offensive-rebounding team. The Blazers rank 21st nationally in that metric at a hefty 35.7% (national average 29.1%).

They should get a ton of second opportunities tonight with Wichita State 175th in defensive rebounding.

It’s Been a Good Run

The Shockers have not had a losing year since the 2007-08 season. However, that streak is coming to an end. They are 11-17 and tied for last in the AAC at 3-12.

Besides their inability to keep opponents off their offensive glass, they are also a poor shooting team. This is a combination that will lose you a lot of basketball games.

Wichita State is 230th in offensive efficiency and 252nd in eFG%. They do basically nothing good shooting-wise. The Shockers rank 319th in 3-point shooting, 176th in 2-point shooting and even 299th from the foul line. As you might expect, they have been especially anemic on the road, averaging just 67.9 points.

The Pick

We think that UAB will be focused for the game with a chance for second place in the conference, so we are banking on a potential blowout win over punchless Wichita State on Wednesday.

Predicted Score: UAB 78 – Wichita State 65

NCAAB Pick: UAB -7.5 (-115) at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review)

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