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3 Marquee College Basketball Best Bets for Saturday, February 24: Can Cryer Lead the Cougars to a Road Victory?

Earnest Horn
Written by Earnest Horn
February 23, 2024
3 Marquee College Basketball Best Bets for Saturday, February 24

We’re less than a month away from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. While the top teams in each league have made their case to make the tourney field, some schools still have work to do to determine their fate.

This week’s college basketball marquee games feature a mix of those two ends of the spectrum. Two Top 25 matchups lead our list of best bets for Saturday, but a surprise entrant from Los Angeles in the battle for LA also appears this week. Read on to see what our best bets are for Saturday’s marquee contests on the NCAA Men’s Basketball schedule.

No. 2 Houston Cougars (23-3) at No. 11 Baylor Bears (19-7) 12 pm

Houston is 9-1 in its last 10 games, dropping only a road game at Kansas during that time frame. The Cougars are one of the toughest defensive teams in the nation, leading the NCAA in fewest points surrendered per night at 55.3.

Baylor enters the contest on a similar note, having won five of their last seven contests. The Bears’ two losses during that streak were to ranked teams as both Kansas and BYU upended Baylor.

The Bears need this victory as their remaining four games feature two more ranked teams and two others that have been ranked this season. The problem is we don't see Baylor be able to do much against this swarming Houston defense.

Best Bet: Houston (-2.5) (FanDuel)

It’s hard to go against the Cougars. With their stout defense, Houston stays in games and finds ways to win. Led by senior guard L.J. Cryer, Houston is nearly a lock for a top seed heading into the NCAA tournament next month.

While Baylor – and its rowdy fan section – will be ready for this game, expect the Cougars to win yet another Big 12 conference matchup to further cement their status atop the league.

No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide (19-7) at No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats (18-8) 4 pm

Alabama has won seven of its last eight contests, dropping only an in-state battle against Auburn since mid-January. The Crimson Tide are alone atop the SEC standings with their 11-2 conference record. This season, senior guard Mark Sears is leading Alabama in scoring with 20.4 points, a mark that ranks 24th nationally.

Yes, Kentucky seems to enter the marquee games debate weekly. But the Wildcats have faced one of their best schedules in recent memory. Kentucky is just 3-4 in their last seven outings, dropping three games (Florida, Tennessee, and Gonzaga) to teams that have been ranked during this season.

Best Bet: OVER 178.5 Points (FanDuel)

These two teams can light up the scoreboard. Alabama is averaging 91 points per outing while Kentucky is delivering 87.6 points each night. Those average point totals rank No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, this season.

Expect the final score of this contest to approach the 180-mark as neither team is particularly stringent on defense. This may be the most exciting game of the weekend.

USC Trojans (10-16) at UCLA Bruins (14-12) 10 pm

While USC’s season is not what the Trojans hoped for, the future does look bright for the Big 10 bound program. Freshman guard Bronny James (son of NBA legend LeBron James) is averaging 5.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 20 minutes each night. USC also boasts a second former NBA player’s son as senior D.J. Rodman is a starter for the Trojans.

UCLA is 8-2 in its last 10 games. That comes off a horrid stretch for the Bruins that saw the perennial power drop eight games during a nine-game stretch.

UCLA is led by freshman guard Sebastian Mack. The 6-3 Chicago native is averaging 13.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per outing for the Bruins.

Best Bet: UCLA (-4.5) (FanDuel)

UCLA is playing up to preseason billing finally, climbing back into the top four of the PAC-12 in the league’s final season with its current roster of teams. USC will be hungry to show the LA crowd their potential, especially in this heated rivalry game.

But the Bruins will outlast their cross-town counterparts to continue their march toward the NCAA tournament. Lay the points with confidence in this one!

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