College basketball best bets for Saturday, 2/17: Must-win spot for Colorado State?

Colorado State Rams forward Joel Scott (1) and guard Jalen Lake (15) and guard Nique Clifford (10) and guard Josiah Strong (3) in the second half against the Air Force Falcons at Moby Arena.
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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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The college basketball season is in full swing and Saturday brings us another terrific slate of games, as we’ve got high-profile matchups between AP Top 25 teams and showdowns between top conference foes from the blue bloods to the mid-majors. In all, Saturday should be filled with nonstop action and marquee games from Noon until deep into the night on the east coast.

While the college hoops market is as sharp as its ever been, there are still a few good value bets of which to take advantage of. Let’s take a look at my best bets for these games on Saturday, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for the biggest games of the day.

Colorado State Rams -4.5 over Utah State Aggies (-110)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Colorado State -5.5

The Mountain West has not been kind to this column in recent weeks, but I’m still going back to the well with a Colorado State team that is in prime position to pounce in a massive spot at home. For starters, the Rams were pretty thoroughly dominated by San Diego State on the road in their last outing, and Niko Medved’s group could really use a win to stabilize their NCAA Tournament seeding while keeping them in the hunt for a Mountain West regular season title. It’s also a revenge spot for Colorado State against a Utah State team that is coming off a road victory over Wyoming earlier this week. Playing at elevation for the second straight game isn’t a recipe for success in this conference, so the Aggies are already at a disadvantage heading into this one.

Situation aside, I also think we’re getting to back the better team at a bit of a discount given how well Utah State has played at home this season. However, the same can’t be said for the Aggies on the road, much like most of the teams across the country this season. Away from home, the Aggies were thrashed by San Diego State and New Mexico earlier in league play, while also needing a 4-point play in the final seconds to survive against UNLV in Las Vegas by just 1 point. In fact, Utah State’s best road win came against Boise State in overtime, a game in which the Broncos shot 9-of-29 (31%) from the 3-point line. It’s hard not to see Isaiah Stevens and this Rams offense shoot more effectively than those numbers, particularly at home. I expect the Aggies to walk into a buzzsaw known as the Colorado State motion offense in Fort Collins, so let’s get to the window with the hosts.

South Carolina Gamecocks -5.5 over LSU Tigers (-110)

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to South Carolina -6.5

We’re going with another home favorite (what could possibly go wrong) for my second and final best bet in the column for Saturday. Much like the previous game, this is also a great situational angle to back a NCAA Tournament-bound team at home after they were just embarrassed earlier this week. South Carolina lost by 40(!) to Auburn in the Jungle on Wednesday, but this has still been one of the better teams in the SEC this season, particularly at home, where the Gamecocks are 13-1 for the campaign. Even with that result, South Carolina is still within striking distance of the top of the standings in its pursuit of an SEC regular season crown, and that goal is certainly an obtainable one for the Gamecocks given the schedule in front of them.

On the other side, LSU has been an absolute mess in SEC play to this point. The Tigers have now dropped 6 of their last 7 outings, including losses by double digits in 4 of those contests. This is a team that realistically has no shot at qualifying for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth and doesn’t have much to play for as the season winds down. LSU is terribly at defending the 3-point line, which is never a good sign when hitting the road, and the Gamecocks are also 3-0 against the number coming off a loss this season. Look for South Carolina to remain unblemished ATS in this situation as the Gamecocks should roll at home.

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