College basketball best bets for Saturday, 2/24: Wake Forest picks up a signature win

Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Efton Reid III (4) drives to the basket as Virginia Cavaliers forward Jordan Minor (22) defends in the first half at John Paul Jones 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.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons -1 over Duke Blue Devils (-110)

Odds available at PointsBet Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Wake Forest -2.5

We’ve arrived at the time of year where teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble are desperately searching for a signature win. That’s exactly the situation that Wake Forest finds itself in as it hopes to punch its ticket to the Big Dance with a marquee victory over the first place Duke Blue Devils. On the surface, there isn’t much reason to fade Duke at the moment, as the Blue Devils are in the midst of a 5-game winning streak and are coming off back-to-back road victories over Florida State and Miami. However, the Demon Deacons boast a perfect 14-0 record at home this season and are quietly up to 20th in KenPom, sitting inside the top 30 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

Even setting aside the situation, I also think we’re getting to back a group that is on the upswing and clearly has the metrics of a team that is better than its record. Additionally, while Duke has been playing at a high level in recent weeks, the Blue Devils could be without sophomore guard Tyrese Proctor, who suffered a concussion in the first meeting between these teams on February 12. In that meeting, Wake Forest only lost by 8 despite one of its worst 3-point shooting performances of the season to date. I’d expect for some positive regression in that regard at home, while the Demon Deacons defense should rise to the occasion. Overall, this should be the most focused effort we see from Wake Forest all season, so let’s back the hosts to pick up a massive victory over a Blue Blood.

Kentucky Wildcats -1 over Alabama Crimson Tide (-110)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Kentucky -2.5 

We’re going with another home team 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 team that is likely better than its record. Yes, Kentucky has lost some head-scratching games this season, there’s no denying that. However, I still see the immense talent the Wildcats have and can’t help but think about the potential this team has when they play their game. We might see that come to fruition on Saturday as a track meet should be in store against Alabama at Rupp Arena. After all, these are 2 of the 10 best offenses in the country according to any advanced metric site you look at, which plays into a game script that should favor the hosts.

Due to its shot diet and extremely quick tempo, Alabama can hang triple digits on any opposing defense. And while Kentucky’s defense has major issues (77th in adjusted efficiency per KenPom), it’s not like the Crimson Tide are much better on that end (72nd in adjusted efficiency, 152nd in two-point defense). Alabama has been a machine at home but quite the opposite on the road, including an 18-point loss to Auburn and a 20-point loss to Tennessee in conference play. So while Kentucky is an extremely inconsistent team, John Calipari’s bunch should give its best effort of the season in a massive tilt at home on Saturday. It doesn’t hurt that we’re likely getting an extra point or two of value in this matchup after the Wildcats dropped a very winnable game at LSU on a miraculous buzzer-beater earlier this week. Let’s back the ‘cats to bounce back.

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