College basketball best bets for Sunday, 2/18: South Florida seizes the moment

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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 after a wild Saturday slate that featured a number of showdowns AP Top 25 teams, Sunday’s slate is much tamer in comparison. However, there are still some compelling matchups between NCAA Tournament hopefuls, including a marquee contest in the AAC between Florida Atlantic and South Florida.

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 bet for these games on Sunday, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for the biggest games of the day.

South Florida Bulls +6.5 vs Florida Atlantic Owls (-110)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to South Florida +4.5

Florida Atlantic was an analytics darling a season ago, and the results ended up proving the metric sites correct as the Owls were just seconds away from advancing to the national title game. However, the hangover from that Final Four appearance has seemed to stretch throughout the entirety of the 2023-24 season to this point. The Owls have not been nearly as strong as expected this season, as they currently sit outside of the top 30 in KenPom and outside of the top 50 in Barttorvik. That’s not the profile of a team that essentially brought back the same pieces from that Final Four group.

Florida Atlantic has an excellent offense, ranking inside the top 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency at KenPom and Barttorvik. However, the Owls’ biggest issue is on the defensive side of the ball (85th in adjusted defensive efficiency), which is why FAU hasn’t been able to cover spreads as a favorite all season long. To this point, Florida Atlantic is 10-13 against the spread as a favorite on the year and is currently on a 3-7 ATS slide over its last 10 contests. These alarming numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise once you dive into the Owls’ recent defensive metrics. Since January 1, Dusty May’s group hasn’t shown that it can defend consistently at all, ranking 191st(!) in adjusted efficiency and 162nd in effective field goal percentage defense at Barttorvik. The Owls are barely a top 100 team over their last 12 contests, while their opponent on Sunday is on the rise.

South Florida wasn’t exactly expected to be a juggernaut this season but the results certainly speak for themselves at this point. USF is 15-6-2 against the spread on the year, including an 11-3-1 mark at home and an 8-1-1 record against the number over its last 10 games. The Bulls also thrive in the underdog role, having covered in 4 of 6 games as a pup this season. South Florida’s biggest strength on both sides of the ball is from beyond the arc, ranking 11th in 3-point percentage on offense and 28th on defense (Barttorvik). If the Bulls are able to simply do a half-decent job on the glass against an Owls team that is a very good unit at generating extra possessions via offensive rebounds, there’s no reason they can’t keep this close and potentially even pull the outright upset. Let’s roll with the home ‘dog catching points on Sunday.

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