Saturday college basketball five-team mega parlay (+1793 odds)
If you consider Selection Sunday the official start of March Madness, then the Madness is still one day away. In reality, of course, it is already in full flight. Conference tournaments are coming down the stretch, and the penultimate day of action presents us with a ton of intriguing games. Here’s our five-team parlay for Saturday:
Illinois ML (-155)
Creighton -8.5 (-110)
Florida State ML (-192)
Oklahoma State +3 (-110)
Utah State ML (+105)
Parlay odds: +1793
For this parlay we mix in one favorite against the spread, one underdog and the points, and three money line winners (two favorites and one underdog). Let’s break down each of the five legs one by one.
Illinois ML over Iowa (-155)
Second-seeded Illinois meets third-seeded Iowa in the second game of the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Illinois advanced following an impressive 90-68 quarterfinal win over seventh-seeded Rutgers. Iowa defeated arch rival Wisconsin 62-57 in a less encouraging display, although the Hawkeyes at least did well to battle back from an eight-point deficit in the second half. Illinois is the recommended side in Saturday’s matchup as the Fighting Illini are playing on another level at the moment. In fact, it is obvious the Illini are going to be a trendy champion pick when college basketball fans are filling out their brackets. Illinois enters Saturday’s semifinal winners in 12 of their last 13 contests. While Iowa is no doubt a legitimate final four contender, Illinois is a tough matchup because it has the ability to neutralize Hawkeye star center Luka Garza (23.8 ppg) down low.
Creighton -8.5 over Georgetown (-110)
It’s not a huge surprise that Creighton landed in the Big East Tournament final given how dominant it was in the conference during the regular season. Georgetown lacked consistency throughout the year, but a postseason run has the Hoyas on the brink of the NCAA Tournament. Could the underdog pull off another surprise on Saturday? It’s a tall order, because the Bluejays are just too difficult to overcome. Creighton can beat opponents in a variety of ways, whether rolling on offense (78.0 points per game, a top-50 mark) or putting the clamps down on defense (68.1 points allowed per game). All the trends are also pointing Creighton’s way, including a 6-2 against the spread mark over the last eight games. Meanwhile, Georgetown is an ugly 7-12 when opponents score more than 62 points; the Bluejays have fallen below that total only once in all of 2020-21.
Florida State ML over Georgia Tech (-192)
Georgia Tech got a break by not having to face Virginia in the ACC Tournament semifinals, which allows them to not have to play three games in three days. That would have been a concern for a team that has a very thin rotation. Despite that, Florida State owns the matchup advantage–making the Seminoles as the choice. Starting with Florida State’s offense, they should dominate the offensive glass. The ‘Noles rank 17th in the country in offensive rebounding rate, while Georgia Tech ranks 224th in defensive rebounding rate. A lot of the reasoning as to why Georgia Tech struggles to control the defensive backboard is the fact that they are often playing their matchup zone, which can make it difficult to box out a specific player. On the other end, Georgia Tech usually scores very well inside on the strength of ACC Player of the Year Moses Wright. However, FSU has a massive front line that can combat GT’s strengths. But this should be a good one, so for this parlay we will go with the ‘Noles on the ML instead of giving the points.
Oklahoma State +3 over Texas (-110)
Fresh off of an upset win against Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals, Oklahoma State now has its eyes on the Big 12 title. Starting with Oklahoma State’s offense against Texas’ defense, the Cowboys should be able to use their dribble-drive attack to score inside and also get to the free-throw line. Oklahoma State ranks 53rd in the country in generating free-throw attempts, while Texas ranks 295th in preventing free-throw attempts by their opponents. The weakness of Oklahoma State’s offense is that they can be careless with the basketball, evidenced by their 303rd-ranked turnover rate. The good news in this particular matchup is that Texas is not very good at forcing turnovers, ranking 239th in forcing turnovers. Quite simply, the Cowboys are one of the hottest teams in college basketball. They also have the best player on the floor in freshman Cade Cunningham.
Utah State ML over San Diego State (+105)
Thanks in part to a current 13-game winning streak, San Diego State has emerged as a top-25 squad and has likely already punched their ticket for the NCAA Tournament. However, that doesn’t mean they’re a guarantee to cover (or even win) Saturday’s Mountain West Tournament championship game against Utah State. While the Aztecs have undeniably been on a dominating run, it’s not like they’ve been particularly friendly to bettors; they are only 1-4 against the spread over their last five games. Furthermore, two of San Diego’s four losses this came at the hands of the Aggies–with Utah State winning those games by a margin of 8.5 points. Finally, while San Diego State has made a name for themselves this season thanks to a stifling defense that’s only allowing 60.69 points per game (the eighth-best mark in Division I), that number has jumped to 68.9 points allowed per game over their last 10. Utah State is actually on a nice run of their own, having won each of their last six games en route to this title tilt.