Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Saturday's Best Bets

With no significant football games on the docket this weekend, Saturday's college basketball card is sure to get a lot of attention. There are plenty of big games on tap with a lot of ranked teams at home and laying significant chalk.
One of the teams in that scenario I'll get to in a minute, but after sweeping the board early last weekend, it's the early slate I'm sticking with again this weekend, looking for the same result. Will these two plays get there?

Pittsburgh at Syracuse (12:00 p.m. ET)

Best Bet #1: Pittsburgh +5

There is no denying the fact that Syracuse has been playing some quality basketball of late, going 4-0 SU and ATS in their last four games overall. Three of those wins were on the road as underdogs, as the Orange found themselves on the right side of a few bounces in winning some close games. They beat Notre Dame and Virginia Tech in their own buildings by two points each, and knocked of Virginia in OT by eight during this run. Can't take anything away from Syracuse for those victories, but all these close wins has me thinking all those bounces that have gone Syracuse's way of late aren't likely to continue.
Enter the Pitt Panthers, who have won two in a row themselves. Last Saturday they were able to beat North Carolina for the second time this year as the Tar Heels season continues to be one of the biggest disappointments in the country. The Panthers followed that up with a nail-biting win at home against Boston College earlier this week – won 74-72 as -11 chalk – and now arrive at Syracuse looking for a much better effort. But the fact that Pittsburgh scraped by as huge chalk against Boston College actually makes me like them all the more in this spot because I don't believe the perception and reality are squared up with them here.
There likely isn't going to be a lot of support for the Panthers after that game, especially with the way Syracuse has been playing and that's just fine by me. The fact that it was just a two-point win the other day for the Panthers doesn't completely change the notion that they deserved to be as big of a favorite as they were, they just had an off night. Who knows, maybe the Panthers were taking BC a little lightly knowing that game was sandwiched between dates with North Carolina, now Syracuse, and then Duke, but I doubt the bettors who laid that chalk with Pitt earlier in the week have any desire to come back with the Panthers, even with them getting points.
And then you get Syracuse who has been on a roll SU and ATS, but that run hasn't totally encapsulated how lucky they've been during this stretch. But many will get hung up on that 4-0 ATS run and see no reason to step in front of that. That's all well and good with me, because it's that perception that's probably part of the reason why I believe this line is at least a point too high.
Syracuse is not a team I trust to be lights out offensively two games in a row, and after scoring 80+ points in a game this year, the Orange have gone 0-4 ATS. Some of those outings were still convincing outright wins as -20 chalk, but the last occurrence came in their first meeting with Notre Dame at the beginning of the month, and just a few days later the Orange were back at home and laying -4.5 to Virginia Tech.
Well, that game turned into a 67-63 loss for the Orange against the Hokies, and situationally it's highly comparable to Saturday's game with Pitt. So give me the points with a Panthers team that's hung tough the last two times they were catching points of more then a single possession. There was a five-point OT loss to Louisville and their win at Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels in that profile, and I would not be shocked to see them pull off the outright upset here as well.

Clemson at Louisville (2:00 p.m. ET)

Best Bet #2: Louisville -11

Speaking of Louisville, they are the ranked team at home I've got no problem laying all that chalk with, as they just survived a scare themselves this week.
The Cardinals 68-64 home win against Georgia Tech as -13 home chalk came thanks to outscoring the Yellow Jackets by 10 points in the 2nd half, as a sluggish start after the beating Duke nearly did Louisville in. Their talent ultimately showed itself in the end, and I don't expect them to get caught being lazy again.
Clemson is a good but not great team in the ACC this year, and like Syracuse, it's hard not to feel like they've been playing a bit over their heads of late. Yes, they nearly got caught themselves in a big time upset as significant home chalk earlier in the week as well, but with wins over NC State, UNC, and Duke already in 2020, their stock is about as high as it's probably going to get this year.
That means I've got no problem fading them going forward, especially on the road against great teams, a moniker that does fit this Louisville Cardinals program. There will be no more “sneaking” up on teams for Clemson, and with the way Louisville can go on those spurts on both ends of the floor that completely demoralize teams, I expect the Cardinals to pull away early in the 2nd half and put this game to bed with a 15+ point win from there.

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