Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM
Saturday's Best Bets
Another full slate of Saturday college basketball games is upon us, and it's another one where we've got great games littered across the board throughout the day. So after a tough loss on Tuesday was followed up by sweeping the board with relatively easy winners on Wednesday, let's see if I can't end off the week in college basketball betting on an even better high note, as it's a couple of underdogs that make the card this time around.
LSU at Auburn (ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #1: LSU +5.5
For those that got a chance to digest my pieces earlier in the week, coming back to the well and fading this Auburn team shouldn't come as a surprise. Auburn was responsible for the ATS defeat on Tuesday when they knocked off Arkansas in OT, as yet again, Auburn played with fire and didn't get burnt. Part of that victory was Arkansas' inability to close things down in the final five minutes or so when they had a multi-possession lead, but that can be expected from a younger team that's already taken a bigger leap this season in Eric Musselman's first year then many expected.
But I don't believe we will see a similar sort of collapse should LSU find itself playing with a lead late in this one, especially after their last effort. LSU's 99-90 loss at Vanderbilt was just an awful defensive effort from the Tigers from the get-go, and I fully expect a team that gives up 71 points per game to bounce back in a big way in this game.
Yes, Auburn is back at home where they are a perfect 12-0 SU, but a 6-6 ATS record can hardly inspire confidence. Being at home is only going to shade the number slightly Auburn's way as it is since they keep finding ways to win, and because they keep finding ways to win, the general betting market is going to have a hard time going against them.
However, I still firmly believe this Auburn team is still playing with way too much fire these days, trailing by significant margins early and for huge stretches of their games, and it will come back to bite them. Arkansas nearly got them had they just been able to execute a bit better down the stretch, but now we are getting points with this LSU team and probably a point or so too many in my view.
LSU is 3-1 ATS this number when catching points (3-0 ATS as a road team), and with them being the side that's the more desperate bunch in terms of wanting to bounce back after a disappointing performance, that's exactly what I expect to see from the Bayou Bengals in this game.
San Diego State at Air Force (CBSSN, 8:00 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #2: Air Force +14
On paper, you don't really get much bigger mismatches then this San Diego State/Air Force game, as you've got the Aztecs as the lone remaining unbeaten team in the country taking on a Falcons team that's five games below the .500 mark. But that's why we have the great equalizer in the point spread, and I've got a tough time passing up taking this many points with the home side in this matchup.
For one, the semantics of how “tough” San Diego State's games really are can be debated, but at least within the Mountain West conference, this could be a bit of a flat spot for the Aztecs. They are coming off an impressive 12-point win over Utah State (18-7 SU) last Saturday and then follow this game with Air Force up with hosting New Mexico and then visiting Boise State. New Mexico isn't a great team in the conference, but it's that trip to Boise State that could bring some concerns.
San Diego State is a program that many will need a strong reason to go against, and it's unlikely that Air Force fits the bill for those here, especially after suffering a humiliating 88-54 loss at Nevada earlier this week. That was the Falcons fifth straight loss SU and ATS overall and because of that run they are catching a hefty number at home here.
But it's those extreme outlier losses that I kind of like to see from teams like the Falcons in this spot for a multitude of reasons. One, absolutely no one will believe they've got a shot at keeping this game within the number against a team the quality of the Aztecs, and oddsmakers know that, They can freely inflate the line almost as they see fit.
Secondly, for the guys wearing Air Force jerseys, there comes a point where personal pride to just show up and attempt to show the best version of yourself arrives after getting embarrassed as badly as they did. There really is nowhere to go but up for the Falcons offensively after shooting a brutal 32.7% from the floor in that Nevada loss, and that's a positive. Let's also not forget that the two times Air Force has closed as a home underdog in conference play this year, they've gone 2-0 SU and ATS, beating Utah State, 79-60 as +7.5 dogs, and Boise State, 85-78 catching a single point.
That's not to say they'll beat the Aztecs here, but can you imagine the type of story that would be for these young men on campus if it did happen? Whether it's a unrealistic pipe dream or not, dreaming big in anything can be highly motivating, and we should expect the Falcons to use that to put their best foot forward here.
Finally, we can't forget about the fact that it has been a full week off for the Aztecs, and that's not exactly a great thing at this time of year, especially for teams that are rolling. Rust and complacency can set in during long stretches of rest, and given the expectation for them in this game is to simply show up and win with ease, we could see San Diego State at a level far from their best. The Aztecs are just 3-2 ATS this year when they've had at least four days off in-between games as it is.
So with Air Force 6-5 ATS this year as an underdog of any number, 3-1 ATS as a home underdog of any number, and catching all these points against a potentially rusty Aztecs squad, I'll plug my nose and grab all the points with the Falcons, expecting them to keep it inside this number.