Alabama vs. Texas A&M in SEC showdown and NBA blowout: Best Bets for March 4

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Texas A&M guard Andre Gordon (20) drives against a Mississippi player during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Oxford, Miss., Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Saturday, March 4:

TOP PLAY

The play: Men’s college basketball, Texas A&M -2.5 over Alabama

The odds: -104

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 12 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: Ever since the news broke last week that Alabama’s star freshman, Brandon Miller, brought the gun to the scene of a shooting in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide has been in a deep funk. Miller, for his part, has played just fine, but the team has gotten off to poor starts in three straight games, and though Alabama came back to win all three, they haven’t come close to covering.

Jim Derry and I disagreed about what the Tide’s huge comeback to beat rival Auburn in overtime means about Alabama’s mindset, but I still say this team is clearly affected by all of the off-court distractions.

Now comes their toughest challenge in a while, a trip to the SEC’s second-place team in Texas A&M. The Aggies aren’t who you want to play if your focus is waning; they are a bruising defensive team that hasn’t lost at home in conference play. In fact, after a rough go of it in non-conference play, A&M has been playing like a top-10 team for much of the past two months.

Alabama also played a pressure-packed, emotional overtime game just three days ago. This is shaping up perfectly for the Aggies.

SUN BELT UPSET

The play: NBA, Cavaliers -14 over Pistons

The odds: -110

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 7:30 p.m. (NBA League Pass)

Our take: We lost yesterday’s NBA best bet by the hook when the Knicks let a 15-point halftime lead turn into just a 2-point win, but we’re back off the mat and ready to try again.

This is a huge number for an NBA game, but these teams played in Cleveland last month, and the Cavs won by 28. So it’s not that big. And consider that those Knicks are starting to breathe down Cleveland’s neck for the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, while Detroit is essentially in Wobble for Wemby mode, happy to increase their lottery chances for French sensation Victor Wembanyama, the presumptive No. 1 pick.

The Cavs have been struggling against a tough schedule of late, so this will be a welcome respite. Expect a one-sided evening.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Friday’s best bets

NBA: Knicks -2½ over Heat (LOST)

Men’s college basketball: Indiana State -2½ over Belmont (WON)

Friday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 4-5, 1 pending

Total for March: 4-1, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 36-41, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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