College Basketball Best Bets for Friday

College Basketball Best Bets for Friday article feature image
Credit:

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images. Pictured: Tim Miles (San Jose State)

Before a monster Saturday slate, there's plenty of college basketball betting value to be had on Friday evening, including in Illinois vs. Purdue.

Below, we have college basketball best bets and Three Man Weave's three top picks for Friday, January 5. Jim Root, you're up!


College Basketball Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
6:30 p.m.
9 p.m.
10:30 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

UConn vs. Butler

Friday, Jan. 5
6:30 p.m. ET
FS1
Under 144.5

By Jim Root

Handicapping UConn games has become about one crucial question: Who are the Huskies without dominant 7-foor-2 center Donovan Clingan?

Two games into his absence with a foot injury, the results are inconclusive. The Huskies failed to cover against a scrappy St. John’s squad, and the game went under the total. Hosting atrocious DePaul, though, the Huskies covered and snuck over the closing total.

On the road against a quality opponent, the first result against the Red Storm feels more predictive.

Removing Clingan from the UConn lineup morphs the Huskies into more of a mortal foe. Surprisingly, though, that swing is primarily on the offensive end.

Per CBB Analytics, the UConn offense is 12.4 points worse per 100 possessions without Clingan, whereas the defense remains about the same. Backup big man Samson Johnson is bouncy and athletic as a rim protector in his own right, but he's not the same offensive rebounder or post scorer that Clingan is.

Even stronger evidence: The Huskies play 2.5 possessions slower without Clingan, also per CBB Analytics. A drop-off in scoring and pace sets up perfectly for an under.

One risk here: UConn found success against DePaul by playing small lineups with Alex Karaban as the nominal center. Those lineups could tilt towards more points.

Even so, I think there’s enough edge to ride the under.

Pick: Under 144.5 (Play to 141)


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Bowling Green vs. Akron

Friday, Jan. 5
9 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Akron -9.5

By Jim Root

Akron, the preseason favorite in the MAC, has begun to find its full form recently. The temporary restraining order that made all two-time transfers eligible gave the Zips a huge boost via boomerang wing Ali Ali.

Ali helped lead the 2022 Zips to the NCAA tournament, but an ill-fated transfer to Butler derailed his production. He returned to Akron this year, and now entering his sixth game in the starting lineup, his impact has become huge.

Over his last three contests, Ali is averaging 21.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest. He adds another dynamic element to a frontcourt that already features double-double machine Enrique Freeman and stretch forward Sammy Hunter.

Unsurprisingly, the Zips smashed Northern Illinois by 22 on the road in their MAC opener.

On the other side, Bowling Green is likely shorthanded headed into this one. The Falcons played just seven players in a tooth-and-nail overtime victory against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday. Versatile forward Sam Towns missed his fifth straight game, and rotation cogs Anthony McComb III and DJ Smith were also absent.

Towns’ absence is especially problematic against Akron’s frontcourt. Freeman is an animal in the paint who can single handedly foul out opposing frontcourts with his activity level. Without Towns, Bowling Green has just two players over 6-foot-5 – and Rashaun Agee can be especially foul-prone.

BG also can't take advantage of Akron’s turnover issues. The Zips’ backcourt can be loose with the ball, but Bowling Green ranks just 305th nationally in defensive turnover rate, per KenPom.

Pick: Akron -9.5 (Play to -11)

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Boise State vs. San Jose State

Friday, Jan. 5
10:30 p.m. ET
FS1
San Jose State +5.5

By Jim Root

The last selection is for the night owls, as San Jose State welcomes Boise State in the nightcap of FS1’s triple-header.

A key part of this handicap is the spot for the host Spartans, who dropped their Mountain West opener in heartbreaking fashion. After leading for 35 minutes – including by 12 at halftime – SJSU succumbed to a Wyoming comeback in the final minutes, losing by two on a buzzer beater.

Now back home, I like SJSU feeling more desperate to find its way to its first MW victory.

Boise State is typically a powerhouse in this league, going 42-14 in MW play over the past three seasons. Leon Rice is a tremendous coach, and the Broncos have a talented frontcourt led by Tyson Degenhart, St. John’s transfer O’Mar Stanley and Kansas transfer Cam Martin.

Unfortunately for the Broncos, this squad has a fatal flaw: the point guard spot. Manned by mega-clutch Marcus Shaver Jr. the past three seasons, that position has fallen to UC San Diego transfer Roddie Anderson III, and he's struggled to find his game. Through 13 contests, Anderson is shooting just 32.4% from the field and barely has more assists (28) than turnovers (23).

SJSU won't pressure Boise into oblivion, but Tim Miles is one of the most underrated coaches in the country in terms of game planning. He has the pieces to contest with Boise’s skilled forwards, and without a true off-the-bounce creator, Boise will struggle to generate quality looks as the shot clock wanes.

I’ll take the points with Mr. Miles as a home underdog.

Pick: San Jose State +5.5 (Play to +5)


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Nick Sterling
May 21, 2024 UTC