College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday, Including Villanova vs. Creighton

College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday, Including Villanova vs. Creighton article feature image

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Moore and Jermaine Samuels

Before we get set for a thick Saturday slate that will finally take center stage as college football transitions to bowl season, there's still value to be had in the betting sphere on Friday evening.

Matt Cox from Three Man Weave has three college basketball best bets from three different matchups to help you potentially pad your wallet.

With that in mind, get set with previews and picks below for a Big East affair and two mid-major matchups.

Friday's College Basketball Best Bets

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

8 p.m. ET
Tarleton State +2
8 p.m. ET
Villanova -6
10 p.m. ET
North Dakota State +2
Specific bet 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.

South Alabama vs. Tarleton State

Friday, Dec. 17
8 p.m. ET
Tarleton State +2

Remember those exhaustingly repetitive back-to-back spots last season? If you hated handicapping those COVID-induced scheduling spots, then turn away. If you like solving these unique situational puzzles, well then come on in! The water’s warm.

Tarleton State and South Alabama will battle for the second time this week. USA got the better of the Texans on Tuesday, but Billy "the Clyde" Gillespie managed to sneak out a last-second cover, courtesy of a driving layup just before the horn to lose by seven.

Tarleton State is the epitome of a thorn in your side, as the host Jaguars found out three days ago. USA managed to extend a lead, finally, deep into the second half, but the feisty Texans just wouldn’t go away.

Now, both teams travel back to Tarleton’s turf in Stephenville, where the Texans hope to get the last laugh in this non-conference "Texas Two-Step."

Tuesday’s line opened at +8.5 but big money came in on the Texans, driving the number down to 6.5 at the close. Given the game fell seven, the opening number in tonight’s rematch is reasonable: Tarleton State +2.

The difference between +2 and +6.5 implies a home court differential of 2.25 points between the two, which is a fair estimation since both teams are making the same trip.

However, that doesn’t factor in the situational edge for Tarleton. Last year, we saw the team who lost the opening legs of the conference back-to-backs bring serious juice to the second game.

This was especially pronounced for larger favorites, which does not apply to Tarleton tonight. Still, the Texans are a short dog and should be razor focused coming off of the frustrating 69-62 loss on Tuesday.

Furthermore, Tarleton is still seeking its first Division I win at home this season. The Texans laid an egg as a large favorite earlier in the year against Charleston Southern, but one could argue that was a flat spot in the wake of a grueling road trip just prior.

Gillespie has proven to be a shrewd X&O tactician this season, as he’s routinely overcome a short bench to outperform expectations. Tonight sets up as another such exhibit of Tarleton, the WAC’s cockroach, refusing to fold.

Pick: Tarleton State +2 (Play to PK)

Villanova vs. Creighton

Friday, Dec. 17
8 p.m. ET
Villanova -6

Let the chase for the Big East regular season title belt begin!

Villanova, the perennial Big East overlords, will take the lengthy trip to Omaha to kick off its conference campaign tonight.

The Wildcats, hardened by heavyweight bouts at UCLA and at Baylor, are as battle tested as any team in America. Back in November, they took Purdue wire-to-wire a day after dismantling Tennessee, which looks to be rounding into top-10 form as of late.

In short, Villanova, despite the recent blowout in Waco, has proven it belongs in the national elite conversation.

Villanova has split with Creighton in each of the last two seasons, but this is the most vulnerable Bluejays team the Wildcats have encountered in years.

The Jays' sterling crop of young guns is poised for stardom in the next year or two, but they are still in the infancy stages of their development. Nova, meanwhile, is a bunch of grown men, with a clear directive and "win now" expectations.

The key component of this handicap is home court valuation. Creighton’s standard strong home edge may not hold its usual weight tonight. For starters, we are in the heart of exam period and are witnessing low attendance numbers all across the country this week.

Additionally this is the Bluejays' third game this week, having already played Saturday and Tuesday.

Last weekend’s double-digit win over BYU was impressive, but it was ripe for strong performance. The Cougars were depleted up front, down their two best bigs, and consequently, Creighton dominated the paint. Arizona State quickly humped the Jays a couple days later, as the visiting Sun Devils grinded out an ugly 58-57 victory.

If there’s one worry with laying six points tonight, it’s pace. The Jays and Wildcats take pride in their half-court offensive execution, and both are willing participants to engage in a slo-mo affair. A mid 60-possession war could inhibit Nova’s chances of going full "Supernova" with a fast and furious run.

It may feel like uphill sledding to get outside the number but the elder Wildcats will approach this as a business trip.

Pick: Villanova -6

North Dakota State vs. Pacific

Friday, Dec. 17
10 p.m. ET
North Dakota State +2

I doubt there are too many direct flights from Fargo, North Dakota to Stockton, California. If there were, I might empty the mortgage on the Bison tonight.

The tricky travel from the Dakotas to no man’s land California is the only possible bear trap in this odd non-conference showdown between North Dakota State and Pacific. From all other handicapping angles, North Dakota State is criminally cheap as a short dog — even down to a pick.

The recent return of Sam Griesel has done wonders for the struggling Bison. Griesel took over in the second half of Monday’s come-from-behind victory over Indiana State. He was rusty in his first games back but the third time was truly a charm, finishing with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists to pace the Bison in their second straight win, and cover.

Griesel’s nifty skill set alone makes him a valuable piece in the NDSU machine. But, given the void of dynamic playmakers on this year’s roster, his crafty playmaking is invaluable.

While Griesel was sidelined, North Dakota State looked like a shiny deluxe sports car with a V-4 engine — that is, all the bells and whistles with no motor to run on.

The Griesel infusion is the key element not properly priced into this opening line, which tagged Pacific as a short favorite.

The Tigers, under first-year head coach Leonard Perry, are riding high after an exalting overtime victory over UC Santa Barbara on Tuesday.

It marked their first significant win of the young 2022 campaign, which has taken a few sour turns for the new-look Tigers. Pacific ranks 256th in KenPom’s Minutes Continuity metric, evidence of the high-roster turnover that took place this offseason.

There’s a few promising pieces intact but, akin to the Griesel sports car analogy, the Tigers lack a reliable table setter to dictate the offense.

Yes, the travel may be strenuous for the visiting Bison, but this team isn’t at risk for an emotional deflation. They’ve been trying to find their mojo for the last month and the lightbulb appears to have flicked on, largely due to the Griesel effect.

The rejuvenation of such a key cog should mitigate any travel grogginess, and thus, a flat performance.

In summary, this spot sets up well for the Bison to bring their A-game at a rare discounted price.

Pick: North Dakota State +2 (Play to PK)

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