College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday, Including UNLV vs. Colorado State
Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images. Pictured: Niko Medved (CSU)
Friday evening is typically reserved for mid-majors to dominate the college basketball equation. It’s the perfect chance for you to find teams hidden in the rough before they potentially break out in March.
But from a betting perspective, there’s also a great opportunity to nail down some value.
Matt Cox of Three Man Weave does just that, as he helps you formulate your betting card with three top picks for the slate in college hoops.
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.
|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.|
Manhattan vs. Saint Peter’s
The Peacocks of Jersey City are playing their best ball of the season right now. Shaheen Holloway’s club was pegged as one of the prevailing favorites to claim the MAAC crown this summer. Thus, we should not be surprised by the mini-surge they’re on, as they’re winners of five of their last six games.
However, the analytic metrics, and the oddsmakers by association, may be a tad overzealous when it comes to Saint Peter’s. Its 6-2 league record could easily be 4-4.
The Peacocks slipped past Niagara in overtime last Friday, and then nearly lost to Canisius for a second time this season on Sunday. They mounted a spirited comeback against Marist in Poughkeepsie on Wednesday, but were fortunate to catch Marist ice cold from 3-point range — the Foxes were a dismal 4-of-27 from behind the stripe.
Now, on a quick turnaround, the Peacocks will be challenged by one of the few teams in the league that can match their length and speed across all five positions.
Under Manhattan head honcho Steve Masiello, the Jaspers notoriously boast one of the most athletic rosters in the MAAC, and this year is no exception — in fact, it’s an exemplar.
The key infusion? Prized transfer Jose Perez. Perez has been both an electric playmaker and calming presence for a backcourt devoid of both dynamics the last few seasons.
Not only can he create for himself and for others, but his ball handling and decision making are wise beyond the acumen of Ant Nelson, the Jaspers’ erratic point guard the last two years.
Not only can Manhattan neutralize Saint Pete’s physical specimens in this matchup, it is being priced like a team traveling halfway across the country. Manhattan to Jersey City is about as simple a trip as you’ll find between any two Division-I schools in college basketball.
More broadly, the MAAC’s home court advantage is essentially null this year. Per KenPom, road teams in conference play have won 24 of the 44 meetings so far this season, the second-highest road win percentage of the 32 conferences.
Herein lies the rub. The opening number, +7.5, got hit with a lead hammer by the early market.
Depending on when you’re reading this, the line may have dropped even further. While the Jaspers have a legitimate chance to win this game outright, don’t force anything lower than +6.
Pick: Manhattan +6
Niagara vs. Siena
Despite the emphatic evidence that home court is non-existent in the MAAC — as highlighted in the Manhattan writeup — here I am “zagging” the other direction.
Pardon the hypocrisy, but this matchup and spot warrants an exception from the “fade MAAC home teams” rule of thumb.
For starters, the Saints are somehow still undervalued relative to their conference peers. Through six league games, Siena is 3-3 against the spread, but boasts a +2.8 average cover margin (second-best in the conference).
The Saints have lost two straight, but were in the cover zone deep in the second half in both games against Iona and Manhattan.
Blending a myriad of new faces has been a major challenge for head coach Carmen Maciariello, but the pecking order is starting to sort itself out.
Anthony Gaines seems to be comfortable in his newfound alpha dog role, but the emergence of Colby Rogers as an overqualified Robin is what has the Saints’ stock value pointed up.
Maciariello inserted Rogers into the starting rotation the last two games after a dazzling scoring outburst against Marist last week (16 points in 23 minutes off the bench).
The furious comeback in that Marist victory was fueled by Maciariello’s well-timed chess move — that is, unleashing full-court pressure on an unsuspecting Marist backcourt.
Tonight, against Niagara, the Saints would be wise to pull that same lever. The Purple Eagles completely melted down last Sunday when Rider employed a similar press, igniting a stunning second-half rally.
There’s nothing else fancy with this handicap. I’m on record as being a stubborn believer in this Saints’ roster, but they’re arguably the better team and are at home. They should not be catching points under any circumstance, even with a lackluster home court advantage.
Pick: Siena +1 (Play to -1)
UNLV vs. Colorado State
Going against the market is what we call counter punching. Put your boxing gloves on and hop in the ring.
This best bet spits in the face of the early sharp money that hit Colorado State hard on post. The line opened around -11 and rose nearly two points to -13 by 10 a.m. ET.
The Rebels will look to get back on track after being smashed by San Diego State in Southern California on Monday. Don’t be discouraged by that performance, folks. The Rebels were playing their fourth game in eight days against a well-rested Aztec bunch hungry off of a loss.
In short, it was a spot ripe for a clunker.
Now, it’s time for UNLV to answer the bell. Traveling to Fort Collins to play at altitude against a well-coached Colorado State team is no easy feat.
However, the Rebels were hyper competitive, twice, in the same situation last season. In back-to-back games, UNLV lost to the high-powered Rams by a field goal.
Granted, the Rebels are a completely different team this season, retooled from a seismic regime change this offseason. But the Rebels’ lone returner, Bryce Hamilton, went off in both meetings last year.
Hamilton, exploiting a favorable matchup against a smaller Rams backcourt, hung 23 and 28 in the two tilts last season. While his supporting cast is entirely different this season, Hamilton will fondly remember how he feasted against the Rams in a similar situation.
Also, Hamilton’s top running mate, Donovan Williams, returned to the lineup last game against San Diego State, arming the Rebs with another multidimensional wing.
UNLV’s litany of wing/forward hybrids should be able to prevent the incendiary Rams’ offense from going full nuclear, and scoring should be far less of a chore than it was against the Aztecs earlier this week.
Versatility is the hallmark of CSU’s frontline, but the Rams lack an imposing rim protector up front — and have nothing like SDSU’s Nathan Mensah (Mensah completely thwarted the Rebs’ ability to score at the rim).
With Mensah’s “no fly zone” restrictions lifted, look for the Rebs to burrow into the lane and manufacture enough paint points to keep this one competitive.
Pick: UNLV +12 (Play to +11)
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