College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Malique Jacobs (Kent State)
As usual, Friday evening’s in college basketball are typically reserved for the mid-majors to take center stage. It’s the perfect opportunity for the lower-level conferences to get their shine before the weekend.
This Friday, Matt Cox of Three Man Weave spotlights two games in the Horizon and MAC, respectively, before diving into St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10.
So, get your college hoops betting card set by tailing Matt’s three best bets below.
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.|
Oakland vs. Robert Morris
We head to the Moon — Moon Township, of course — for a Horizon League tilt between Oakland and Robert Morris.
This marks the second meeting this year between Bobby Mo and the Grizz, who squared off at the onset of conference play.
Intra-league rivalries are often ripe for total plays due to the manifestation of particular stylistic clashes. In this instance, Oakland’s quirky zone serves as the odd-ball schematic wrinkle.
Head coach Greg Kampe fell in love with this defense late last season and has stuck with it all throughout this year. His bench may be short, but his core six-man rotation is long — that is, its armed with rangy wingspans, which makes it impossible for opposing offenses to navigate.
In the first game, Bobby Mo mustered just 61 points on 71 possessions. Basic division equates this to a ghastly 0.86 points per possession for the Colonials, who never found a rhythm against Kampe’s kryptonite zone defense.
Additionally, inverted forward Justin Winston is likely out tonight again, and he was spotted on crutches two nights ago against Detroit. The former lauded recruit’s been inefficient this year, but his length and shooting prowess would be an asset in this offensive matchup.
From a personnel perspective, Winston’s absence is just the tip of the iceberg for Robert Morris.
Head coach Andrew Toole has been thrown curveball after curveball, be it injuries or midseason player departures. Now, he’s effectively strapped with a seven-man rotation.
As a result, Toole seems to be easing off the gas pedal to account for the lack of depth at his disposal. Over the last month, Bobby Mo has eclipsed 69 possessions only twice, both of which were inflated by garbage time scoring in a blowout win over Milwaukee and a blowout loss at the hands of IPFW.
For reference, KenPom projects this game to clock 69 possessions, which seems high given the recent pace trends from Bobby Mo’s perspective.
From Oakland’s side of the coin, it’s about to play the last leg of a four-game road stand. This should also inhibit the Grizz’s enthusiasm to push the pace in transition.
Pick: Under 144 (Play to 141)
Kent State vs. Akron
As a self-proclaimed “contrarian” bettor, it’s not often I ride the hot hand. But for Kent State, I will gladly drift off script.
The Golden Flashes are riding a five-game win streak, buoyed by the MAC’s stingiest defensive unit. Through 13 games, Kent State boasts the league’s best defensive efficiency. The secret sauce is a vaunted frontline that frequently bullies other fragile MAC forwards.
For years, dynamic guard play has been the hallmark of this conference, which often comes at the expense of deep and productive frontcourts.
Rob Senderoff, however, has the best of both worlds. Despite the loss of pro-level talent Danny Pippen, the Flashes returned a fearless foursome of Justyn Hamilton, Tervell Beck, Andrew Garcia and Malique Jacobs.
Granted, the last two would be positionally categorized as guards, but their activity on the glass rivals that of a big. In fact, both Garcia and Jacobs rank inside the top 10 in the MAC in offensive rebounding rate.
The reason the Flashes are undervalued is Giovanni Santiago, who is finally rounding into form after missing five of the 10 games coming out of Christmas break. Santiago was an iron man last season, clocking the fifth-most minutes in the MAC, proof of how vital he is to the Kent State machine.
That iron man title has been passed along to Sincere Carry this season. With Santiago ailing, Carry’s been laboring through league play, as Senderoff rarely gives him a breather. Not only is he Kent’s go-to guy in crunch time, but he doubles as a defensive stopper on the other end.
Santiago’s heady floor game and precise shooting makes him the optimal Robin to Carry’s Batman. In the five games Santiago missed, the Flashes were 0-5 against the number, including outright losses to Northern Illinois and Southern.
This is a prime opportunity to strike while the iron’s hot, especially against an Akron team that’s been overpriced all season.
Pick: Kent State +3.5 (Play to +3)
St. Bonaventure vs. Saint Louis
It’s rare to get an A-10 tilt of this caliber on a Friday night. Two of the league’s top dogs will go toe-to-toe in Saint Louis in a late-night showdown at Chaifetz Arena.
The host Billikens are white-hot, and have an NCAA Tournament at-large berth in their crosshairs. Only a game and a half separates SLU from first-place Davidson, but there’s more at stake for Travis Ford & Co. at the moment.
Ironically, these Bonnies were supposed to be who SLU and other A-10 hopefuls would be chasing at the top of the totem pole this year. A myriad of factors, however, has turned the 2021-22 campaign into a hangover for Mark Schmidt and his veteran-laden Bonnies.
Thus, in essence, we have a Freaky Friday type of role reversal situation on our hands: the hunted (Bonnies) has swapped places with the hunter (SLU).
Psychologically, this should bode well for the Bonnies tonight. The burden of living up to last year’s standards has fallen by the wayside by now, as all hopes of an at-large berth are virtually extinct.
Meanwhile, Saint Louis knows any slip-up could be a death sentence to its NCAA Tournament aspirations.
The Bonnies may have turned a corner earlier this week, notching an impressive wire-to-wire win over Fordham. Yes, it’s Fordham, but this year’s rendition of Fordham has been impossible to squash, so the Bonnies deserve credit for that 25-point victory on Tuesday.
In short, it’s hard to see either side mounting a major lead in what figures to be a nail-biter for 40 minutes. And if tonight’s game plays anything like prior SBU/SLU meetings, it should be an ugly, low-scoring rock fight.
In fact, the last nine games between SLU and St. Bonaventure have all gone under the total.
Why is this relevant for a side play? Typically, betting underdogs correlates with unders, and betting favorites pairs well with overs. As simple as it sounds, if the winds are blowing toward a lower-scoring environment, as it does tonight, the dog holds a slight edge.
Even though the early market slammed the opening number down to +5, don’t be scared to scoop up the inferior value.
Note: These teams are scheduled to play again on Monday. If the Bonnies don’t deliver here, don’t be scared to double-down on Monday.