Monday College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s Top 3 Picks, Including Idaho vs. Northern Arizona (Jan. 17)

Monday College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s Top 3 Picks, Including Idaho vs. Northern Arizona (Jan. 17) article feature image

Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Keller (Stephen F. Austin)

  • Monday's college basketball slate tipped off in earnest with a top-20 matchup between Purdue and Illinois that turned into a 2OT thriller.
  • However, there are far more games offering betting value way down the oddsboard, and Three Man Weave has sifted through those odds to deliver their top 3 picks for Monday evening.
  • Find updated odds for all three of our college basketball best bets, including our picks and predictions for each game below.

NFL Super Wild Card weekend wraps up on Monday night with a matchup between the Cardinals and Rams. But that's not what we have our eyes on.

We have college basketball all day long — starting with a top-25 matchup between Purdue and Illinois at noon ET and ending with a mid-major duel on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET.

It's a rarity that we get a full day of basketball on a Monday during conference play, however, Jim Root of Three Man Weave is going to take advantage. He dove into the schedule and found three games that offered the most value from a betting perspective.

Find his three best bets below, and win some cash to begin your week.

Monday'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.

7 p.m. ET
Belmont -13
7:30 p.m. ET
Stephen F. Austin -15
8 p.m. ET
Under 152
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.

Belmont vs. SIU Edwardsville

Monday, Jan. 17
7 p.m. ET
Belmont -13

At some point in my Best Bets write-ups this year, I have mentioned the commodity that is a truly motivated big favorite. As in, the clearly better team has a clear incentive to win big.

Few teams are better as a motivated big favorite than Belmont, especially on the road. The Bruins have covered eight straight games as a road favorite of 10 or more points, per OddsShark’s database, and they are 14-5-1 ATS in their last 20 such games.

The Bruins should be especially motivated here. The preseason favorites in the OVC just got smacked at home by Murray State, losing by 22 in embarrassing fashion. To keep pace with those Racers — and to wipe away the shame — Belmont needs a major bounce-back performance.

Enter the Cougars of SIU Edwardsville, a squad that is multiple tiers below the visiting OVC powerhouse. Though feisty, SIUE has no answer for Nick “Moose” Muszynski, the Bruins’ physical center.

Plus, Murray State beat Belmont by torching the Bruins from deep. SIUE, meanwhile, ranks 331st in the country in points scored via 3-pointers, per KenPom.

Another small wrinkle: the Bruins’ primary core, most notably Grayson Murphy and Muszynski, lost at home to SIUE back in the 2019-20 season. They clearly had revenge on the mind last season, whipping the Cougars thrice by margins of 52, 32 and 17 (with a gimpy Moose).

Clearly, the Bruins had an axe to grind, and coming off a loss, I expect them to channel those same demons once again.

Pick: Belmont -13 (Play to -15)

Lamar vs. Stephen F. Austin

Monday, Jan. 17
7:30 p.m. ET
Stephen F. Austin -15

Let’s keep the “motivated favorite” theme going!

Stephen F. Austin is another big favorite coming of off a poor performance, mustering just 41 points in a road loss at Sam Houston State. Even worse, the Lumberjacks managed a pathetic 12 (that’s TWELVE) points in the first half.

In the same way you would immediately wash your mouth after eating something rotten, SFA needs a rinse. A home date with Lamar should stand in well as the Listerine in this analogy.

The Cardinals have been a total mess this season. Some of it is not their fault, as injuries and COVID have pounded the roster. Still, the end result is that Lamar has plummeted to the depths of all analytical rankings: 344th at Haslametrics, 342nd at BartTorvik and 334th at KenPom.

Handing Chicago State its first conference road win since January 12, 2017 will do that!

Unsurprisingly for a team favored by two touchdowns, SFA has some glaring matchup advantages here. Most notably, the Lumberjacks’ pressure defense should wreak havoc on Lamar’s sloppy ball-handling, generating easy transition opportunities.

Somewhat related, Lamar’s personnel limitations have forced a conservative defensive scheme. That means the Cardinals will not take advantage of SFA’s own ball control foibles.

Finally, expect the Lumberjacks to live at the free throw line. They attack downhill with reckless abandon, and brutish senior post man Gavin Kensmil should manhandle Lamar’s young, thin frontcourt.

These two are old Southland rivals both transitioning to the WAC, so perhaps the familiarity helps the underdog. However, the last two meetings at SFA have been blowouts. The host ‘Jacks won by 30 and 19, easily covering the double-digit spread in both contests.

Pick: Stephen F. Austin -15 (Play to -16)

Idaho vs. Northern Arizona

Monday, Jan. 17
8 p.m. ET
Under 152

We end the night at one of the wonkiest venues in college hoops: the Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Arizona. A cavernous indoor football stadium, the Skydome also hosts basketball games with a strange setup. It’s mid-major Syracuse!

A big part of this under angle is Idaho’s situational spot. The Vandals just lost at arch-rival Idaho State on Saturday despite surprisingly being able to speed up the traditionally-crawling Bengals.

Now, they head to altitude 48 hours later. Finding the same verve to push the pace again could be a tough ask.

The matchup exacerbates those issues. Northern Arizona grinds games out offensively, ranking 301st nationally in average possession length. The host Lumberjacks (two different Lumberjacks in one Best Bets column?!) are far more comfortable playing a half-court game than the visiting Vandals. I suspect they’ll make every effort to force Idaho to play its (slow, slow) style.

From an efficiency standpoint, NAU’s defensive scheme also sets up well. The Lumberjacks maniacally run foes off the arc, posting the fifth-lowest defensive 3PA rate in the sport.

Idaho has many weaknesses, but perimeter shooting is a clear strength, as the Vandals rank 27th in 3P%. If forced to finish inside, they should struggle mightily (338th in 2P%), even against a soft interior defense like NAU’s.

Perhaps this discussion is also leading toward a Northern Arizona spread bet. I’m less enthused by that one, though, as I just do not trust a team this poor laying points. Plus, NAU has not played a Division I opponent since New Year’s Day (zero games since Jan. 5).

Let’s be clear: both defenses stink. But the game likely will be slow. Also, Idaho could be weary from travel and short rest, and NAU may be rusty from its long layoff. The under should be in strong shape.

Pick: Under 152 (Play to 148)

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