Friday College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s Top 3 Picks, Including Louisiana Tech vs. UAB, New Mexico State vs. Seattle, More (Feb. 12)
Sam Wasson/Getty Images. Pictured: Trevelin Queen.
- Friday's college basketball slate features plenty of mid-major action, and Three Man Weave's Ky McKeon is all over it.
- He broke down three games from the slate, including Louisiana Tech vs. UAB and New Mexico State vs. Seattle.
- Check out all of McKeon's picks complete with a full betting breakdown below.
The weekend is here.
The Action Network has partnered with the guys at Three Man Weave to bring you college basketball best bets twice weekly. The trio of Matt Cox, Ky McKeon and Jim Root highlight the top three games they’re betting for the day’s college basketball slate.
Friday’s best bets have been provided by Ky McKeon as of Thursday night. Follow Ky and the rest of the crew on Twitter at @3MW_CBB, and download the Action App to easily track your bets for Friday’s college basketball action.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
All listed odds have been updated as of Thursday evening via William Hill unless otherwise indicated. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing on Thursday night.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Louisiana Tech vs. UAB
UAB currently sits atop Conference USA at 9-1. The Blazers are a blazing 16-2 overall and look to be a real candidate for an auto-bid in March. But let’s peel back the layers of the UAB onion real quick and see how good it actually smells.
- UAB has played zero teams that rank in the KenPom top 130 this season. That number again is zero, the same number as Gilbert Arenas and the number of F-words cool teenagers give.
- UAB has played zero teams that rank in the KenPom top 100 of offensive efficiency. That number again is zero, the same number at which water freezes in celsius and my percentage chance with Kate Beckinsdale.
Going even further, the Blazers have only played two teams that rank in the KenPom top 200 of turnover rate.
Given how much UAB relies on forcing turnovers to not only stop teams but also kickstart its offensive attack, there’s little wonder to how the Blazers have been able to exceed all expectations to this point in the season.
Tonight UAB faces a team in Louisiana Tech fully capable of winning Conference USA, a team that checks in within the top 100 of KenPom’s overall rankings.
Louisiana Tech isn’t the most gifted team offensively, but it does handle the ball well enough to avoid a total turnover disaster against the pesky Blazer defenders.
UAB also hasn’t seen many teams with the frontcourt fortitude Louisiana Tech possesses, particularly freshman Kenneth Lofton (unrelated) who checks in at 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds.
UAB has some muscle inside with Trey Jemison, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the C-USA team leader in FTA rate create ample foul trouble against the Blazer big men.
UAB faces its toughest challenge of the season on the opposite end of the floor. The Blazers have yet to play against a KenPom top 150 defense, and the Bulldogs sit at No. 42 in adjusted defensive efficiency. The days of UAB getting anything it wants on the offensive end are over.
The Bulldogs completely disallow shots near the rim — UAB will be forced into shooting mid-range jumpers, an area it’s capable of succeeding in but one that is hard to be good at for a sustainable period of time.
The La Tech resistance — resistance that will be far and away the toughest UAB has seen this season — should stymie the Blazers just enough for the Bulldogs to pull off the cover.
Denver vs. Western Illinois
What on Earth am I doing? I’m betting on the Denver Pioneers? A team I’ve faded (successfully) roughly 100 times this season? Sigh, yes — this line is too dang high.
Why should Western Illinois be a 7-point favorite over anybody? Answer: it shouldn’t.
Sure, WIU has been good against the number this season (9-6-1), but this will be the first time all year the Leathernecks are a favorite. It’s uncharted territory for new head coach Rob Jeter’s feisty bunch of misfits, and I’m banking on the group not knowing how to play with expectations.
A very significant thing happened in Denver’s two-game series with North Dakota (besides both contests going to overtime).
Starting center Robert Jones returned to the floor. Jones hadn’t played since Dec. 19 when he went down with an apparent season-ending injury. His return was not discussed anywhere prior to that North Dakota series, so you can imagine my joy when I saw him check-in as I gripped my Fighting Hawk ticket harder.
This team is much better with Jones on the floor, and there’s almost zero chance oddsmakers have priced his return into the line. In his two recent games, Jones is averaging 12 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 2.0 BPG, adding both a legitimate post presence on offense and a rim protector on defense.
Defense is really where Jones helps a once-hopeless Pioneer squad. When Jones is on the floor this season the Pioneers give up just 0.99 points per possession, per Hoop Lens. When Jones is off the floor, they allow a putrid 1.13 points per possession.
Western Illinois plays through the post a lot — with Jones on the floor, that avenue to scoring gets much harder to navigate.
Then there’s Jase Townsend, one of the clutchest performers in all of college basketball — at any level. Townsend is Denver’s leading scorer and do-everything leader.
He’s 32nd in the nation in scoring at 19.8 PPG and ranks third in the Summit in usage.
Townsend is one of the best scorers off ball screens in the country, and the Leathernecks are not very good defending the pick-n-roll, ranking in just the 33rd percentile of points per possession allowed on such action, per Synergy. Townsend should have no trouble putting up 20 on the suspect WIU defense.
Matchup points are all well and good, but sometimes simplicity is the best angle when betting college basketball.
Western Illinois is overvalued by oddsmakers thanks in part to two recent wins on the road at Omaha, a team that was missing two of its key players. In no reality should WIU be a 6- or 7-point favorite against a conference foe.
New Mexico State vs. Seattle
New Mexico State entered the 2020-21 season 43-3 in the WAC under Chris Jans. FORTY-THREE AND THREE. That’s the sort of dominance you only see in such fine things as the 1996 Bulls or Fifty Shades of Grey.
This season, the Aggies have already matched that three-year loss total, dropping their first three WAC contests fresh off their second COVID-induced shutdown of the year.
Few teams in America have had to endure the type of crap NMSU has in the wildest college basketball we’ve ever seen.
First, due to New Mexico law, the Aggies were forced to relocate to Phoenix in November, unable to practice on their home floor.
Next, a COVID shutdown put NMSU on the sidelines for nearly all of December. A second shutdown took away most of the Aggies’ January, resulting in only one non-conference game against Division I competition, a loss against the powerhouse that is Cal State Northridge.
Recently it was announced NMSU would play its home games in a high school gym in El Paso, Texas. That didn’t go so well for the Aggies in their first “home” contest, losing by 10 to Cal Baptist.
But in the second game, NMSU finally broke through its malaise and looked like its old self, decimating the Lancers by 27 points on the back of a healthy 1.33 points per possession performance.
That game against CBU is all I need to start hammering New Mexico State for the foreseeable future. The Aggies were expected to roll through the WAC this preseason, being picked by the media members, coaches, and even Three Man Weave as the overwhelming favorite to cut down the conference nets in March.
The WAC preseason Player of the Year, Jabari Rice, resides on the NMSU roster, a roster that features two high-major transfers and seven upperclassmen in its core rotation.
The Aggies are just 1-3 in the WAC, and I’d bet my bottom dollar they start raging against the rest of their league foes.
Take this opportunity to bet on a NMSU team undervalued by the market.
KenPom currently has NMSU 137th in the country in his rankings; Bart Torvik has the Aggies 130th. Both sites started NMSU significantly higher in the preseason (104th and 83rd, respectively), and there’s every reason to believe the Aggies get back to those preseason expectations.
NMSU is head and shoulders above Seattle in the talent department, a Seattle team that has so far been by far the worst of head coach Jim Hayford’s four-year tenure at the school.
Against a fully clicking, angry Aggie squad, the Redhawks are in for a world of hurt.
Pick: New Mexico State -6.5 (Play to -7)