College Basketball Odds & Picks: Three Man Weave’s 3 Best Bets for Friday
Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Michael Thomas (Louisiana)
Betting and mid-major hoops. That’s your typical Friday night throughout the college basketball season.
Tonight, Three Man Weave’s Matt Cox chose three games to project, including Harvard-Princeton, Louisiana-Georgia State and Texas State-Troy.
His picks are even aligned with our other staff writers — Tanner McGrath on the Ivy League showdown and Kyle Remillard on the top-of-the-Sun Belt clash — making this an even more intriguing night of best bets.
With that being said, let’s dive in before another massive Saturday slate.
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.|
Harvard vs. Princeton
Friday’s are for the Ancient Eight, which is where we kick off today’s best bets trio. The men of Harvard travel to Jersey for a two-game weekend series against the Ivy League’s most prolific offense: the Princeton Tigers.
Per KenPom, Princeton boasts the nation’s 40th-most efficient offense, anchored by interior fulcrum Tosan Evbuomwan.
Much like a planet’s moons encircle it in orbit, so too do the Tigers’ litany of long-range marksmen surround Evbuomwan at all times. Evbuomwan is known for his post scoring prowess, but he also leads the Ivy League in assist rate through 11 games.
Harvard must have its head on a swivel whenever Evbuomwan touches the rock inside. The key to slowing down the Princeton offense is stifling Ryan Langborg, Ethan Wright and Drew Friberg by forcing them to do damage inside the arc.
Evbuomwan — and his bookend Jaelin Llewellyn — are bound to do damage regardless. But if Princeton’s opponent can eliminate the Tigers’ supporting cast from the equation, then it has a chance.
Harvard’s brittle frontline may be a blessing in disguise in this matchup. Even with Mason Forbes back, the Crimson predominantly remains a team of 6-foot-6 wings, led by Noah Kirkwood.
The lack of a true post presence poses a challenge in corralling Evbuomwan up front, but the Crimson’s length and speed on the perimeter will come in handy chasing shooters and cutters around the perimeter.
Above all, Harvard will show zero signs of quitting tonight, given that its season now hangs in the balance.
Princeton, Penn and Yale have already sewn-up their invitations to the four-team Ivy League Tournament. Meanwhile, Harvard is clinging to the No. 4 spot in the league standings at 5-6. A sweep this weekend would be a gut punch to the Crimson’s chances of securing that final spot.
Nonetheless, if Harvard does lay an egg tonight — don’t be afraid to double — down on the Crimson in the rematch back at home on Sunday.
Pick: Harvard +8 (Play to +7)
Louisiana vs. Georgia State
Handicapping is all about timing. During its last six games, Georgia State is 5-1 against the spread (ATS) while Louisiana is 1-5 against the number. Betting against teams’ current form during this time of year is a dicey proposition, but we’ve hit an inflection point of value for both teams in this matchup.
Louisiana’s season has been a bumpy ride from start to finish, frequently disrupted by an onslaught of injuries and COVID-19 interruptions.
Georgia State was on a similarly turbulent trajectory earlier this season, but the Panthers seem to have found their mojo during the last few weeks.
Unlike my other two best bets on Friday, this bet on Louisiana is mostly a price play. Frankly, the line just jumps off the screen as way too high. But even notwithstanding the mispriced line, there are also personnel and matchup angles that swing in the Cajuns favor, as well.
During Louisiana’s three-game winning streak (albeit, only featuring a single cover against the spread), the team’s recurrent turnover issues have begun to abate.
One big reason for this improvement is the reinsertion of Bryan Au into the starting lineup — while the erratic Greg Williams has seen his minutes quietly disappear.
Louisiana head coach Bob Marlin knows where his bread is buttered: in the paint — where burly wing Kobe Julien and twin-tower-twofer, Theo Akwuba and Jordan Brown, make their pay.
Brown missed the last two games due to COVID-19 protocols, but he is set to return to the fold tonight against Georgia State. His presence alongside Akwuba is huge — literally: The Panthers boast their own pair of forward stalwarts in Jalen Thomas and Eliel Nsoseme.
Neither team can trust its perimeter scoring nor its playmaking, which likely turns this game into a Battle of the Bigs. Pound-for-pound, Akwuba and Brown can at least play Thomas and Nsoseme to a stalemate, which bodes well from the dog’s perspective.
Georgia State won this season’s first meeting despite Louisiana canning 12-of-22 shots from 3-point range. The difference in Friday’s rematch is that now the Ragin’ Cajuns are starting to take care of the basketball, which doomed them in that first meeting.
Pick: Louisiana +7 (Play to +6)
Texas State vs. Troy
As I discussed in this week’s Big Bets on Campus Friday Night 6-Pack, Troy is a home-run situational play tonight against Texas State. At first glance, this line stinks out loud. The Sun Belt’s best team is basically a toss-up against a team that most pegged as a bottom-half squad back in November?
The prevailing edge here is Texas State’s dwindling hunger. The Bobcats have already secured the Sun Belt regular season title and have nothing left to play for.
Less than 48 hours removed from an impressive road win at South Alabama, Texas State is bound to ease off the gas pedal ever so slightly. And if they do — then they may get punked by a team whose most-redeeming quality is its relentless motor.
Troy’s mantra takes after its head coach, Scott Cross, who still has a chip on his shoulder after being ousted from UT Arlington in 2019.
Since returning to the sidelines at Troy — back in his old Sun Belt stomping grounds — he has done nothing but exceed expectations. His teams aren’t always easy on the eyes, but boy do they compete night-in and night-out.
Even without the electric Duke Miles in the lineup during Troy’s last four games, the Trojans still went 2-2 — outright and against the number — leaning on a roster that runs 13-deep.
Cross continues to praise his team’s unselfishness and depth, which is corroborated by Troy’s minimal dropoff from starter-to-second string and second string-to-third string.
In a late-night, nationally-televised game, the Trojans — who will likely be without Miles again due to a concussion — should be bloodthirsty for a ‘W.’
Look no further than the recent precedents set by Cleveland State and South Dakota State: two conference champions that failed to cover in their first games after having secured their respective lead titles.
(Well … South Dakota State technically covered in overtime … but did not in regulation.)
Take the feisty Trojans in a game that should effectively play like a classic home dog spot.