College Basketball Odds, Best Bets: 8 Top Picks for Friday’s Late-Night Games, Featuring Utah State vs. Boise State (March 10)
Photo by Louis Grasse/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Odom (Utah State)
While Championship Saturday awaits, there’s still plenty of betting value to be had to close out Friday.
After looking at the evening slate, our staff is targeting eight different matchups across eight different conferences for Friday’s late games.
So, dive in below to get the top college basketball odds, best bets and picks for Friday’s late-night games, featuring Utah State vs. Boise State and more.
8 College Basketball Best Bets for Friday’s Late-Night Slate
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Friday’s late-night 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.|
Oregon vs. UCLA (Pac-12)
By Alex Hinton
In its first test without Jaylen Clark, UCLA passed with flying colors. Freshman Amari Bailey stepped up in his absence and scored a season-high 26 points.
Now the Bruins will have to deal with a streaking Oregon team to extend their own winning streak to 11 games.
However, I believe the Bruins will be up to the task.
This is a game that could very well be decided by turnovers. UCLA’s offense ranks 31st nationally in turnover percentage, and it’s seventh in the category defensively.
UCLA held a 15-9 edge in the turnover battle against Colorado. That allowed the Bruins to pull out an 11-point win and cover despite Colorado shooting 51% from the field and 43% from 3.
That’s not a trend I would expect to continue against Oregon.
The Ducks have played well of late, averaging 75 points during their four-game win streak. They are also up to 28th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.
However, they’re 207th in turnover percentage offensively. They will face a UCLA defense that’s second in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Freshman center Adem Bona has blocked two or more shots in seven consecutive games. He will be counted on to combat the size that Oregon throws at UCLA.
Should Oregon get rolling offensively, UCLA can win in a high-scoring affair as well, especially considering the difference in the two units.
UCLA ranks 28th in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency while Oregon is 70th in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Oregon also sits 266th in turnover percentage and is unlikely to disrupt point guard Tyger Campbell. The senior has had one turnover or less in nine of his last 10 games, and he keeps the Bruins’ offense running efficiently.
Campbell has no problem knocking down big shots, along with forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., who had 25 points and 12 rebounds against the Ducks in Eugene. He was pivotal in closing out the Ducks in the second half, and he may just do it again.
Pick: UCLA -5.5 (Play to -6.5)
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Wichita State vs. Tulane (AAC)
By Brett Pund
If you’re looking to get behind a team that’s peaking at the right time, Wichita State fits that bill today. It helps that the Shockers face a Tulane squad that has struggled recently.
Regardless, if you look at the last six-to-10 games for both programs, the Shockers have been much better than the Green Wave across the board.
But I also found another interesting trend.
Over the last 12 conference games, Wichita State has been trailing at halftime in only three of those contests, with a pair of those coming against No. 1 Houston.
Meanwhile, Tulane has been losing at the break in nine matchups over this same period, which includes both regular-season meetings with the Shockers.
In fact, Wichita State has owned opening periods in regular-season games, leading at the half by an average of 10 points per game. It also helps that the Shockers played in a tournament environment already, and it may take time for the Green Wave to adjust to that.
I don’t hate WSU on the full game either, but in case there are some tired legs after yesterday’s outing, I like the Shockers to come out of the gates strong in this one.
Pick: Wichita State 1H +1 (Play to PK)
Cal State Fullerton vs. UC Irvine (Big West)
If you’ve been following along with my Big West preview or our best bets column from yesterday, you probably know where I’m going with this pick.
The Cal State Fullerton Titans outlasted Hawaii in overtime to secure their spot in the quarterfinals, where they now take on top-seeded UC Irvine.
This will be the third meeting between the two, with each team taking care of business on their home floor.
The Anteaters are coming off an impressive 75-51 blowout win over Cal State Bakersfield in which they shot 57.9% from beyond the arc. This outside shooting percentage resulted in Irvine knocking down 11 total 3s.
This production from the perimeter will not be as easy to come by against a Fullerton defense that ranks 34th nationally in 3-point percentage defense, allowing its opponents to shoot just 31% from deep.
In addition to this perimeter defense, Fullerton’s defense will look to create enough pressure to throw off a UC Irvine team that has been driven by its up-tempo offense.
The Titans rank 54th nationally in turnover percentage, creating turnovers on 20.8% of opponents’ possessions.
On the other end, look for Fullerton’s offense to bolster its production at the charity stripe. The Titans are shooting 41% of shots from the charity stripe, the second-highest rate in the conference.
This ability to get to the free-throw line will be heavily utilized against a UC Irvine defense that allows opponents to score 23.6% of their points from the stripe, the third-highest rate in the Big West.
I expect this to be close throughout, so I will gladly take the points with a Fullerton team that has shown it can disrupt UC Irvine on both ends of the floor.
Pick: Cal State Fullerton +2.5 (Play to +2)
Grand Canyon vs. Sam Houston (WAC)
By Jim Root
Revenge is a dish best served cold, right?
Sam Houston has not seen Grand Canyon since Jan. 5, when the Bearkats lost in overtime. That game had strange circumstances, as GCU’s star, Jovan Blacksher, tore his ACL.
Blacksher, the WAC Preseason Player of the Year, exited midway through the first half. The Antelopes rallied impressively, and SHSU promptly took control of the game.
The Bearkats led for most of the contest, but a furious GCU rally in the final three minutes sent the game to OT. GCU completed the upset despite being shorthanded, and SHSU has surely remembered that failure for two months.
Blacksher obviously has not returned, and GCU has remade its identity as a high-scoring offense centered around prolific guard Ray Harrison. SHSU’s defensive pressure should give him problems, though, and the Antelopes struggled with turnovers after Blacksher went down.
For one extra edge, SHSU has played only one game this week. GCU is playing its third game in four days, and the Antelopes’ top three players have played a heavy minutes load.
Pick: Sam Houston -2.5 (Play to -4)
Creighton vs. Xavier (Big East)
Weighing the betting options in the two Big East semifinal games, this pick appears to have the most value.
We survived some scares from the lesser teams in the conference (looking at you, DePaul) to set up what could be two classics between four teams with legitimate Final Four promise.
The lines in both games reflect that.
This total, however, is at an enticing number. In two prior meetings this year, Creighton and Xavier averaged 164 total points, including a 90-87 barnburner in Cincinnati.
Both teams have also been playing in high-scoring affairs lately, with each of their last four games hitting the over.
If anything, that might inspire a fear of shooting regression arriving. Xavier has made 38.7% from 3 in its last seven, below its season average.
Creighton similarly has shot about season average lately, though the Bluejays did get hot against a shoddy Villanova transition defense last night. That’s hardly enough to sway me towards this game heading under.
These are two of the best offensive coaches in college basketball, with neither afraid to get into a back-and-forth game. In what promises to be one of the best games of the day, I’m signing up for these two teams to light up the scoreboard.
Pick: Over 152.5
Jackson State vs. Grambling (SWAC)
No. 2 Grambling State (23-8, 15-3, KenPom 172) will face No. 3 Jackson State (14-18, 12-6, KenPom 301) this evening in the late East Coast spot for the right to play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Tournament Championship tomorrow afternoon.
In the regular season, these two schools met one time on Jan. 28, with Grambling coming away with the victory at home, 78-66. Grambling State easily covered the 6.5-point spread in the 12-point victory.
Grambling has been without the services of second-leading scorer Carte’are Gordon after some legal issues arose in the last week. Vegas has adjusted the lines to account for his absence, but lines have continued to compress to the point where I think there’s value on the Grambling State side.
While offense is clearly important, defense has been Grambling State’s bread and butter this season. It’s the most efficient defensive team in the SWAC and ranks 87th in the nation in KenPom’s AdjD. The Tigers’ 2-point defense is one of the most elite in the country, ranking sixth overall.
Look for Grambling State’s defense to be the key tonight.
Even with Gordon’s absence, Grambling has found ways to fill the gap.
Grambling State guard Cameron Christon, the SWAC Player of the Year, hasn’t missed a beat, scoring double digits in each of the past four games. Look for Christon to have a big game tonight against the iffy Jackson State defense.
My model is projecting Grambling State as nine-point favorites, but I do think it’s prudent to haircut that if Gordon isn’t available. I think laying the points for Grambling State at 5.5 or better provides strong risk adjusted returns as we ultimately look to rely on the Tigers’ 2-point defense.
Pick: Grambling State -5 (Play to -5.5)
Clemson vs. Virginia (ACC)
Clemson’s really impressed this year, putting together a rock-solid offense based on interior scoring from PJ Hall and solid perimeter shooting.
In this game, the key will be Clemson shooting over the top of Virginia’s pack line defense. 3-point shooting is inherently variance-based, so I’m not 100% confident in this analysis, but I’m riding the hot-hand fallacy.
In its last two games, Clemson shot 11-for-24 from 3 against NC State and 13-for-29 against Notre Dame. The Tigers are cooking right now, and I’m betting they can hit a few more in a monster quarterfinal game.
Conversely, Clemson has defensive issues, but the Tigers are an elite off-screen defense. That’ll help against Virginia’s mover-blocker offense, although I hope the Tigers don’t get shredded by off-ball cutting.
It’s also worth mentioning that Ben Vander Plas is hurt, meaning Kadin Shedrick is forced into the spotlight. I’m unsure if that’s necessarily a negative, but it does make me more hesitant about Virginia’s outlook.
Virginia held off Clemson in Charlottesville by seven in a game where the Cavs shot 22 free throws to the Tigers’ seven. If we get some regression on a neutral court and the Tigers buy into the revenge-game angle, I think we could see an upset here.
At the minimum, three points is a bit much between these two, especially in a slow-paced grinder. The ShotQualityBets model makes this game a true pick‘em, so I’m happy to catch +2.5 or better with the Tigers.
Pick: Clemson +2.5
Utah State vs. Boise State (Mountain West)
Utah State’s offense absolutely torched New Mexico in the MWC quarterfinals last night and now has a clear rest and depth advantage for the semifinal on Friday night.
Boise State needed overtime to get past UNLV and now has to play a back-to-back with almost no depth. All five starters for Boise State played at least 35 minutes, and three played at least 40 minutes.
The Broncos have one of the shortest benches in the entire country, and fatigue could play a role down the stretch when Utah State runs in transition.
The Broncos’ defense does guard the perimeter well and aggressively closes out on 3-point shooters to try and take away looks for opponents. Unlike last season, though, they don’t have the elite rim protector.
That’s where this defense is more vulnerable. When you think of the Aggies, you think of the ball-screen actions and the 3-point shooting, but they’re also elite at getting to the rim and finishing there.
These two teams just played in Logan to conclude the regular season, and Utah State scored 86 points with just seven made 3s.
Boise sold out to take away the 3-point line, so Utah State instead made 25 2s and shot 69% from inside the arc.
The Broncos have allowed just 0.92 PPP on catch-and-shoot attempts this year too, despite an expected 1.01 PPP allowed. They’re just slightly above average guarding the rim, per Synergy, while Utah State is in the 92th percentile in rim scoring.
The versatility of Ryan Odom’s offense should make scoring much easier for Utah State than Boise in this matchup, so I’d bet the Aggies at -140 or better to reach the MWC final.
Pick: Utah State -130 (Play to -140)
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