Saturday NCAAB Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s Top 3 Picks, Including Wake Forest vs. Pitt, Valparaiso vs. Illinois State & More
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Isaiah Mucius.
- Saturdays are made for wall-to-wall college basketball action, and that's precisely what we have today.
- Jim Root of Three Man Weave took over our college basketball best bets today and picked three games from the slate, including Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh at 6 p.m. ET.
- Below, find Jim's comprehensive breakdown for each of his top three games to bet on Saturday evening.
Saturday is here, and that means plenty of wall-to-wall college basketball action.
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.
Saturday’s best bets have been provided by Jim Root as of late Thursday night. Follow Jim and the rest of the crew on Twitter at @3MW_CBB, and download the Action App to easily track your bets for Saturday’s college basketball action.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
All listed odds have been updated as of Saturday morning and via William Hill. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing on Friday night.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Belmont vs. SIU Edwardsville
Revenge is a dish best served cold, and Belmont has waited over a year for its chance to pay back SIU Edwardsville for an embarrassing loss in Nashville on Jan. 2, 2020.
The Bruins were 23-point home favorites in that one, but they were dominated on the glass (46-35) and generally got outplayed by a team that finished in the bottom 10 in KenPom’s final national rankings.
With several key pieces back from that squad, Belmont should be chomping at the bit to take another swing at the upstart Cougars.
Despite coming out of a month-long COVID-19 shutdown, the visitors are riding high after getting a road win at Tennessee State, having forced the Tigers into an appalling 24 turnovers.
That’s how SIUE’s defense functions, and Tennessee State was missing its starting point guard, making it a perfect matchup.
Belmont, meanwhile, has one of the best mid-major point guards in the country in junior Grayson Murphy, a three-year starter with plenty of experience.
He and freshman phenom JaCobi Wood should be just fine against whatever pressure SIUE throws at them, and the Bruins’ devastating transition attack should get easy bucket after easy bucket.
Personnel limitations tip the scales even more heavily in Belmont’s direction.
The Cougars’ leading scorer, Sidney Wilson, missed the mid-week win at Tennessee State, and the UConn transfer’s absence will be far more harmful against the cream of the Ohio Valley crop.
Even worse, center Philip Pepple sat out that game as well, leaving SIUE without a single rotation player over 6-foot-7.
Against 6-foot-11 Nick Muszynski, the best big man in the conference by a couple country miles, that could lead to a bloodbath in the paint, as Belmont ranks fifth nationally in 2-point percentage, shooting a scorching 60.7% inside the arc.
What should be an angry favorite and a short-handed underdog sets up for a blowout, so I’ll happily take the Bruins under -20.
Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh
Jeff Capel and his Pitt Panthers are coming off a massive trio of wins, knocking off Syracuse twice and then toppling mighty Duke on Tuesday night. They’re riding high at 4-1 in the ACC, and now they head to Winston-Salem to take on the conference’s cellar-dweller.
Wake Forest, meanwhile, has been mired in the most challenging gauntlet imaginable in the ACC: at Virginia, at Duke, Louisville, Virginia Tech, at North Carolina.
The Demon Deacons have battled in those games, covering the spread in four of them, and now they come to a more winnable spot in the schedule.
To seize a victory, though, Wake has to limit Justin Champagnie, Pitt’s pitbull in the paint who averages a double-double and just slapped a 31-point, 14-rebound performance on big, bad Duke.
In Isaiah Mucius, Ismael Massoud, Jalen Johnson, and Isaiah Wilkins, the Demon Deacons have several similarly-sized bodies to hurl at him, but Champagnie is a wholly unique matchup problem thanks to his length, silky touch, and dogged determination on the glass.
He helps Pitt rank 18th nationally in offensive rebound rate; fortunately for the Deacons, Wake boss Steve Forbes always emphasizes cleaning the glass, and his team ranks a solid 80th in defensive rebound rate.
Offensively, Wake Forest has found ways to score via the off-the-dribble prowess of Daivien Williamson and a stable of willing perimeter shooters.
Pitt’s defense packs the paint and has benefited greatly from opponents’ frigid shooting: foes have made just 26.1% from beyond the arc against Capel’s crew this year, meaning the grim reaper known as regression could be lurking around any corner.
To me, Pitt is riding too high right now, and facing a well-coached Wake Forest team that’s desperate for its first ACC win – not to mention, sandwiched in between blue-blood battles as Pitt hosts North Carolina on Tuesday – sets up as the perfect letdown spot for a young team that is tasting its first real success.
Valparaiso vs. Illinois State
For our third and final best bet of the day, we head to the bottom of the Missouri Valley, where 0-3 Valparaiso heads on the road to 2-5 Illinois State.
The host Redbirds are ahead in the standings and just got a huge win over Bradley, and yet, I think the road Crusaders should be favored. Am I going insane?
Though the answer to that question is almost assuredly “Yes, 1000%,” that does not mean I’m wrong.
The Crusaders have been blasted in three MVC games thus far, but all of them have come against teams with a singular force on the block for which coach Matt Lottich and Valpo had no answer (Loyola-Chicago’s Cam Krutwig, Missouri State’s Gaige Prim twice).
Illinois State scores in vastly different ways, either via transition or with a “my turn, your turn” half-court attack featuring several talented guards and wings.
That lies far more in the sweet spot for Valpo’s roster and defensive scheme, which features no true center but several versatile guards and wings who can switch interchangeably. The Redbirds will take ill-advised jumpers if unable to get to the rim, and Valpo is well-coached enough to seal up driving lanes.
The Crusaders are also long overdue for some positive shooting regression.
Every relevant returning returner on the roster – Eron Gordon, Mileek McMillan, Donovan Clay, Daniel Sackey, Ben Krikke – is shooting worse than last season from the perimeter, and against an Illinois State 3-point defense that can best be described as “average,” expect a few more shots to fall for the visitors.
If all else fails, this one could come down to free-throw shooting, and Valpo (72.6%) obliterates Illinois State (57.5%) in that department. In a desperate road spot against an even-or-worse foe, that might be the difference for the Crusaders.
Pick: Valparaiso +1.5 (Play to -1)