College Basketball Odds & Picks For Friday Night: How To Bet Oklahoma State vs. Baylor & North Carolina vs. Florida State
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: MJ Walker.
- The night is still young, and there's plenty of college basketball left to go around.
- Our college basketball staff broke down 10 (!!!) more games from 6 p.m. ET all the way into Saturday morning.
- Check out all 10 picks complete with a betting breakdown below, featuring Baylor vs. Oklahoma State and UConn vs. Creighton.
We’re getting closer and closer to Selection Sunday, as bids are being improved and resumes are being wrecked.
Saturday night brings a few fantastic matchups in the big-name conferences, as Baylor looks to avoid an upset against a Cade Cunningham-led Oklahoma State team, while Florida State looks to book a date in the ACC title game against Georgia Tech, which advanced the final when Virginia dropped out due to a positive COVID-19 test.
But those aren’t the only conferences that are sure to be full of action on Friday night.
Lamar looks to continue its Cinderella run in the Southland Conference with a matchup against Abilene Christian. UConn has some magical history at Madison Square Garden and will hope to add to it against high-scoring Creighton.
Check out each pick and breakdown below, and feel free to use the table below to navigate to any game included in our best bets.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
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Note: All photos below are via Getty Images.
Morgan State vs. Coppin State
By Jim Root
At this point in the year, I rarely dabble in totals, but I think both teams have clear-ish routes to score here.
For Morgan State, it’s on the offensive glass. The Bears have a size advantage inside, and their three-headed glass monster of Troy Baxter, Malik Miller and Lagio Grantsaan should gobble up second shot opportunities. Morgan State ranks 27th nationally in offensive rebounding rate, while Coppin State is a dismal 313th on the defensive glass.
On the other end, Coppin State should be able to build a lovely homestead at the free throw line. The Eagles’ offense is heavily downhill towards the rim, ranking second nationally in free throw rate, while the foul-prone Bears will constantly oblige and send them to the stripe. Coppin State averaged 30.5 attempts per game in the teams’ four regular-season meetings, opening up efficient scoring opportunities for a team that otherwise struggles to put the ball in the basket.
Tempo-wise, we could see this slow down somewhat because it’s the postseason, but that’s a relative term. The four regular-season matchups between these teams averaged a whopping 81 possessions per game, and both teams vastly prefer to play in transition. Pace should not be an issue.
Oklahoma State vs. Baylor
There’s a compelling case to be made that these are currently the two best teams in the Big 12 and that this is the de facto title game for the Big 12 Tournament.
Baylor has returned to form as a top-two team in the nation, and Oklahoma State has won seven of its last eight. The last time these teams met, just eight days ago, a hot night for Baylor and too many Cowboy turnovers led to a double-digit win for the Bears.
Although Baylor is the best shooting team in basketball, sporting the top 3-point percentage in the nation at a blazing 42.8%, there’s some reason to believe regression will cause the Bears to go cold for a game soon. Baylor has made better than 40% of its 3s in each of its four games in the month of March, making a total of 47% from beyond the arc in that stretch.
Oklahoma State has been good at defending the 3-point line, leading the Big 12 in 3-point percentage allowed and ranking third in lowest percentage of points allowed via outside shots. The Oklahoma State team that we’ve seen of late is good enough to compete with Baylor.
If Baylor didn’t have multiple defenders well suited to slow down Cade Cunningham, I might talk myself into the Cowboys moneyline at +360. If you’re braver than me, that’s the play.
Montana State vs. Southern Utah
By Ky McKeon
For the second day in a row, I shall be fading Southern Utah. It’s not that I think SUU is a bad team, I just think oddsmakers have the T-Birds heavily overvalued.
SUU snuck out a one-point win yesterday over Northern Colorado after getting down by as many as nine in the first half. A ridiculous 30-of-35 clip from the free-throw line led the way.
Montana State is a better team than Northern Colorado (the Bobcats beat the Bears twice this season), yet are getting as many points as UNC did yesterday. That’s an immediate sign to me this spread is too high. MSU also had a ridiculous free throw game yesterday, cashing 32-of-40 from the charity stripe in a cover over Idaho State.
SUU allows fewer free-throw chances than anyone in the league, bad news for a Bobcats team that relies on the charity stripe more than any other team in the Big Sky. Now, SUU’s defensive free throws allowed stat could be skewed because the Thunderbirds never had to play the Bobcats during the regular season.
They never had to deal with Jubrile Belo, an absolute monster of a forward who ranks second in the country in free throw rate. Southern Utah has good athletes, but Belo should have no issue dominating the paint on the offensive end.
SUU likely will get to the line frequently, and us Bobcat backers can only hope Belo stays out of foul trouble. I said in my write-up yesterday that the Thunderbirds love to jack up 3-pointers and take poor shots, and that’s exactly what Montana State will try to force them to do tonight.
Danny Sprinkle, the head coach at MSU, is fantastic, and I have every confidence he will come into this game with a solid plan.
Hopefully, that plan will include slowing the pace against a Thunderbird squad that lives in transition and thrives in high-possession contests. Few teams in the nation are better at shutting down transition opportunities than Montana State, which will certainly be an enormous factor in the Bobcats’ quest to cover seven tonight.
Akron vs. Buffalo
Buffalo-Akron is an ideal live betting game.
I’ve said many times before that Buffalo is one of the streakiest teams in the nation. The Bulls go on huge runs and then suffer through prolonged droughts. They are never out of a game. but neither is their opponent.
Meanwhile, Akron is one of the highest-variance teams in the country since they are so reliant on the 3-point shot — Buffalo excels at defending the 3 FYI.
You should see massive runs in this game as we did in the regular-season finale when these two teams met. In that game, Akron led 13-8, Buffalo then went on a huge run and eventually led 58-36 with 12 minutes to go before barely holding on to win (and failing to cover) with a final score of 80-78.
I’ll be looking to bet both teams live after the other goes on a big run. I’d also look at the trailing team for the 2H if the deficit is six points or more.
Fairfield vs. Saint Peter’s
Fairfield finished the season at 9-16 but has been making some noise in the MAAC Tournament thus far.
After a 58-59 overtime win over Manhattan, the Stags upset Monmouth, 79-60. Now, they have a date with the 3-seed Saint Peter’s Peacocks who own the top-ranked defensive efficiency in the MAAC.
The Peacocks took care of business, beating Rider, 75-60, and have found themselves in prime position to get their ticket punched for the Big Dance.
Saint Peter’s defense has been phenomenal all season, holding opponents to just 61.9 points per game. It has forced turnovers on 22.9% of its defensive possessions in conference play. It locks down the paint, holding opponents to just 40.0% on 2-point field goal attempts.
They met twice toward the end of this season, with both teams picking up a double-digit victory.
The Stags struggle on offense and defense. They own the 295th-ranked offensive efficiency in the country and the defense sits at 296.
Scoring in the paint has not been easy, and the Stags will struggle even more against the No. 1 ranked 2-point defense in the MAAC. They convert on just 31.9% of 3-point attempts on the year, so points will be few and far between for this team.
I’m anticipating this Saint Peter’s defense to completely shut down the Stags. I make this number closer to Saint Peter’s -9 and see value in the opening number of -6.5.
North Carolina vs. Florida State
By Pat McMahon
The Tar Heels and Seminoles split their regular-season meetings, with each team winning at home.
Tonight, North Carolina comes in playing its best basketball of the season and will be a popular underdog. However, I think the well-rested Seminoles come out strong in their first ACC tournament game and are a little undervalued in this spot.
Both teams boast high efficiency margins on both ends of the court, but the Seminoles have an edge offensively. They rank 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom, and are great at executing in the half-court.
The two things that make the Florida State offense so difficult to cover: shooting and balance. The Seminoles put up just under 80 points per game, but the scoring is spread around.
MJ Walker leads the team at 13.1 points per game, and five others average 8.7 or more. The Seminoles are lights-out from 3-point range, where they hit 38.5% as a team. That’s the best percentage in the ACC and the 14th best nationally.
The Tar Heels struggle from the outside (31.6% from 3-point land) and rely on scoring in the paint and pounding the offensive glass. The rebounding battle will be key and unsurprisingly, the team that controlled the glass in the regular-season meetings also won the game.
While I don’t expect the Seminoles to completely own the rebounding battle, they have the team size to battle with North Carlina in the paint and at least limit the Tar Heels’ second-chance opportunities. If it can do that, Florida State’s 11th best 2-point percentage defense will frustrate UNC and put the Seminoles in a great position to win.
The Noles were great in their first game back from a COVID-19-related pause in January, exploding for 105 points against NC State, so rust shouldn’t be a concern. I like the tournament favorite to post a strong performance and reach the title game and would play the Seminoles up to -3.
UConn vs. Creighton
By Mike Randle
Dance with who brung ‘ya.
I’ve backed UConn since James Bouknight’s return, picked them as my favorite Big East Tournament future bet, and enjoyed their “no sweat” cover for my best bet last night. I’m going back to the well in a coin-flip game against Creighton.
The Bluejays’ season sweep of the Huskies is very misleading. Creighton won at Connecticut in overtime on Dec. 20, when the Huskies were still operating as a one-man team on offense. In that game, Bouknight scored 40 of UConn’s 74 points. Tyrese Martin (11.2 points per game), Isaiah Whaley (7.9) and Adama Sanogo (7.2) combined for just 14 total points in that game. Senior Tyler Polley (7.7 points) was yet to return from a torn ACL suffered last January. The supporting cast around Bouknight had not developed to the elite level they are at now.
In the second matchup at Creighton, the Huskies played superb defense and earned the cover without Bouknight. UConn held Creighton to just 30% (6-of-20) from 3-point land in Omaha, a very rare accomplishment at Omaha. The Bluejays generate 38.3 of their points from beyond the arc, which was the most in Big East play.
The best way to attack the Connecticut defense is to get to the free-throw line, since the Huskies’ defense has allowed 21.4% of its points at the charity stripe, the highest rate in the Big East. Creighton doesn’t attack the basket and will need to deliver an elite defensive performance to match a highly motivated Huskies team at MSG.
The Huskies are the best team in college basketball against the spread (ATS), with a fantastic 16-4-1 record. UConn has covered seven of their past eight games and has won seven of eight games outright.
There is also a huge team chemistry advantage with Danny Hurley and the Huskies, compared to the recently suspended Greg McDermott and the Bluejays. With the superior defense, momentum, and a healthy Bouknight, I’m riding the Huskies train all the way to the Big East Conference finals.
Lamar vs. Abilene Christian
By Jim Root
That’s right, I’m sticking with the hot hand here.
Lamar has covered two games in a row for me in the Southland, including winning outright yesterday as an 8.5-point underdog. The Cardinals are now on a torrid seven-game cover streak as entering this one.
Abilene Christian typically beats teams in two ways: forcing an abundance of turnovers and dominating the paint offensively with its size. The first part raises alarm bells since Lamar has struggled to take care of the rock at times — it coughed up the ball 19 times in each of these teams’ two regular-season meetings.
However, this game should play relatively slowly, and Lamar’s backcourt now has multiple competent ball-handlers thanks to the emergence of freshman Kasen Harrison, alongside senior Ellis Jefferson.
It’s the second area where I think Lamar can really battle. David Muoka is the best shot-blocker in the conference and one of the best in the country, and the 6-foot-10 center missed the first matchup between these two, allowing ACU’s bigs to dominate. Now healthy, he and burly forward Avery Sullivan can compete inside.
This game also features the classic rest vs. rust debate. This is Lamar’s third game in as many days, while Abilene Christian has been kicked back in a recliner until today. The Cardinals’ thin seven-man rotation is concerning, but the defense should continue to be stout despite the harrowing schedule.
I would take this down to +12, but it has been creeping up steadily so you might want to wait and see if it climbs even higher before locking this one in.
New Mexico State vs. Utah Valley
By Ky McKeon
The Aggies had one of the worst COVID-19 experiences of any team in the country this season. The state of New Mexico’s laws prevented New Mexico State from even practicing in its own gym, forcing it to relocate to Phoenix for much of the campaign. Every “home” game NMSU played this season was in El Paso, about an hour drive south of Las Cruces.
With every team now forced to play on a neutral floor in a tournament setting, NMSU seems to have an advantage. Playing away from home has become second nature to the Aggies, and they’ve proven that recently by winning six of their last seven games.
NMSU was the heavy favorite to win the WAC this season, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Aggies end up claiming the automatic bid. They are by far the most talented team in the conference on paper and have the best coach in the league (Chris Jans) roaming the sidelines.
Utah Valley split the season series with NMSU, and the Wolverines’ size could bother the Aggies, but this team isn’t in the same stratosphere as NMSU from a talent perspective.
NMSU is one of the few teams that can rebound and compete in the paint with UVU — if you take away the Wolverines’ ability to score inside, off the glass or from the foul line, they cannot score. On the other end of the floor, NMSU’s offense has been humming lately and with a finally fully healthy roster, the Aggies should have no issue extending this game to double digits against a UVU squad that simply cannot matchup with their skill-level and athleticism.
Colorado State vs. Utah State
The Rams and Aggies squared off twice in the regular season, with Colorado State able to eke out a split in a series played on the road in Logan.
The Rams will look to spread Utah State out and win this game from beyond the arc. Colorado State ranks 26th in the nation in 3-point rate. Utah State ranks 300th in 3-point rate allowed. The opportunities should be there for Colorado State.
Even if it doesn’t shoot the lights out, there’s hope that the Rams are better suited for the turnaround after both teams won yesterday.
Utah State 7-footer Neemias Queta was a game-changer yesterday, posting 18 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks. He did so, however, in 34 minutes of action. We’ll see if he can handle that workload in a game between two of the three highest tempo teams in the Mountain West on the second night of a back-to-back.
With both of these teams squarely on the bubble, this should be a battle to the final whistle. The value on Colorado State is good enough to earn your bet.