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College Basketball Odds & Picks: Three Man Weave’s 3 Friday Best Bets (February 4)

College Basketball Odds & Picks: Three Man Weave’s 3 Friday Best Bets (February 4) article feature image
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Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Keshaun Saunders.

  • Friday college basketball slates usually serve as a preface to massive Saturday slates, and today is no different.
  • But Matt Cox of Three Man Weave has still found betting value on three mid-major games on Friday.
  • Check out Cox's top three bets for Friday below.

College basketball Fridays in January always serve as an appetizer to the main course on Saturdays.

This Friday is no exception, as there are “only” 20 games on today’s college hoops slate, with 0 top-25 teams in action. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t betting value across the board.

Matt Cox of Three Man Weave broke down three mid-major matchups, including an Ivy League showdown and a basketball version of MACtion.

Check out all three of Cox’s top bets for Friday’s slate below.


Three Man Weave’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 of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
7 p.m. ET
Penn -9
7 p.m. ET
Manhattan +5
9 p.m. ET
Toledo -8
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.

Penn vs. Columbia

Friday, Feb. 4
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Penn -9

The Red and Blue is blossoming, subtly, in conference play, an annual tradition of Steve Donahue and his Quakers.

Despite an abundance of unseasoned underclassmen, Penn’s proven its A-game is as lethal as any in the Ivy. Two Saturdays ago, Penn knocked off preseason favorite Yale in convincing fashion. Currently, Penn sits a half-game out of first place in the standings.

Chasing down an Ivy crown is plenty of motivation as is, but there’s an extra dose of juice for the Quakers tonight. Columbia shocked Penn (well, embarrassed Penn) in the Palestra back on Jan.8 with a stunning 73-69 upset.

This uber-talented Penn nucleus, led by Jordan Dingle, is bound to put its best foot forward tonight.

More broadly, this spot fits into a larger situational angle I like to attack when it arises: large road favorites, specifically when fully invested and engaged. Consider this the inverse of betting large conference road dogs, which was once a consistent positive ROI angle for years.

In both scenarios, there’s a diminishing impact of home-court value. Why? Anecdotally, the less competitive a game becomes, the less influential the crowd becomes. Thus, if you believe Penn is able to control this game wire-to-wire, you’re getting an extra point or two of value that’s baked in to Columbia’s home-court (Penn was laying 14.5 in the first meeting).

Adding to that compressed home-court is Columbia’s home attendance policy. Following in the footsteps of their Ivy League brethren, the Lions are set to allow fans back in the stands imminently. However, per the official school website, that date isn’t until Feb. 7.

That means tonight, Columbia’s limited fan attendance policy still holds, which makes for a desolate cheering section composed of student-athlete families.

If there’s a concern tonight for the Red and Blue, it’s on the interior. Penn must clamp down on up the defensive glass, where it was hammered in the first matchup.

Bet on Donahue recalibrating his defense accordingly to slow down the Lions’ twofer of Ike Nweke and Patrick Harding up front. If successful, the Quakers should cruise to any easy road victory.

Pick: Penn -9 or better



Manhattan vs. Niagara

Friday, Feb. 4
7 p.m. ET
ESPN3
Manhattan +5

Cover your eyes, folks. We’re going back to the Manhattan well…

Backing a team as renegade as the Jaspers is never fun.

For starters, I’ll concede Manhattan is at a coaching disadvantage tonight. Niagara head coach Greg Paulus has rightfully earned a reputation as a “do more with less” kind of guy. Steve Masiello, meanwhile, seems to have lost his mojo the last few years.

All that said, this is still an inflated line for two near equals, regardless of location. Even though the trip from the Big Apple to WNY is no picnic, the MAAC’s home-court value has dissipated in league play across the board.

The Jaspers boast power conference size, speed and talent in general. The problems arise when those individual parts don’t gel together cohesively, which is a reflection of coaching.

The difference this season, relative to Manhattan’s struggles in prior years, is that the crop of talent is headlined by a bona fide star in Jose Perez.

After a cup of coffee at Marquette, Perez has taken the MAAC by storm. He’s the conference’s top scorer and assist man, proof of his importance to the Jaspers’ offense. Perez is coming off a stellar 29 point, seven-assist performance against Marist, a much needed palette cleanser to what transpired the game prior at Saint Peter’s.

In that forgettable night, Perez was tossed for barking at the refs just minutes into the game. Without their beacon, the Jaspers faltered badly, and essentially waved the white flag by halftime.

That 26-point loss looks like an eyesore on Manhattan’s resume, but from a handicapping perspective, it devalued the Jaspers by over 10 spots in KenPom.

Even though Manhattan’s come up short in its last two roadies, it’s proven it can win outside of Draddy Gymnasium. The Jaspers knocked off Siena, which currently resides in third place in the MAAC standings, earlier this year in Albany and covered at Iona two weeks ago.

You can bet they’ll do more than compete in a revenge-seeking spot tonight at Niagara, which mounted a wild second-half comeback to shock Manhattan in the first meeting.

Pick: Manhattan +5 or better



Toledo vs. Ball State

Friday, Feb. 4
9 p.m. ET
ESPNU
Toledo -8

Timing is everything in the betting markets. Generally, waiting until the ninth hour to wager leaves a bettor only scraps to pick from. Sharp money pours in overnight and early morning to straighten out any crooked numbers worth betting.

However, having a contrarian opinion can pay off just as big.

Coming from a bettor who’s been fading Toledo and backing Ball State, the early Ball State money makes me grin in an evil Grinch sort of way. What a prime opportunity to zig when the market zags.

For starters, these two teams met already, and we can extrapolate some matchup edges from that first meeting.

Ball State miraculously lost by 13 to secure a push for any bettors holding +13 — the line officially closed +12.5 in most shops, though. That final score was criminally deceiving, though, as Toledo dominated the Cardinals wire-to-wire, save for a meaningless late-game rally to narrow the margin.

Despite Ball State’s clear advantage in the post, specifically in Payton Sparks, Toledo ran circles around the disjointed Ball State defense.

This has been an Achilles’ heel of the Cardinals all season long. Specifically, the Cards struggle to contain dribble penetration and fail to communicate in subsequent off-ball rotations when the first line of defense breaks down.

Toledo, and its continuous slash-and-kick offense, feasts on these types of flaws. Ball State head honcho James Whitford is packing the paint more so than in years past, which should counter Toledo’s penetration-heavy offense.

However, there remains a gap between Whitford’s schematic vision and the actual on-floor execution.

Here’s the punchline, folks. Toledo is 4-0 against the spread as a road favorite this season, covering by a whopping 9.5 points a game over those four (!!!) contests.

In general, I’d urge bettors to tread lightly when anchoring to these situational trends. But the Rockets’ are a different animal. Their incendiary offense acts as a silencer to opposing crowds.

If Toledo can string together a few flurries of buckets, this margin should balloon to double digits in a hurry.

Pick: Toledo -8 (Play to -9)

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