College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday, Including Manhattan vs. Siena

College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday, Including Manhattan vs. Siena article feature image

Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Ron Harper Jr. (24) of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.

  • Rutgers and Illinois continue Big Ten play tonight.
  • Two other mid-major games offer value on Friday night.
  • Three Man Weave's Matt Cox has it all covered with his three best bets for Friday night.

College football championship games hold the national spotlight this weekend, but starting on Friday night, we can't lose sight of the intriguing games offered in college basketball.

That especially holds true from a betting perspective.

With that in mind, Matt Cox from Three Man Weave gets you set for a Friday night in college basketball by breaking down his best bets for one Big Ten Conference game and two mid-major affairs.

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.

7 p.m. ET
Rutgers +8.5
7 p.m. ET
Siena -4
7 p.m. ET
Over 159.5
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.

Rutgers vs. Illinois

Friday, Dec. 3
7 p.m. ET
Rutgers +8.5

It’s time for the Scarlet Knights to turn over a new leaf. Conference play is upon us, finally, as few teams in America needed a clean slate as badly as Rutgers.

Steve Pikiell and the boys finally found the winner’s circle earlier this week in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, notching a key victory over Clemson. This could be the impetus to a potential turnaround, well-timed at the dawn of Big Ten play.

Despite no Geo Baker, who’s likely out again this evening (the school has given no official timetable), Rutgers had no problem outscoring the white-hot shooting Tigers. The balanced scoring attack was paced by Ron Harper Jr., who continues to look sharper as he heels from an ailing back issue.

This was not the first time we’ve seen Rutgers display this more democratic offensive rhythm sans Baker.

Just one game prior, the Scarlet Knights were carving up UMass without Baker in action, showing no signs of stalling without their high-usage alpha dog. Rutgers did blow that game in emphatic fashion, but the Minutemen needed 16-of-32 from 3-point range to pull off the miracle.

The key in this matchup will be containing Kofi Cockburn, the epicenter of Illinois’ offensive attack. His gravitational pull grows even stronger without his bookend mate Andre Curbelo, who is presumably out of the lineup again this evening.

There’s no true equal to Cockburn found anywhere in college basketball, but Clifford Omoruyi is a viable stand-in for that fictitious creature. He got to battle with Cockburn twice last season and should be battle tested to at least prevent an utter onslaught inside.

Yes, Cockburn will surely get his, but the level of difficulty will not be the picnic he had against Notre Dame last game. Even against an athletically deficient Irish bunch, Illinois needed a barrage of 3s to stay outside the number, which closed below five after Notre Dame took major money throughout the day.

Tonight, it’s Illinois that's taking the early steam, as the line creeps up from the -7.5 / -8 opener we saw yesterday afternoon. Join me as we counterpunch the market and pounce on the Knights at the better number.

Pick: Rutgers +8.5 (Play to +8)

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Manhattan vs. Siena

Friday, Dec. 3
7 p.m. ET
Siena -4

The timing of you reading this article depends mightily, so check the current price on this game before reading another word.

Anyways, if -4 is available, you’re in business. Unlike the Rutgers recommendation above, we’re flowing with the market current on this best bet. The early money smashed the Saints, up from -2.5 to -4 in a heartbeat. The sharps were, well, sharp on this one.

The Saints have dealt with a series of trials and tribulations throughout the non-conference. Second half collapses, overtime losses, key injuries and late roster additions are taking years off head coach Carmen Maciariello’s life.

However, the pieces are starting to fall in place. After notching their first win of the year over Harvard — a high-powered Ivy squad that would compete at the top of the MAAC totem pole — the Saints parlayed that momentum into what should’ve been two consecutive covers (overtime ruined the cover at Bucknell, when Siena was catching 2-3 points).

Riding high off of a dominating win over Army, the Saints are beginning to look like a finished product.

Offensive catalyst Aidan Carpenter has returned to the lineup, as has Utah transfer Jordan Kellier. Meanwhile, highly-regarded UNC import Andrew Platek was recently cleared for takeoff, too.

It hasn't always been pretty but the Saints are slowly starting to look like a cohesive unit, rather than the island of misfit toys we saw earlier in the year.

As the roster welds together, the Saints could blossom into a top-three contender in the fiercely competitive MAAC.

Star big man Jackson Stormo has been limited by foul trouble in recent matchups, so the Saints' recent surge has been agnostic of Stormo’s impact. If Maciariello & Co. can feature him on the low block, that unlocks another potent bullet in Siena’s chamber.

The competitive advantage for the Saints is their positional size and speed, boasting one of the most athletic rosters in the MAAC.

This should be a key deterrent to Manhattan’s bevy of long wings and incendiary athletes, who are highly erratic from a skill perspective. The Jaspers have been able to hide these flaws in a couple of dominating performances so far this season, most notably Liberty, which was overwhelmed by Manhattan’s length and quickness.

To top it all off, Maciariello seems to have solved Manhattan’s tricky defensive schemes the last few years. Since taking over as head honcho, Maciariello is 4-1 against the spread against Manhattan, an encouraging omen heading into tonight’s conference opener.

Pick: Siena -4

Coppin State vs. Cornell

Friday, Dec. 3
7 p.m. ET
Over 159.5

Sometimes what seems too good to be true, is just in fact THAT good.

Coppin State and Cornell have been two against the spread darlings so far this season, covering at torrent pace in the face of adverse travel and matchup conditions.

Coppin State’s itinerary to date would make Expedia queasy. There’s not a time zone it hasn't played in so far and it is finally returning back closer to the East Coast — though, still far away from its home in Baltimore.

In upstate New York, a fireworks display is scheduled to commence at 7 p.m. ET.

Cornell’s head coach Brian Earl, one of the most inventive tacticians in the game, has completely overhauled the Big Red’s offense. Akin to his brother’s work at VMI, Brian is going full blown, hyper-loop speed on offense, catching opposing defenses off guard.

The Big Red boast the nation’s fastest offensive tempo in the nation, per KenPom, while their overall tempo ranks 12th nationally.

The dichotomy there is largely influenced by Cornell’s opponents. Few have tried to fight fire with fire against the Big Red. Instead, they’ve been content to methodically control the pace to their liking, in hopes of slowing down Earl’s high-octane offense.

Coppin State has no interest in walking the ball up the floor, nor does it prioritize retreating back in transition on defense. The Eagles are sporting the nation’s 31st-fastest tempo, which checks out for anyone who’s caught a glimpse of Juan Dixon’s frenetic style this year.

Even against stiff competition, Dixon has laid on the gas pedal repeatedly. Shockingly, it’s been quite effective. Except for a blowout at UConn, Coppin has been competitive in nearly every game to date.

The key part of this handicap is both coaches' willingness to go deep into the bench, limiting any risk of a slowdown in pace.

For Coppin, part of managing the excessive travel schedule has been mixing up the rotational pecking order to keep key guys rested, while giving lesser known commodities a chance to shine.

The same goes for Cornell, one of many Ivy squads playing a litany of players in hopes of eventually whittling down the rotation before conference play.

Finally, in the grand scheme of things, this is still a non-conference tune up game for both sides. Neither team will face severe consequences with a loss, which should manifest in a free-wheeling, "what do we have to lose" mentality that, in turn, should rev up the pace even faster than the market’s pricing.

Yes, the early money sniffed out some of this value but the points ceiling for two teams in a handshake agreement to run, run and run remains astronomically high.

Pick: Over 159.5 (Play to 161)

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