College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday

College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s 3 Top Picks for Friday article feature image

Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: LSU Tigers logo

  • Matt Cox of Three Man Weave has three best bets for Friday evening.
  • He starts with the beginning of ACC play and then targets a mid-major affair and a heavy underdog.
  • Dive in below and get set for another night of college hoops.

ACC and Big Ten league play begins on Friday evening, and there's also a massive marquee game between No. 6 Baylor and No. 14 Gonzaga.

Matt Cox of Three Man Weave looks into one ACC affair, but also has found value on a mid-major matchup and a big underdog.

Dive in now and formulate your Friday night college basketball betting card.

Friday's Three Man Weave College Basketball Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that Matt is targeting from Friday'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
Pittsburgh +8
7 p.m. ET
Over 156
8 p.m. ET
UT Arlington +19
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.

Pitt vs. NC State

Friday, Dec. 2
7 p.m. ET
ACC Network
Pittsburgh +8

By Matt Cox

Don’t look now but the Steel City Panthers are rounding into form — yes, the same Panthers typically associated with dysfunction and underachievement.

Nelly Cummings, Jamarius Burton and Nike Sibande (the perimeter corps) and do-everything forward Blake Hinson are carrying the torch this season, while dominant big man John Hughley IV slowly rounds into form (he’s been slowed by an injury recovery).

The Panthers went scorched earth on Northwestern earlier this week, boat-racing the Wildcats in Chicago by 29. For this team, talent was never the question. The connectivity was.

However, the assist column in each of Pitt’s box scores this season may be debunking that perception. Simply put, this team is playing as a team for the first time in some time.

The Panthers dished out 22 assists on 26 made field goals against Northwestern and boast the nation’s 15th-best assist rate year to date, per KenPom.

This unselfishness will only be aided by Hughley’s reintegration. The baron of Pitt’s frontline, Hughley is still ramping up from his injury recovery.

In fact, the headline of Pitt’s demolition of Northwestern was Hughley’s goose egg in the scoring column. But even a less than 100% Hughley is worth its weight in gold:

John Hugley isn't fully back health and conditioning-wise, but his presence alone makes an impact, especially on 3-PT shooting:

Without Hugley: 24.4% (21-86)

With Hugley: 39.5% (51-129)

Pitt's shooting a full 15% better from downtown in games WITH Hugley.

— Nick Farabaugh (@Nick_Farabaugh) November 29, 2022

Hughley’s presence on the block carves out space for Pitt’s shooters, which generated ultra high-quality shots against the Wildcats. No, another 14-for-22 performance against NC State is unlikely but it’s another positive indicator of this team’s stock arrow pointing up.

The Wolfpack present a formidable challenge for the Panthers, but Jeff Capel is keen on targeting NC State’s strengths — transition offense and 3s — and eliminating them.

If successful, Pitt should take NC State to the wire in Raleigh.

Pick: Pittsburgh +8 (Play to +7)

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Eastern Kentucky vs. James Madison

Friday, Dec. 2
7 p.m. ET
Over 156

By Matt Cox

From immortal to human, James Madison came crashing back down to Earth last weekend.

The Dukes steamrolled every team in their path — save North Carolina — until facing off with Valpo on Sunday. JMU lost in a nail-biter in overtime, but never came close to covering.

This dreadful performance, however, is partly excusable. Local reports confirmed the Dukes were flu-ridden last weekend, as many teams and programs are around the country right now.

Four days of rest and recovery should be just what the doctor ordered for a spark of energy tonight.

Tonight’s opponent, Eastern Kentucky, is a perfect total dance partner for the high-octane Dukes offense. JMU’s lethal transition attack can only be thwarted by a conservative, contained defense. EKU’s frenetic pressure is the polar opposite of that.

JMU head coach Mark Byington knows this. He’s already tipping his hand as to how he wants his team to attack the Colonels’ pressure:

"They are going to come after us and try to turn us over,” Byington said. "It really should be an exciting game. We’re going to get up and down. Last year, I looked, I actually called only four set offensive plays last year, everything else was our press break and attack."

Byington wasn’t kidding. Last year’s tilt clocked a Formula 1 pace, charting 81 possessions in regulation. The efficiency left something to be desired, but a high 70s possession count — higher than KenPom’s projected pace of 74 — is a strong enough edge to warrant a wager.

UT Arlington vs. LSU

Friday, Dec. 2
8 p.m. ET
UT Arlington +19

By Matt Cox

To the bayou we go for our final best bet of the evening.

This angle is a simple fade of LSU, a team that's struggled to assert its dominance under first-year head honcho Matt McMahon.

The former Murray State manager cobbled together a roster of decent — but not stellar — transfers this summer. As a result, the Tigers lack the firepower we saw last season.

To date, LSU is 1-3 as a home favorite. The Tigers struggled to separate from UMKC and Arkansas State in their first two games of the year. Last Sunday, Wofford nearly upset LSU in Baton Rouge, too.

Sandwiched in between these lulls was a respectable — but overrated — performance in the Cayman Islands. In hindsight, LSU’s double-digit victories over Illinois State and Akron are not aging well. These two teams are a combined 2-13 against the number this year.

All that said, UT Arlington is no juggernaut itself. Three of the Mavericks’ four victories came against non D-I opponents, but their opening night effort at Oklahoma State exudes confidence for tonight’s showdown against LSU.

UTA mounted a furious comeback in the final 10 minutes of that game to close the margin to 11. UTA backers shouldn’t need a backdoor rally against LSU — a feeble favorite — but it’s a reliable cover contingency plan should the Mavs come out slow to start.

The only concern schematically is ball security. If UT Arlington can limit live ball turnovers that turn into LSU points going the other way, it’s hard to see the Bayou Bengals building and holding a 20-point lead here.

Pick: UT Arlington +19 (Play to +17)

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