College Basketball Odds & Picks: Three Man Weave Best Bets for Friday, Including Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Gabe Brown & Jaden Akins (Sparty)
Another huge Saturday slate is on deck in college basketball, but before we watch (and bet) on the sport from noon to midnight ET, we must not forget about a somewhat sneaky schedule tonight.
The Atlantic 10 preseason favorite plays a critical road game, two top-25 teams face off in a Big Ten matchup in Madison and Orlando Robinson and Fresno State take a trip to Reno, Nevada.
Matt Cox of Three Man Weave dove into all three of these affairs below and offered up his top selections to help you formulate your Friday evening betting card.
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.
|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.|
St. Bonaventure vs. Duquesne
The Bonnies and Dukes hit the hardwood tonight in Pittsburgh in what should resemble a game of patty-cake from both offenses.
Through early league play, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne boast the seventh- and 11th-best offenses in the A-10, respectively, on a per possession basis.
The Bonnies and Dukes aren’t starved for talent on that side of the ball. Rather, it’s that they’re still tinkering with establishing an effective identity and repeatable script for how to score — and score efficiently — in the half-court, where this game will predominantly be played.
For SBU, the lack of depth is the burdensome anchor slugging the Bonnies’ offense through the mud. Granted, Mark Schmidt’s teams will never shatter any scoring records with the methodical pace at which they play. But their propensity to slip into lengthy scoring droughts, particularly in the first half, has burned them on countless occasions.
Schmidt’s heavy reliance on his core five starters has minimized the Bonnies’ bench to a virtual afterthought. Last game, for reference, the Bonnies’ bench clocked just 21 combined minutes.
Against Dayton on Tuesday, those tired legs started to show. SBU finished 4-of-23 from downtown, as Schmidt struggled to find any outlet for offense all night long.
This is the problem with relying on a thin rotation. If one or multiple key contributors go rogue, there’s no remedy to manufacture points in other ways.
The Bonnies were an over machine early on this season, but the last two games have gone under — proof that the accumulating fatigue may be taking its toll.
On the other end, Duquesne’s offensive woes stem from its lack of experience — ironically, the one redeeming trait emboldened in the Bonnies’ super-senior nucleus.
Keith Dambrot has given the offensive keys to a pair of rookie point guards, Amir Spears and Jackie Johnson III. Their talent is undeniable, but their consistency is a work in progress.
That’s where Schmidt, a shrewd game planner, will look to capitalize on his older, bigger backcourt to bother the smaller Spears and Johnson.
If the Bonnies can thwart the Dukes’ two co-captains in the backcourt, it could be a long night for Duquesne’s offense. This especially rings true with veteran big man Austin Rotroff (a reliable finisher on the inside) already confirmed out.
Dambrot knows his hands are tied behind his back and will do everything in his power to ugly this game up, as he’s notoriously done in so many big games before.
For us under backers, “ugly” is a beautiful thing.
Pick: Under 137.5 (Play to 135)
Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
It won’t be toasty in Madison, but the Kohl Center will house two of the hottest teams in America tonight in a classic Big Ten showdown.
Michigan State, despite losing at home to Northwestern over the weekend, has won nine of its last 11 games, while the host Badgers are riding a seven-game winning streak.
Wisconsin is a burning buzzsaw right now, but the Spartans are well equipped to knock this freight train off its tracks.
For starters, the stunning home loss to Northwestern should serve as a wake-up call for Sparty. Few coaches circle the wagons like Tom Izzo does, as he’s already called for his team to stop feeling “fat and happy” with a once-perfect Big Ten record now tarnished.
From a tactical perspective, everything revolves around slowing down Johnny Davis. The Spartans don’t have a bona fide shutdown defender, but Izzo’s touted freshman wing Max Christie’s defensive prowess in key matchups this season.
Look for the 6-foot-6 Christie to see ample time on Davis, with smaller, quicker pests in Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard expected to match up with Davis, too.
Throwing multiple fresh bodies at the Big Ten’s Player of the Year frontrunner should help wear him down and force UW’s supporting cast to pick up the pieces.
Tyler Wahl is one of those critical ancillary pieces, but he may be hobbled tonight after suffering a painful ankle injury against Northwestern on Tuesday. That hampers an already limited rotation for Greg Gard, especially at a key position of strength for the Spartans.
Izzo has explicitly raved about his team’s depth and underscored the importance of using Sparty’s long bench to their advantage as the dog days of conference play drag on.
Michigan State has already taken care of its business twice on the road against Big Ten foes this year. It dominated Minnesota at the Barn and won going away at Northwestern in early January — proof that this rendition won’t be disturbed by what should be a raucous home crowd late Friday night.
Pick: Michigan State +4
Fresno State vs. Nevada
The late-night finale to FS1’s triple-header features two of the Mountain West’s top contenders in Fresno State and Nevada.
The Wolf Pack have failed to live up to the preseason hype, while Fresno’s raced out to 3-1 record in league play, just a half-game out of second place.
From a handicapping lens, this is the ultimate buy-low, sell-high intersection.
Nevada’s sandwiched smack dab in the middle of the MWC standings at 2-2 after dropping its second straight game at home on Tuesday. The Reno natives are getting restless with head coach Steve Alford and a team many had pegged as a dark horse to win the MWC crown outright.
On paper, Alford’s roster is stocked with a lethal combination of towering size and rangy athletes. This should translate into defensive dominance. But it hasn’t, prompting Alford to recenter his team’s focus this week in practice after the gut-wrenching home loss to Wyoming.
He reminded reporters how his best teams at New Mexico were built on defense, which is where this year’s Pack need to turn the dial.
Few teams boast three monsters up front as intimidating as Warren Washington, Will Baker and K.J. Hymes, who stand 7-foot, 7-foot and 6-foot-10, respectively.
Through four conference games, this interior fortress has proven worthy of protecting the paint — the Pack sport the league’s second-best 2-point field goal percentage defense, accompanied by the league’s third-best block rate.
The problem, however, resides on the perimeter, where teams are gashing Nevada to the tune of 37% on a hearty number of attempts.
Fortunately, Nevada need not correct this imbalance tonight. The Bulldogs’ bread and butter lies in the belly of the lane with burgeoning star Orlando Robinson.
Robinson is in the midst of an All-American caliber season, fusing a relentless motor with enviable length to dominate the boards on both ends. The scary part is that he’s added a dazzling offensive repertoire to a pro-level physical tool kit.
Robinson, however, struggled against elite length at times last year, as evidenced in Nevada’s two-game sweep of the Bulldogs at home. It held Robinson to 15 points in both matchups, forcing others to beat them from behind the arc.
Fresno’s weakness is undeniably it’s backcourt, which is highly erratic without the steadying presence of Jemarl Baker (now out long-term with multiple injuries).
Outside of Anthony Holland, Fresno’s guards are best when attacking the rim. If Alford can turn them into jump shooters, the Bulldogs will have a hard time scoring against Nevada’s collection of trees inside, even with Robinson.