College Basketball Odds & Picks: Three Man Weave’s 3 Best Bets for Friday, Feb. 18
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Matthew Lee (Saint Peter’s)
Throughout conference play, Friday’s are a perfect opportunity to learn about potential Cinderella mid-major teams. But it’s also a great chance to earn some cash and find value on lower-level games.
This week, Matt Cox of Three Man Weave has spots he’s eyeing in the MAAC, MAC and Horizon.
Below, you will find Matt breaking down his three best bets and why he’s confident in these picks.
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.|
Saint Peter’s vs. Fairfield
Operation Fade Fairfield is still all systems go.
The Stags are 1-4 against the spread over their last five games, as a once promising campaign has soured in a hurry. They are now stuck in the mush of the MAAC standings at 6-9 after a tough home loss to shorthanded Manhattan on Wednesday.
There’s no time for self-loathing for these struggling Stags, though. They’ve already played Saturday, Monday and Wednesday this week, so tonight will be their fourth game in six days.
Meanwhile, Saint Peter’s has played just once in that span, and hasn’t left the friendly confines of Jersey City since the beginning of February.
The Peacocks missed a golden opportunity to beat Iona on Tuesday, but are still in the hunt for a top-five seed, which guarantees an opening-round bye in the MAAC Tournament.
For Saint Peter’s, this quick trip to Connecticut tonight is a blessing in disguise for a team looking to get back in the winner’s column.
The Peacocks’ home versus road splits are inverted this season, which mirrors the broader conference at large. Saint Peter’s is 5-1 against the number on the road against MAAC opponents.
As cited before in this Friday edition of best bets, MAAC road teams are 38-42 straight up in conference play, the fifth-highest road win percentage of any conference in America.
Prior year precedents are not always relevant, but in the case of these two teams — both of which are largely unchanged from last season — the back-to-back two-game series last year is a telling sign.
The Peacocks split with the Stags, but thoroughly dominated the first leg for 30-35 minutes before a late-game collapse allowed Fairfield to swipe a victory at Yanitelli Center.
This price implies Saint Peter’s and Fairfield are equals, a notion I fundamentally reject. Throw in the fact that home-court advantage is virtually non-existent, and the Peacocks are a bargain bet tonight on the road.
Pick: Saint Peter’s PK (Play to -1)
Ohio vs. Kent State
Ohio and Toledo have been the dueling dragons at the top of the MAC leaderboard all year. Don’t look now, but the Golden Flashes are nipping right on their heels.
In this guard-obsessed conference, Rob Senderoff’s physical frontline can be a kryptonite to the rest of the league, particularly against Toledo and Ohio. Both MAC adversaries feature an incendiary alpha-dog guard and versatile wings and forwards all blessed with guard-like skill sets.
The missing link from both rosters, however, is brute force up front. This is where Kent State can punch Ohio in the mouth, just as it did to Toledo twice and the Bobcats, too, in the first meeting back on Jan. 7.
Granted, Ohio won that first matchup by eight, but that final margin ignores the broader context. For starters, Kent State couldn’t buy a shot to save its life, while Ohio rained in 10-for-25 from long distance.
Also, paramount off-guard Giovanni Santiago was missing in action for the Flashes, leaving Sincere Carry on an island in the backcourt.
Despite all that, Kent State stayed in the fight for 40 minutes and cut the lead to four with just under four minutes remaining.
I ultimately missed the cover by the hook (assuming a closing line of +7.5), but its superior size and strength in the paint was glaringly apparent. Kent snagged 31% of its missed shots that night, applying constant pressure on the Bobcats’ frontcourt.
If the Flashes won the battle of the bigs in the first showdown, they could certainly dominate the rematch against a potentially shorthanded Bobcats frontline. Key forward Jason Carter did not play in Tuesday’s tilt against Miami (OH), while Ben Vander Plas played on a bum ankle (albeit, well).
There’s no definitive word on Carter’s status tonight, but the risk of him missing a second straight game — or playing at less than 100% — doesn’t seem to be priced into the current line.
Look for this line to move in either direction based on the Carter news, as there’s likely differing opinions in the market on this matchup. If he’s announced in, Ohio may flip to a short favorite. If not, this line may move against Kent State in a hurry.
Lock in Kent State sooner rather than later to hedge against the risk of injury money pouring in this evening, which could push Kent State up to a 2- or 3-point favorite.
Pick: Kent State -1
Fort Wayne vs. Green Bay
In the late window, Green Bay welcomes the Mastadons of Fort Wayne to town in what should be an ugly, low-scoring affair.
The prevailing reason is the horrid situational spot for IPFW. Purdue Fort Wayne is fresh off of a triple-overtime victory over Cleveland State on Monday. This instant classic put an exclamation mark on a flawless 5-0 homestand for the surging Mastadons.
Now, a quick trip up to Green Bay kicks off a long road stand to close out the season. Coming off short rest and high emotions, the prolific IPFW shooters may fall prey to tired legs in what figures to be a vintage hangover spot.
IPFW controlled the Phoenix with ease in the first meeting a few weeks ago in a painfully slow 63-possession crawl, which marked IPFW’s lowest game possession total of the season.
Under Will Ryan, the Phoenix are walking the ball up the floor, hoping to limit possessions against more talented Horizon League opponents.
Expect a repeat of that movie tonight in Green Bay.
For context, the total in the first game between these two closed at 131.5 (the final score was 71-55 for a combined total of 126 points). Translation: there appears to be no adjustment by the oddsmakers based on the first game, a welcoming sign that the under still carries value.
All else equal, playing intra-conference rematch unders is a strong strategy. Through mid-February, the average pace and efficiency are both dipping slightly in Game 2 of conference head-to-head matchups relative to the first game.
One final thing to note: the macro pace trends in college basketball are charting a new course compared to prior years.
Historically, tempo tends to decline later in the season in a gradual manner, from non-conference to conference play to the postseason. This year, the slope of this decline is basically flat, specifically over the last couple of weeks.
In a vacuum, this is aiding overs. The question is, will this sustain? Or will it revert back to the usual historical trajectory?
I’m of the opinion a return to normalcy is the more likely scenario, another wind blowing in the under’s favor.