College Basketball Six Pack: The Action Network’s & Three Man Weave’s Top Picks for Friday (Feb. 26)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Georgia State guard Justin Roberts (2).
- Experts, assemble! The Three Man Weave and Action Network analysts combine to point you in the direction of value for Friday night's college hoops slate.
- From the Big 12 to the best mid-major matchups, we have you covered. Check out the best picks below.
Collin Wilson, Mike Randle & Stuckey join forces with Jim Root, Ky McKeon & Matt Cox of Three Man Weave to deliver their College Basketball Six Pack of Picks via The Action Network Colleges Podcast every Friday.
Friday night’s slate includes bubble teams like Purdue, Richmond and Utah State fighting for at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. It also has plenty of mid-major games that carry heavy seeding implications when it comes to conference tournaments.
Our experts found six games with plenty of value on Friday night, breaking down each of their favorite bets on The Action Network Podcast.
Collin Wilson: LIU vs. Bryant Over 164
4 p.m. ET
Some would say that these are the two fastest teams in the Northeast Conference.
I will tell you that these are two of the fastest teams in the nation. I’m going to take the over in LIU and Bryant. As of Thursday night, there is no line. KenPom projects 161. Their tempo based on 100 possessions says that they could get up to 165, so I like it up to that number.
Bryant doesn’t play any defense. It’s the best shooting team in the NEC but also has one of the worst defenses in the nation. The Bulldogs are terrible on the boards. The Sharks are actually 27th nationally in offensive rebounding. I expect a lot of easy quick putbacks for an LIU team that’s terrible shooting the ball.
Bryant just wants to score and run as fast as possible. There could be 100 turnovers in this game, but you’re not going to find a matchup of two teams with this kind of tempo maybe the entire season. Give me the over.
The pick: Over 164 (up to 165)
Ky McKeon: Cincinnati (-6) vs. Tulane
4 p.m. ET
The Bearcats have been a nightmare as a favorite this year.
In fact, they’re 1-9 against the spread and have only won two games by more than six points all season. Yes, I know that sounds scary. But aside from the due theory, I do think the Bearcats are a little underrated.
A 40-point loss to Houston dropped it 10 spots in KenPom. That was a tough game, but Houston can do that to anyone in the country. This Cincy team still has a lot of talent, led by Keith Williams. The shooting is due to come around, too.
Before last game against Tulsa where Cincinnati went 10-for-26 from 3, the Bearcats were shooting just 28% from deep in February since returning off a COVID-19 shutdown. They have better shooters than that.
In its first game against Tulane, Cincinnati dominated the glass. That should happen again in game two. The Bearcats are the superior team and have the superior athletes.
By the way, the first game closed -6 at Tulane. Game 2 is only -6 at Cincinnati. There’s value here.
The pick: Cincinnati -6
Matt Cox: Manhattan (+10.5) at Siena
5 p.m. ET
I’m going to trail my guy Jim in terms of targeting a play here that’s less matchup-based and more value spot-based. I’m going to ride the recent trend that we’ve seen: underdogs. Particularly larger dogs bark awfully strong the last week. That’s exactly what I have circled here on my slate.
With a New York state of mind, I’m taking Manhattan catching 10.5 on the early line headed up to Siena after a long two-week pause.
This is not a COVID-19 pause. The Jaspers have been very cryptic about their internal reporting, but there’s no reason to believe any positive tests occurred. Instead of discounting for the COVID shutdowns that have been very impactful recently, I’m actually going to discount Siena’s homecourt because Manhattan has had two whole weeks to travel there and prepare.
There’s a motivational edge here as well. Five teams are tied in this maniacal MAAC conference standing setup in which not even Steve Jobs could reverse engineer the formula.
The bottom line is the Jaspers need wins and they are right on the final cut line of making that top six within the bracket, which guarantees a first-round bye. You’re almost guaranteed to get a locked-in and motivated Jasper bunch that’s been playing great as of late.
There’s some value for teams getting healthier and the Jaspers fit that bill. Give me Manhattan at 10.5. Anything down to 9 is where I like them.
The pick: Manhattan +10.5 (down to +9)
Mike Randle: Valparaiso (+3) vs. Indiana State
7 p.m. ET
Let’s head to the Missouri Valley Conference and talk about Valparaiso at home catching points against Indiana State.
I love teams getting points at home late in the year in a conference game, and the Crusaders are much better than that 6-10 record in the Missouri Valley would indicate. They beat Drake at home by 17. Don’t forget that.
Ever since they came back from down 22-9 to Bradley and won in double overtime, Valpo has been a different team. It has covered two of its last three and three of its last five, all road games.
Now, it returns home against an Indiana State team that has been flying high, which is why this line may be a little bit inflated.
The Sycamores have won nine of 10, but I’m looking for some regression. In the history of this battle, Valpo at home defeated Indiana State by nine last year. It lost in OT the year before that by five and won by six and 18 the previous two seasons.
This is just to show it’s done very well at home against Indiana State. You’re getting three points here. I already locked it in.
Valparaiso has battled some really strong teams and I love it getting points. The Sycamores have played well, but it’s time for them on the road to not make as many 3s.
The pick: Valparaiso +3
Jim Root: UT Arlington (-3) vs. Arkansas State
7 p.m. ET
At this point in the season, I love targeting teams that are finally healthy, and that is certainly a description that fits UT Arlington.
Last game was the first time all year they had Nicolas Elame, David Azore, and the shot-blocking monster known as Kao all on the court at the same time. That’s huge. It gives them a high-scoring backcourt and an enforcer at the rim.
Now with all those guys around, I think UT Arlington is better than Arkansas State. Looking at an opening line of -3 right now, that shapes up well. From a matchup sense, UT Arlington’s zone is going to give Arkansas State problems.
The Red Wolves love to drive and get downhill, and that’s just tough to do against a zone. They clog up driving lanes, and Azore’s return really helps on the defensive glass as well. He’s one of the best defensive rebounding guards in the country.
To be honest, this isn’t that much of a matchup play. It’s mostly just that one team is better than the other. One team is now healthy.
I think this game probably would’ve been up around 7 for UT Arlington preseason. I would take this all the way up to -5. I think the Mavericks are a great bet.
The pick: UT Arlington -3 (up to -5)
Stuckey: Georgia State (-1) @ South Alabama
9 p.m. ET
This is a huge game in the Sun Belt Conference. The top two seeds in each division get a bye, and South Alabama needs to win just once this weekend to secure one of those byes. Georgia State either needs help or needs to sweep.
I think this will be a really competitive game and series, but I think Georgia State is the better team.
You want to talk about the regression monster, I think that it’s coming for South Alabama.
During league play, Georgia State is shooting 30% from 3. This is a team that last year was top-50 nationally shooting the 3-ball. As for South Alabama, opponents in league play are shooting 30%. It’s one of the most zone-heavy teams in the country and has been giving up plenty of open looks.
No one can hit them. I remember the game against Appalachian State when it won by two. App State had seven open looks from 3 to win the game, and it just kept missing them all.
South Alabama has been running really well. It’s won eight straight but all these teams struggled from 3. It’s due to have shots from its opponents fall. In South Alabama’s last game against Georgia State, the Panthers shot 5-of-25 from 3 coming off a COVID-19 break. The Jaguars only won by 3.
Look, South Alabama does some things well defensively that Georgia State likes to do, mainly in the pick-and-roll.
But I think Georgia State matches up well. It’s the more talented team. The regression monster is coming. There’s big conference tournament implications. I think Georgia State gets it done. If it doesn’t, I’ll be backing it again on Saturday.
The pick: Georgia State -1