College Basketball Six Pack: The Action Network’s & Three Man Weave’s Top Picks for Friday (Feb. 5)
Soobum Im/Getty Images. Pictured: UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson.
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.
There are no Top 25 games on Friday night’s college basketball slate, but our experts highlight five games with plenty of value. Friday’s North Florida-Liberty game was originally included in the Six Pack but has since been postponed.
They broke down each of their favorite bets on The Action Network Podcast.
Jim Root: Florida International vs. UTSA
7 p.m. ET
Well, it is the middle of the winter, so I’m heading to the Miami beaches. I’m riding with the home team here as Florida International hosts UTSA, better known as “Meep Meep” to all of Stuckey’s followers.
I just think FIU is set up for a good spot here. They’ve lost seven in a row — obviously that looks bad — but they’ve had huge personnel limitations. Eric Lovett has missed a bunch of games, Antonio Daye has missed a few and Radshad Davis has been out, too. But this week, FIU played a non-Division I game against Florida Memorial and got their feet back under them. We saw both Daye and Lovett back out there, which is huge.
Lovett is a do-everything wing that can knock down shots while Daye is a fantastic slasher and FIU’s best on-ball defender. That’ll be big for a team that pressures a lot. UTSA is also not a good road team. This is the clincher stat for me. The Roadrunners away from home this year: 0-8 against the spread with a -12.9 cover margin. They’re getting destroyed every time they leave San Antonio.
This will be trouble against an FIU team that should be bouncing back and getting healthier on the upswing. It’s at -2.5 but I’d take it up to -4.
The pick: FIU -2.5 (up to -4)
Matt Cox: Oakland vs. Cleveland State
7 p.m. ET
Jim’s down there being a snow bird, but I’m staying true to my miserable midwest roots, going up to the mitten, to the land of Oakland. Head coach Greg Kampe and the boys of Oakland had a rough start to the season, as rough as you can possibly have. But fast forward a couple weeks later and they took Michigan to overtime. Since then, they’ve been quietly flying under the Horizon League radar, now 4-1 in their last five.
Oakland is led by Rashad Williams and Jalen Moore, two of the highest-used players in the country. As they go, so go the Grizzlies. The one matchup nuance I’m looking at here, which is why I see a ton of value, is the installation of Kampe’s funky zone this season. With the back-to-back games, teams have major issues solving this Rubik’s Cube of a defense. In the first legs of back-to-backs, the Grizzlies are 5-2 and really should’ve been 6-1 suffering an overtime heartbreaker to Green Bay.
They are catching the darling of the Horizon this year in Cleveland State. You’ve got to pay some respect to the opponent here. The Vikings have been awesome under Dennis Gates, a coaching superstar right now. But the variance 3-point regression monster is lurking in the shadows. Cleveland State sags off on defense and allow a ton of 3s, opponents have just not hit at a high rate this season. Oakland is a team that will convert on those opportunities. I like the Grizz. I made this game -3. Anything up to a PK is fine.
The pick: Oakland +1.5 (up to a PK)
Mike Randle: Illinois Chicago vs. Wright State
8 p.m. ET
I am taking Illinois Chicago catching 10.5 points at home against Wright State. They have defeated Wright State at home in each of the last two years and we know that Wright State can be very frenetic. Sometimes we get dominant Wright State and sometimes they’ll struggle.
For UIC, you usually know you’re going to get a a good defensive effort from head coach Luke Yaklich and the Flames. They had a COVID shutdown earlier in the year, the reason for the break between Dec. 20 to Jan. 8. When they returned, some players were out and they were in disarray, losing back-to-back games to Purdue Fort Wayne. That has thrown everyone off.
The Flames now have players back. Maurice Commander has only played in eight games but shoots 40 percent from 3. Braelen Bridges is back after missing a few games and averages 10 points and five rebounds per game. They have Teyvion Kirk and Michael Diggins. They score and play defense. I do not see Wright State coming in and blowing them out in the first game. I think 10.5 is too much and it’s going to be very close. I even think Yaklich can actually pull off the upset because we’ve seen the inconsistency with Wright State.
The pick: UIC +10.5
Ky McKeon: South Dakota State vs. South Dakota
8:30 p.m. ET
In the battle for first place in the Summit League, South Dakota State hosts league-leader South Dakota. The Coyotes are 8-0 in conference play but are extremely overvalued. After a 32-point win over Omaha and a 39-point win over Denver, South Dakota’s KenPom rating has been juiced.
These two teams did already play in a weird nonconference game at the Pentagon earlier in the season, but SDSU’s best player, Douglas Wilson, did not play and Noah Freidel, their second-best player, was ejected halfway through the game. That doesn’t even include the Coyotes’ 12-for-24 performance from 3.
What I’m saying here is that South Dakota win was an anomaly and it’s not going to happen again. South Dakota State is going to show that they’re the best team in this conference in a semi-revenge spot. This line opened at South Dakota State (-6) and I wouldn’t be surprised if it got higher. I’m taking the Jackrabbits up to eight.
The pick: South Dakota State -6 (up to -8)
Stuckey: New Mexico State vs. Cal Baptist
9 p.m. ET
I’ll make it short and sweet. I looked like an idiot taking New Mexico State against Grand Canyon, but I still think they’re the class of the conference. They played on Dec. 1 then Dec. 28 then Jan. 25 and have been missing a bunch of pieces.
New Mexico State got everyone back last weekend. They are a really experienced team, they just never made a shot against Grand Canyon and are shooting 22 percent from 3 on the year. This is one of the most experienced teams in the country that shot 35 percent from 3 last year and were top 35 to top 50 in offensive efficiency last year. They’re just not making shots, and they have shooters. The shots are eventually going to fall.
The Aggies get a Cal Baptist team that, by the way, is shooting 40 percent from 3. Talk about some regression working in both ways here. Cal Baptist is going to play fast and there’s going to be a lot of possessions here. I think it’s a great spot for New Mexico State to take out their anger on Cal Baptist. In the last game of last season when these two teams met before the shutdown, New Mexico State won 83-50 at home. Their shots eventually have to fall. They should cover Friday night.
The pick: New Mexico State -10.5