Friday College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s Top 3 Picks, Including UTSA vs. FIU, South Dakota vs. SDSU and More
Michael Hickey & John McCoy/Getty Images, Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured, from left: Detroit Titans guard Antoine Davis (0), South Dakota State Jackrabbits guard Alex Arians (34) and Florida International Panthers guard Antonio Daye, Jr. (5).
- Friday's 42-game college basketball slate may not feature any top-25 teams, but it still offers ample betting value to those willing to dive deep.
- Ky McKeon of Three Man Weave did just that by offering his top-3 best bets for Friday evening, including tonight's rivalry matchup between South Dakota and South Dakota State.
- Below, find McKeon's comprehensive analysis for each of his top-3 betting positions, including odds and a pick for each matchup.
The Action Network has partnered with the guys at Three Man Weave to bring you college basketball best bets twice weekly. The trio of Matt Cox, Ky McKeon and Jim Root highlight the top three games they’re betting for the day’s college basketball slate.
Friday’s best bets have been provided by Ky McKeon as of Thursday night. Follow Ky and the rest of the crew on Twitter at @3MW_CBB, and download the Action App to easily track your bets for Saturday’s college basketball action.
College Basketball Odds & Picks
All listed odds have been updated as of Friday morning via William Hill unless otherwise indicated. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing on Thursday night.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Purdue Fort Wayne vs. Detroit Mercy
You ever have one of those moments while looking at an odds page when you see a line and say to yourself, “THAT’S WAY TOO HIGH?”
It’s like seeing a duck in the middle of a crowded street in New York City — something just doesn’t feel right. That happened to me just yesterday while perusing the college basketball odds page.
“Purdue Fort Wayne a seven-point dog at Detroit?! Are they mental? Get the net!” (deep cut Wayne’s World reference).
This spread is just too high.
I realize that the artists formerly known as IPFW have been playing awfully recently — in fact the Mastodons are 0-4 against the spread (ATS) in their last four contests. I also realize that Detroit is playing very well recently — the Titans are 3-0 ATS in their last three games.
But, the fact remains that this number is too high. Maybe Fort Wayne’s players all got dumped during the period of Jan. 22 to Jan. 30; I don’t know. More likely, however, the ‘Dons just happened to catch two very hot teams in Green Bay and Oakland during their respective upswings; a wrong time, wrong place type of thing.
Rest assured, the ‘Dons are a much better team than they’ve showed recently.
Fort Wayne’s defense has been atrocious during the last two weeks or so. The ‘Dons haven’t been able to stop anything near the rim, and teams have been stroking it from distance with regularity.
Fortunately, Detroit doesn’t score at the rim — the Titans are 305th in the country in FGA rate near the hoop. That’s great news for a Mastodon interior that has been a sieve during conference play.
However, Detroit can shoot — particularly star guard Antoine Davis and Cal Baptist-transfer Bul Kuol. While this is troublesome, I’m comforted by the fact that Fort Wayne showed more 3-point arc resistance earlier in Horizon League play. So, perhaps the recent, poor defensive shooting luck is just that: Luck.
And look … maybe Fort Wayne won’t be able to stop the Titan backcourt; but, there’s little reason to believe that Detroit will stop the Mastodons on the other end of the floor either.
Fort Wayne is one of the most prolific transition teams in the country, ranking 63rd in FGA rate in transition and 23rd in FG% in transition. Meanwhile, Detroit ranks an abysmal 295th in defensive FGA rate in transition and 312th in FG% allowed in transition. The Mastodons should find little resistance in the open floor.
To boot, Fort Wayne can shoot the crap out of the ball: The ‘Dons lead the Horizon in 3P% and rank 4th in 3P% nationally. While that hot shooting certainly could be at risk of regression, the fact that there are so many shooters on this roster gives me confidence in at least one or two of them performing adequately.
Detroit allows the second-highest 3-point rate in the Horizon. Its lack of perimeter pressure often results in wide open looks, which was a key factor contributing to opponents’ 38.5% 3-point shooting average against Detroit last season.
There will be points galore in this game, because neither team is capable of stopping the other. I’m banking on Fort Wayne scoring enough in transition and from behind the arc to offset Detroit’s potential 3-point barrage.
Tonight we channel the power of Zack, the original Black Power Ranger, yell “MASTODON!”, and cover the large spread.
Florida International vs. UTSA
The next-best thing to being at the beach is being in Florida International’s basketball arena, which features its very own sandy shores and ocean view plastered onto the court. We at the Weave stan for unique court designs, and FIU’s is arguably the most unique in the sport. Moreover, that court is the sole reason the Panthers will cover tonight.
… Okay; so the court art isn’t the only reason FIU will cover this game. But, it does factor into by far the biggest angle in this contest. Florida International hosts UTSA, a team that is 0-8 ATS on the road and reports an average cover margin of -12.9 points per game.
To put it simply, UTSA has been the WORST road team in the country this season. That angle is compounded when you consider the fact that FIU — now nearly fully healthy — is looking to rebound from a seven-game C-USA losing skid.
The Panthers have had awful injury luck this season. Star guard Radshad Davis has been out since Jan. 14,;starting senior wing Eric Lovett missed four contests during the losing streak; and the Panthers player with highest usage, Antonio Daye, missed two games as well.
At least Lovett and Daye should be back for the matchup with UTSA. Both players saw action against Division-II Florida Memorial on Monday, and Daye in particular looked fantastic. With Lovett and Daye back in the fold, the Panthers should be formidable opponents for the road-weary Roadrunners. Aside from that Division-II game on Monday, the pair hasn’t shared the court since Jan. 9.
Matchup-wise, there are a few things to like about the Panthers as well. Florida International is a small team, so it relies on its guards’ quickness and athleticism to disrupt the opposition. Head coach Jeremy Ballard presses at one of the highest rates in the country (nearly 20% of all possessions, per Synergy), and UTSA has struggled against full-court pressure in limited reps.
That perimeter pressure extends to the half-court as well, where the Panthers are one of the nation’s best at running shooters off of the 3-point line. UTSA has two of the most prolific scorers in the country in guards Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson, and FIU will look to frustrate them and make them drive and kick instead of shoot.
Emerging big man Jacob Germany is a bit of a concern for the undersized Panthers, but Ballard’s squad has actually been decent in the paint defensively despite its size.
FIU’s offense is predicated on looking to shoot, shoot, shoot — the Panthers rank 8th in the country in 3PA rate, while UTSA is just 226th in 3PA rate allowed. Shooting regression should also be just around the corner for the Panthers. Florida International is only shooting 30.4% from deep during C-USA play … despite having a roster chock-full of shooters.
On the defensive end of the court, the Panthers have allowed opponents to shoot 36.1% from 3 despite their success success at applying perimeter pressure. Both of those metrics should snap back to the mean soon — hopefully beginning with tonight’s game.
Grab a Corona (the beer, not the virus) and find your beach — or, if you can’t find a physical beach, then tune into UTSA vs. FIU and enjoy the majesty of the Panthers court and a home team cover.
South Dakota State vs. South Dakota
Since 2011, the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State are a muscular 114-32 during Summit League play. Furry, cute, and blessed with large feet (wink), the Jackrabbits have grown comfortable during their time as kings of the League. But now, a predator threatens to unseat the Bunnies (and likely also eat them, as Coyotes tend to do).
Yes, South Dakota holds the pole position in this year’s Summit race; the Coyotes are 8-0 in league play and haven’t lost a game since Dec. 18. South Dakota even took down South Dakota State in a non-conference matchup at the legendary Pentagon in mid-December. The Coyotes eviscerated the Jackrabbits by 13 points while never once relinquishing the lead.
So why are we fading this apex predator? Let’s dive in.
First, take everything you know about the first matchup between these two squads and throw it out the window. Rip it from your memory like the students in Dead Poet’s Society rip out pages of their textbooks.
In that mid-December contest, the deck was overwhelmingly stacked in South Dakota’s favor. SDSU’s best player, Douglas Wilson, a 6-foot-7 center averaging 15.8 PPG, did not play due to injury.
Additionally, Noah Friedel, SDSU’s second-best player, was ejected midway through the contest. Lastly, South Dakota shot an insane 12-of-24 from deep; and, while the Coyotes are a good outside shooting team, they aren’t 50% good.
Second, South Dakota is extremely overvalued in the market. Its KenPom rank of 163 is primarily a result of it blowing out Omaha by 32 and Denver by 39 in conference play — neither of these teams are very good.
In fact, if you take away those two contests, this team could very well rank outside of the top 200. USD’s KenPom ranking has declined after the second leg in each of its three previous two-game Summit series. Like Icarus, USD has finally flown too close to the sun, and this line is simply too short for them to overcome.
Finally, the pure situational spot in this game screams “South Dakota State.” In one fell swoop, the Jackbunnies have a chance to not only avenge their early-season loss to the Coyotes but also to take sole possession of first place in the Summit and beat a rival, as well.
Being at home helps SDSU, too — South Dakota has four wins on the road in Summit play this season, but those have been ugly wins against conference dregs UMKC and Western Illinois. Expect Douglas Wilson & Co. to eat offensively and give the Coyotes their toughest test to date in league play.
Pick: South Dakota State -6 (Play to -8)