NCAAB Odds, Picks: Our Friday Conference Tournament Best Bets, Featuring San Francisco vs. Pacific, Drake vs. Murray State

NCAAB Odds, Picks: Our Friday Conference Tournament Best Bets, Featuring San Francisco vs. Pacific, Drake vs. Murray State article feature image
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Photo by Oliver McKenna/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Brown (Pacific)

  • With plenty of conference tournaments in action today, our staff came through with a best bet for each conference playing tonight.
  • Those best bets include San Francisco vs. Pacific, Drake vs. Murray State, Chattanooga vs. VMI and more.
  • Check out all six of our best bets for Friday's conference tournament games below.

The regular season slate is paper thin on Friday night — outside of Dayton vs. Saint Louis — so that means we're focusing on the conference tournaments.

Six mid-major leagues are in action on Friday evening, including the West Coast Conference.

Our staff has six best bets, with one coming from each conference set to take the hardwood. Dive in now and get the top NCAAB conference tournament odds and best bets for Friday below.


Friday's 6 NCAAB Conference Tournament Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from Friday's conference tournament slate. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

Game
Time
Pick
7 p.m. ET
Drake -10.5
7 p.m. ET
North Dakota -1
7:30 p.m. ET
Chattanooga 1H -7
8 p.m. ET
Winthrop +3
10:30 p.m. ET
Tennessee Tech +2
11:30 p.m. ET
Pacific +8.5
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.

Murray State vs. Drake (MVC)

Friday, March 3
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Drake -10.5

By Cooper Van Tatenhove

As I discussed in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Preview the No. 2 seed Drake Bulldogs have a great deal of motivation coming into this year's MVC Tournament.

Last season, the Bulldogs were outlasted by Loyola Chicago in the championship game, 64-58.

This season, head coach Darian DeVries returned 67.1% of the minutes from that team, making Drake the 27th-most experienced team in the country, according to KenPom.

Drake’s first test in its redemption tour will be against a Murray State team it matched up well against in the regular season. The Bulldogs won both regular season meetings by an average of 21 points.

A lot of Drake’s success should come on the offensive end, as Murray State ranks second-to-last in the MVC in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, allowing 72.6 points per game (238th nationally).

Look for a Drake team that ranks first in the MVC in turnover percentage to make the most of every possession against a Murray State defense that ranks last in turnovers forced per game.

On the other end, Drake will look to eliminate Murray State’s ability to catalyze its offense on the offensive glass and at the charity stripe. The Racers rank third in the MVC in offensive rebounding percentage, but Drake’s defense ranks second in offensive rebounding percentage allowed (20.8%).

This inability to create second chances will be detrimental to a Murray State team that ranks eighth in the MVC in effective field goal percentage.

Additionally, Murray State has relied on its trips to the free-throw line to score 20.1% of its points, the highest rate in the MVC.

This is important to note, as Drake has been effective at defending without fouling. The Bulldogs allow their opponents to score just 15.8% of their total points from the charity stripe, the fifth-lowest rate in the MVC.

With these advantages on both ends of the floor, look for Drake to make a statement.

Pick: Drake -10.5 (Play to -12)

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North Dakota vs. Denver (Summit)

Friday, March 3
7 p.m. ET
ESPN+
North Dakota -1

By Ky McKeon

The North Dakota Fighting Hawks ended the Summit season on a tear. Once 1-10 in the league, UND has won and covered five of its last seven contests.

During that stretch, the Hawks hosted Denver for a rematch of a mid-January loss. UND held the Pioneers to measly 0.93 points per possession and never trailed on its way to a 23-point drubbing.

Denver has struggled in the latter half of Summit play. An injury to starting forward Tyree Corbett has kept him out of the lineup since Jan. 26, and since then, the Pioneers are just 3-6 overall.

Rumor is another key player, Tevin Smith, was recently bitten by the injury bug. His status for tonight’s game is unknown, but should he sit, Denver loses its most versatile and arguably best all-around player.

Stylistically, North Dakota has the size and strength to combat Denver’s preferred method of scoring — being physical, hammering the offensive glass and earning trips to the foul line.

Denver is the Summit’s second-best offensive rebounding team, but North Dakota is the league’s second-best defensive rebounding squad. In their latest battle, UND was excellent at keeping Denver off the glass, holding the Pioneers to just a 24% offensive rebounding rate.

On the other end, UND bombs away from 3. No team in the 3-happy Summit has a higher 3-point attempt rate than the Hawks, and Denver packs it in defensively. Only one Summit squad has allowed a higher rate of 3-point attempts than the Pioneers in conference play.

Go with the hotter team, the healthier team and the team with the more favorable matchup in this opening-round Summit Tournament contest.

Pick: North Dakota -1 (Play to -2)


VMI vs. Chattanooga (SoCon)

Friday, March 3
7:30 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Chattanooga 1H -7

By Scott Schaeffer

Following a year that culminated in a SoCon Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance, Chattanooga has had a massively disappointing season.

As a bottom-four seed (7), the Mocs will now be forced to win four games in four days if they have plans to defend last year’s title run.

The primary reason for Chattanooga’s lackluster season is likely the injury to star center Jake Stephens that occurred near the beginning of SoCon play.

Stephens figured to have one of the highest usage rates of any player in the country this season before injuring his hand against Furman.

An interesting note in relation to this contest is that both Stephens and Chattanooga head coach Dan Earl would have been on the opposite sideline if this game occurred a year ago. When Earl accepted the head-coaching role with the Mocs, he brought Stephens with him from VMI.

Stephens has been practicing in the lead up to this game and will reportedly do everything he possibly can to play in what would potentially be his final game.

Whether or not he’s ultimately able to play does not affect my inclination to lay the seven points in the first half with Chattanooga.

The Mocs have a clear advantage from both a talent and coaching perspective and have likely been looking ahead to the conference tournament as a fresh start after what has been a disappointing year.

I would hesitate to lay 13.5 points with the Mocs on the full-game spread. Since each game could be a team’s last in a conference tournament, squads may not quit as easily as they might in the regular season, which would leave the backdoor open for VMI.

Instead, expect Chattanooga to come out motivated in the first stanza and lay the seven.

Pick: Chattanooga 1H -7 (Play to -8)



Winthrop vs. Radford (Big South)

Friday, March 3
8 p.m. ET
ESPN+
Winthrop +3

By Matt Cox

We’re hitting the night shift for our best bet in the Big South Tournament. Winthrop and Radford square off at Bojangles Coliseum, where two teams trending in polar opposite directions will battle to keep their season alive.

In short, we’re betting on that double momentum to carry forth with Winthrop.

The stronger angle is a sell of Radford, a team dealing with multiple waves of turbulence at the worst time of the year. The Highlanders dropped three of their last four games since head coach Darris Nichols was suspended for a DUI.

It’s been confirmed Nichols will remain suspended for the conference tournament, as his brother will retain interim head-coaching duties throughout the postseason.

However, part of this recent swoon is attributable to Bryan Antoine’s absence — yes, the same former five-star prospect who flamed out at Villanova.

Antoine could return to action tonight, but there’s real risk that his leg injury limits his production and effectiveness. Antoine has enjoyed a revelation of a season, emerging as one of the most talented shot-makers in the league.

Without him, or without Antoine at his best form, Radford will lean heavily on DaQuan Smith to carry the load.

Bet Winthrop, winners of four straight games with the added motivation of “double revenge” after losing to Radford twice in the regular season.

Pick: Winthrop +3 (Play to PK)


UT Martin vs. Tennessee Tech (OVC)

Friday, March 3
10:30 p.m. ET
ESPNU
Tennessee Tech +2

By Cooper Van Tatenhove

UT Martin and Tennessee Tech will meet for the second time this season in the semifinals of the OVC Tournament.

In the first matchup between these two, UT Martin had an offensive explosion from beyond the arc, resulting in a 100-91 victory. The Skyhawks shot an astounding 66.7% from beyond the arc, more than double their average of 30.5% in OVC play.

This outside shooting should see some additional regression against a Tennessee Tech team that ranks second in the MVC in 3-point percentage defense, allowing its opponents to shoot just 32.4% from the perimeter.

On the other end, John Pelphrey’s revamped Tennessee Tech offense will be able to attack UT Martin where it’s most vulnerable.

UT Martin is allowing opponents to attempt 41% of their field goal attempts from 3-point range, 299th nationally.

This will be a welcomed sight for a Tennessee Tech offense that’s used to connecting from the perimeter. The Golden Eagles rank 29th nationally in 3-point percentage at 37.5%, resulting in 38.8% of their total points.

Look for both of these offenses to trend back towards the mean in terms of their outside shooting ability.

In addition to this outside shooting regression, UT Martin is looking at a potential letdown spot after a come-from-behind victory on Thursday night.

With 3:50 left in the game, UT Martin faced a 10-point deficit and a 3.1% win probability. The Skyhawks then rattled off a 17-1 run to shock SIU Edwardsville, 81-75.

In the end, I trust Pelphrey’s team to make the necessary adjustments to win this rematch against a UT Martin team coming off an emotional victory.

Pick: Tennessee Tech +2 (Play to +1)


Pacific vs. San Francisco (WCC)

Friday, March 3
11:30 p.m. ET
NBC Sports California
Pacific +8.5

By Shane McNichol

I’m bucking the consensus with this pick, as San Francisco opened as 7-point favorites before this line ballooned up to 8.5 or 9 points, depending on which sportsbook you’re using.

The structure of the WCC Tournament is hellish for lower seeds, forcing them to win games day after day, while higher seeds are automatically slotted into the advanced rounds of the tournaments.

Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga, for example, don’t need to play until the semifinals.

This game features a Pacific team that won in the opening round last night playing a San Francisco team that has been off since Feb. 25.

You’d think that rest differential is baked into this spread, but in the recent past, that delta hasn’t proven to be as significant a factor as you’d expect.

Teams playing the second night of a back-to-back facing a team with four-to-seven days rest are 167-172-9 against the spread over the last seven seasons in college hoops, per BetLabs.

Straight up, that difference is clear. The rested teams in that scenario have won 254 times to just 92 losses.

For that reason, I won’t be so bold to suggest Pacific on the moneyline, though I do like the Tigers catching this many points.

San Francisco likes a spread-out offense, built to generate looks from deep.

The Dons led the WCC in 3-point rate, but Pacific allowed the second-fewest 3-point attempts and the second-lowest 3-point rate in the conference.

The Tigers also have the shooting to respond to USF’s long-range attack on the other end. Pacific led the WCC and ranks seventh nationally in 3-point percentage.

That makes for a high-variance dice roll every time Pacific takes the floor, so it’s well worth grabbing this many points.



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