NCAAB Odds, Best Bets: 3 Early Picks for Friday’s Early Games, Including Ohio State vs. Michigan State, Ohio vs. Toledo, More

NCAAB Odds, Best Bets: 3 Early Picks for Friday’s Early Games, Including Ohio State vs. Michigan State, Ohio vs. Toledo, More article feature image

Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Toledo’s Dante Maddox Jr.

Only three days of conference tournament action remain, so let's make the most of what we have.

Friday's slate of college basketball tourney games starts with a Big Ten battle between Rutgers and Purdue at noon ET and runs all the way through a Mountain West matchup featuring Utah State and Boise State at midnight ET.

While our writers didn't hit Scarlet Knights vs. Boilermakers for their early best bets, they did break down three other matchups: Ohio State vs. Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament, UAB vs. North Texas in the C-USA Tournament and Ohio vs. Toledo in the MAC Tournament.

Read on for all three of our best bets for Friday's early college basketball games, and be sure to check back throughout the day for our top evening and late-night picks.

Friday's Early College Basketball Best Bets

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

2:30 p.m. ET
Michigan State -3.5
3 p.m. ET
UAB +1.5
5 p.m. ET
Toledo -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.

Ohio State vs. Michigan State

Friday, March 10
2:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Michigan State -3.5

By Tanner McGrath

I think Ohio State’s mini Cinderella run ends here.

I expect the legs to give out in the Buckeyes’ third game in three days. I especially think that frontcourt rotation will start feeling Zed Key’s absence — there’s no backup to Felix Okpara, and he’s played 62 minutes in the last 48 hours.

Now, the Buckeyes catch double-bye Sparty, and it’s never been a good matchup for Ohio State.

Sparty is a high-usage, elite ball-screen offense. Which team wouldn’t be with Tyson Walker and AJ Hoggard?

Meanwhile, Ohio State’s ball-screen defense has always been lackadaisical. The only player who can guard Walker or Hoggard in the pick-and-roll is Isaac Likekele, and you can barely play him with his offensive ineptitude.

Half the reason that Ohio State made this run is that it played two conference teams that utilized ball-screens the least (Wisconsin and Iowa). Sparty should be a wake-up call.

Meanwhile, I trust Jaden Akins and Malik Hall to contain Brice Sensabaugh and Justice Sueing’s midrange pull-up attack. Sparty’s wing defenders are more competent than Wisconsin’s and Iowa’s.

I’ll take Sparty to win comfortably in a great matchup with a serious rest advantage. Michigan State’s won three of its past four against Ohio State, so why not again?

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UAB vs. North Texas

Friday, March 10
3 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
UAB +1.5

By Brett Pund

In the better semifinal matchup in the Conference USA Tournament, I’m going to back the team I feel has the better overall talent as the slight underdog.

Yes, North Texas did take both meetings in the regular season, but UAB didn’t have Jordan “Jelly” Walker in one of those games. The other was a double-overtime thriller that could have gone either way.

One big edge for the Blazers is their excellent backcourt, which is very key in March. Jelly has been one of the best players in college basketball this season, entering this game at third in the country in scoring at 23.3 points per game.

He’s joined by LSU transfer Eric Gaines to make this one of the best duos at the mid-major level. UAB is also a deeper team compared to the Mean Green, which will help after both programs played late last night.

Because the Blazers’ offensive unit and North Texas’ defensive unit are so good, it ultimately comes down to how well UAB can stop NTX on offense. While the Mean Green have been better than previous versions of themselves, I still don’t trust them to score enough points here.

Give me UAB, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Blazers flipped to the favorite before tip.

Ohio vs. Toledo

Friday, March 10
5 p.m. ET
CBS Sports Network
Toledo -5

By Matt Cox

The Rockets are all systems go. Multiple years of MAC Tournament shortcomings still haunt head coach Tod Kowalczyk, but this year’s group is on a mission. A dominant opening-round victory over Miami (Ohio) set the tone for the team riding a 16-game win streak.

Granted, opposite Toledo is Ohio, which just throttled a much better Ball State team by 20 points. But the matchup edge here for the Rockets is the prevailing factor in this handicap. In summary, Ohio’s shaky perimeter defense and lack of a vertical rim protector offer an oasis of easy scoring opportunities for Toledo.

In the only meeting between the two this season, Toledo played inside-out via dribble penetration and torched the Bobcats with a 3-point barrage. Kowalczyk was willing to let Ohio’s burly big man, Dwight Wilson, get his on offense while punishing the less fleet of foot Wilson on the other end.

If Toledo replicates that blueprint again, the Rockets should cruise to an easy victory — as long as they keep white-hot rookie AJ Brown from going ballistic again…

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