NCAAB Odds, Picks: Best Bets for Friday Evening’s Slate, Including Marist vs. Saint Peter’s & More (March 10)
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Bashir Mason (Saint Peter’s)
Champ Week is heating up as many conferences are set for the semifinal round of their postseason tournament.
Our staff has already targeted the afternoon window, but now they’re lining up for the evening slate.
So, dive in below for the top NCAAB odds, picks and best bets for Friday evening’s slate, including Marist vs. Saint Peter’s and more.
4 Friday Evening 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 evening’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|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.|
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (SEC)
By Doug Ziefel
If you read my SEC preview and yesterday’s best bet, you know which team we’re continuing to ride tonight.
Arkansas passed its first test on Thursday with a 76-73 victory over Auburn, and is now primed to pull off its first upset of the tournament.
The Aggies are one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, as they rank inside the top 40 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. However, they have one stark disadvantage that will lead to their downfall — a lack of size.
Arkansas will have a tremendous edge in near-proximity shooting in this one, as the Aggies are 202nd in block rate. It will be a battle for the Razorbacks to work the ball inside because Texas A&M typically allows chances from the perimeter, but they were able to in their only regular-season meeting.
On the other end, Texas A&M has similar tendencies, but it showed in their first meeting that the Razorbacks’ size was too much to finish in the paint. Arkansas racked up 13 blocks in that game and held the Aggies to just 34% on shots inside the arc.
I expect Arkansas to repeat its defensive performance and even improve its offensive output.
It won the first meeting without Nick Smith Jr., but he’s bound to make an impact in this matchup.
Pick: Arkansas ML +100 (Play to -110)
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Iowa State vs. Kansas (Big 12)
Even without Bill Self on the sideline, Kansas beat the brakes off West Virginia. The Jayhawks’ athleticism and pick-and-roll game proved too much for the Mountaineers to handle.
KU now takes on Iowa State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
The Cyclones are one of the most interesting teams in the conference. They’re second in turnover rate, but if you control possession, the defense isn’t that difficult to break. They force the farthest shot proximity in the country, so making jump shots is crucial.
That’s something Kansas is more than capable of doing. Both Gradey Dick and Dajuan Harris Jr. shoot 41.2% from the perimeter, and Jalen Wilson is one of the best scorers in college basketball.
Iowa State matched up so incredibly well with Baylor, and that’s why the Cyclones beat the Bears all three times they played. But Kansas’ length and defense should cause plenty of issues for an unimpressive ISU offense.
Caleb Grill’s departure from the program leaves the Cyclones without their best 3-point shooter (36.8%). That puts more stress on Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes to create for what is already a struggling offense that ranks 169th in eFG% and 262nd in turnover rate.
Kansas’ defense ranks eighth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, and it’s around the top 50 in defending both 2s and 3s.
The Jayhawks’ switch defense and ability to guard 1-through-5 often presents a problem for the opposition. WVU was unable to find mismatches and create enough to remain competitive as the game winded down.
To me, Iowa State doesn’t have enough offense to keep up with Kansas. It loves to slow the game down and win in a rock fight, mostly because its offense is extremely inefficient.
KU will push transition and turn defense into offense. A late second-half lead would be extremely difficult for ISU to overcome.
Can the Cyclones’ defense disrupt the veteran KU ball handlers? They did so at home, with 20 turnovers in a win. But Kansas was extremely inefficient (0.79 PPP), and it was the perfect letdown spot after an emotional win over Kansas State a few days prior.
This is a matchup that favors Kansas. While KU has some depth issues, this isn’t an Iowa State team that will draw many fouls (291st FTA/FGA). Rather, its defensive aggression often leads to foul trouble on its own end.
Give me the Jayhawks as they advance to the Big 12 title game.
Pick: Kansas -4.5 (Play to -5)
Norfolk State vs. North Carolina Central (MEAC)
No. 2 seed North Carolina Central and No. 3 Norfolk State will clash tonight for the right to play for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Tournament Championship and earn the coveted automatic bid to the Big Dance.
Both schools made quick work of their first-round opponents, with North Carolina Central defeating Delaware State by a 30-point margin and Norfolk State defeating Coppin State by a final score of 73-56.
Advancing to the championship game will be a much taller order for these two programs that split the regular season series with wins on their respective home courts.
Tonight’s game takes place in Norfolk, but not at the Spartans’ home court.
There’s something to be said for the advantage that Norfolk State has playing in its own backyard, but I think that’s completely undermined by a quick turnaround after playing just 24 hours ago.
Meanwhile, NC Central is coming off a day of rest.
The two previous contests were settled by a combined difference of just seven points, and I don’t think there’s any reason to assume this game will be any different.
NC Central and Norfolk State rank 180th and 197th in KenPom’s rankings, respectively, but I think the edge belongs to North Carolina Central and its MEAC-best defense.
The Eagles rank 113th nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency rankings and should be able to do enough to slow down the Norfolk State offense.
On offense, 3s will be the key to the game for the Eagles. North Carolina Central’s deep threats face a Norfolk State defense that ranks 233rd in the nation in 3-point defense.
I like backing NC Central to win outright on an extra day of rest. It will get it done tonight and move onto the MEAC Championship.
Pick: NC Central ML +100 (Play to -115)
Marist vs. Saint Peter’s (MAAC)
By Ky McKeon
The Saint Peter’s Peacocks are up to their old tricks again. Last year’s Cinderella has put on the dress one more time and has gone dancing at the MAAC ball.
The 10-seeded Peacocks knocked off Fairfield and Rider, and only the 11-seeded Marist Red Foxes stand between them and another MAAC title game.
Marist has pulled two upsets of its own, downing Manhattan and Quinnipiac over the past three days. Favorable shooting splits have led the way. Marist is 18-for-44 (40.1%) from deep over its past two games; its opponents are 11-for-54 (20.4%).
Regression is coming two ways for Marist, and it faces a squad in Saint Peter’s tonight that has beaten it twice this season. Both games were ugly affairs — as expected from two anemic offenses — but SPU emerged victorious thanks to dominating the offensive glass.
The Peacocks are the nation’s eighth-best offensive rebounding team by rate, and Marist has allowed SPU to grab 31 offensive rebounds (or 37% of its misses) in two contests.
SPU won the turnover battle in both previous games and should again tonight. The Peacocks’ tenacity on defense is what makes them such a hard team to defeat in a tournament setting.
In a gritty, knock-em-down, drag-em-out affair, I prefer the team more comfortable fighting in the mud.
Pick: Saint Peter’s +1 (Play to -1)
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