College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s Favorite Picks, Including Boston College-Notre Dame, BYU-San Francisco & More (Saturday, January 16)
Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: San Francisco Dons guard Khalil Shabazz (0).
- Saturday's college basketball slate is loaded from top to bottom, featuring high-profile top-25 matchups across the board.
- Jim Root of Three Man Weave offers his top-three college basketball best bets for Saturday, Jan. 16, including why he's backing San Francisco in a stylistic clash with BYU.
- Below, find Jim's comprehensive breakdown for each of his top three games to bet on Saturday.
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.
Today’s best bets have been provided by Jim Root as of late Friday night. Follow Jim 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 Saturday morning and via William Hill. Specific bet recommendations at the end of each matchup breakdown come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing on Friday night.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Evansville vs. Bradley
It’s no longer 2020. And, while that’s a great thing for almost everyone, it’s especially welcome for the Purple Aces. They spent nearly the entirety of 2020 squarely in the losing column, going 0-18 after the turn of the calendar last season and starting 0-3 this year.
However, Todd Lickliter added two immensely talented pieces to the roster after that: Wings Jawaun Newton and Samari Curtis have given the Aces the jolt of electricity needed to boost the offense to “not obscenely terrible” levels.
Along with jitterbug point guard Shamar Givance, that gives Lickliter three offensive catalysts who can get into gaps and draw defenders, opening up shooters on the perimeter. Evansville has a legion of snipers, with Noah Frederking, Evan Kuhlman, and Jax Levitch all hitting 35% or better from deep on high volume. In fact, the Aces rank third nationally in 3-point attempt (3PA) rate, and they 37th in 3-point percentage (3P%).
That perimeter shooting acumen is crucial against Bradley — a fundamentally sound squad that packs the paint and forces opponents to hit jumpers over the top. The Braves defense ranks 308th in 3PA rate, which highlights just how frequently foes are forced to launch over the top.
Obviously, that’s playing with fire against Evansville.
Nonetheless, perhaps the most vital component to this handicap is the likely absence of Ari Boya, Bradley’s monstrous 7-foot-1 center. Boya clogs the paint and is a huge reason why the Braves rank third in 2P% defense. Boya boasts a block rate of 7.4% on his own, which would rank in the top 75 if he had registered more minutes.
Elijah Childs and Rienk Mast still form an intimidating pairing inside, but Boya’s absence opens up more angles to finish around the rim for Newton and Curtis. Boya’s absence also removes a beastly offensive rebounder — a key source of offense for the Braves — and the Aces are excellent on the glass despite being undersized due to their attention to detail on box outs.
In a slow, half-court battle, a 9- or 10-point spread feels like a mountain to climb for the favorite, especially given Evansville’s matchup advantages.
Pick: Evansville +9.5 | Play to +9
Boston College vs. Notre Dame
This wager is a classic buy-low, sell-high spot.
Notre Dame has lost four games in a row against a brutal schedule: Virginia (twice), at North Carolina, and at Virginia Tech. Meanwhile, Boston College is coming off a torrid 18-for-35 3-point shooting performance in a 22-point win over Miami (FL) on Tuesday.
The Irish now sit at a lowly 0-5 in the ACC — an incredibly disappointing mark for a team that boasts the 26th-ranked offense in the country, per KenPom’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (AdjO) metric. Mike Brey’s squad has plenty of capable scorers, with junior forward Nate Laszewski really ascending into stardom this year.
Where this game will be won, though, is on the defensive end of the court.
Boston College’s perimeter barrage against the Hurricanes was largely out of character for the Eagles. Excluding that game, BC is just 96-of-293 from beyond the arc (32.7%) — a below average rate. Plus, Notre Dame’s defense is most vulnerable in the paint, where the Irish lack bulk and size beyond foul-prone center Juwan Durham.
The perimeter-centric Eagles simply aren’t built to take advantage of that weakness, which lets Notre Dame off the hook to a degree.
Another crucial note here: Boston College has been shorthanded recently. Forwards Fred Scott and Luka Kraljevic have missed multiple games in a row, and key guards Makai Ashton-Langford and Wynston Tabbs were both out for that Miami beatdown. The status for Ashton-Langford and Tabbs remains unclear as of this writing; but if either or both miss another game, that puts an enormous burden on the team’s two remaining creators, Jay Heath and Rich Kelly.
If both guards are out, I would raise my strike price to -6.
Pick: Notre Dame -4.5 | Play to -5
BYU vs. San Francisco
This late-night bout between the San Francisco Dons and the BYU Cougars offers an outstanding stylistic clash.
San Francisco lives and dies (mostly lives) by the 3-pointer, ranking 7th nationally in 3PA rate. The Dons are led by a diminutive backcourt duo in Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz.
To contrast, BYU boasts a towering frontcourt, rolling out a rotation of four big men that features 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms and 6-foot-11 Richard Harward.
That stylistic clash offers opportunities for both sides, but I think it favors the host Dons on this particular night.
BYU typically does an outstanding job of taking away the 3-point arc, but Saint Mary’s was able to get off 22 attempts from deep on Thursday night — a very high number for what was an extremely low-possession game. San Francisco does a great deal of its damage from beyond the arc while in transition, something BYU saw almost nothing of two nights ago. The Dons’ speedy guards should be able to beat the lumbering BYU behemoths down the court and find open jumpers.
Additionally, the versatile Dzmitry Ryuny adds an element that could be the difference in the game. The Belarusian native is a dynamite defensive rebounder and a potent perimeter bomber, enabling him to hold up defensively while opening up the court as a matchup nightmare on the other end. Coach Todd Golden does a terrific job of deploying Ryuny in dangerous lineups that maximize his skills, and BYU will have its hands full trying to track him all over the court.
Along with the matchup edge, this also sets up as a favorable situational spot for the Dons. San Francisco sailed past an overmatched Portland on Thursday night, while BYU got everything it could handle from a well-coached Saint Mary’s squad, ultimately pulling out a massive road win. Finding the same closing surge in a second straight toss-up road game could prove too tall a task, even for the colossal Cougars.
Pick: San Francisco +1.5 | Play to -1