College Basketball Best Bets: Three Man Weave’s Favorite Picks, Including North Carolina vs. Duke, Michigan State vs. Nebraska & More (Saturday, Feb. 6)
Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images. Pictured: North Carolina Tar Heels forward Garrison Brooks (15).
- Saturday's college basketball slate is absolutely loaded, but there are three games with betting value that stand out to Three Man Weave.
- Jim Root from 3MW breaks down three college hoops games throughout the day — including North Carolina vs. Duke — and shares a betting breakdown and pick for each.
- Check out Root's full analysis complete with a pick for each game below.
Saturday’s college basketball slate is packed, and we’re prepared to make the most of it.
The Action Network has partnered with the guys at Three Man Weave to bring college basketball best bets for the Friday and Saturday slates. The trio of Matt Cox, Ky McKeon and Jim Root highlight the top three games they’re betting for each day’s college basketball slate.
Saturday’s best bets have been provided by Jim Root. 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.
Saturday College Basketball Odds & Picks
All listed odds have been updated as of early Saturday morning and 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 Friday night.
Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
Missouri State vs. Illinois State
It may not feel like it, but other teams besides Drake and Loyola-Chicago are still competing in the Missouri Valley this season! Those two have (deservedly) stolen the headlines — notably including what the Bulldogs and Ramblers did to this poor Missouri State team.
During a span of less than one week, the Bears lost to each Valley villain twice, with both Drake losses coming in heartbreaking fashion to start that stretch. Those painful losses seemed to induce a hangover effect, as Missouri State was unceremoniously blasted by Loyola soon after.
Now a week removed from that perilous stretch, can Missouri State pick up the pieces against the worst team in the conference?
I say “Yes,” and emphatically so. The Bears have had six days to lick their wounds and to refocus mentally; moreover, this is a matchup that should be fruitful for the favorite. The blowout losses to Loyola likely depressed this line: We could have seen a -7 or -7.5 opener without such lopsided results.
As for that matchup edge, Missouri State plays primarily through the post — an area that Illinois State has consistently struggled to defend. Per Synergy, Illinois State ranks in the 20th percentile against post-ups, with big men like Cameron Krutwig and Darnell Brodie having roasted the Redbirds inside. Missouri State’s Gaige Prim should be ready to feast after dueling with those two monsters last week.
On the other end, Illinois State takes a ton of jumpers, and Missouri State possesses the perimeter length to contest those long-range shots. Players such as Isiaih Mosley, Ja’Monta Black, Demarcus Sharp and Keaton Hervey form a compelling defensive counterpunch to the Redbirds’ perimeter shooting. Plus, ISU will likely be missing Josiah Strong — a starter and key part of that attack.
As long as Missouri State is not complacent, it should destroy Illinois State. After losing four straight games to the cream of the conference crop, complacency should not be a concern, and a motivated favorite is always an appealing option to back.
North Carolina vs. Duke
In a season we have dubbed the “Blue Blood Bloodbath” thanks to the relative struggles of Kentucky, Michigan State, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina, this time-honored Tobacco Road rivalry delivers far less hype than usual.
If you’ve paid attention to any college basketball this week, you’ve likely heard the following stat: This is the first time UNC and Duke have met while simultaneously unranked since 1960. If it wasn’t already a strange enough year, we have a once-in-60-years occurrence on the hardwood to add to it!
No matter how good or bad these two teams are, though, their head-to-head clashes always seem to be toss-ups. Even in the program’s worst season in decades last year, North Carolina had the Blue Devils beat in Durham before Tre Jones’ wild heroics saved the day. And of course, who can forget Austin Rivers stunning a loaded UNC team in Chapel Hill in 2012? As the cliché goes, “Throw out the records when these two meet.”
As per usual in UNC games, the Tar Heels will hold a massive edge in the paint, where Garrison Brooks, Day’Ron Sharpe and Armando Bacot can leverage their size and strength against Jalen Johnson and Matthew Hurt. Freshman Mark Williams has flashed potential recently for the Blue Devils, but he likely won’t be enough to quell the onslaught inside.
Thus, Duke will find itself highly reliant on perimeter offense, and that has been a shaky proposition thus far. The Blue Devils’ freshman guards have struggled with turnovers against opportunistic defenses. North Carolina is not known for its pressure, but it does have a couple pesky defenders (Leaky Black, Caleb Love) that can intercept passing lanes if Duke is sloppy. Matthew Hurt’s ability to space the court will be an issue, but not enough of one to turn this game into a Blue Devils blowout.
Both teams desperately need key wins to make the NCAA Tournament. So, while this is not a massive tilt on the national scale, it matters a great deal to both sides.
In what feels like a true coin flip showdown, it’s best to take the points.
Nebraska vs. Michigan State
You know how when a piece of electronic equipment is not working, you unplug it and then plug it back in, hoping that solves the problem? Well, Michigan State’s three-week pause due to COVID-19 was a quasi-unplugging for a struggling team.
Unfortunately, however, the Spartans device exploded when plugged back in. The Spartans have been an abomination in three games since returning, only showing signs of life against Iowa earlier this week.
Perhaps the perfect remedy is playing a team in even worse shape, though?
Nebraska enters Saturday’s matchup coming off of its own COVID-related break, having not played a game since Jan. 10. Even before that, the Cornhuskers were a mess, going 1-4 against the number over their previous five games. Furthermore, their coronavirus issues sound particularly troubling:
“Nebraska paused team activities Jan. 11. Hoiberg said he and two assistants, a graduate assistant, nine players and a student manager tested positive. That’s in addition to another player who had COVID-19 earlier in the season.”
— Eric Olson, Associated Press
That’s not just one player and some light contact tracing. More than half of the Cornhuskers team was on the shelf, limiting Nebraska’s practice time and torpedoing any rhythm that the players may have had.
Now faced with an impending road test at Michigan State, Nebraska has little time to figure itself out.
The Cornhuskers barely hung around with the Spartans in a previous meeting on Jan. 2 … doing so only because of uncharacteristically hot shooting (9-of-19 from 3-point range). They committed 18 turnovers and allowed the Spartans to shoot 67% inside the arc.
Under normal circumstances, those factors would already be concerning, but especially returning from such a long layoff, it’s difficult to see Nebrasketball hanging around on the road.
Pick: Michigan State -12 (Take up to -13)