NCAA Men’s Basketball Previews, Picks, and Predictions for Friday, March 4

NCAA Men’s Basketball Previews, Picks, and Predictions for Friday, March 4
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Here is tonight's 3-pointer, college basketball betting advice on three NCAA men's games.

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Southern Illinois vs. Drake

  • Missouri Valley Conference Quarterfinal
  • Enterprise Center, St. Louis
  • 9:30 p.m. ET

The Drake Bulldogs opened this conference tournament matchup with the Southern Illinois Salukis as 3-point favorites and have edged higher to 3.5-point favorites in early betting action, with 68% of the bets being placed on the Bulldogs.

The Salukis play at one of the slowest paces in the nation. They rank 352 out of 358 by attempting 51.8 shots per game. Its opponents have been forced to ‘play through the mud,’ averaging 51 shots per game which ranks eighth fewest in the nation.

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Trends and Angles Observations

Here are a few eye-opening situational trends and angles supporting the Salukis in this matchup.

Southern Illinois is 10-2 against the spread (ATS) in the second half of this season when facing a team that is making 72% or more of their free throw attempts and 11-3 ATS when facing a team that forces an average of 14 or fewer turnovers in the second half of this season.

The Bulldogs are 8-20 ATS when facing a foe that is averaging at least 21 three points shot attempts per game this season.

I am betting on Southern Illinois and grabbing the points. I think they win outright.

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Eastern Michigan vs. Miami (Ohio)

  • Millett Hall, Oxford, Ohio
  • 7 p.m. ET

We will see two losing record teams attempting to build some momentum in their regular-season finale ahead of the Mid-American Conference Tournament when the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks play host to the Eastern Michigan Eagles tonight.

The Redhawks are 13-17 straight-up and 8-19 against the spread on the season. Over their past 10 games, they are 4-6 straight-up (SU) and 3-7 against the spread (ATS).

The Eagles have a 10-20 SU record and a money-losing 12-17 ATS mark. Over the past 10 games, they have gone 2-8 SU and ATS.

The line for this game opened with the Redhawks priced as 8-point home favorites and has risen to -9.5, despite having only 36% of the bets placed on them.

In a situation where the line moves opposite to the popular consensus, the professional betting strategy is to face it. So, it got my attention to research deeper for a potential bet on the Redhawks.

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Miami has the best backcourt in the conference, averaging 75 points per game. They are the potential troublemaker for any of the top seeds to face in next week’s MAC Tournament.

Guards Dae Dae Grant averages 17.6 and Mekhi Larry averages 14 points per game. The emergence of 6-7 sophomore forward Kamari Williams, who is coming off the best game of his career with 21 points against Central Michigan, adds to the firepower.

I do not see the Eagles having an answer to the backcourt duo or Williams, who could exceed his career-high against an extremely favorable matchup.

Trends and Angles Observations

Eastern Michigan is 1-9 against the spread when taking on an opponent with a marginal losing record between 40 and 49% on the season.

The Eagles are also a money-burning 8-23 ATS when facing strong ball-handling teams that are averaging 14 or fewer turnovers over the last two seasons.

They are also 1-10 ATS following a game in which they were installed as the favorite, spanning the last three seasons.

I am on Miami minus the points.

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Utah State vs. San Jose State

  • Provident Credit Union Event Center, San Jose
  • 11 p.m. ET

The Utah State Aggies will look to take care of business when they play at San Jose State Spartans tonight.

The line opened with the Aggies as a solid 13.5-point road favorite, but money has come in on the Spartans, moving the line to 11.5.

The total opened at 138 points and has shifted to 137.5 points in early betting action.

Trends and Angles Observations

Looking at my overall power rating of the 358 Division-I basketball programs, the Spartans rank 310 and the Aggies 64, reflecting the chasm in talent between these two programs.

San Jose State ranks 336 with a scoring differential of -10.7 points per game. Utah State ranks 73 at 5.4 points per game and ranks 24 with a strong 1.397 assists to turnover ratio.

The Spartans rank a horrid 348 with a 1.425 defensive assist to turnover, which means they allow far more assists to opponents than forced turnovers. So, one of the best ball-handling teams in the country against one of the worst defensive teams spells blowout win for the Aggies.

My predictive models expect Utah State to shoot at least 47% from the field and note that San Jose State is 8-23 ATS when allowing 47% or higher shooting in games played over the past three seasons.

I am betting Utah State minus the points.

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