Friday's Best Bets
March 15, 2019
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Friday College Basketball Best Bets
We are getting down to the nitty-gritty of these conference tournaments, which means champions are soon to be crowned and automatic bids to the NCAA tournament next week will be handed out. It's quarter-final/semi-final day across the college basketball landscape, as tonight's prime time slate is loaded with big time matchups across the board.
Yet, even with how chaotic this week has already been, we've come to Friday's slate and I'm constantly reminded of this piece I wrote earlier in the week. Tonight sets up as a perfect time to implement those streaks into individual game play, so let's get right to the plays:
Odds per - YouWager.eu
Best Bet #1: Washington Huskies -2.5
For five straight years in the Pac-12 tournament it's been the #1 vs #2 seed in the final and coming into the semi's tonight we are on track to see it for a 6th straight year. I'm not ready to go as far as saying will indeed be the case this year as stepping in front of a surging Oregon Ducks team is not looking ideal, but backing top seeded Washington tonight is a play is a play I'm confident in making.
To start, Washington beat Colorado by at least seven points in both of their meetings this year, and while the whole revenge angle in those scenarios can get blown out of proportion at times, to me, Colorado isn't as good as their record suggests, nor are they capable of pulling off the upset tonight.
And while Buffaloes backers will point to recent form (Colorado is 8-2 SU, 7-3 ATS over their last 10) as support to take the points with Colorado tonight, Washington's recent form doesn't look nearly as good (7-3 SU, 3-7 ATS) because they haven't had really anything to play for since locking up the Pac-12 regular season crown so early. The Huskies scraped by USC in the tournament opener which doesn't help their cause relative to Colorado's blowout win over Oregon State, but Washington is an experienced team that won't crumble in the moment, and I expect that to show itself in spades tonight.
Washington averaged eight-point victories over Colorado this year, and with a 12-4 ATS run going off a SU win, and Colorado being 2-6 ATS in their last eight against a foe that's won 60% of the time, an eight-point win is about the margin of victory I expect to see from Washington tonight.
Odds per - YouWager.eu
Best Bet #2: Duke -3.5
Most of the college basketball world has spent the last 12 hours raving about Zion Williamson's performance in his return to the floor last night, and if he wasn't already a lock for the #1 overall pick in June's NBA draft, last night's effort cemented that status. But Zion's still only one guy, and with this being his second game in as many days, I don't think you can count on him being as dominant.
Yet, this is also the first time Duke should have him against UNC this year, as Duke looks to avoid getting swept 0-3 by the Tar Heels. Having Zion back is great, but this play is more about fading the dreaded #2 seed in the ACC tournament, and the notion that UNC sweeping Duke in a season is one that's really tough to figure.
There have only been two appearances in the ACC tournament championship game for the #2 seed since 2005, and I don't believe this Tar Heels team to be one that adds another title appearance to that trend. That's because whether Zion was on the floor or not, UNC has already proven to themselves (and the CBB world) that they can beat this Duke team and while a conference tournament crown is nice, UNC is a program that counts national titles first and foremost. There has to be little urgency is coming out and performing at their best tonight from UNC's perspective and if that's the case, any team in that scenario is always a good fade.
Conversely, Duke is out to prove that they can get by this Tar Heels squad now that they are at full strength, and there shouldn't be any sort of holding back in terms of hanging a big number on UNC if that opportunity presents itself. It's not like they don't have the talent to do so, and Zion's presence on the floor should open up much more successful offense than they had in the first two games.
I say that because without Zion, UNC went with the strategy of packing the paint and forcing Duke to be an outside shooting team. That's definitely not a strength of this Blue Devils team and it cost them with two defeats. But just having Zion stationed in the paint, should leave more driving lanes for Duke to either drive and score or drive and kick, and for as much as UNC may have gameplanned for that prior to the first meeting, they've yet to really have to put that in action.
For as deep as this rivalry goes, and the fact that the majority of Duke's starting roster will be playing in a NBA city next year, this class of guys do not want to be remembered at Duke for getting swept in three games by UNC, as having lost three straight overall to UNC coming into this one already doesn't sit well. It's been since the mid-1990's that North Carolina has won four straight meetings vs Duke, and I don't see that drought stopping tonight.
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