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College basketball best bets.
College basketball best bets.

Fridays are not typically packed with high-profile college basketball games when we get into conference play, but two ranked-versus-ranked matchups will build plenty of excitement heading into the weekend. We have highlighted the odds, movements, and our college basketball best bets for Friday.

Both No. 6 Baylor and No. 14 Gonzaga have lost twice this season, and both will be motivated to avoid a third early-season loss in this heavyweight non-conference tilt. Additionally, No. 16 Illinois and No. 22 Maryland meet in College Park to kick off their Big Ten schedules.

Here are our best bets for Friday’s college basketball slate (odds via Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

Friday’s College Basketball Schedule and Odds

(odds via DraftKings)

Friday’s College Basketball Best Bets

  • Moneyline: Maryland (-118 via FanDuel) ★★★
  • Spread: UMass -1.5 (-110 via DraftKings) ★★★
  • Total: Pittsburgh-NC State Over 146.5 (-110 via Caesars) ★★★
  • Upset: Baylor (+110 via Caesars) ★★★
  • Prop Pick: Colgate 1st-half spread (OFF) ★★★

Friday’s College Basketball Top Picks

Moneyline: Maryland (-118) ★★★★

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood became the sixth coach in school history to reach the 100-win plateau, and he did it in grand style with a 29-point drubbing of Syracuse. The Fighting Illini have an interesting blend of youth and experience, the latter coming from two Big 12 transfers (Terrence Shannon and Matthew Mayer). However, their youth is in the backcourt with two freshmen, Skyy Clark and Jayden Epps. The former averages more than two turnovers per game, and a trip to the XFINITY Center in College Park is not the ideal place to have two freshmen playing their first true road game.

Kevin Willard’s defense ranks in the top 25 in effective field goal percentage defense and 3-point percentage allowed (26.2%) and will make life miserable for Illinois’ young backcourt.

FanDuel is the most generous book with its moneyline odds, as the Terrapins are a minimum -130 elsewhere.

Spread: UMass -1.5 (-110) ★★★★

The Frank Martin era is off to a rousing success at UMass, as he has led the Minutemen to five wins in the first six games. The only loss thus far was an excusable one to a Towson team that returned four players who averaged 9.8 or more points per game from a squad that won 25 games a year ago.

While Harvard has two players (Chris Ledlum and Luka Sakota) that averaged in double figures last year, the Crimson were projected to finish fourth in the Ivy League this year based on how young their roster is (324th in D-1 experience). 

DraftKings offers the best combination of lowest number for UMass backers, but also the least juice.

Total: Pittsburgh-NC State Over 146.5 (-110) ★★★

NC State has used a breakneck pace (34th-fastest tempo in the country) to average 83 points per game, tops in the ACC. The 74 points the Wolfpack scored on an elite Kansas defense were the second-most the Jayhawks allowed this year, even though NC State shot worse than its season averages from both 2-point and 3-point range. 

On the other side, Pittsburgh has averaged 80.8 points per game during a four-game winning streak. In addition, the Panthers still rank in the top 70 in the country in assists per field goals made, despite ranking in the top 40 in offensive rebounding percentage (35.1%).

Books like Caesars are offering upwards of one point worth of value compared to many of its competitors. 

Upset: Baylor (+110) ★★★

Gonzaga’s fans are more likely to come out in droves with this game being played in Sioux Falls, SD, but the Sanford Pentagon is far from “The Kennel.” In addition, this is a bad time to play a mad Baylor squad that just lost by 26 points on the road at Marquette.

Perhaps we shouldn't be shocked by the Golden Eagles’ win, as they are now over .500 (7-6) against AP-ranked teams in Shaka Smart’s tenure. Marquette scored 24 points off 16 Baylor turnovers by halftime, but the Baylor guards should settle in much more quickly against a Gonzaga defense that has forced turnovers at a 17.2% clip (ranks 258th in the country) this season. This is still a Bears offense that ranks second in adjusted offensive efficiency and third in effective field goal percentage, which proves it can operate very smoothly when not being harassed by a “havoc” defense.

Prop Pick: Colgate 1st-half spread (OFF) ★★★★

“The Jungle” is one of the most intimidating places to play in the SEC, but if any team is not going to be intimidated by the atmosphere, it's a Colgate squad that starts four seniors and returns 68.8% of its minutes (13th-best) from last season.

Freshman point guard Braeden Smith is the only inexperienced starter, and after committing nine turnovers through the first two games, he has committed 13 total turnovers over the last seven. If he can consistently initiate the offense, the Raiders are a dangerous offensive team, ranking eighth in effective field goal percentage and 16th-best from behind the arc (40.7%).

Where to Bet on College Basketball

Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:

College basketball best bets made 12/2/2022 at 6:22 a.m. ET.