College Basketball Best Bets: Soar to Success by Backing Blue Jays

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College basketball experts Three Man Weave are back with their two best bets for Wednesday's slate. We're using the current odds from Westgate SuperBook (as of 1:30 p.m. ET) for these plays.

Creighton at Seton Hall
3MW's Pick: Creighton +6

Hurry up and take a picture of the Big East Standings–this may not last long.

As of today, February 12, 2020, a team not named Villanova resides safely in the ivory tower of the Big East leaderboard. Like true Pirates, Seton Hall seized control of the Big East ship this weekend with an invasive destruction of the Wildcats in Philadelphia. 

Don’t look now, but the pesky Pirates are quietly pulling away from the pack as owners of a comfy three-game lead atop the conference standings at 10-1. A home loss to Xavier remains the lone scar on Hall’s resume at the moment, a monumental achievement in the Big East’s brutal schedule.

The Pirates have shown no mercy over the last two months, but that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Particularly in this year’s college basketball landscape–one where every team is one bad game from reminding us of their previously identified flaws–situational advantages act a compass for handicappers. 

Just a few days removed from that marquee victory over Villanova, this is no time to relax, especially against the surging Jays of Creighton. Greg McDermott’s inflammable offense is boiling hot right now, fueled by a timely lineup insertion at the beginning of 2 semester–SEMO transfer Denzel Mahoney–as well as a team-wide health revival, which kept the Jays out of top gear for much of the non-conference. 

Mahoney’s blossomed into the quintessential X-Factor, built with the malleability of multi-positional wing which makes him a walking mismatch. In many ways, Mahoney is a long-lost cousin of fellow running mates Damien Jefferson, Mitch Ballock and Ty-Shon Alexander, all of whom are plus-sized guards with versatile scoring packages. Since Mahoney joined the fold at semester, Creighton has climbed 25 spots in Kenpom’s overall rankings, and currently boast the 25 spot in the advanced analytical hierarchy.

This army of 6-foot-5 soldiers may look like the ‘Small Soldiers’ next to Seton Hall’s mammoth frontline. The Pirates’ twin tower lineup pairs 6-foot-11 Sandro Mamukelashvili with 7-foot-2 shot-blocking specialist Romaro Gill, a daunting fortress for any driver to score over. But that’s the thing. This is the Jumpshootin’ Jays. Greg McDermott’s offense is predicated on constant movement and timely misdirection, engineered to generate a plethora of open 3s and uncontested layups. 

The Pirates have effectively guarded the 3-point arc so far this season, but Creighton’s offense presents a unique challenge. The subtle secret ingredient in this offensive recipe is Christian Bishop. He is Creighton’s de-facto 5 who's completely reinvented his positional description. Blessed with long arms, Bishop plays far bigger than his 6-foot-7 frame, but still possesses the skill and agility to work fluidly within the flow of the offense. Bishop could be the kryptonite to the Pirates’ forwards, who will be tested by Bishop’s mid-post drives and constant perimeter screening action.

Seton Hall is making all the raucous at the top of the Big East totem pole right now, which is precisely why Creighton is a dangerous, unassuming adversary in this matchup. Join me on a flight with the Blue Jays this evening, who are 4-1 in their last five games against the spread and outright winners of five out of six.

Boston College at Miami (FL)
3MW's Pick: Miami FL -3.5

Can someone arrange a pregame toast to the Boston College and Miami (FL) training staffs? This seems warranted given the revolving door of injuries the Canes and Eagles have endured this season. Fortunately, there's a flickering light at the end of the tunnel for both squads–and their respective training staffs, who are in desperate need of a sabbatical at this point–as both locker rooms are slowly being revived to full strength.

For Miami, let's shine the CAT scan on Chris Lykes and Kam McGusty, the Hurricanes’ co-conductors. Lykes has been bothered by multiple injuries this year, most recently a nagging groin, which is what held him out for four of the last five games. McGusty was M.I.A. in three of those contests due to lingering back issues, an always unpredictable injury to manage. During that span, the Canes have been a piñata for ACC opponents. Dating back to the beginning of January, Miami is 2-10 overall, which features two uninspiring wins over Pitt and Virginia Tech at home.

Lykes and McGusty both returned to action against arch rival Florida State on Saturday, albeit in limited capacity, but head cach Jim Larranaga indicated he’s hopeful that the Canes will be healthy for the first time in a long time against BC tonight. In the absence of Lykes and McGusty over the past few weeks, freshmen Harlond Beverly and Isaiah Wong have fast-tracked their growth and accelerated their confidence development, which should start to pay dividends down the stretch.

I’m betting on that stretch commencing tonight against a potentially fatigued Boston College bunch, who could be running on fumes after a courageous overtime win at Virginia Tech over the weekend. That victory succeeded two straight inspirational performances against Duke (lost by eight but competed the whole way) and at North Carolina (won by one), which was aided by the momentum of center Nik Popovic's recent return to the hardwood, who missed a month and half of the season with an injury. 

Yet, just when it seemed like the Basketball Gods were starting to smile down upon the Eagles, another injury bug bite set BC back in reverse. 

Starting off guard Jared Hamilton sprained his ankle against the Hokies and is currently listed as day-to-day after missing the entire second half. To throw gasoline on the fire, starting wing CJ Felder is also recovering from an illness, which kept him out of action against Virginia Tech on Saturday. Even if both Felder and Hamilton play, it’s likely some rust will be exposed.

Miami’s a fragile team to bet on at this point in time, but all the evidence indicates a slow and steady stabilization process is underway. ‘The U’ has a juicy opportunity to snap out of a funk tonight in the friendly confines of Coral Gables, especially against a battered and bruised opponent in BC.

3MW Record: 28-21-1

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