Best Bets: Previewing the best games of the weekend in college basketball

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As of this publication, the lines for the Friday games were the only ones posted. Games on Saturday and Sunday will be discussed using projections from KenPom.

No. 20 WASHINGTON vs. TENNESSEE (-3); 135, Sat. 5:00 p.m. (Toronto)

As weird as it may sound, this looks like it is going to be the best game of the weekend.

And I will be fascinated to see where the line actually opens up, because Tennessee (-3) just seems like it is too high. I make this to be closer to a pick-em and would probably have Washington favored by a point or two, and that’s largely because I think that they just matchup really well with the Vols.

The issue with this Tennessee team is their frontcourt, which is not ideal going up against a Washington team that is going to be featuring Isaiah Stewart on the block. He’s a beast. He made Baylor’s big men look normal last weekend, and Baylor’s bigs are better than Tennessee.

Now, I do think that the Vols have some pieces that will be able to operate against that Washington zone, especially if Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden are actually shooting the ball well. Tennessee is better than where they are ranked right now.

But I think this matchup favors Washington, and if you can get the Huskies (+3), you take them.

PICK: Washington (+3)

No. 15 FLORIDA (-2) at UCONN; 138, Sun. 3:00 p.m.

This is a weird matchup. Florida has looked terrible early on this season, having gotten worked over by Florida State in Gainesville before nearly losing to Towson at home. That’s not ideal.

But UConn is coming off of an absolute mollywhopping at home at the hands of a St. Joseph’s team that has somewhere in the neighborhood of eight scholarship players on the roster.

Put another way, both of these teams stink right now, but Florida is the team that has more talent. They showed some flashes late in the win over Towson of playing their optimal lineup – two guards with Keyontae Johnson and Scottie Lewis around Kerry Blackshear – and I’m still in on them as a contender.

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PICK: Picking small favorites on the road is always risky, but I like to live dangerously. Florida (-2).

MARQUETTE (-1) at WISCONSIN; 131, Sun. 1:00 p.m.

Marquette had one of the most impressive wins that I saw in the Gavitt Games. They erased a 13-point deficit against Purdue without having Markus Howard go nuts. They did it with their defense and with Koby McEwen. This is a different Golden Eagles than we are used to seeing. I think they are going to be able to guard all season long.

Now that said, I do not feel good about betting on them to go into the Kohl Center and win a rivalry game on a Sunday in November, even though I don’t think Wisconsin has a guy that can slow down Howard, who struggles with length and athleticism.

PICK: This game will be a stay-away for me if Marquette is laying points. If Wisconsin opens up as a favorite, however, that’s a line that I will jump on.

No. 12 SETON HALL (-7) at ST. LOUIS; 139, Sun. 4:00 p.m.

St. Louis is playing at a faster place than they have played in recent seasons, and while I’m still not entirely convinced that they are somewhere in the neighborhood of “good” offensively, I do think that they’ll be able to create enough possessions to put up points. Seton Hall, obviously, can score, so if the total is 139 here I think I lean towards the over.

The one question mark is Myles Powell. I think his ankle is actually bothering him and that his 37 point outburst against Michigan State had more to do with his toughness and the way that adrenaline can make pain go away than anything else.

PICK: Over (139)

UT ARLINGTON at No. 14 OREGON (-15); 139, Sun. 8:00 p.m.

I lean Oregon here for one, specific reason: The Mavericks are shooting more threes than anyone else in college basketball right now: 56.5 percent of their field goal attempts this season have come from beyond the arc. Oregon’s matchup zone forces offenses to shoot over the top of it. This would, in theory, be a good thing for UTA except for the fact that they are shooting just 28.6 percent from three on the season and Oregon is allowing opponents to shoot just 23.2 percent from three.

PICK: The Ducks (-15) assuming that Chris Ogden’s team doesn’t turn into the Golden State Warriors this weekend.

NEW MEXICO STATE at No. 19 ARIZONA (-10); 138, Sun. 2:00 p.m.

New Mexico State is one of the best mid-major programs in the country. They are going to be a threat to pull off an upset if and when they get to the NCAA tournament. Chris Jans can really, really coach, and he has some talent on this roster.

But Arizona has been arguably the most impressive team through the first 10 days of the season, and laying 10 points against a mid-major program at home is just not enough points.

PICK: Arizona (-10)

No. 8 GONZAGA (-7) at TEXAS A&M; 143, Fri. 9:00 p.m

Texas A&M will be without T.J. Starks, who was suspended for this game. Gonzaga has looked really impressive through two wins against mediocre competition. I think I would lean towards the Zags in the Admon Gilder revenge game.

ALABAMA at RHODE ISLAND (+1.5); 149, Fri. 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

Alabama has already lost at home this season, dropping a game against Penn in overtime, and now they draw a good URI team that has a talented backcourt in a road game. I like the URI money line here.