The best NBA bet on a loaded Friday night, plus a selection of bowl games and more for the weekend

What an incredible sporting weekend is ahead of us. With college football’s regular season over, the NFL has three games scheduled for Saturday — but that’s not all. College football’s regular season has ended, so the six-game bowl season begins on Saturday.

Then there’s the whole list of college basketball, NBA, NHL, and in case that’s all not enough, we also have the World Cup finals and the third-place games on Saturday and Sunday. With cold weather across the country this weekend, it couldn’t come at a better time as we all stay indoors where it’s warm and toasty.

And I have enough tips to get you through all of this. Before we get to them though, let’s catch up on today’s top stories.

Let’s throw some logs on the bonfire.

All Eastern times and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook


🔥 The hot ticket

Timberwolves at Thunder, 8 p.m. | TV: NBA League Pass

Latest Odds:

Minnesota Timberwolves +2.5

  • key trend: Minnesota has covered four of the last five meetings in OKC.
  • The Choice: Timberwolves +2.5 (-110)

Bigger NBA games are on the agenda tonight, but there’s no better value than what we’re getting at the Timberwolves. Before I get to that, though, I want to say something about the Timberwolves’ name. Can we shorten it to wolves? I mean officially. Timberwolves is too long a name for a team nickname. Ideally, team names should be two syllables, but three still works. But four is just too many. And when you combine it with the four syllables in Minnesota, we get right out of control here.

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Anyway, Wolves have lost three straight games and this is the final game of a five-game road trip. They are 3-4 since losing Karl Anthony Towns, including a 135-128 loss to the Thunder in Minnesota two weeks ago, and tonight Rudy Gobert and D’Angelo Russell are questionable. I have more faith in Gobert but if Russell comes back tonight we get steal with the 2.5 points and I like the value even if Russell isn’t playing.

The Thunder have lost four in a row themselves, and while they’ve been decent defensively this season (112.4 Defensive Efficiency ranked 16th), they’ve been terrible during that losing streak (116.3) and their offense has been nonexistent (107, 0 in the last four compared to 110.5 on the season). The Thunder are playing badly at the moment and it’s hard to trust them to mark because of that.

This is what SportsLine says about the game: The projection model doesn’t see much value anywhere in this game, but it does have a slight propensity for thunder.


💰 The selection

Getty Images

🏀 College Basketball

Central Connecticut in Manhattan, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN+

Latest Odds:

Manhattan Jasper -5

The Choice: Manhattan -4.5 (-110) — If you’re not betting on a college basketball game on a Friday night between two teams ranked outside of the top 300 by KenPom, what are you even doing with your life? Especially when the Manhattan Jaspers don’t get the respect they deserve! OK, maybe a team that’s lost three straight and is only 3-6 on the season doesn’t deserve much respect, but the Jaspers are the better team here.

Neither of these teams is good offensively (Manhattan is ranked 335 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency, while CCSU is ranked 337). The difference is at the defensive end, where Manhattan is 257th and CCSU is 305th. Oh, and Manhattan has a significant advantage of scale. After all, CCSU is only 1-10, including a record 0-6 on the road where it loses an average of 16.5 points per game.

🏈 NFL

Dolphins at Bills, Saturday 8:15 p.m. | Television: NFL Network

Latest Odds:

under 44

The Choice: Under 44 (-110) — There was a lot of talk about the Dolphins having sideline heaters in 55 degrees in Los Angeles last week, and rightly so. I was out gardening early this morning in a t-shirt and sweatpants and it’s 27 degrees, windy and snowing. Still, I don’t think the Dolphins should be touchdown underdogs in Buffalo just because it’s going to be cold and windy. The Bills need to play on an even playing field, and those are not terms designed to help offense.

Sure it will snow, but it won’t be a blizzard. The more significant factor for this game will be the strong winds. This affects passing offenses and special teams. I just wish this game was played on Sunday when it’s supposed to be even windier, but I guess we can’t get everything we want. Sure the Bills could cover, but so can the Dolphins and either way I don’t expect this to be a high score game.

Eagles at Bears, Sunday, 1 p.m. | TV: fox

Latest Odds:

Over 48.5

The Choice: About 48.5 (-110) — The over has been almost automatic in Bears games lately when Justin Fields starts. His ability to get things started, combined with the Bears’ abysmal defense, has seen him hit too many in eight of the last nine Bears games, including the last seven.

And now, coming to town is an offensive by Philadelphia that no one has been able to stop. I’m not kidding when I say the Eagles could hit the over alone in this case. Philly scored 40 points against the Giants last week and has 123 points in their last three games (41 per).

🏈 Bowl games

Cincinnati vs. Louisville, Saturday, 11 a.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds:

Louisville Cardinals -2nd

The Pick: Louisville -2 (-110) — The old Keg of Nails rivalry is back for the first time since 2013 – before Louisville left to join the ACC and the Big East morphed into the American. As if that wasn’t enough, coach Scott Satterfield left Louisville to take the job at Cincinnati. Since the game will be played at Fenway Park, the two teams will share a sideline. In my opinion, they should force Satterfield to stand between the two touchlines. If Cincinnati wins, it doesn’t have to pay its buyout. If Louisville wins, it will be double. who says no Let’s make it interesting!

As for the game, Louisville QB Malik Cunningham has signed off, which stinks, but Brock Domann has plenty of experience and weeks to ease into preparing for that start. The Bearcats made the playoffs last season and this team was one of the best in the AAC; however, I have reservations about them being offensive. My gut is that the Cardinals offense will do more than the Bearcats in this instance, so I’m leaning in that direction.

No. 14 Oregon State vs. Florida, Saturday 2:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds:

under 53

The Choice: Under 53 (-110) — The worst part about this game is that Oregon State has flown under the radar all season, but if they manage to pick a bowl game win over an SEC team, it’ll be written off because Florida isn’t nearly theirs has full strength. The Gators will be missing many key players between the opt-outs and the transfer portal, including starting QB Anthony Richardson. Considering how inefficient the Gators’ offense has been all year (79th nationally in success rate), it’s hard to imagine things getting better without the one player who seemed capable of making something out of nothing close.

At the Beavers, Chance Nolan began the year as the starting QB but missed the last seven games through injury and was replaced by Ben Gulbranson. Nolan has since entered the portal, and the Beavers offense hasn’t been great with newcomer Gulbranson. If I had to bet that one of the bowl games this week one was going to be an ugly low-scoring affair, it’s this one.

Boise State vs. North Texas, Saturday 9:15 p.m. | TV: ESPN

Latest Odds:

Boise State Broncos -10.5

The Pick: Boise State -10.5 (-110) — It’s a battle of losers conference championship! Boise State lost to Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship Game and meets the North Texas squad that lost to UTSA in the Conference USA Championship Game.

The biggest difference is that Boise State didn’t fire their coach after the loss, while North Texas did. The Mean Green will be under an interim manager for this game and you have to wonder what mood they’ll be in about that. Boise State will be without leading rusher George Holani through injury, but the Broncos have an elite defense that I suspect will overwhelm North Texas up front. The Broncos also have the more electric QB in the matchup in Taylen Green – no disregard for 29-year-old UNT QB Austin Aune – and I’m not sure Mean Green can match here.

🔒 SportsLine Picks of the Day: The projection model sees a lot of value in the span in tonight’s game between the Charlotte Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks.

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