Fatts Russell Maryland Terrapins Basketball
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The first Friday post-football is bleak. Have you seen the sports schedule for tonight? With the NBA entering the All-Star break, we're dealing with limited options. Just wait until you see the pair of college basketball games I've got you betting on tonight. They'll make you feel dirty and as if you need to apologize to somebody for doing so.

So, for that, I apologize to you, even though it's not my fault.

Here are some excellent stories to read up on to make it up for you. Oh, and I've got a lot of picks too. I've included soccer picks to get you through the weekend, as well as a few NBA All-Star weekend props. 

Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

🏀 Maryland at Nebraska, 9 p.m. | TV: Big Ten Network

The Pick: Nebraska +2 (-110): Here's the thing you have to understand about Nebraska basketball. It's awful. Nebraska has put a lot of effort into improving the program since joining the Big Ten and has a beautiful arena, but while there were some promising moments under Tim Miles, the change to Fred Hoiberg has been a disaster. Since taking over in 2020, Hoiberg's Nebraska teams are 21-63 overall and 6-47 in the Big Ten. This season the Huskers are 7-18 and 1-13 in the Big Ten. I have a hard time imagining that Hoiberg returns next season.

While Nebraska never wins, it's done a pretty nice job of covering the spread! Overall, the Huskers are 13-12 ATS and 8-6 in the Big Ten. As home underdogs -- which is the case tonight -- they've gone 6-3 ATS. It's not hard to figure out why. People don't like betting on terrible teams, which often leads to them being undervalued on the market, and that's precisely what's happening with Nebraska here tonight.

Jonathan Coachman is joined by Larry Hartstein, Mike McClure and Allan Bell to dish out Friday's best bets. Download and follow The Early Edge on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.  

Maryland is better than Nebraska, but it's not good. The Terps have lost five straight and are 11-14 with a 3-11 record in conference. They're 2-5 straight up and 4-3 ATS on the road. But they've never been a road favorite this season because bad teams aren't favored on the road.

I'm not trusting them to prove they're worthy of it tonight. You see, on the season, Maryland has an adjusted defensive efficiency of 98.9, ranking 97th nationally. However, in Big Ten play, that efficiency number has spiked to 110.4. The only teams worse in the Big Ten are Nebraska and Minnesota. Take the Huskers tonight. It won't be fun, but you'll win far more often than you lose.

Key Trend: Nebraska is 6-1 ATS in its last seven as a home dog.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: SportsLine expert Justin Perri like a play on the spread tonight as well, but does he agree with me, or is the only thing we have in common a last name ending in I?

💰The Picks

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🏀College Basketball

Columbia at Harvard, 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN+

The Pick: Over 145 (-110) -- You know it's a light slate when we're betting Ivy League basketball. But, in the spirit of nerds and the Ivy League, I've crunched the numbers, and they've told me that the total for this game is simply too low. The market is not respecting the shot-making prowess of these fine academic institutions!

OK, so it's not so much the offenses as it is the defenses, but while Harvard has been solid defensively on the season, it's been porous as of late. The Crimson have lost three straight and five of six because they've had trouble stopping opponents from scoring, and Columbia hasn't shown much ability to stop anybody from scoring. It is easily the worst defensive team in the league, but it does shoot the three very well, and Harvard has struggled to stop that all season. So, essentially, Harvard should get what it wants offensively, and Columbia should hit enough threes to help us push past the number.

Key Trend: The over is 10-3 in Columbia's last 13 road games.


Southampton vs. Everton, Saturday, 10 a.m. | TV: Peacock

The Pick: Everton (+260) -- The new manager bump is real. We see it all the time in this sport, and Everton is riding the wave. Everton has won twice in three matches under Frank Lampard and scored eight goals to only four allowed. The lone loss came to a Newcastle squad flush with its own new manager and better players thanks to new ownership splashing the cash in the January window. In the FA Cup, Everton overpowered Brentford 4-1, and last weekend it was the same in a 3-0 win over Leeds United. While Brentford and Leeds are at the bottom of the table, Southampton is hardly a juggernaut.

In fact, Southampton's defense has been horrific as of late, but they've gotten away with it. We all focus on the draws against Manchesters City and United and the win over Tottenham and think Southampton's figured it out. We ignore that the Saints have allowed seven goals in their last four matches, and they have an average xG against of 1.68 over their last 12 Premier League matches. Southampton could win this game or earn a draw, but there's no reason for it to be this heavily favored.

Key Trend: Everton have outscored opponents 8-4 in three matches under Frank Lampard.

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday, 12:30 p.m. | TV: NBC

The Pick: Under 2.5 (+140) -- The over in Manchester City's dominant Champions League win over Sporting earlier this week is one of the few soccer picks I've nailed lately, and even that one was half-wrong. My initial instinct was to take City's team total over 2.5 instead of the match, but I second-guessed myself and went with the match and then kicked myself as I saw City score five times. No more second-guessing. I'm going the opposite direction for this match and taking the under.

Antonio Conte is doing the Antonio Conte thing where he complains that the team he's managing is cheap. It's one of his go-to moves. Another of Conte's go-to moves is when his team is struggling, defend like hell. Make the clean sheet more important than the three points. I anticipate we'll see Tottenham park the bus this weekend to limit City's attack, and evidence shows it might work. Since Conte took over Tottenham in early November, Spurs have played five matches on the road. Their expected goals (xG) allowed in those matches has been an excellent 3.6. Now, Man City is still Man City, and it can score in bunches quickly, but there's a lot of value on the under 2.5 at this price.

Key Trend: Tottenham has allowed an average xG of only 0.72 in its last five away matches.

Fiorentina vs. Atalanta, Sunday, 6:30 a.m. | TV: Paramount+

The Pick: Atalanta (+165) -- Fiorentina deserves a lot of credit for the way it's played since losing Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus. A lot of teams would fall apart after losing such a vital cog, but the Violets have hung tough and even managed a 3-2 win over Atalanta in the Coppa Italia. Still, like anybody who suffers a severe injury, eventually, the adrenaline wears off, and you start to feel the pain of what's happened. I suspect that will happen soon for Fiorentina.

Plus, as I mentioned, that 3-2 win over Atalanta a little over a week ago is impacting this line. That match was in Bergamo, and for whatever reason, Atalanta has been much worse at home (+2 goal differential) than on the road (+15 goal differential). I have concerns about Atalanta playing on a short week after beating Olympiacos in the Champions League, but this team has looked much stronger in its last few matches and seems to be adapting to life without Duvan Zapata finally.

Key Trend: Atalanta has a goal differential of +15 on the road this season.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine's NBA expert Mike Barner has released his pick for Sunday's NBA All-Star Game.

🏀 NBA All-Star Weekend Props

The NBA All-Star Game is this weekend, and while I'm not going to bet on the game itself, I do have a few prop bets for the entire weekend I believe are offering good value.

  • Joel Embiid to win All-Star MVP (+550)
  • Steph Curry to win All-Star MVP (+800)
  • Luke Kennard to win 3-point contest (+550)
  • Zach Lavine to win 3-point contest (+600)