Today's Top Picks: Three college basketball best bets on a sparse day for sports gamblers

It's bleak out there tonight, reader. There are no NBA games due to the league's All-Star break, and the college basketball slate doesn't offer us a whole lot either. All the major conferences are off tonight, but if you like Ivy League and MAAC basketball, it's great.

Still, to drive home how limited our options are, I was looking at NHL games. Now, don't get me wrong; I enjoy hockey. The problem is I have no idea how to bet it. While I've found things that work well for me in other sports, hockey is my white whale. It seems too random, and I have a hard time finding an advantage. So tonight we'll just stick with college basketball, even if they're not exactly headlining matchups.

All odds via William Hill.

1. Yale at Princeton: Princeton +3.5

Sometimes you want to follow what others seem to know, and this is one of those times. Yale opened as a 4.5-point favorite over Princeton, and, as I write this, has received 77 percent of the bets on the spread. Yet, for some reason, the line has shrunk from 4.5 points to 3.5 points. So the smart bettors are on Princeton, and I'm tailing them here. It makes sense. While Yale is ranked much higher than Princeton by KenPom, the Bulldogs are only 7-4 on the road compared to 10-1 at home. Of those seven road wins, five have come against teams ranked No. 200 or lower by KenPom. Princeton is ranked only No. 181, but is 5-1 in conference play and has a better offense than Yale.

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2. Manhattan at Iona: Iona -2.5

I'm fading the public here. Iona opened as a 3.5-point favorite, but there's been so much action on Manhattan that the line has shrunk to 2.5. The reason is that earlier this month, Manhattan beat Iona 72-49 in Manhattan. In that game, a Manhattan offense that has been dreadful all season long caught fire and was hitting nearly everything, including 12 three-pointers. I'm not expecting history to repeat itself. That result was an outlier more than what should be expected. Iona is at home and is the better offensive team. Plus, while Manhattan is solid overall on defense, it has trouble guarding the 3-point line. Well, Iona shoots a lot of threes and makes them at a decent clip. Finally, Manhattan is one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the country, and I always have difficulty trusting teams that can't shoot free throws, especially on the road.

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3. Rider at Siena: Siena -5

Siena is a much better team at home than on the road. The Saints are 10-0 at home and 1-11 on the road. Against the spread, they're 6-4 at home and 3-8 on the road. The reason? Well, Siena seems capable of playing defense at home, but not on the road. At home, Siena allows 64.7 points per game, while on the road, it's 76.5. The Saints are also a better offensive team than Rider is, so at home, I like laying the points.

The SportsLine Projection Model owned MLB win totals last year, going 14-5 on picks in which there was at least a 3-win differential between the model's projection and the betting line. On its Top 5 picks, the model went 4-1. See the model's 2020 picks over at SportsLine.  

CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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