CBB Picks: Take Penn State as small favorite at home on Friday

The Friday college basketball slate is always brutal before March.

The lack of marquee programs and influx of mid-major squads in our lives makes it hard to find picks to get behind.

The good news for Friday's slate is the Big Ten home-court advantage trend can be taken advantage of on the small slate.

Penn State is one of the few Big Ten teams that plays significantly better at home than on the road. The Nittany Lions are my main target tonight because they are a short favorite against a struggling Northwestern side.

Penn State and two mid-major squads made the card that hopefully keeps the hot streak rolling along.

Friday CBB Picks

Overall Record: 233-252-3 (7-5 Thursday)

Louisiana (+6.5) at Georgia State (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

I'm going back to the Ragin' Cajuns after they cashed on the money line for me the other night.

Louisiana played Georgia State close in their first meeting. The Cajuns lost by four points on their home court.

A close affair should be expected again on Friday, partly because Georgia State ranks 347th in three-point defense, 346th in two-point offense and 341st in effective field-goal percentage.

The Panthers are a flawed favorite and I can't trust them at this high of a number.

Northwestern at Penn State (-1.5) (7 p.m. ET, FS1)

Penn State is a solid home team that can be trusted against a below average Northwestern team.

The Nittany Lions beat Michigan State and Minnesota in their last two home contests and they beat Iowa, Rutgers and Indiana earlier in the season at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Northwestern is 3-5 on the road in Big Ten play, but two of those wins came against Maryland and Nebraska, both of whom reside at the bottom of the conference standings.

Manhattan at Marist (-4.5) (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Marist's defense will be the key to covering the spread.

The Red Foxes rank 52nd in two-point defense and 77th in defensive effective field-goal percentage.

Manhattan ranks below 200th in six different defensive metrics and it lost to Marist by six points on its home court on January 30.

A Marist victory would help it gain separation from Manhattan in the race for the No. 5 seed in the MAAC tournament, and its defense should do the job to win by five or more points.

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