CBB Picks: Take North Carolina, UCLA as favorites, Kentucky-Vandy Over

All the blue bloods will be on the court during Friday night's college basketball conference tournament slate.

North Carolina, UCLA and Kentucky are among the notable teams taking the floor.

UCLA is getting hot at the right time and it should be able to beat one of its biggest Pac-12 basketball rivals by a similar margin it did a week ago.

North Carolina and Kentucky are looking to stave off challenges from bid thieves in the ACC and SEC. Fatigue may become an issue for their respective opponents as they play their third games in three days.

As for the mid-majors, I'm going to continue to ride with Kent State and Long Beach State. I've been all over them in the last few weeks and I'm more than willing to back them on the money line on Friday night.

Friday Night CBB Picks

Akron vs. Toledo (-5.5) (5 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

This one statistic stuck out right away.

Toledo is 21st in free-throw shooting on KenPom. Akron is 275th in that category.

Toledo ranks in the top 60 in two and three point offense and defense.

The Rockets survived a scare on Thursday against Central Michigan and should get off to a better start against Akron.

Akron went 1-4 against the other top four seeds in the MAC and suffered three of those defeats by six or more points.

Morgan State vs. Norfolk State (Over 140.5) (6 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Norfolk State is 7-3 to the over in the last 10 games.

The Spartans gave up 85 points in their loss to Morgan State on February 21.

Morgan State ranks 10th in adjusted tempo and it averages 75.8 points per game. The Bears also give up 72.4 points per game, which should allow Norfolk State to score a good amount of points.

Ohio vs. Kent State (-110) (7:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN)

Kent State is 16-11-2 against the spread this season.

Most of those victories came in the last two months and it coincided with a hot stretch from the Golden Flashes.

Kent State has not lost since January 21 and I'm not willing to stop betting on it now.

Weber State vs. Montana State (-102) (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Montana State has been the class of the Big Sky all season.

The Bobcats enforced their will on Weber State on February 5 with a 21-point victory.

The big difference in the Big Sky semifinal could be three-point shooting. Montana State has the 50th-ranked three-point offense and Weber State owns the 347th-ranked three-point defense.

Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky (Over 143) (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)

Say a prayer for Vanderbilt's defense.

Kentucky comes into Friday night fresh after earning the double-bye in the SEC tournament.

Vanderbilt is coming off two wins in two days and it may wear down trying to defend Oscar Tshiebwe, Sahvir Wheeler and the Kentucky offense.

The Wildcats should use the quarterfinal as a tune-up for two potential matchups to come over the weekend.

UC Santa Barbara vs. Long Beach State (+146) (9 p.m. ET, ESPN+)

Long Beach State has been one of my most profitable mid-major bets all season long.

I will gladly take LBSU as a money line underdog as the top seed in the Big West tournament.

LBSU split the regular-season series with UC Santa Barbara. Its one victory happened by holding UCSB to 58 points.

LBSU holds the edge in three-point offense and free-throw shooting and it likes to push to pace, which may make UCSB feel uncomfortable.

Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech (-7) (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Oklahoma earned a really nice win over Baylor on Thursday night.

I don't foresee another surprise victory from the Sooners on Friday against Texas Tech.

Baylor is banged up on the injury front. Texas Tech is not and its defense was fantastic the last time it played the Sooners.

Oklahoma was held to 42 points on February 22 and the Sooners may have a tough time making shots against one of the best defensive teams in the country.

Virginia Tech vs. North Carolina (-2.5) (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

North Carolina won both regular-season meetings with Virginia Tech.

The Tar Heels have that going for them as well as the momentum gained from beating Duke and Virginia in their last two games.

Virginia Tech will play its third game in three days and it could have tired legs dealing with Armando Bacot, Brady Manek and Co. inside an offense that ranks 38th in adjusted tempo.

Plus, I'm rooting for another Carolina-Duke game and we should get that with wins on Friday night.

USC vs. UCLA (-6) (11:30 p.m. ET, FS1)

Don't look now, but UCLA is playing some great basketball with the NCAA tournament on the horizon.

The Bruins are on a four-game winning streak in which they scored 75 points in every game and won by seven or more points in each contest.

UCLA's only loss in the last eight games came against Oregon, who for some reason had its number this season.

USC lost by seven points to UCLA in the regular-season finale and it struggled to put away Washington on Thursday night.

A healthier Johnny Juzang should help the Bruins cruise into the championship game to get one more shot at Arizona.

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