Friday night chalk in Suns-Timberwolves and Michigan State-Illinois: Best Bets for Jan. 13

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Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) dunks against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Detroit, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Friday, Jan. 13:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA, Timberwolves -4.5 over Suns

The odds: -112

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8 p.m. (NBA League Pass)

Our take: This is one of those NBA lines that doesn’t make sense if you’re not paying close attention to the league day in and day out. The Suns were the No. 1 seed last year, the Timberwolves struggled to start the year, and it probably wouldn’t surprise a casual follower to know Phoenix has won five straight against Minnesota. And yet the T-Wolves are laying 4½ points?

Well, consider this: The Suns are without Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Landry Shamet. They will get center DeAndre Ayton back in this game, but he could still be limited by a sprained ankle, and defensively would have had trouble with Minnesota’s Karl Anthony-Towns anyway.

Point is, Phoenix is beyond beat up, to the point where some talking heads are suggesting last year’s No. 1 seed in the Western Conference should hold a fire sale before next month’s trade deadline. Meanwhile, after a terrible start, Minnesota has won four of five to start the new year, including home games against playoff contenders the Nuggets, Blazers and Clippers. Don’t be afraid to lay the points here.

BIG TEN ON FRIDAY NIGHT

The play: NCAA men’s basketball, Illinois -6.5 over Michigan

The odds: -110

The book: Caesars Sportsbook

Time/TV: 9 p.m. (FS1)

Our take: Most of the social media images from Illinois over the past few weeks have been of coach Brad Underwood being, um, expressive with players in the huddle and in postgame press conferences. And to be fair, the Illini have had some absolute stinkers, losing blowouts to Penn State and Missouri and no-showing at Northwestern. Those are all decent teams, but certainly not world-beaters.

No doubt it’s been a frustrating past month. But this is still the same team that has neutral-site wins over UCLA and Texas and is 8-1 at home. The Illini looked like it’s gotten back on track with double-digit wins against Wisconsin and Nebraska in the past week, and now it’s time to take down another Big Ten contender. We’ll lay the points in another game here.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

NBA: Nets money line over Celtics (LOST)

NCAA men’s basketball: Ohio State -14.5 over Minnesota (LOST)

Thursday’s record: 0-2

Total for the week: 5-3

Total for January: 14-9

Total for 2023: 14-9

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, a $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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