Sunday, January 23, 2022

The best bet for Wednesday’s lone Top 25 matchup in college basketball, plus other top picks

I don’t think I’m ready for football season to end. It’s the same sense of anxiety I get every year around this time. Come late August, football begins at both the professional and college level, and I become immersed in both. It happens for professional and leisure reasons, as I cover the sport for a living, but I also love the sport.

Then, for the next four months, my life is essentially football, football, football. Then it all comes to a close in December as college football‘s bowls are played, and I’ve got at least one game to watch nearly every day. It also comes in handy for this newsletter because it provides plenty of gambling opportunities.

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But the Texas bowl was last night, and it was the last college game of the season aside from Monday’s title game. The NFL is wrapping up its regular season this weekend and isn’t playing on Thursday night.

So now I’m staring at a sport slate that will be missing football most days, and I’m unsure what to do with myself. The good news is, I’ve been here before, and I’ll get out of it just fine. This all just means I can concentrate my attention on basketball, soccer and maybe even baseball if it still exists in a few months. But right now, it’s anxiety. It’s as if a part of me is missing. A part of me I must fill with gambling and these news stories.

Now let’s bet on the ability of teenagers to make jump shots.

All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook

🔥 The Hot Ticket

No. 25 Texas Tech at No. 11 Iowa State, 9 p.m. | TV: ESPNU

Latest Odds: Iowa State Cyclones -4

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Pick: Iowa State -4 (-110): I’m not entirely sold on Iowa State just yet because it has played one of the easiest schedules in the country. That said, the Cyclones did start 12-0 and picked up nice wins over Xavier, Memphis, Creighton and Iowa along the way before finally losing to Baylor over the weekend. The problem is, Creighton is the only road game the Cyclones have played this season. Everything else has either been in Ames or at a neutral site.

This is why the 77-72 loss to Baylor is the most impressive thing I’ve seen the Cyclones do this season. Not only did Baylor win a national title last season, but it’s also a serious threat to do so again this year, and the Cyclones played well against them. If they hadn’t gone a ridiculous 1-for-14 from three, they might’ve won the game.

I expect a rebound performance tonight because, like Iowa State, Texas Tech has played an easy schedule of its own. While it picked up a nice overtime win against Tennessee, it lost to the only other top-100 teams it played in Providence and Gonzaga. That Providence loss was the only road game the Red Raiders have played this season. Tonight’s trip to Ames will be the second.

Key Trend: Texas Tech is 1-8 ATS in its last nine road games.

Here’s what SportsLine is saying about the game: If you think I’m a big, stupid idiot who isn’t to be trusted, well, then why are you subscribing? Don’t stop, it’s an odd choice. Anyway, if you think I’m stupid and want to know what somebody else with, SportsLine’s Projection Model has shared its findings.

💰The Picks


🏀 College Basketball

Nebraska at No. 10 Michigan State, 7 p.m. | TV: Big Ten Network

Latest Odds: Nebraska Cornhuskers +15

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The Pick: Nebraska +15 (-110) — I won’t lie — there’s a little more gut to this than math. Nebraska is not a good team. The Cornhuskers are only 6-8 on the season and there’s a clear divide in their schedule. They’ve gone 6-1 against teams ranked outside the top-200 by KenPom and 0-7 against teams ranked inside the top-200. Essentially, they play to their level, which isn’t high.

But I think they can hang within 15 points of Michigan State. The Spartans are 12-2 and have played one of the more difficult schedules in the country, but they’re not a great shooting team. While they’ve killed it from three (38.9%), they don’t shoot a lot of threes, and they’ve struggled inside the perimeter and at the free-throw line. Also, there’s a lookahead factor at play here. The Spartans have played a tough schedule and have a game against rival Michigan looming this weekend. Considering who the Spartans are used to playing and who they have next, it’s not crazy to think they might get caught looking past the Cornhuskers tonight.

Key Trend: Michigan State is 1-5 ATS in its last six games against teams with losing records.

IPFW at Cleveland State, 7 p.m | TV: ESPN+

Latest Odds: PFW Mastodons +10

Powered by Caesars Sportsbook

The Pick: IPFW +10 (-110) — Who is ready for some Horizon League action? Come on in, the water’s warm! This is an instance where the Mastodons (what a name) of IPFW (Purdue Fort Wayne) just aren’t getting enough credit, particularly since these two teams played each other last week.

Yes, that’s right, last Thursday, Cleveland State beat IPFW 90-81 at the Wolstein Center, and tonight they’re playing in the Wolstein Center again. There wasn’t much defense in the first meeting, and IPFW had a lead with five minutes to go, but the Vikings finished the game on a 20-2 run. I don’t know if we’ll see such a run again, nor do I know if IPFW will have a late lead, but I do believe they’ll be able to hang within double-digits again.

Key Trend: IPFW is 5-2 ATS in its last seven road games.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Looking for an NBA play? SportsLine’s Projection Model has an A-graded play on one side of the total in tonight’s game between the Timberwolves and Thunder.

⚽ Thursday Serie A Parlay

Serie A returns to action on Thursday morning, so here’s a nice two-leg parlay to celebrate. It pays +113.

  • Inter Milan (-240)
  • Atalanta (-200)

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