February 4, 2016 (12:36 PM ET)
There are 3 college picks tonight.
1) Take Vanderbilt at -2 spread against Texas A&M for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an interesting matchup as the number 8 ranked Texas A&M Aggies travel to Nashville to take on the unranked Vanderbilt Commodores. It's interesting that the oddsmakers have in fact listed the Commodores as the favorites in this contest, but we believe it is for good reason.
The Commodores are no doubt a team that has underperformed this season. Despite their struggles, they are a team that has an immense amount of talent. They are an incredibly "long" team given that they have a pair of 7 footers that act as a strong presence around the rim. They are coming off somewhat of a lopsided and disappointing loss against a much smaller Texas Longhorns team. Vanderbilt made a number of mistakes in that contest, including getting outscored by 15 points at the charity stripe. They allowed Texas to get to the line a combined 26 times in that contest and were unable to defend the much smaller guards on the interior. They also broke down defensively as they allowed Texas to score 17 total fast-break points compared to just three for themselves.
Vanderbilt has been a team that has been known for their defense this season as they rank third in the conference holding opponents to just an average of 66.3 points per contest. Despite their stumble against the Horns, they have been playing solid basketball having won 4 of their last 6 games after a 3 game skid. The Commodores will need a strong showing to the regular season as well as a deep run in the upcoming SEC tournament to even be considered for the Big Dance, so a win over the Aggies in this contest should be looked at as a "must win" for the team. They simply cannot afford another loss and a win over a highly ranked team like Texas A&M will certainly go a long way in bolstering their resume on the season.
The Commodores should also receive a boost on the offensive end tonight as Wade Baldwin IV should be back at full strength. Baldwin only played 10 minutes against Texas as the team tried to ease him back from a quad injury. Baldwin is a strong presence on the floor as he 4.3 points, 4.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds. Damian Jones is also proving to be a strong presence on the court and really stepped up his game against the Longhorns as he scored a career-high 26 points in that contest. He also added nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals and could be a factor tonight against A&M.
The Aggies are currently the top team in the SEC and have locked in a bye for the upcoming tournament. At this point there is no chance for another team to catch them and that leaves them in a somewhat vulnerable position. Knowing that it is unlikely that they increase their position, it can often lead to uninspired efforts like we had seen in their last road game as the Aggies were upended by another unranked team, the Arkansas Razorbacks. Vanderbilt is not a team that can be overlooked and will no doubt be the more motivated team in this contest. The fact that the oddsmakers have listed them as the favorites, despite the much more consistent (and overall better) record of the Aggies show exactly how they expect this game to play out. Vanderbilt is hungry for a victory after their most recent performance against Texas and we believe they get a statement win and cover tonight over the highly ranked Aggies.
2) Take Saint Mary's at +2 spread against BYU for 3% of the bankroll.
Saint Mary's has equaled the best 20-game start in program history and it resides in first place in the West Coast Conference heading into this showdown against BYU thanks in part to a current stretch of 12 wins in their last 13 contests. St Mary's is the best shooting teams in all of college basketball, averaging 53.2% shooting from the floor and ranking second in the nation in three-point percentage, draining 44.6% from beyond the arc.
The Gaels are currently outscoring their opponents by an astonishing 18.5 points per contest this season. Sophomore guard Emmett Naar averages a team-best 13.9 points per game as part of a balanced attack in which all five starters are scoring in double-figures. Junior forward Dane Pineau averages 11.1 points and a team-high eight rebounds per outing while Sophomore center Jock Landale and junior guard Joe Rahon each contribute 10 points per game.
This is a rematch from a New Year’s Eve contest in which St Mary's completely dominated the Cougars from start to finish. In that contest the Gaels drained 56.4 percent of their shots at the Cougars^ expense and went an impressive 8-of-19 from beyond the arc enroute to an 85-74 victory. Even though the venue has changed, we don't see where much else has in this short period of time. The Gaels are a team that have shown that they can compete and play in any venue which is evident by their 11-5 ATS record in their last 16 road games including going 7-2 ATS in their last 9 against teams with winning records.
Playing in Utah is always a tough place for opposing teams to play; however St Mary's is still the much better team in this contest. Even though this is a desperate situation for the Cougars and we expect an inspired effort from the team, St Mary's should allow this game to stay competitive and challenge for the outright victory.
3) Take South Dakota at -2 spread (buy half a point) against IPFW for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an extremely interesting matchup and one where we believe the line ultimately tells the betting public everything they need to know heading into this contest. Looking at the side by side comparison of these two teams, they couldn't really be much different. The South Dakota Coyotes have dropped 6 of their last 7 games, including 3 straight heading into this contest tonight. Meanwhile the IPFW Mastodons are an impressive 18-6 on the season and have won two straight heading into this contest tonight. What is arguably most telling is that fact that in the first meeting this season, the Mastodons completely clobbered the Coyotes coming away with a wire to wire, convincing 20 point victory back on Jan 6th.
While nearly every trend and statistic points to an IPFW victory once again, we are not convinced that will be the case. This is a revenge game for the Coyotes and we don't expect them to take this matchup lightly, especially given how badly they were made to look in the first meeting this season. They are also in the midst of a pretty embarrassing performance slump having lost 6 of their last 7 games. There is no doubt that not only the players, but the entire coaching staff will be looking to turn around their recent fortunate and halt their skid and there would be not better way to do so than against a quality opponent who has built a little bit of momentum for themselves.
Something else that we had found interesting is that the oddsmakers had set the opening odds in this contest incredibly low, which indicates how they believe this game will play out. Not only were the opening odds, suspiciously low in this contest, throughout the day we have seen those odds shift even more in favor of the home team, despite the betting public pounding the Mastodons. This is an indication that "sharp money" is coming in on the Coyotes. Despite the fact that they were defeated handily in the first meeting, the fact that the line has now shifted to the Coyotes as almost 3 point favorites speaks volumes on which side is the correct side. There are times in sports betting where sharp money will move a line for reasons unknown to the general public. We believe this is one of those times. While the surface statistics may point to IPFW as being the "better" overall team; in this particular contest, on this given night, we expect the Coyotes to be the ones who come out on top and get their revenge. The value in this contest is with the sharps and laying the points.
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