February 13, 2016 (10:11 AM ET)
There are three picks today.
1: Take Gonzaga at +5.5 spread against SMU for 3% of the bankroll.
The SMU Mustangs are not eligible for the postseason this year and that was known heading into the current season. We believe that actually fueled the Mustangs and allowed them to play with a chip on their shoulder and really prove that they are and should be considered an elite program in the country. They started the season off a very impressive 18-0, but since suffering their first loss of the season, they have really started to struggle having lost 3 of their last 5 games, with their most recent being a home loss against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes. From the outside looking in, it appears that the players of SMU had been hoping to finish the perfect season since they had nothing else to play for in terms of the postseason. Now that their hopes have been dashed, we believe reality has set in and with nothing more to play for, their motivation and aggression on the court has suffered. There is no question this SMU team has talent, however the mental part of the game does play a big factor in the world of sports. If SMU isn't mentally involved in this game against Gonzaga, it will be their downfall.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are not a team that should be overlooked. They have been on a roll as of late and come into this contest atop the Mountain West and on a 6 game winning streak. The Bulldogs had a tune-up game in their last contest, which resulted in a 92-66 blowout on the road against the Portland Pilots. The team is no doubt led by both Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis. Both players had a solid showing in their blowout victory with Wiltjer scoring with 21 points (all 3 pointers). Sabonis had a nice night as well producing a double-double. He scored 17 points to go with 11 rebounds.
The Bulldogs are 14-2 in their last 16 games and have averaged nearly 84 points per game during that span. They are certainly capable on the offensive end and should be able to keep pace with the Mustangs. Meanwhile, with the Mustangs currently struggling at the moment and with their (perhaps) lack of motivation, that leaves them extremely vulnerable, especially when laying a significant amount of points against a quality team. All three of the Mustangs losses this season have come against teams who have worse record than Gonzaga. This is a game that Gonzaga is very capable of winning, however, even if SMU does finally put together a solid performance, if they do happen to get the win, we believe it will be by the slimmest of margins.
Two other notable facts to consider:
- SMU is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- SMU is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning record!
2: Take Kansas at +4 spread against Oklahoma for 3% of the bankroll.
The Oklahoma Sooners have been less than impressive over the last week having lost to K-State on the road by 11 and followed that performance up with a narrow and somewhat fortunate home win over Texas on a 3-pointer from Buddy Hield to end the game. There is no doubt that this Oklahoma team is driven by the play of Hield. He finished the matchup with Texas with 27 points, including his team’s final 12 points and continues to lead the nation in scoring (25.7 points per game) among power conference players as well as 3-pointers made per game. He is the only player in the country hitting at least 50 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the foul line. You almost never see a 50/50/90 season in college or the NBA, yet he is not currently considered a Top 10 NBA prospect. If the Jayhawks want to contend in this contest, they are going to have to keep an eye on Hield and not allow him to run free. While no players will ever be able to full shutdown Hield, slowing him down just a bit could mean the difference between winning and losing.
Let's remember that the Kansas Jayhawks themselves are one of the elite teams in the Big 12 and should not be taken lightly. Kansas has been putting up strong offensive numbers all year ranking 16th in the nation in scoring average and 30th in assists. The offense has 4 players averaging in double figures with Perry Ellis leading the way averaging 16.9 points per game. Oklahoma does have a slight advantage since they are at home, however Kansas should be able to keep this game competitive and within a single possession, if not challenge for the outright victory.
Also, who can forget the show these two Big 12 powerhouses put on for all of America to see back on January 4 in what was easily the Game of the Year? The Jayhawks and Sooners slugged it out like two champion heavyweight fighters in a Triple Overtime thriller that saw Kansas ultimately come away with a 109-106 victory. While many are not exacting that same kind of performance, it is worth noting that these two teams have a long history of playing closely contested matchups. Last year’s matchup in Norman also was also a thriller with Oklahoma narrowly coming away with a 75-73 on Buddy Hield’s tip-in of a teammate’s missed layup with 0.2 seconds remaining on the clock. This should be a back and forth, entertaining contest with either team being capable of pulling out a victory. Recent history has shown us that the points have proven to be valuable in this series and we don't believe that changes in this contest. The points should prove to be valuable and will likely come into play.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Oklahoma is 5-14 ATS in their last 19 games vs. Big 12 opponents.
- Oklahoma is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 home games.
- Kansas is 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games following an ATS win.
- Oklahoma is 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
3: Take South Carolina +3 spread (buy half a point) against Kentucky for 3% of bankroll.
The Kentucky Wildcats have long been known as college basketball royalty to some extent. Famous for turning out NBA draft talent year after year, the expectations on John Calipari's team has always been through the roof and this year we have started to see them come back down to reality. While they are no doubt a very talented team, they are certainly not unbeatable by any means and that has never been more evident than their current 2-5 record on the road this season. At home in Rupp Arena, the Wildcats are still nearly unbeatable, however on the road, they have been anything but.
This South Carolina team is proving to be the real deal this season; despite the amount of criticism they have been given. The Gamecocks are 21-3 on the season and come into this contest having beaten both Texas A&M (on the road) and LSU (at home) in consecutive order. This matchup is an opportunity for this team to put a stamp on its season. A win this afternoon over Kentucky would not only punch their ticket to the Big Dance this season but would likely put to rest all of the naysayers who have been so critical of this team this season. The Gamecocks have not played the toughest schedule, however they have risen up in situations where many expected them to falter; we believe this is another one of those situations.
The oddsmakers have been one of the worst culprits in undervaluing the Gamecocks this season as evidenced by their 16-5 ATS mark. People just don't seem to be buying into what SC is selling and we believe that has allowed them to play with a chip on their shoulders. A motivated team is an extremely dangerous one and the Gamecocks should be plenty motivated for this matchup as this is a big time revenge game for the Gamecocks as well. Last season, on their way to the perfect season, Kentucky hammered South Carolina 77-43 in Lexington. This season, it appears that the shoe is not on the other foot. SC is the much improved team in this matchup and Kentucky is the ones who seem to be at a disadvantage. We don't expect the Gamecocks to take this game lightly and we certainly don't expect them to show the Wildcats any mercy.
South Carolina averages 78.0 points per game and are shooting over 35% from three-point range. They are undefeated on their home court this season and have held their opponents to just 67 points on 36.5% shooting from the field. They are also a solid rebounding team and should give Kentucky trouble on the glass as they have been outrebounding teams by an average of 11.7 boards per contest. This should be an entertaining, back and forth contest, but this is a critical game for the Gamecocks and we expect them to treat this as a must-win. We believe this line is based on name recognition alone and will gladly take the generous points with the undefeated home team whom we expect to pull off the outright victory!
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