February 20, 2016 (10:09 AM ET)
There are 3 college picks today.
1: Take Kentucky at +1 spread against Texas A&M for 3% of the bankroll.
There is no question that this year's Kentucky Wildcat team is nowhere near as dominant as their predecessor's a season ago. The oddsmakers made the mistake over over-valuing this team in the early part of the season which saw them open up the year on a 3-8 ATS streak in their first 11 games. Since then the oddsmakers as well as some of the betting public have been leery on backing John Calipari's club. The Wildcats have covered the spread in 6 of their last 9 games and have scored 80 or more points with the same result during that span. This is a team that is finally starting to click on all cylinders and tonight we get them at a bargain price. Tyler Ulis is averaging more than 20 points in his last nine games and amassed career-highs of 27 and 12 assists against South Carolina and was also instrumental in his team's complete an utter destruction of the Tennessee Volunteers in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score indicated.
Texas A&M is a quality program this season and even held the top spot in the SEC conference for a while; however they have struggled mightily recently having lost 4 of their last 5 games. The Aggies did stop the bleeding in their last contest when they upended the Ole Miss Rebels on at home. While it was a much needed win for Texas A&M, the Rebels are nowhere near on the same level as the Wildcats and we expect A&M to find that out. The Aggies are an impressive 14-1 on their home court this season with their lone loss coming at the hands of the South Carolina Gamecocks. We find it interesting that the only team to dispatch the Aggies at this venue is the same team who was thoroughly handled last weekend at home by these same Kentucky Wildcats.
This is a big game for both teams tonight and is the feature game for College Gameday. It has been a long time since the College Basketball spotlight has been on the Aggies and it will be interesting to see how they react on the big stage in the national spotlight. Some players thrive in this setting while others can't handle the pressure. Even though the Kentucky Wildcats are young, this is a program that is used to be looked at under a microscope. When you play Kentucky basketball, you expect to be in the spotlight and they thrive in this type of setting. This will be nothing but another game against a quality opponent for the Cats, but the same cannot be said for the Aggies. John Calipari's experience in this type of atmosphere will translate down to his players and we expect Ulis and company to make the big shots and get the critical stops late in the game to pull out a closely contested victory.
2: Take West Virginia at -4 spread against Oklahoma for 3% of the bankroll.
The Oklahoma Sooners may be ranked #3 in the country, but over the past couple of weeks that certainly have not been playing like it. They have dropped two of their last 3 games and their shooting has seemingly gone cold from the floor. The Sooners led the nation in shooting percentage, hitting an average of 46.4 percent of their shots from the field and 43.6% from beyond the arc; however during their recent slump they have been shooting 38.6% and 30.7% respectively.
Buddy Hield, Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins are the sharp shooters on this team and have a collective shooting average of 46.76% this season, however all three appear to be struggling at the same time and have seen their averages dip to a collective 33.8% during this 3 game span. We don't expect their shooting woes to continue for the remainder of the season, however we also don't expect this to be the game where they suddenly get hot from the field and they take on what has been called "Press Virginia's" Havoc defense.
Morgantown is an incredibly difficult place for opposing teams to play and WVU already has notable wins in this building over the likes of Baylor and then then #1 Kansas Jayhawks. This is not only a revenge game for the Mountaineers after dropping an earlier season meeting with the Sooners out in Norman, but WVU was just recently swept by the Texas Longhorns and now coming off a loss, we expect them to be extremely motivated to not only split the series meetings with the Sooners but to also bounce back from their recent loss and should hold a significant advantage over their opponents in this venue. The Mountaineers have taken the last two meeting in this building and currently hold a one game lead over the Sooners for second place in the Big 12. We don't believe they are going to let their spot go without a fight.
These are two of the top teams in the Big 12 this season, however given the way that Oklahoma has been playing recently; we believe they have a tall task in keeping up with Bob Huggins team in this contest. West Virginia is scoring an average of 83 points per game on their home floor this season while holding their opponents to just 56 points on the season while forcing an incredible 21 turnovers per contest. Oklahoma certainly has the ability to score in volume, but West Virginia's all-around game should be too much for the Sooners in this contest.
Other notable facts to consider:
- The favorite is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings.
- West Virginia is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 home games.
- West Virginia is 8-3 ATS against the Big 12.
- Oklahoma is 5-16 ATS in their last 21 conference games.
3: Take North Carolina at -6 spread (buy half a point) against Miami Florida for 3% of the bankroll.
The Miami Hurricanes are undoubtedly a quality program. They come into this contest ranked 11th in the country and carry with them a 5 game winning streak however we believe they will find themselves in an extremely unfavorable situation this afternoon as they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels are coming off what can only be described as a heartbreaking loss against their direct rivals, the Duke Blue Devils. UNC led by eight with seven minutes remaining and had a 93.6 percent chance of winning that game according to KenPom.com. The Tar Heels dominated from the opening whistle but allowed the Blue Devils to stay within striking range. On the final possession, Coach Roy Williams made a controversial decision not to call a timeout after the Heels rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Duke’s Grayson Allen with 20 seconds remaining. It is a decision that will likely haunt him for the remainder of the season. On that possession UNC didn’t get the ball to either of its best players, Brice Johnson or Marcus Paige and instead, a struggling Joel Berry forced a tough shot in the lane that was partially blocked. He finished just 2 for 12 from the floor. Brice Johnson was nearly unstoppable for most of the night with 29 points and 19 rebounds but he didn’t get a shot attempt in the final 4:45 of the game. It was a very sloppy end to what was an exciting game but the Tar Heels blew it and they know it.
UNC had the advantage for much of the game as Duke's starting guard; Matt Jones suffered a leg injury mid-way through the first half but could not capitalize. Their inside game was dominating however Carolina was 1 for 13 from 3-point range which is the third-lowest percentage in school history. It was certainly a tough and frustrating loss to swallow for the entire program, but with that game now firmly behind them, we expect them to take out their aggression in this contest. Unfortunately for Miami they are catching a very good Tar Heels team at precisely the wrong time.
UNC was the preseason number 1 for good reason. They have one of the highest scoring offenses in the entire country and have also been solid on the defensive end. Prior to the Duke loss, they had been dominant at home, scoring well over 80 points a game and were previously undefeated in Chapel Hill. There is no question that North Carolina will come into this game motivated, especially since that loss to Duke now puts them in a tie with Miami atop the ACC standings. We don't expect Roy Williams will allow his team to come into this game anything but focused and looking to bounce back.
Miami already has some bad losses on the road, both to Clemson and NC State. They have been carried by their 36th ranked defenses all season long, but we don't believe their defense will be able to bail them out this afternoon. Had this matchup taken place last week, or even a week from now, we believe the Hurricanes could possibly keep this game competitive, however this is a less than ideal situation with an angry UNC team staring them in the face. We expect the Tar Heels to come out of the gate firing on all cylinders and don't expect them to show the Canes any mercy. This game could get out of hand early and we expect the Tar Heels to come away with a double digit victory in this contest.
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