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January 30, 2017

There are two picks tonight.

#1: Take Oklahoma State -1 spread (buy half a point) against Oklahoma for 3% of the bankroll.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys didn’t get off to an ideal start in conference play, but recently they have been playing their best basketball of the season and are in the midst of a three-game winning streak.  They are a team that is predicated on offense as they currently rank 5th in the nation is scoring and their last three wins have all come easily by double digits against some tough competition. There are a lot of people who are still not sold on this Oklahoma State team as of yet and the lack of trust that a majority have on this team is something we are going to take advantage of in this matchup.

The Oklahoma Sooners have taken a serious step back this season after losing a lot of veteran leadership from a season ago. They are just 8-12 overall and 2-6 in conference play this season. The Sooner are also just 2-10 in their last 12 games and currently on a three-game losing streak. Simply put, this Sooners team just can't be trusted. Despite being competitive at times, they lack the leadership and true go-to in the final moment to close out games. They suffered a blowout home loss to the Florida Gators and prior to that, dropped a tough, double-overtime loss at home to the Iowa State Cyclones when they continuously turned the ball over in the final few possessions. The Sooners may be able to keep pace in this contest, but closing out games have been an issue for this team all season long. They unravel under pressure and that will likely happen in this contest as well.

This is undoubtedly an in-state rivalry game and interestingly enough, it has been one that has been owned by the Sooners as of late. Oklahoma has won 7 straight in this series and is a huge reason why we believe the oddsmakers have made the Cowboys just short favorites despite the fact that they are the overall better team, playing the better basketball at the moment. The fact that the Sooners have dominated this series should not only motivate the players, but also the coaching staff as this is the most vulnerable that the Sooners have been in some time. This has been a forgettable year for Oklahoma and we believe a loss to Oklahoma State in this contest will put the stamp on and justify just how poor this season has been.

For the Cowboys, they are currently working their way into the conversation of being a bubble-team come tournament time, however, they need to keep piling up the wins and a loss to a struggling Sooners' team is something that they can ill afford to have happen. The Cowboys need this win, not only to keep their current momentum, but also to stop the bleeding in what has been a one-sided series over the past few years. This will likely be a close game, however the Cowboys have shown their ability to play consistently on the offensive end, while the Sooners have shown their ability to fold at the critical points in game this entire season. Oklahoma State will make enough offensive plays at the end of the game and free throws at the end should be enough to seal up the win and cover.

#2: Take Duke -1 spread (buy half a point) against Notre Dame for 3% of the bankroll.

The Duke Blue Devils have seemingly lost a step this season. They have struggled with issues both on and off the court and that has presumably shown a weakness in this team that has not been seen in quite some time. They have been labeled as vulnerable, soft and every other term that can be used by the media to symbolize and describe a so-called "fall from grace". The perception of this Duke team is undoubtedly at an all-time low and while many have seemingly lost faith in this team, this is arguably when they are at their most dangerous.

It's easy to forget that the Duke Blue Devils were the consensus #1 team heading into this season and it was for good reason. They brought back star such as Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson while adding the best recruiting class with the likes of Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Frank Jackson. They were the preseason favorites to win the ACC and a popular pick for the Final Four. Things obviously haven't gone as the Blue Devils had hoped, however this is still a team that is littered with talent at nearly every position.

Three major area where the Blue Devils have struggled are their ability to shoot the 3-ball. They are shooting just 35% from long range and while that may seem like a solid percentage, it is down from season's past. They have capable shooters on the wing and we expect that they will turn the corner sooner rather than later. The Blue Devils have also struggle sharing the basketball as they are only averaging 13.2 assists per game which ranks 132 in the country. While this is a glaring statistic, the fact that they are averaging 83 points per game despite not sharing the basketball only cements the amount of talent on this team. The most glaring struggle on this team this season however has been their scoring defense. As a team, they did a solid job of limiting their opponents during their nonconference slate, however, they are allowing ACC opponents to score an average of 77 points per game which ranks 10th in the conference. While these re certainly all glaring issues, they are not incurable. These issues can be easily resolved and we expect we will see that in this game against the Fighting Irish.

The Irish have managed to win the last 4 meetings with the Blue Devils and we find it interesting that the oddsmakers have favored the Blue Devils, despite their struggles over the last couple of weeks. That being said, the Blue Devils are a tough matchup for the Irish this season. It's a well-known fact that the Irish are a team that likes to take and relies heavily on the three-point shot. While that has worked for them in the past, the Blue Devils are one of the best teams in the country in perimeter defense. They are holding teams to just 30% from long range and the Irish have already struggled with their long-range shooting in their last two games (both losses), shooting just 29% from the outside.

Notre Dame has also been a fairly poor rebounding team this season. They were outrebounded on the glass by 16 against Virginia and against by 8 in their most recent loss against Georgia Tech. The Blue Devils have monsters on the glass, scooping up 75% of their opponents misses for an average of 26 defensive rebounds per game which ranks 26th in the country. Few teams get second chance points against these Blue Devils and that could once again be the case tonight for the Irish.

Notre Dame has not looked good in their last two contests, failing to score 70 points in each. If their offense struggles once again tonight against a team who is all offense, they will have a hard time keeping pace on the scoreboard. There is no question that the crowd in South Bend is going to be raucous and there will be a ton of energy in the arena, that is what is going to allow the Irish to stay competitive in this contest. That being said, Duke is the more complete team and has more of a point to prove in this contest. Duke proved a major point with a come-from-behind victory over Wake Forest in their last contest and their ability to never quit and continue to fight for a full 40 minutes will be the key in this contest. It will be close, but Duke will pull off the outright victory by making the critical plays needed in the final minutes.

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