March 4, 2017
There are two picks today.
#1: Take Oklahoma State +2 spread (buy the half point) against Kansas for 3% of the bankroll.
The Kansas Jayhawks need to be on upset alert tonight as they travel to Stillwater to take on the red-hot Oklahoma State Cowboys. After starting 0-6 in conference play, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have won 10 of their last 12 games and are motivated to show the selection committee that they belong in the Big Dance come selection Sunday. A win over #1 ranked Kansas would certainly go a long way in stating their case.
The Kansas Jayhawks sit atop of the rankings and have also already clinched their 13th straight Big 12 regular season championship. They are firmly in the Big Dance and are the top seed entering the Big 12 tournament. With all those accolades to their credit already, what motivation does Kansas have to drive them in this game? The Jayhawks really have nothing else to play for other than pride. A loss will not hurt their standing in either tournament, however this matchup could certainly define the Cowboys season thus far.
Oklahoma State is an incredibly explosive offensive minded team and that could be something this Kansas will have difficulty dealing with. There are two standout players on this Cowboys team that we expect to have huge games in this matchup. Sophomore Juwan Evans is currently second in the Big 12 in scoring (18.6 points per game) and assists (6 per game), fourth in steals (1.9) and sixth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.1). Junior wing Jeffrey Carroll is fourth in the league in scoring (17 points per game), fourth in field-goal percentage (53.8) and eighth in rebounds (6.7). Carroll is in an interesting position as he could join Georges Niang (Iowa State, 2015-16), Jordan Hamilton (Texas, 2010-11) and Kevin Durant (Texas, 2006-07) as the fourth player in league history to finish in the top 10 in each of those aforementioned categories.
Kansas has owned this rivalry as of late, but we believe that changes tonight. With this being Senior Night in Stillwater and the Cowboys likely playing for their chance to enter the tournament, the motivational edge should lie with the Pokes. That being said, Kansas is a veteran team and knows how to close out closely contested games. They are not a team that cracks under pressure and have shown their ability to battle back. Oklahoma State will need to keep their pedal on the accelerator and play for the full 40 minutes if they want to topple the top team in the country. If the players do not let the moment get too big for them, we believe they will provide the offense necessary to take down Kansas and give their home fans one last game to celebrate on their home floor.
#2: Take North Carolina -6 spread (buy the half point) against Duke for 3% of the bankroll.
The Tobacco Road rivalry continues tonight as the Duke Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.
The Duke Blue Devils managed to take the first meeting this season back on February 9th with an 86-79 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. A big reason for the Blue Devils victory in that contest was their ability to knock down their outside shots as they went 13 of 27 (48%) from long range. Now playing on the road, a place where they have struggled much of the season, we believe the results tonight will be much different. Duke is unlikely to shoot as well as they did in the first meeting and the advantage that the Tar Heels hold on the glass is going to be a deciding factor.
North Carolina comes into this matchup off arguably their worst performance of the season which was a loss against the Virginia Cavaliers in Virginia. In that contest, the Tar Heels were held to their lowest offensive output of the season, scoring a season low 43 points. That is certainly a contest that this team would like to forget. The public perception of the Tar Heels after that game has likely been skewed, however a big reason for the Tar Heels struggles in that contest could be attributed to a look ahead spot to this matchup tonight. We fully expect coach Roy Williams to have his team motivated for this contest, as being swept by their most bitter rivals is likely not an option tonight.
Given Carolina's struggles in their last contest, we expect that they are going to want to come out of the gate and play fast offensively. Carolina was also outrebounded in the first meeting, which is not something that we have been used to seeing from this Tar Heels team. UNC only managed 7 second chance points and that is something that we expect to improve in this contest. Duke has thrived behind the 3-point line and their success largely depends on their ability to knock down shots. UNC is an incredibly 'long' team and has been stellar at defending the three-ball but they had a difficult time doing so on the road, now that they are at home, we expect thing to play out much differently.
The Tar Heels have been an incredibly tough team to beat at home this season. They have yet to taste defeat on their home floor and are averaging an impressive 87.6 points per game. Their defense has also thrived in this setting as they are allowing just an average of 64 points per game to their opponents. Those 64 points are 7 points fewer than their seasonal average. The opposite is true for the Blue Devils. Duke is averaging 80 points per game this season, but on the road, they are averaging 5 fewer points per game. Their defense also hasn't been as impressive as they are allowing an average of over 70 points per game on the highway. In true road games this season the Blue Devils are just 3-5 on the season.
Typically, in rivalry games such as this, it almost always favors the team getting points, however we believe this particular matchup is the exception. North Carolina is not only looking for revenge, but they are also looking to take out their frustrations for their performance in their last game. The motivational edge clearly lies with the Tar Heels and we believe that is going to be the difference in this contest as UNC goes on to win this game easily.
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