Updated: Jan 28, 2021
It's Wednesday and after a loaded Tuesday night - that saw Duke and Alabama both cover in the wildest ways possible, it's time to preview Wednesday night's gambling slate. And with it, some of the best games are from some of the mid-major conferences, specifically with two key Mountain West shodowns.
Before we get started, a quick reminder: These articles aren't intended to guarantee you a bunch of winners. Instead, it's about making you smarter gamblers, using important facts and info and letting you make decisions for yourself (although today I do have a best bet).
Anyway, let's get to the picks and as always, a reminder: If you're gambling today go ahead and do it with our friends at MyBookie. Promo code "TORRES" doubles your first deposit. So if you want to bet $50 on Seton Hall, MyBookie gives you $100 to play with.
Now here are some thoughts:
No. 14 Wisconsin at Maryland
Spread: Wisconsin (-3.5)
Although I don't feel 1000 percent confident in it, this is the closest thing that I have to a best bet for this evening. Maryland weirdly plays better on the road, with all three of their Big Ten wins coming away from College Park. One of those was a few weeks ago at Wisconsin. No way the Badgers let Maryland beat them twice, right?
Well, that's still my thought, but I also had another thought: If you look at Maryland's league losses, virtually all of them have come to teams with big, physical low post players. There were two losses to Michigan (Hunter Dickinson), one to Iowa (Luka Garza), one to Rutgers (Myles Johnson) and one to Indiana (Trayce Jackson-Davis). The one thing Wisconsin doesn't have is a physical low post presence, and the one place Maryland can be exploited (on the boards) isn't a place where Wisconsin is particularly strong.
Still, I just can't see the scenario where Wisconsin - which is right in the thick of a Big Ten title race - allows itself to get swept on the season by Maryland. I'll rock with the Badgers.
The Pick: Wisconsin (-3.5)
Vanderbilt at Florida (6:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
Spread: Florida (-13)
Every ounce of me wants to take Vanderbilt plus the points here. They are coming off that butt chewing from Jerry Stackhouse over the weekend, they already lost to Florida once by 19 (revenge factor!) and Florida's lineup is still uncertain. Scottie Lewis might play, and he might not.
Still to back Vanderbilt would be to be taking a team that is not only 0-5 in the SEC, but has three of those losses by 15+ points.
My lean is Vanderbilt. But they simply aren't good enough for me to actually bet it.
Lean: Vanderbilt (+13)
No. 17 Creighton at Seton Hall (7:00 p.m. ET, FS1)
Spread: Creighton (-1.5)
Bottom line is, there are too many divergent things going on here for me to feel good betting either side.
On the one hand, Creighton just beat the Pirates by 30+ points two weeks ago - so you'd think the Pirates would want revenge. On the other, Seton Hall has played just twice in two weeks because of other team's Covid problems, beating DePaul but losing to Villanova a week ago. I could see them being rusty. Creighton hasn't been all that good themselves the last two weeks, losing two games (although one of them was admittedly without Marcus Zegarowski) before getting a sloppy win over the weekend against UConn.
In the end, I think Seton Hall's three-point defense (which is abysmal) will do them in, even if the revenge factor will be real here.
I'd lean Creighton for a narrow win and cover.
Lean: Creighton (-1.5)
Ole Miss at Arkansas (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
Spread: Arkansas (-4.5)
This is the game for Arkansas.
If the Hogs take care of the Rebels like they should, we can officially wipe away their slow SEC start and excuse it to playing arguably the four best teams in the conference over the first three weeks of the season, with three of those games on the road. Yes, Arkansas is "only 4-4" in SEC play, but when those losses are at Tennessee, at LSU, at Alabama and Missouri at home, it kind of makes sense.
Still, I need to see one more game before I'm fully bought in.
Ole Miss is elite defensively, but one of the worst offensive teams in the SEC, scoring 70+ points in just two of their seven SEC games. Arkansas has scored 74+ in seven of eight SEC contests.
In the end, Arkansas' good offense should overwhelm the Rebels bad defense. And if it does, the Razorbacks are officially a team that we can trust going forward throughout the rest of this season.
Lean: Arkansas (-4.5)
Boise State at Colorado State
Spread: Boise State (-3)
The Mountain West is quietly one of the most intriguing conferences in college hoops this year, with four teams - Boise State, Utah State, Colorado State and San Diego State - that would have a legitimate case for an NCAA Tournament bid if the season ended today.
Two of those teams will face off here, in what is the biggest home-and-home series in the conference to date.
The Broncos enter this game at 13-1 overall, with their only loss to Houston in their season opener. Meanwhile, Colorado State is tied for second place at 11-3 and 8-2 in league play. Here is where research and homework matters though: The Rams have already faced the two other teams that would be in serious consideration for NCAA Tournament bids (Utah State and San Diego State), going 2-2 in four games against those teams. Boise meanwhile is 9-0 in the league, with all nine wins coming against the bottom five teams in the league.
Put simply, I just can't give you a strong play here, as these two teams strengths are going head-to-head against each other. Boise is one of the best defensive teams in all of college hoops, as they rank in the Top 25 nationally in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense. But they also are going up against a Colorado State team that makes nearly 10 three-pointers a game, shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc.
My hunch is that the Boise defense is too much for Colorado State. Not enough to bet it though.
Lean: Boise State (-3)
Kansas State at Baylor (9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Spread: Baylor (-23.5)
Nope, nope, nope. I don't care if we have a matchup here between the worst Power 6 team in college basketball (Kansas State) against the best (Baylor) you aren't talking me into taking any team to cover a 23.5 point spread. You're not doing it. Sorry.
Considering Baylor's sloppy starts, Kansas State +13 in the first half feels good to me. But not enough to actually bet my money on it.
This is stay away city.
Lean: Kansas State (+13.5 - first half)
Utah State at UNLV (10:00 p.m. ET, FS1)
Spread: Utah State (-7)
Less than a week ago, Utah State was 9-0 in the Mountain West and tied for first place in the league standings. Since then, they've lost two in a row, including the opener in this series on Monday night in Vegas.
The thing is though I watched that game, and I can tell you this: It was psuedo-fluky. UNLV is probably better than their record indicates, but they also just went absurd from three, finishing with 13 three-pointers made for the game. Most of them were pretty low percentage.
My hunch is, it won't happen again.
Therefore, my advice for this game is this: The seven points feels too high, but Utah State feels like a great team to throw in a tease or moneyline parlay.
They're going to win. It's just a matter of whether they cover the seven points or not.
Lean: Utah State ML, or use in a ML parlay/tease