Michigan State at Iowa (-9.5)
The Spartans have won five straight and 14 of the last 16 meetings versus Iowa, dating back to 2011. However, Michigan State has lost three straight games, and Iowa has not played an unranked Michigan State team since Jan. 21, 2006.
This will be interesting, but Iowa has been such a fun team to back, and there is not much of a reason to take Michigan State here. Ten of Iowa's 12 wins this season have come by 15 points or more. The Hawkeyes have also won 22 of the last 24 games in their arena. Michigan State has covered once in its previous 11 games.
Iowa ranks second in the country with 89.7 points per game, trailing only Gonzag's 94.7. Michigan State will have a hard time slowing down Iowa's offense ranging from the plethora of guards to the main attraction, Luka Garza. MSU lost 67-37 to Rutgers, 79-62 to Ohio State and 55-54 to Purdue over the last three games. The last two were the blowout losses to Rutgers and OSU, the games I want to focus on.
MSU allowed both teams to shoot 51% inside the three-point line, slightly worse than their 47.4% season average (101st). The Spartans do not force many turnovers, ranking 314th in turnover percentage (16.2%). Iowa takes care of the ball with the fourth-best turnover percentage (13.5%). MSU ranks 200th or worse in two-point percentage (49.0%) and three-point percentage (32.7%). Iowa ranks top 38 in both offensive categories and defends the two-ball at 46.7%, 75th in the country.
Iowa won five straight games at home by 15 or more before they blew a sizeable second-half lead versus Indiana, eventually losing by 12. Iowa has lost two straight games in the perfect position to get back in the win column versus a struggling Michigan State. I expect Iowa to come out aggressive in the first half and attempt to build a large enough lead to cruise in the second half.
Iowa is scoring 43.3 points per game in the first half, the third-most in the country, and 45.4 at home. In the last two games, Michigan State allowed Ohio State to score 42 in the first-half (trailed 42-30) and Rutgers 26 (trailed 26-20). MSU trailed by six or more and is 1-4 to the first-half spread in the Big Ten.
The only team MSU led at half or covered was versus Nebraska. I like Iowa to exceed 30 points in the first 20 minutes and limit Michigan State's chances as they are 1-4 SU on the road in conference play. MSU has trailed at halftime by an average of 12.7 points in four Big Ten road losses. Back Iowa to lead at halftime by at least five and play this up to -5 (DraftKings -120) or -5.5 for less than 1u.
If Iowa fails to cover the first half, then they are set up nicely for a second half bet. I grabbed the -4.5 on FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM have the -5.5.
Game Pick: Iowa 1H -4.5 (1u)
Purdue at Maryland (-2)
This game opened up as a pick-em game before bettors backed the Big Ten home team theory that I cannot lie -- I love it as well. In the last two meetings to College Park, Maryland, the Terps have come away victorious, winning 57-50 and 70-56.
Purdue won the previous meeting this season, 73-70, in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue won three straight at home and Maryland two straight at home. This revenge game for the Terps is a solid spot for them to get back in the win column after losing to Wisconsin at home 61-56. Purdue is coming off a rallying win over Minnesota in which they trail at halftime by five, then won by 19.
Purdue was 0-5 from three in the first-half versus Minnesota before knocking down 8-of-10 in the second half and winning. In the previous meeting with Maryland, Purdue went 7-of-13 from three in the first half to go up 41-28 at intermission. Maryland outscored Purdue 42-32 in the second half but fell by three after missing the game-tying shot with five seconds remaining.
Based on the last meeting, I believe Maryland will spread Purdue out and create some perimeter mismatches. Aaron Wiggins, Donta Scott and Darryl Morsell, Maryland's top three scorers, averaged a combined 35.2 points per game in Big Ten play and scored 42 on Purdue in the first meeting.
Purdue's Sasha Stefanovic played 30 minutes, scored five points, grabbing five rebounds and three assists versus Maryland in the first meeting. Stefanovic's expected to miss this meeting, and Purdue will need to play a full 40-minute game in College Park, and I think Purdue could go cold against a team they came out blazing against earlier in the year.
I grabbed Maryland's Moneyline on DraftKings for -134 odds. I would not play this past -140 odds SU. Instead, I would opt to grab some live bet value if Maryland trails early or the odds flirt with -110 and +100. If live betting is not possible, play Maryland for 0.5u.
Game Pick: Maryland ML (1u)
Butler at Marquette (-4.5)
Here is another game I had locked in and the spread change. I grabbed the +4.5 for Butler here, and most books have them trending down to +3.5 or +4.
Marquette is 1-4 SU in the last five trips to Indianapolis to face Butler. Marquette won three of the last four games versus Butler, but two of them came in Milwaukee and in favor of the Golden Eagles. Marquette is 5-6 at home this season, and Butler is 4-1 ATS in their last five games versus a team with a losing home record. Marquette is also 1-5 ATS in their last six games as a home favorite.
Both teams enter this matchup with a losing streak, Butler at two and Marquette at three. Butler received a boost with redshirt junior Bo Hodges in the lineup. He is a transfer from East Tennessee State and scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in 27 minutes off the bench versus Xavier.
Marquette's starting five scored all of the team's 73 points against St. John's. Each player finished with double figures, and while some think that is positive, I look at that as worrisome. Marquette's bench attempted one field goal attempt in the last game and played 22 total minutes among three players. Without freshman Justin Lewis off the bench, Marquette is not the same team.
Lewis has been tagged as doubtful for this one. Lewis has scored double-digits in three of the last four games and four-of-six. In the first game without him, not having a single-point scored gives me very little confidence in Marquette. Butler committed only six turnovers against Xavier, its sixth game this season with single-digit turnovers. Three of Marquette's last four wins have come by five or fewer, and I expect Butler to cover or win this game outright.
Game Pick: Butler +4.5 (1u)
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Wake Forest at Notre Dame (-4.5)
This spread is surprisingly a little too low today. Wake Forest is coming off a 12-point win versus Miami, but that was not the Hurricanes team we saw that beat Duke on Monday. Wake Forest is 2-7 since ACC action began, and Notre Dame is 3-1 in the last four games after going 0-5 in conference play to start.
The Fighting Irish have won three of the last four games by 10 or more points, including an 84-59 beatdown on Pitt. Wake Forest beat Pitt 76-75 to earn the first ACC win of the year than Miami two games later with a five-point loss to NC State in between. The Demon Deacons are not very good, and if Notre Dame had played a little better earlier in the season, this spread would be -7 or -7.5.
According to all four models I use for college basketball research, they all predict a six to nine-point win for Notre Dame. I grabbed Notre Dame at -4.5 (-115) on BetMGM and would play this to -5.5 in favor of Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish hold opponents to the fewest free-throw attempts per game (11.1), so Wake Forest will have to knock down shots versus Notre Dame's improved defense over the last four games.
February has also been Notre Dame's month, oddly enough. In the last four seasons, Notre Dame is 26-20 in February but removing the one lousy month and season (2018-19), they are 24-15 (61.5%) in the month.
Last year, Notre Dame went 0-3 in January, lost the first game of February, then won five straight games. In 2018-19, Notre Dame went 6-2 in February and 5-3 in 2017-18. Notre Dame won five straight to end February in 2016-17 and have at least four wins in three-of-four years during the month.
Notre Dame's February schedule features eight games with meeting against Wake Forest, Miami, Duke, Boston College, and more winnable games. Notre Dame is starting to get hot, so let's back them here. I grabbed the -4.5 at BetMGM for -115 odds. There are -5 and -5.5 floating around but I would opt for -4.5 or -5 before taking the -5.5.
Game Pick: Notre Dame -4.5 (1u)
Georgia at Auburn (-9)
The Over/Under opened at 158 for this meeting, and both squads can put up points leading bettors to push this near 160. Both of these squads play at a ridiculously-face pace. I grabbed 159, and by the time I finished this article, the total rose to 164. Insane, but the right move. Although I would not play the 164 as that is too much movement, I want to put it down as a lean and share my thoughts on why I liked the Over 159.
Georgia is 28th offensively in average length possession and 25th in average adjusted tempo. Auburn ranks 38th in tempo and 65th in the average length of possession. Both squads rank 21st (Auburn) and 75th (Georgia) in the average defensive length of possession, allowing opponents to score quicker than 16.7 seconds.
In the first meeting between the two programs, Auburn won 95-77 and have since gone 3-2 SU averaging 81.6 points per game. Auburn has scored 66, 72, 73, 88, and 109 points over the previous five contests. Since that 18-point loss for Georgia, the Bulldogs have gone 3-2 SU and averaged 71.0 points per game.
The Bulldogs scored 59, 63, 71, 78, and 84 points in those five games, and in the two low-scoring contests, they played Kentucky, who plays at an extremely slow pace, and South Carolina in a blowout. South Carolina put up 83 on Georgia, and Auburn beat South Carolina 109-86.
I see lots of points and will not be surprised if this total reaches 163.5 or 164 today. The Over is 6-2 in Georgia's last eight games and 10-2-1 in the Bulldogs' last 13 road trips. Auburn is 5-2 to the Over in the last seven games, and following a SU loss, they are 7-3 to the Over in the next game.
Auburn has scored 95 and 109 points in the last two games following a SU loss. Georgia coming off the last three wins has scored 63, 73, and 84 points in the next game, all versus SEC competition. I like the chances both teams go above 75 points, and one, likely Auburn, exceeds 80-85 points.
Lean: Over 158 - Under 164