Texas Tech at West Virginia (-2)
Texas Tech has visited Morgantown eight times and has come away with one win in this series. At 1-7 all-time in West Virginia (WVU) and 1-2 in the last three overall meetings anywhere, the Mountaineers seem like the smart play.
Oddly enough, since WVU lost Oscar Tshiebwe, the Mountaineers have played better as a unit. Tshiebwe last played versus Northeastern (12/29/20), missing the last four conference games. WVU has split those four games, going 2-2 with a two-point buzzer-beater loss against Texas and a four-point loss to Oklahoma immediately after Tshiebwe's departure. WVU beat Oklahoma State by three and trashed Kansas State in the previous outing 69-47 after leading 31-17 at halftime.
Texas Tech will have to take care of the ball versus WVU's press defense. The Red Raiders have had a habit of turning the ball over in their conference losses this season. Versus Baylor, Texas Tech gave the ball away 20 times and against Oklahoma State, 14. Texas Tech had 22 turnovers in the previous meeting with WVU, an 89-81 win in Lubbock.
The last meeting in WVU saw 16 turnovers from Texas Tech after posting 13 in the previous two trips to Morgantown. The Red Raiders have the 44th-most turnovers per game in the country with 11.5 per game. Texas Tech is ranked 10th in the country in scoring defense with 59.9 points per game allowed, but in seven conference games, that number skyrockets to 69.5 per game.
WVU is averaging 68.1 points per game allowed (121st) on the season, and that is consistent with their 69.5 in the last four without Tshiebwe after holding Kansas State to 47. WVU has averaged 74.2 points per game scored over the last four games and rebounding well.
WVU out-rebounded Texas and Oklahoma State, racking up 40 and 48 boards in those meetings. Texas Tech out-rebounded Baylor but lost the battle to Kansas and Oklahoma State in their two other conference losses.
In those three losses, Texas Tech shot poorly from beyond the arc. Texas Tech went 25% (Baylor) and 26% (Kansas) from three in two games and 36% against Oklahoma State as their best performance in a loss. Texas Tech also shot 22% from three in an early-season loss to non-conference foe Houston.
Between rebounding, turnovers, and West Virginia's 26th-ranked three-point defense (28.7%) -- I see this matchup being difficult and a grind for Texas Tech.
The Mountaineers have covered four of their recent matchups against the Red Raiders at home. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five games, and the favorite is 5-2 in the previous seven overall meetings. Texas Tech is 2-8 ATS in the last 10 games this season. FanDuel has the Moneyline at -126, which is solid and early enough value for my taste.
Instead of the -2, take the Moneyline up to -135 before switching over to the spread. The -2 spread will grow most likely to -2.5 and -3, but I would not play it past -3.
Game Pick: West Virginia ML (1u)
Loyola-Chicago (-6.5) at Bradley
This was the 2u winner yesterday for us and not much changes in the second meeting. Bradley is still assumed to be without Ari Boya and Ja'shon Henry versus Loyola-Chicago. They were the missing pieces in Bradley's 69-56 loss on Sunday.
Loyola-Chicago advanced to 12-3 on the season and 5-0 ATS in their last five games overall. Bradley moves to 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog and 1-6-1 ATS in the last eight following a SU loss. As stated in Sunday's college basketball piece, Loyola is one of the country's most efficient teams within the three-point line. They entered the game at 59% from two-point range and hit 69.4% against Bradley without the 7-foot-1 Boya.
Bradley led the country with a 39.7% field goal percentage allowed within the three-point line, but now it is 42.0% and seventh overall. If Boya is out again, I am back on Loyola-Chicago as they should eat in the paint once again.
Three different players scored double-digits for each team and Loyola-Chicago outrebounded Bradley 25-21. Bradley also went 2-of-11 from three (18.2%) and Loyola-Chicago was not much better at 3-of-14 (21.4%). If Loyola-Chicago finds a three-point shot in the second of this back-to-back, they should cover this spread. Wait for Bradley's injury news on Boya before backing Loyola-Chicago.
Loyola-Chicago has had three back-to-back situations, and in the second game, they are 3-0 SU with wins of 10, 29 and 42 points. Bradley has also won both of their back-to-backs by two and 29 in the second game. However, Bradley had Boya and Henry in the lineup for both.
Game Pick: Loyola-Chicago -6.5 (1u) -- if BOYA is out for Bradley
Oklahoma State (-3) at Iowa State
Numerous sources are saying upwards of five Iowa State Cyclones will be out for this matchup with three publicly confirmed. Iowa State has not played a game since Jan. 9 with four games postponed to a COVID outbreak within the team. Before the outbreak, the Cyclones lost three straight by six or more points en route to a 2-7 overall record and 0-5 in conference.
Ideally, Iowa State would have an advantage if they were not down multiple players. Oklahoma State will likely be without the No. 1 recruit in the nation, Cade Cunningham. The Cowboys' Rondel Walker is also questionable entering this road matchup at Iowa State. Cunningham is averaging 17.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game but Oklahoma State has won the past two meetings versus Iowa State by one and 12 points.
The Cowboys looked excellent in the first-half versus Baylor before they fizzled out as the Bears chemistry and coaching figured out Oklahoma State. I expect that squad to not take this road game lightly as plenty of talented players have the chance to step up for Oklahoma State next to Isaac Likekele's 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.
The Cowboys own a 5-1 record away from Stillwater, which is tied for the eighth most road wins in the country. Oklahoma State's only road loss came to Texas, who is one of my favorite picks for Final Four this season. Oklahoma State is talented without Cunningham and normally, the Cowboys struggle at Iowa State, losing eight of the last nine, but the Cyclones are nowhere near as talented as the past.
Iowa State's two wins on the season have come against Jackson State (295th) and Arkansas Pine-Bluff (352nd), two of the worst teams in Kenpom rankings. Without some important players and off a 16-day layoff, I'll back Oklahoma State.
More information will come out regarding Iowa State's lineup but as of this afternoon, it appears upwards of five players will be out versus Oklahoma State. Back the Cowboys up to -4.
Game Pick: Oklahoma State -3 (2u)
Five Great Games to Watch for the Rest of the Week
Kentucky at Alabama - Tuesday, 7:00 PM ET
Alabama is rolling at a perfect 8-0 in conference play facing Kentucky for a second time after the 85-65 win in Lexington. Now, these teams face in Tuscaloosa. The last time these two met there was Jan. 5, 2019, and Bama hung out for a 77-75 win.
Kentucky lost three straight before beating LSU 82-69 in their previous game. The Wildcats are now 4-3 in conference play despite being 5-9 overall on the season. Alabama has scored 81 or more in five straight games, and Kentucky held four out of the last five opponents under 66 points. The only Over? Alabama's 85-piece, of course.
This spread should open up around -8 in favor of Alabama and will likely be bet up to -10. Look at Alabama's Team Total against Kentucky a second-time around. Kentucky is 3-7-1 ATS in the last 11 games overall and Alabama is 4-1 ATS in the previous five home games.
Oklahoma at Texas - Tuesday, 7:00 PM ET
Texas got back in the win column against Kansas State (82-67) after taking a toss two-point loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday. The Longhorns are 11-2 on the year and the Sooners are 9-4 after three straight wins, including a 75-68 victory over Kansas.
This matchup will be intriguing as Texas' only two losses have come at home, while three-of-four losses for Oklahoma are on the road. Texas will be a strong favorite, but the road team is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings. Oklahoma is also 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall, while Texas is 0-5 ATS in the previous five home games. Oklahoma is hot and worth consideration before backing the loaded-Texas team at home.
Texas is 4-2 SU in the last six meetings with Oklahoma. In Texas, the Longhorns have gone 2-1 SU winning by three and five, but losing last season's meeting 72-62.
Wisconsin at Maryland - Wednesday, 8:00 PM ET
Maryland at home is always a solid team to back, but coming off a massive upset over Minnesota, is this their letdown game? Wisconsin lost 74-62 to Ohio State in their previous game after winning two straight.
The Badgers lost the last meeting 70-64 when they met in Madison, so a season sweep is on the line for Maryland. These two have only met 11 times, but there hasn't been a same-season sweep since 2016-17. In Maryland, Wisconsin is 1-3 all-time, losing by six or fewer in all three games.
I would expect Wisconsin to fight hard since they haven't lost two consecutive games all season. Maryland's last two game winning streak was a three-point upset over Illinois, then a win over non-DII opponent Wingate. Before that, Dec. 4 was the last time Maryland was on a winning streak.
Michigan State at Rutgers - Thursday, 7:00 PM ET
Michigan State has beaten Rutgers 10-straight times since 2014-15, but this could be the one for Rutgers. Michigan State has not played in over two weeks because of COVID, last playing on Dec. 8. Rutgers ended a five-game losing streak with a 74-70 win over Indiana on Sunday, a much-needed for the Scarlet Knights.
MSU's hopeful the game does not get canceled, but there is still a chance it might. Expect this spread to be within three points when it opens and if the Spartans are underdogs, it may not be a bad idea. Rutgers is 6-3 at home this season, but that's not nearly as impressive after going 18-1 last season, thanks to fans.
Villanova at UConn - Thursday 9:00 PM ET
Villanova has won four of the last five meetings and three straight versus UConn. The Huskies have a matchup with Butler on Tuesday and how they perform versus the Bulldogs will determine how large this spread will be.
Villanova is fresh off a 15-point win over Providence and are winners of eight straight. Villanova has beat UConn by six, 20 and 23 points in the last three games and won the last two road matches. UConn has lost two straight games this season and is 3-2 SU at home, having beaten only one top 100 ranked team (DePaul, 94).
The other two home wins came against Hartford (225) and Central Connecticut (335), two subpar teams in about every category per Kenpom. Villanova has strung two wins together since the hiatus and backing them here will probably be a strong possibility as most models project a -4 spread. If UConn loses Tuesday to Butler at home, that could change.