My Six Favorite Situational Spots on Tuesday’s CBB Card
Jan 20, 2018; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (11) looks to pass the ball as Alabama Crimson Tide guard Dazon Ingram (12) defends during the during the first half at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
You can almost smell the March air, as two more conference tournaments kick off today in the Patriot League and Big South. Just two more days until every college basketball bettor’s favorite month. I identified a few situational spots on today’s slate that I have or will be investing in. Let’s dive into the six.
I included a glossary of my five favorite situational handicapping angles at the bottom. YTD: 22-16
Mississippi State -1.5 (vs. Tennessee)
7 p.m. ET on SECN
I personally like to bet MoneyLines on small favorites (-2.5 or less) in certain spots and will likely do so in this unranked small favorite vs. ranked underdog scenario. Mississippi State sits at 21-8 (9-7 in SEC), but is not really being talked about on the national stage. The Bulldogs are currently in a four-way tie for third place in the SEC, but most bracketologists have them out of the Big Dance. Looking at their profile, they do lack that signature win. This provides the perfect opportunity to boost their resume against a Tennessee team that has been shaky on the road this month.
This would be Senior Night at the Hump, but there’s only one problem: the Bulldogs have no seniors. I expect a focused effort here in StarkVegas from the home team that needs this game badly.
St. Joseph’s +14 (at Rhode Island)
7 p.m. ET on CBSSN
Senior Night for URI’s five seniors. Since Rhody has already clinched the outright A-10 title. this looks like a potential coronation night at the Ryan Center. Saint Joe’s has had a tough year, as its high expectations were dashed after the first game of the season when it lost guard Lamarr Kimble for the season. However, the Hawks have seemingly found something of late. They have won four of their last five, with the the only loss coming against George Mason at the buzzer in a game that forward James Demery sat out. You have to wonder if Rhode Island will be fully focused, as it might feel it has bigger fish to fry down the line.
Army-Loyola MD Under 144
7 p.m. ET on STADIUM
These two teams combined to score 161 and 147 total points in two meetings this year. They also rank as the two worst defensive teams in the Patriot League in terms of defensive efficiency. When the total opened at a curious 144, it made me dig deeper. This is a one and done deal in a game either team can win (Army is -1.5). I can see both teams slowing it down and/or playing tentative and tight (especially late) to avoid mistakes.
Miami +11 (at UNC)
9 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Tar Heels find themselves in a “Fat and Happy” spot and could get caught looking ahead to the regular season finale on Saturday at Duke. Miami comes into this game with a little momentum, rallying from down 14 with 5:00 to play to beat Boston College on Saturday. The Canes should play a lot looser after escaping that scare. Miami also got word over the weekend that Bruce Brown will not be back for the ACC Tournament. I think the Hurricanes take that as a challenge and catch a sleepy Heels team here.
Arkansas -1.5 (vs Auburn)
9 p.m. ET on SECN
Another potential MoneyLine play. Ordinarily, I’d look to go against a team with six seniors (including four starters) on Senior Night, but you have a revenge spot at play for a Hogs team that usually excels at home. They should have extra focus after losing a rare home game the last time they played in Bud Walton against Kentucky.
Auburn, which hasn’t lost two consecutive games all season, can clinch at least a share of the SEC title with a win. With all that’s at stake, Auburn is still the ranked underdog? Hmmm. It is also worth noting that Auburn will clinch a share of the SEC title with a loss by Tennessee, which plays at 7 p.m. ET. Could a Tennessee loss distract Auburn? Possibly. It could also fire them up, as a Vols loss and Tigers win would give Auburn the outright SEC title.
Depaul +9 (at Creighton)
9 p.m. ET on FS1
As big of a letdown spot as you will see for Creighton, which upset Villanova in overtime at home on Saturday as a 7-point underdog. Additionally, it’s Senior Night against one of the bottom feeders in the Big East. This line also absolutely reeks. Less than three weeks ago, Creighton closed as 6.5-point favorite at DePaul in a game they stole by one on a late three pointer by guard Marcus Foster. Most would agree Creighton has the second best home-court advantage in the league, but this line suggests that is only worth 2.5 points?
I think DePaul plays loose after finally ending its conference home losing streak. The Blue Demons have actually played better in Big East play on the road, where they are 5-3 ATS. They have three road wins at St. John’s, at Georgetown and at Providence, in addition to two close 5-point losses at Xavier and at Seton Hall. Creighton also has a revenge game at Marquette on deck so we have both a sandwich and letdown spot for the Jays. Depaul should hang around.
Glossary of situational handicapping terms
1) Fat and Happy: I look for this angle from the second week of January through conference tourneys. It entails going against a ranked team on a winning streak of three or more games. As teams win, the lines, perception and power ratings all rise, which may offer value on the other side. In the rare occurrence of two ranked teams on these streaks, I look closely at the underdog.
2) Hangover: When a team loses a marquee game or has a long winning streak end, it can have a negative carryover effect.
3) Letdown: We see this all the time after a team follows up a huge win on national television by laying an egg in its next outing against a somewhat nondescript opponent.
4) Sandwich: When a team plays an inferior opponent in between two high-profile opponents and/or rivals.
5) Drop in Class: This situation involves a team playing an inferior opponent after a losing streak against quality teams. I call this “Drop in Class” because it’s comparable to a horse being defeated in a stakes race and then dropping in class for a tag in an allowance race.
Editor’s note: The opinion on these games is from the individual writer, and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.
Pictured in top photo: Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon; credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports