Best Sunday Situational Bets: Motor City Motivation and More Revenge
© Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
An epic day of hoops (unless you bet UNC) unfortunately had to come to an end . While we don’t have another 100-plus games on the docket today, there is still money to be made.
I picked out my five favorite spots on the Sunday card that I like from a situational handicapping perspective (see bottom of the story for a situational glossary of my favorite angles).
Today, I will specifically touch on our weekend revenge theme, a reason to back two unders, and motivation in Motor City. The five listed games tip between noon and 7:30 p.m. ET.
Cincinnati +2.5 (at Wichita State)
12 p.m. ET on CBS
We have the rare occurrence of two ranked “Fat & Happy” teams matching up here. As I’ve previously mentioned, I always look hard at the underdog when this situation pops up. There’s also a revenge angle in play, as Wichita won 76-72 a few weeks ago at Cincinnati, which had still been smarting from having its 16-game winning streak snapped at Houston. I think the Shockers caught the Bearcats at the right time. Cincy should come out with an extra edge today.
This game also involves a general, very basic “when in doubt” handicapping principle that I utilize across various sports. That principle states to simply take the points with the better defense. Cincinnati ranks second in defensive efficiency, while the Shockers rank 101st, their worst mark since Gregg Marshall’s second season at Wichita in 2009.
Boston-Bucknell Under 148
2 p.m. ET on CBSSN
Bucknell and Boston U combined to score 163 and 170 in two regular season meetings. Both teams also eclipsed 80 points in their Patriot League quarterfinal games. And yet, the total opens at 148? Oddsmakers don’t typically make many mistakes at this point of the season. With a trip to the Patriot League final on the line, I think we see a lower scoring game. Expect more methodical sets, added hesitancy, and extra nerves. You also have less risk of a foul-fest at the end (every under bettor’s nightmare), since Bucknell is an 11-point home favorite.
William & Mary +2 (vs. Towson)
2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Towson swept William & Mary in two January meetings by margins of 26 and 14 points, which means we have double revenge in play. Also, the final score of the second game was deceiving, as that 14-point Towson victory came in OT. W&M should not only come into this game with revenge on its mind, but also brimming with confidence after its biggest league win of the season against CAA regular season champion Charleston. The Tribe are 2-1 over their last three games, with the one loss coming at Northeastern (which tied Charleston at 14-4 in the league) by just two points.
Conversely, Towson comes in at the opposite end of the spectrum, having lost three straight games. Towson finished the month of February with a 3-5 record. Those three wins came against Delaware (twice) and Drexel by a combined eight points. The Tigers realistically could have lost their last nine if you include the last game in January.Some teams can put losing streaks behind them and start a new season in the conference tourney. Others simply just want the season to end (see Elon yesterday in this same conference). I’m thinking it’s the latter with Towson.
These teams are simply headed in completely opposite directions. Trust the Tribe, who have a chance to be the best shooting team ever, to get their revenge today in North Charleston.
Lipscomb/Florida Gulf Coast Under 159
3 p.m. ET on ESPN
These two squads combined to score 171 and 177 total points in two regular season meetings, which would lead one to naturally look at the over 159. However, this isn’t a random game in January. This is the Atlantic Sun tournament final, with an NCAA Tournament bid on the line in a one-bid league. Again with so much at stake, the style of play can change. Coaches coach differently and players play differently with the added pressure. I would also look at the first half under, as I think you might see even more of that tightness at the start.
Oakland -6.5 (vs. IUPUI)
7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN3
Oakland has been bounced from the Horizon League tournament (aka Motor City Madness) in its first game of the event in three consecutive years. That includes a stunning loss last year as the No. 1 overall seed to No. 9 seed Youngstown State. (The same thing happened last night to this year’s regular season conference champion Northern Kentucky, which lost to No. 8 seed Cleveland State).
The winner of this 4-5 matchup knows it will play Cleveland State (and not NKU) with a great chance to get to the final. As a result, I think that Oakland smells opportunity and will come out with a super-focused effort, especially considering its recent history in this tourney. Trust in Oakland guard Kendrick Nunn, who IUPUI simply can’t cover. The nation’s second leading scorer averaged 27 points on 18-33 shooting in the season split with IUPUI.
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.
Photo credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports