Six Situational Spots to Consider on Wednesday’s Hoops Card
© Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Happy March Eve, everyone! With some normal regular-season action and three more conference tourneys tipping off Wednesday, we have a decent number of situational spots on today’s card. Let’s look at the six best spots from a situational handicapping perspective that made the final cut. These games below start a 7 and 9 p.m. ET.
I included a glossary of my five favorite situational angles at the bottom. I pulled spreads from 5Dimes at the time of writing. YTD: 25-19
Mississippi +11 (at Kentucky)
7 p.m. ET on SECN
The Wildcats are in a “Fat and Happy” spot after a three-game winning streak has them back in the top 25. I think we are getting a point or two of value after Kentucky easily dispatched Missouri in its previous game at home. The Cats also have a revenge game with Florida on deck, and their free-throw shooting (69.5%, 252nd nationally) makes them vulnerable ATS as a large favorite.
On the other hand, Ole Miss is playing for an interim coach with no postseason aspirations. The Rebels might ordinarily pack it in here, but I believe seeing Kentucky on the other team’s jerseys will get them motivated. Ole Miss may look at this as its NCAA tournament game against one of college basketball’s top name brands. The Rebels have only covered once in the last month (1-8 ATS), but sometimes you have to go where the stink is to find a winner. Hold your nose and back the Rebs.
Fairleigh Dickinson +10.5 (vs. SFPA)
7 p.m. ET on CBSSN
FDU and St. Francis (Pa.) meet in the opening round of the Northeast Conference tournament. This league is usually not on the betting board unless the game is televised. However, both regular-season meetings between these teams ended up on national TV (CBSSN). SFPA won and covered both. We saw Tuesday how hard it can be to beat a team three times in a season when High Point (-13.5) was upset by a Longwood team that won only six games all season. SFPA just won by eight on FDU’s home floor, which should be fresh in the minds of the FDU players. After winning five straight, SFPA is now the proverbial “hot team” headed into the conference tourney. It could potentially come out a little too overconfident against a team it beat twice rather easily.
St. John’s +2.5 (vs. Butler)
7 p.m. ET on STADIUM
I will wait for the +3 or potentially buy the hook. This is a major revenge spot for St. John’s, which was held to its lowest point total of the season in an embarrassing 70-45 blowout loss at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Jan. 27. Butler could come out a little flat after likely locking up an NCAA tournament berth with recent home wins over Providence and Creighton. It also has a revenge spot on deck at Seton Hall, which is the only team other than Xavier that Butler hasn’t defeated in league play. This looks like a spot in which Butler lays an egg against a St. John’s team looking for payback.
Cal State Northridge +7.5 (vs. Cal State Fullerton)
9 p.m. ET on ESPN
The ultimate hold-your-nose play, as Northridge is one of the worst teams I have watched this year. However, this might be the best motivational spot of the season for CSUN. The Matadors are in last (ninth) place in the Big West. Since only eight teams make it to Anaheim for the conference tournament, this is a must-win. Northridge is 6-23, which means Reggie Theus is sitting on the hot seat. This not only could be his final game at CSUN, but it could also be the last time he ever coaches his son, Reggie Theus Jr. If there was ever a time to back CSUN , it would be tonight.
UNLV +3.5 (vs. Nevada)
9 p.m. ET on SECN
Conflict of spots here. Mountain West champion UNR is looking to avenge a home loss to the Rebels. However, the Wolf Pack are also in the “Fat and Happy” spot once again. Both teams should have focus, but I think UNLV will come out with an extra edge after three straight losses (including a controversial late loss at New Mexico in its last game). Nothing like your in-state rival coming into town to get a team motivated. I also worry about Nevada down the stretch, as it has only seven remaining scholarship players and no true point guard.
Robert Morris +9 (vs. Mount St. Mary’s)
9 p.m. ET on FS1
Major revenge for Bobby Mo, which lost both regular-season meetings to Mount by margins of 25 and 19 points. Bobby Mo ended the season on a three-game losing streak, while Mount won its last three, including a double-digit win over conference champion Wagner. This almost looks too easy for the Mount, doesn’t it? It might be thinking that, too. I think we see a loose Robert Morris team hang with Mount.
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: UNLV’s Brandon McCoy; credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports