I will never understand why sometimes, Vegas just throws bettors a gift, but it happens. Last night, for some inexplicable reason, the Steelers were a home dog to the Browns. The Browns had lost 17 straight regular season games in Pittsburgh. They’d been banged up all year. Their playoff hopes had been extinguished the day before, while the Steelers still had an outside chance to qualify. Finally, it was Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game at Heinz Field.
The Steelers winning was the lock of the week in any sport, and yet people missed it. But whatever, it rescued an otherwise difficult Monday and allowed us to get back to even. Technically, I came out ahead if you count my total play on Florida A&M, so we’ve got a bit of momentum. Here are my best plays for Jan. 4
CENTRAL ARKANSAS-EASTERN KENTUCKY U159.5, -110
This total is high for a reason: it’s because these teams both play incredibly fast (ranked in the top 30 in tempo) and Central Arkansas cannot stop anyone (the Bears give up 81.8 points per game). But I think this total is too high, because I think Central Arkansas will have a hard time scoring on Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels can play defense, and even if they get 90, you still need close to 70 from the Bears to win. I like the Colonels to cover, but for the overall game, I’m leaning under.
KENTUCKY-LSU U143, -110
Did you know LSU boasts the country’s most efficient defense? Yes, the Bayou Bengals play fast and see a lot of possessions per game, but they still only give up 55 points per game. The one issue here is that Oscar Tshiebwe could get 15 offensive rebounds and score 40 on his own, but I don’t think he’ll dominate to that extent. Neither does Kyle; he’s on the Tigers, I’m on the under.
EASTERN MICHIGAN TTO69, -110
Tempo looks like my friend here, as Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan both play incredibly quickly. But while Eastern plays mediocre defense, Western’s is just bad. The Broncos give up 78 points per game and allow teams to shoot above 45 percent from the field. Eastern can put up points in the right situation, and this way, I don’t have to trust the inconsistent Western offense.
NORTH ALABAMA-LIPSCOMB U143, -110
North Alabama is playing very well right now. Lipscomb is not playing particularly well. That says the game is likely to be played to North Alabama’s liking, and the Lions prefer defense to offense. North Alabama likes to keep games in the 60s, and Lipscomb has failed to top 70 points in its past seven games against D-I opponents. I thought about just taking UNA’s total under 68 (which isn’t a bad move), but given that Lipscomb needs 75 to send this number over and isn’t getting close lately, I feel good with the overall under.
GEORGIA TECH TTU 61, -110
The Yellow Jackets weren’t a good offensive team to begin with, averaging 68.8 points per game against weak opposition. Now you’re asking them to go into Cameron and top 61 points against a solid Duke defense in just their second road game of the season? Forget it; the Jackets aren’t getting there. Tech has topped 57 points in just two of its past eight visits to Cameron with fans in the stands, and it seems unlikely here as well.