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Saturday Slate: Best Bets for January 29

There’s one word that’s a nightmare for an under bettor: overtime. My goal of 3-2 looked to be perfectly on pace in the final game of the night between Boise State and Fresno State, with the Bulldogs doing what they do and holding the Broncos in the 50s. Had the game ended right there in regulation, I’d have cashed easily, with Boise on 53 and the team total at 60.5.

However, the game went into the extra session, and the five-minute sprint meant I had no chance. The Broncos scored 15 points in the overtime and ended up with 68, turning a certain third win of the night into a defeat. There’s only so much you can do; when overtime enters the equation, everything gets thrown into chaos.

That doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying, as the process should have worked yesterday and will likely work again quite soon. Maybe it’s today; here are my plays for January 29.

DUKE -6, -110

I’ve seen Louisville in person. They’re not disciplined, and that was BEFORE they fired Chris Mack. Now they have Duke coming to the Yum Center, and the Blue Devils really need to start adding some road wins to the profile if they want to play rounds one and two in Greenville (which, considering they got bounced in round 2 the last time they played there, maybe they don’t). Duke doesn’t have a road win outside of the state of North Carolina (they won at Wake Forest), but I think they get a comfortable one here.

CREIGHTON +2.5, -120

I’m buying the point here because of this stat: Since the teams moved to the Big East in 2013, Creighton +2.5 is 8-0 in Omaha. The Bluejays are 7-2 at home this year and already whacked Villanova by 20 in Omaha, so there’s no way I’m trusting the Musketeers to go into Nebraska and change things up. If Xavier wins, it’ll likely be by a basket, but I think there’s a good shot Creighton wins outright.

TENNESSEE +3.5, -110

As long as Tennessee puts aside the distractions of Rick Barnes coming back to Austin, the Vols should be able to cover this one. Texas has not won a game all year in which the opposition has broken 60 points, and I can’t see the Longhorns holding the Volunteers under that number. Tennessee forces too many steals for that to happen; I like their chances to win outright, but I’ll play it safer and go for the cover.

NORTHERN IOWA -7.5, -135

Illinois State at home? Ride the Redbirds all day. Illinois State on the road? Run from the Redbirds. Illinois State is 4-0 ATS at Redbird Arena but 2-2 ATS and 0-4 SU on the road in the Missouri Valley this season, and the two ATS wins were by half a point at Valparaiso (Beacons won by 5) and 1.5 points at Drake (Bulldogs by 11). That’s why I’m buying two points with the Panthers here. I don’t think I’ll need them because UNI plays well in Cedar Falls, but I’d rather be on the safe side with this play.

IOWA STATE -10, -110

Fading Missouri on the road isn’t quite as automatic now thanks to Alabama’s inconsistency and Mississippi putting Kermit Davis on the hot seat, but I think that’s more because of the Tigers’ opposition as opposed to anything they’ve done right. Iowa State should have a packed Hilton Coliseum, and Missouri never played well in Ames when it was in the Big 12. The Cyclones should roll.


The home team has won the past five in this series and the Lumberjacks have won seven of their past eight battles with the Vikings in Flagstaff. After four straight losses at home and five straight overall, no, I don’t see Portland State going up the hill and getting a win.

MONTANA -6, -110

Eastern has been a road darling for me several times this year, but I’ve learned my lesson: Unless Randy Rahe is coaching them, you do not trust a visiting team to cover in Dahlberg Arena. I thought Idaho was getting too many points and Montana would slack off, but Montana just doesn’t slack off in Missoula. I’m riding the Grizzlies until someone else shows me they can cover in Missoula.


Evansville’s three road games in the Valley have been decided by an average of 30.7 points. This one doesn’t look like it’s going to be much closer. Missouri State should maul the Purple Aces here.

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