Nights like Tuesday are why it’s so important to stick with your strategies, even when the occasional bad day pops up. There will be days when almost nothing goes your way. There will also be days when things go exactly as predicted and you come out with a fantastic day. Tuesday was the latter, although Iowa State did its best to make me sweat with its attempt at a comeback in the dying minutes.
We’re getting into the last month of the season now, which means that we have a lot of data on these teams now. If you’ve done the research on each game, you can usually give yourself about a 60 to 70 percent chance of a successful pick at this point in the season. There’s always the potential for things to go wrong, but more often than not, you can find a winning bet if you’ve done the work.
Of course, I’ve tried my best here to do the work for you. Here are my best bets for February 9.
WAKE FOREST TTO 77.5, -110
On the surface, this number seems a bit high, until you look at the opponent. State plays virtually no defense, as the Wolfpack rank 338th in the nation in opposing field goal percentage and allowed 88 to Duke, 89 to Syracuse and 100 to North Carolina. Wake tends to be an offensive-minded team, scoring 80 or more in four of its past six games. The Deacons only got to 68 last time, but Florida State focuses far more on defense than N.C. State does. Wake should put up points.
NOTRE DAME -7, -110
I’m just going to come out and say it: Louisville has given up. The Cardinals are 1-9 ATS in their past 10 games and they’ve looked totally hopeless on the road, falling by double digits at Pittsburgh, Virginia and Syracuse. They’ve also lost at home by double digits to N.C. State and Notre Dame. If the Cardinals couldn’t stay within 10 of Notre Dame at home, it’s pretty unlikely they do it on the road in a game the Irish must have.
NORTH FLORIDA +2.5, -110
Look out, folks, because the Birds of Trey are back and they’ve re-learned how to shoot the ball. North Florida spent most of the first half of the year as an under team because it simply wasn’t hitting its shots, but the Ospreys have gotten to 70 in five of their past six games. Bellarmine doesn’t give up a lot of points, but that’s not because the Knights play great defense. It’s because Bellarmine slows the game to a crawl. I’m not touching the total because the Knights can mess up a good over, but the Ospreys are hot right now and I’m backing them.
JACKSONVILLE, -4.5, -110
I’ll stick in Duval County for this play, because Jacksonville at home has been a fantastic bet this season. I was planning on betting an EKUnder again after the triple overtime nightmare with Kennesaw State, but the Colonels followed that up by scoring 84 in a loss to Liberty, so I think Eastern Kentucky has figured out putting the ball in the basket. What the Colonels have not figured out is playing on the road. EKU has gone on the road four times in the ASUN and is 0-4 SU and ATS in those games. Jacksonville is 6-0 SU and ATS at home for the year. I’m swimming with the Dolphins again.
ILLINOIS STATE -4.5, -110
Illinois State at home? Check. Illinois State coming off an ATS loss? Check. The Redbirds haven’t failed to cover in consecutive games since December, and they play much better at home than they do on the road. Valparaiso escaped in overtime — without the cover — last time, but the Redbirds should handle the Beacons this time around.
FLORIDA STATE -10.5, -110
I usually like to play five picks, but I can’t ignore this one: Pitt on the road has been a horror show. The Panthers have played five road games since Jan. 5, and a 13-point loss to Boston College was the best showing they’ve had. I don’t love the idea of laying 10.5 with a Florida State team that seems to think beating Duke and sweeping Miami was enough to get them into the NCAAs, but Pitt has been that disastrous.