It’s a bit of a weird feeling when your play of the day goes down in flames, yet the rest of your card came through for you. Texas Tech in particular came up big in shutting down Oklahoma, and in a conference tournament setting, the Red Raiders’ defense might get even better as dead legs become an issue.
But that’s still two weeks away. For now, we’ve got a nice bit of action on the slate and a good chance to keep the momentum going. Here are my plays for February 23.
WAKE FOREST -1.5, -110
Why is this line so low? It’s because Clemson has had Wake Forest’s number as of late, winning eight of the past nine meetings between the teams. But the Tigers haven’t faced the Demon Deacons this season, and Wake Forest can’t afford to take a loss here and damage the profile. Clemson has lost six straight and appears to be done, so the Deacons make sense covering this small line.
JACKSONVILLE -6, -110
Like I said on Monday after Gregg Doyel’s piece on Indiana losing yet again on the road, there are a few picks you can usually count on from me. One of them is to back Jacksonville at home, where the Dolphins are 13-0 SU and 8-1 ATS (they’ve played four non-DI opponents for the disparity) this season. They’ve got crosstown rival North Florida tonight, and while the Birds of Trey are hot (9-1-1 ATS in their past 11), the Dolphins haven’t let me down yet and held UNF to 3-for-25 from deep last time. I’m sticking with Jacksonville.
DUKE -5, -110
This might get more than a few family members upset with me, but I have to go where the numbers lead me. When Duke doesn’t play well in the first game, it tends to make up for it in the second meeting. Virginia hasn’t won back-to-back games against Mike Krzyzewski since 1993, and the Blue Devils will likely approach this much more seriously than they did their loss to the Cavaliers.
HOUSTON-TULANE U137.5, -110
Tulane has already shown that it can play with Houston. That means slowing the game and waiting for the right shot, or, more often, letting the Cougars commit a foul. Houston sends teams to the line a fair amount, and Tulane shoots the ball well from the stripe. This game’s likely to be played at a slower pace, and Houston should keep Tulane’s deep shooting from lighting up the board.
VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH -6.5, -110
When George Mason isn’t hitting 3-pointers, the Patriots are not a very dangerous team. Virginia Commonwealth locks down pretty well on the arc, ranking second in 3-point defense, and already went to Fairfax and beat Mason by 15. The Rams should be fine covering this spread in Richmond.