Five for Friday: Best Bets for January 20

The problem with parlays: coming up one game short. That happened to me twice last night, as Northern Arizona couldn’t play any defense and Lindenwood went cold down the stretch. The latter was far more irritating, as Lindenwood looked in prime position to finish things off. All I needed was 14 points in seven-plus minutes, not an unreasonable ask.

The Lions only managed eight, as they couldn’t hit much of anything and ended up with an 81-65 loss. I didn’t expect Southern Indiana discovering a defense to be the thing that ruined me, but that’s what happens.

However, if you followed all nine of my plays yesterday individually, you made money, as my picks went 5-4 as a whole. So the day’s not a total loss as far as analyzing things; we just need to get rid of a few that went wrong. Here are my plays for January 20.


Richmond loves to slow things down, but I don’t think that’s going to work in this game. The Spiders usually play higher-scoring games with the Rams, as 12 of the past 15 meetings have gone over 131.5 points. The mid-range defense of both teams worries me, but I think the pace will offset that. Throw in that VCU loves to get to the free throw line, and I think this total is in reach.

ST. JOHN’S -4, -110

This is not a good Villanova squad, and St. John’s should take full advantage. The Red Storm didn’t do the job in Philadelphia, but they shot a putrid 34% from the floor in that game. If they shoot closer to their normal number, they’ll win comfortably. Villanova’s defense isn’t good enough to keep St. John’s off-balance, and the Red Storm will push the tempo for 40 minutes. That should overwhelm the Wildcats in New York.

BOISE STATE +2.5, -110

For whatever reason, Boise tends to play pretty well at the Pit. The Broncos have won outright in two of their past seven visits to Albuquerque and kept the margin to two or less in four others. These teams both could use a big win to boost the resume, which says that both sides should play a tight, defensive battle. I expect this to come down to the final play.


I ignored the long-time trends in this matchup last time these teams took the ice, and I paid for it as the game went exactly as history suggested. This time, I’m going for what’s happened regularly here. The over has cashed in six of seven between Ottawa and Pittsburgh, and it’s hit in four straight in western Pennsylvania. These teams can’t stop each other, and that should continue here.


Vancouver plays well against Colorado for whatever reason, so I’m backing them to do the job again tonight. The Avalanche have already dropped two to the Canucks this season, and they’re due for a bit of a fall back to earth. Colorado isn’t the team it was last year, and I think this will be time for some regression to the mean.

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