Last night should have worked. Iowa State held a 21-point lead with under 12 minutes to go against a Texas Tech squad that entered 0-8 in the Big 12. This was a top-15 team up big against a bottom feeder. Surely, that’s as safe as it gets, right?
Yeah, not so much. The Cyclones managed to inexplicably collapse and allow Texas Tech back into the game, and they ended up losing in overtime. Losing at Missouri was understandable; losing in Lubbock is an alarm bell. It’s also the reason why predicting these games is so difficult. Not only did Iowa State lose the moneyline bet, they lost the cover too, as Texas Tech covered 2.5 from down 23 at worst.
As we close out January, now’s the time to really put our information about each team to good use. Here are my plays for January 31.
DUKE TTO 78, -110
When even Rutgers gets to 80 against your defense, it’s safe to call you defense-optional. Wake Forest doesn’t play well on that side of the floor, and Duke’s a home-court hero. The Blue Devils have been dynamite in Durham this year but badly struggle away from Cameron Indoor Stadium. Wake still let Duke hit 70 in an 11-point win for the Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem, so points should be expected here. As this one’s the return game, I expect the points to come from the team in blue.
TEXAS A&M TTU 67.5, -110
Arkansas plays at home again, and that should mean that defense dominates. The Razorbacks put the brakes on Mississippi and completely shut down LSU, which bodes well for facing Texas A&M. The Aggies had travel problems getting to Fayetteville last night, which could sap them of preparation and explosiveness. That most likely plays right into Arkansas’ hands, which could mean a tough shooting night.
KANSAS STATE-KANSAS OVER 146.5, -110
The pace should dictate the play here. Kansas tends to put up big numbers when K-State comes to Allen Fieldhouse, as the Jayhawks haven’t lost at home to the Wildcats since 2006. The teams put on a show in Manhattan, and both love to play fast and get extra possession into the game. That’s likely to lead to a tight contest where both teams do their part. That gives me confidence in the over hitting.
CLEMSON-BOSTON COLLEGE OVER 136.5, -110
Clemson’s defense does not travel well. The Tigers have played to the over in four of their past five games away from Littlejohn Coliseum, and the lone exception was defense-minded Virginia Tech. The Tigers allowed 81 points to Florida State in Tallahassee, 87 to Wake Forest in Winston-Salem and 74 to Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania. Even when Clemson wins the game on the road, as it did at Pitt and Georgia Tech, the Tigers are winning with offense. BC has played to the over in four of five at Conte Forum and covered in four of five at home. The over looks good here.
SENATORS-CANADIENS UNDER 6.5, -110
My Senators have a success allergy. They’ve won three straight, but that usually means the other shoe is about to drop. Against Montreal, that usually means defense wins the day. The under has cashed in 14 of the past 20 meetings overall and six of nine in Quebec. Even as the Senators were routing the Habs last time out, the under cashed in a 5-0 win for Ottawa. Look for the Senators’ scoring to come to earth. That might mean a 2-1 win for Ottawa, which has won four straight against Montreal, but the under is the safer move.