It’s the last week of the regular season for the Big Ten and a bunch of smaller conferences. Be careful taking underdogs with nothing to play for in the last couple games of the season. There can be some major “mail it in” situations near the end of the season. Handicap motivation more than you normally do throughout the college hoops season.
I will continue to do a college basketball situational spots to watch article for BangtheBook.com the rest of the regular season. I have done these articles for both college football and college basketball for the last few seasons. The games mentioned aren’t necessarily going to be plays of my own. The goal is to help readers learn to isolate situational spots that could give you an edge on the book.
Tuesday February 20
UNC Greensboro at Wofford – UNC Greensboro sits second and two games behind East Tennessee State in the SoCon standings with three games remaining. Greensboro likely let any realistic chance at winning the conference slip when they lost at Mercer on Saturday. I think this is a bad spot for Greensboro. Wofford led Greensboro big on the road earlier this year, before collapsing and losing by four points.
Wednesday February 21
Michigan at Penn State – Michigan is coming off a big win over Ohio State on Sunday at home. Penn State beat Ohio State last week during the week, and then lost a tight one at Purdue on Sunday night. This isn’t an ideal spot for either team. It could be a letdown spot for Michigan after that big win over their rivals. Penn State needs this game a lot more than Michigan does, but they’ll be laying points against a good Michigan team here.
Loyola Chicago at Southern Illinois – Normally you would say this is a tricky spot for Loyola Chicago, but in this case you have to wonder about Southern Illinois. The Salukis have played three overtime games in their last four contests. Each of their last two games have gone into overtime. Loyola is coming off two fairly comfortable wins and is the fresher of the two teams.
Thursday February 22
Eastern Washington at Weber State – A tricky spot here for Weber State. Weber State plays home against Idaho on Saturday and then at Montana next Thursday night. Those are the two teams they are competing with for the Big Sky regular season title. First, they must host a pretty good Eastern Washington team on Thursday night. Weber State will be laying several points here, and I’d be concerned about a potential look ahead.
Saturday February 24
North Texas at Florida Atlantic – I love the job Grant McCasland is doing with this North Texas team. Look where they were a year ago compared to where they are today. The problem for North Texas here is they have lost three straight very tight games against good competition. That has to be demoralizing. They now take the two-game road trip to Florida, and this is the second game of that trip. I don’t know that I’ll fade North Texas because they have the coaching edge, but this is a difficult spot.
Wyoming at Fresno State – Wyoming lost 80-62 at home to Fresno State on February 3. That was a terrible spot for Wyoming. They had just played three consecutive overtime contests, and two of those games went into double overtime. It’s understandable that they would have a bad game after that kind of stretch. They’ll be looking for road revenge here.
Indiana State at Bradley – As I mentioned on BangtheBook Radio with Adam Burke on Monday’s Handicapping the Hardwood segment, backing favorites in the last couple games of the regular season has been a profitable long-term strategy. The road team here has little incentive to be invested in this game. Bradley has been a great home team all year, and I would lean Bradley minus the points in this one.
Sunday February 25
Northwestern at Iowa – A tough spot here for Northwestern. The Wildcats have to be disappointed with this season after their successes from last year. This game doesn’t mean anything to them. They will look to make a run at Madison Square Garden in the Big Ten Tournament. Northwestern will also be playing their third game in six days, while Iowa has only two during that time frame. It’s a much better spot for the Hawkeyes.