Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM
Wednesday's Best Bets
Last week's college basketball plays ended off on the right note with the two LA-based teams coming through for me on Saturday, getting best those pesky schools from the state of Washington both SU and ATS. Hopefully this week can start off on a similar foot, as tonight's card gets reviewed, but instead of discussing two teams located close to one another, it's two state-sponsored schools that get the spotlight shone on them tonight.
Kansas State at Texas Tech (ESPN2, 9:00 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #1: Kansas State +11.5
There isn't much to like about the Wildcats on the surface, as a 0-5 SU run and losers of seven of their last eight outright tends to be a recent form many bettors in the market look to fade. K-State has gone 4-4 ATS in that eight game span, so they are playing halfway decent in that regard, but what's more notable to me is the fact that they are on a 5-1 ATS run when catching 6 or more points.
At the same time, Texas Tech is far from the same team that lost in the NCAA Tournament championship game last year, as I'm not convinced they should be laying this kind of chalk to pretty much anyone this year. Yes, the Red Raiders did blow out TCU 88-42 the last time they were double-digit chalk, and that same TCU team just beat Kansas State by 11 points last time out, but it's never as simple as Team A blew out Team B and Team B blew out Team C, so Team A should cruise over Team C.
Judging from Kansas State's record as bigger underdogs, they tend to save their better efforts for the better teams in the Big 12, and facing a national runner-up will still get the competitive juices flowing.
Furthermore, it's this time of year when conference rivals are having their return matchup that I do like to look at backing the team that failed to cover in the first meeting if it makes sense in other regards as well. Texas Tech won the first meeting between these two this year by 14 points – easily covering the -4 as road chalk – but K-State's 20 turnovers had plenty to do with that margin getting out of hand, as the Wildcats only average 14 turnovers per game as it is.
I expect the Wildcats to be much more protective of the ball tonight, and if they are able to shoot the same percentage from the field as Texas Tech does – like what happened i the first game – this will be a single digit decision for sure.
Finally, we can't omit the fact that Texas Tech is just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 games against a losing team, 3-9 ATS when said team has won 40% or fewer of their games, and 7-19-1 ATS when coming off an outright loss themselves. Much of those numbers speak to the talent drop off the Red Raiders have experienced this year, and these lofty spreads are simply too much for them to cover.
With the betting percentage numbers up at VegasInsider.com showing 75%+ of the action on the home side, and the number staying relatively stagnant and even dropping from an opener of +12 at some places, that tells me all I need to know. Kansas State finds a way to hang around tonight.
South Carolina at Mississippi State (SEC, 9:00 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #2: Under 144.5
Over in the SEC, we've got a Mississippi State team that's been cashing 'over' tickets at a 6-0 and 8-1 clip hosting a South Carolina team that's been playing some stellar defense of late. Something has to give in that regard, and I'm betting on it being the Bulldogs offense drying up somewhat and forcing them to pay much more attention to detail on the defensive end of things.
South Carolina has held three straight opponents to 61 points or less, and they've also hit that mark in four of their last five games overall. Games that are in the 70-65 range are the ones the Gamecocks prefer to play as that's where they believe they'll have their most success, and being on the road here were defense tends to travel much better than offense, South Carolina will rely on their play on their own end of the court to potentially get the job done.
At the same time, Mississippi State has been phenomenal for 'over' bettors of late with the 6-0 O/U and 8-1 O/U they've been on, a run that has had their games finish with 147 or more points seven times. It's why you've seen tonight's total already get bumped up a full point from open, and why the 'over' will end up being the more popular side in all likelihood tonight.
Yet, I'm going against the grain with this angle tonight, as the last thing South Carolina wants to do is get involved in a track meet if they can avoid it, and even trailing by multiple possessions early, I expect South Carolina to stick to their plan and be meticulous with the ball on offense. Two of the last three teams to beat Mississippi State held the Bulldogs to 62 points or fewer, so unless you've got the talent a team like Kentucky does, the best path for success against the Bulldogs is one that has defense as the first, second and third thing on your mind.
At the same time, oddly enough, Mississippi State's last 'under' did come after their first meeting with Arkansas, and the Bulldogs just swept the season series with the Razorbacks over the weekend. Arkansas can be a funky bunch to play with for some opponents, and it's hard to regain a rhythm for a game or two after that type of contest.
Mississippi State is also not going to continue on this slanted 'over' run forever (17-5 O/U in last 22 games), and as their totals continue to creep up and the market continues to push them higher believing they've already got the box score in their hands, there comes a point where the value solely lies in going the other way.