Our start to 2020 could not be going any better as we picked up another win last night by backing the Colorado Buffaloes as two-point road favorites at Arizona State, against the Sun Devils. These two teams met up in early November on a neutral floor, and the Buffaloes dominated the game and coasted to a double-digit victory.
So, the question in this one wasn’t really about which team was better, it was about how much would the Sun Devils home-court advantage come into play? And while I hate to bet road favorites in conference play, I felt that the talent gap in this matchup was just far too high not to like Colorado as small favorites, so I backed the Buffaloes and expected them to win and cover.
— Colorado Men's Basketball (@CUBuffsMBB) January 17, 2020
In the end, this game played out eerily similar to their first one. It was competitive in the first half, but Colorado used a hot start to the second half to pull away, and they led by as many as thirteen points. The Sun Devils saved face a little at the end as Colorado had a 62-49 lead with under two minutes to play.
Arizona State feverishly tried to get back into the game late, and cut the lead to just seven points, but they would get no closer. So, while the final score tells you this one might have been competitive, in reality, we had basically no sweat down the stretch.
The victory was a huge one for Colorado as they picked up a road win in league play, something that the Oregon Ducks could not do, as they were shocked in Pullman, losing to the WSU Cougars. That puts Colorado into a second-place tie at 3-1 in Pac-12 play with USC, a game back of Stanford who is 4-0.
With the win, we ran our 2020 record on college basketball to a smoking hot 13-2, which is good for a 65% ROI. For today’s pick, we will shift gears from the Pac-12 to the Big 10, as the Iowa Hawkeyes host the Michigan Wolverines.
- Michigan Wolverines (11-5) at Iowa Hawkeyes (12-5)
- Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City
- 6:00 PM PST
- TV: FS1
The Michigan Wolverines head to Iowa City Friday for a Big 10 showdown with the Iowa Hawkeyes. A lot has changed since these teams matched up in Ann Arbor on December 6th. The Wolverines were riding high heading into that game as they were coming off of a tournament championship in the Bahamas and were ranked at number four in the country. Since then, they have gone just 3-4 in their last seven games, and two of these wins came to teams outside of the top-250, and they dropped to nineteenth in the latest AP Poll.
Yes, tonight's game will be played.
— Iowa Basketball (@IowaHoops) January 17, 2020
For Iowa, the Hawkeyes have really made a name for themselves since losing to Michigan on the road. Iowa is 6-2 since that game, and they picked up signature wins over top-60 teams like Maryland, Minnesota, Iowa State, and Cincinnati. If the Hawkeyes can knock off Big Blue tonight at home, they will almost certainly find themselves in the top twenty-five of next week’s AP Poll as they are currently just outside of the rankings in the also receiving votes category.
It is nearly impossible to tell just how good this Michigan team is this season. When they were 7-0 with wins over Gonzaga, Creighton, Iowa State, and North Carolina (who still had Cole Anthony on the floor at the time), this looked like a team that could make a run to the Final Four. But since then, they have really struggled, particularly on the road.
The Wolverines have had four true road games this year, they are 0-4. And none of the games have been overly competitive either, as they have losses to Louisville, Illinois, Michigan State, and Minnesota, and the closest margin of loss was eight points, and their average margin of loss was nearly thirteen.
Now, don’t get me wrong, all of those losses were to good teams in tough environments, but that is life in the Big 10, no road wins are going to be easy, and right now, Iowa rates out on a very similar level to those teams from an analytical perspective.
When you talk about the best teams in the big 10 this year, you are going to hear a lot about teams like Michigan, Michigan State, Maryland, and Ohio State, but what if I told you Iowa just might be the team best suited for a Final Four run?
This team has it all. They have a senior leader in Jordan Bohannon, who is paired with Joe Wieskamp, to make up one of the best backcourts in the nation, and they have the Big 10’s most un-guardable player in big man Luka Garza.
Garza has emerged as a national player of the year candidate, and in my pick is the best player in the Big 10. Guys like Cassius Winston and Kaleb Wesson are getting all the media hype, but for my money, Garza is the best the Big 10 has to offer, followed very closely by Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu. Against Michigan earlier this year, Garza had the best game of his career as he dropped forty-four points and pulled down eight boards.
Who Do I Like?
If you have been reading my daily picks in the last couple of weeks, you will know that one trend has dominated my action, backing home teams in the Big 10. Home teams in Big 10 league games are winning and covering at an outrageous pace right now. And while the books are starting to react, we see that reflected in this line, the public has been slow to get on board.
So, when I saw Iowa open up as -4-point home favorites last night, I fully expected the public to back Michigan and move this number down to -3 or -2 before tipoff. But somewhat shockingly, that hasn’t happened. This number has mostly stayed put, and in the couple of spots that it has been on the move, it is moving towards Iowa. Has the public finally caught on to this free money trend? Let’s hope not.
While I was hoping that the public would save me a point or two, backing Iowa still has loads of value where it stands now at -4. We have yet to see Michigan win on the road, and Carver-Hawkeye Arena is always one of the toughest places to play for road teams in the Big 10. And when you look at Iowa, they are 7-1 on their home floor with wins over Minnesota and Maryland.
I think Iowa wins this game, and likely by eight or nine points at least. Garza is going to tear the Wolverines up again, and without that home cooking officiating to bail them out, I don’t Michigan is going to be able to keep up.
Remember, when these teams met up at Michigan, the Wolverines took advantage of some home floor calls and shot thirty-four free throws. They aren’t going to get calls like that tonight in Iowa. Give me the Iowa Hawkeyes at home laying -4-points tonight against Big Blue!