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NCAAM Basketball Pick for January 1st

University of Texas Longhorns (9-4) at Iowa State University Cyclones (9-3)

The betting line information used for this article was taken from sportsbetting.ag at 7:30 AM PST on 1-1-18. Some odds may have changed.

The winning streak continued last night, it is now up to three straight games as I was on Utah playing at Oregon State. The game was a pick ‘em and after watching the game that feels about right. Utah led the entire way but had to hang on tight at the finish line, as they came away with the 66-64 road win. That wrapped up an undefeated week in Pac-12 betting, going 3-0, today I will be switching gears and focusing on a Big-12 matchup between Texas and Iowa State.

The Texas Longhorns will travel to Ames to face the Cyclones of Iowa State tonight. Texas had its three-game winning streak snapped in their last outing, dropping a tight one to national powerhouse Kansas, 86-92. The Longhorns enter play tonight at 9-4 and are poised for a jump into the top twenty-five rankings.

Iowa State has had a similar level of success on the season, albeit against some weaker competition, but either way, the Cyclones are feeling good about themselves at 9-3 on the year. They also had a winning streak snapped in their last game as they had reeled off nine straight wins before getting pounded at home by Kansas State, 75-91.

The Texas Longhorns have played one of the toughest schedules of any team so far, this season. With games against legit contenders such as Duke, Gonzaga, Butler, Michigan, Alabama, and Kansas, the Longhorns have been playing against elite competition all year long.

With a 9-4 record on the year, they have more than held their own and could have very easily beaten Gonzaga and Duke as those games came down to the wire. If the Longhorns had managed to pull off those two wins, they would be sitting at 11-2 and likely in the top ten nationally. They didn’t, and that is a big if, but this team has a level of talent that lets them compete against any team in the country on any given night.

The Longhorns are led by big-man Mo Bamba. The absurdly long freshmen is a shot blocking machine and close to unstoppable down in the low block. Bamba is averaging almost five blocks a game  to go with his eleven points and ten boards, and is only going to get better as he gains more experience. If this kid lives up to his potential, he could end up being an unstoppable force in the NCAA tournament.

Iowa State has had a much easier path to its nine wins this year. They have had the pleasure of playing cupcakes like Appalachian State, Tulsa, Western Illinois, Alcorn State, Maryland Eastern Shore, and Boise State. The best win of the season for the Cyclones was a win against Big-10 also ran, Iowa. I don’t want to discount the Cyclones wins too much, but as they enter Big-12 play, they are about to get a huge wake-up call.

And what a wake-up call they got in their Big-12 opener against Kansas State. That game wasn’t competitive from the tip, and K-State ran them off their home floor. They won’t be facing a dynamic outside scorer like Dean Wade against Texas, who dropped 34 against them, but they will need to play much better if they have any chance to hang with a team as talented as Texas.

To me, this game boils down to the full body of work of both teams. Texas has played a murders row of teams so far. They have managed to beat a couple of them and kept it close against several more. They have true road wins at VCU and at Alabama, they aren’t afraid to travel and win. Meanwhile, you saw what happened on the Cyclones home court against Big-12 level competition, they got blasted.

This line opened at Texas -2 points and has been moving ever since. It went to -2.5 and now sits at -3. I expect more action to come in on the Longhorns and wouldn’t be shocked if this line closed out as high as -5. Iowa State just hasn’t shown me that they are at all ready to compete with a team like Texas. They ran up a decent record playing bad teams, but the Big-12 is absolutely stacked this year. I am going to need to see a lot more out of this team before I will like them against legitimate teams. Give me the Texas Longhorns on the road as small favorites tonight from Ames, -3-points.

The Bet: University of Texas Longhorns -3 points

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