NCAAM Pick December 15, 2020 – Kansas State Wildcats at Iowa State Cyclones

There are 56 games on the NCAA Men’s College Basketball schedule today, with many top-25 teams in action. Several of the top conferences in the country are hitting league play, and we have some stellar conference games scheduled today. Highlights include a Big 10 game between Illinois and Minnesota, a Big 12 game between Iowa State and Kansas State, and ACC games between Virginia Tech and Clemson and Georgia Tech and Florida State.

COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the college hoops scene as many scheduled games won’t be played today. Top teams like Kentucky, Baylor, Seton Hall, and Xavier all had scheduled games that were canceled due to Corona Virus concerns. Unlike college football, where the NCAA can’t figure out how to deal with canceled games, college basketball seems to be handling them in stride. The Gonzaga Bulldogs remained at number one in both major polls this week, despite seeing the program shut down for two weeks with players and coaches testing positive for COVID-19.

Despite a schedule full of unknowns and having some of our bets get canceled and refunded last minute, we have still managed to deliver value to our readers this year on college hoops. In the last week, we have gone 5-2-1 on our college basketball bets, delivering a 71%-win rate and an ROI of 37%. For the season, we are winning at close to a 60%-win rate and have delivered double-digit ROI. For today’s free daily betting pick, we will stay on the hunt for value as we head to the Big 12, where the Iowa State Cyclones host the Kansas State Wildcats.

Today’s Game

  • Kansas State Wildcats (2-4) at Iowa State Cyclones (1-2)
  • Hilton Coliseum, Ames
  • 6:00 PM PST
  • TV: ESPNU

The K-State Wildcats head to Ames, Iowa, tonight for their first Big 12 game of the season. The Wildcats have fallen on hard times, losing four out of their first six games, despite playing a very soft schedule (SOS #220) and playing all of their games at home. The Wildcats head out on the road tonight for their first game away from Manhattan and are hoping to snap out of their early-season funk.

For Iowa State, the Cyclones got blown out by their in-state rivals, the Iowa Hawkeyes, in their last game and are looking to snap a two-game losing streak. The Cyclones aren’t expected to finish in the top half of the Big 12 this year, and if they want any shot at a decent league record, they must take care of business at home. Last year, the Cyclones went 0-10 on the road in league play, making these home games that much more important.

Spread:

  • Iowa State Cyclones (-7.5)
  • Kansas State Wildcats (+7.5)
Money line:

  • Iowa State Cyclones (-375)
  • Kansas State Wildcats (+290)
Total Points:

  • Over 136.5 (-110)
  • Under 136.5 (-110)

Kansas State Wildcats (2-4)

Kansas State was really bad last year in the Big 12. They went just 3-15 in league play, with none of those winning coming on the road. Since last year, the Wildcats lost basically all of their best players as stars Xavier Sneed and Carter Diarra are both gone. The expectations were very low on K-State coming into this season, and it’s hard to get much worse than 3-15 in conference play, but at this point, three wins in the loaded Big 12 would likely look like success this year for the Wildcats.

Even with those light expectations, it has been an ugly start for the Wildcats. Both of their wins have come against teams ranked outside the top-250, and to be completely honest, they were lucky to get both of those wins in the first place. Against 287th ranked UMKC, they won by just 4-points, and against 255th ranked Milwaukee, they won by just a point. And remember, both of those games were played in Manhattan. Of their four losses, all of them have come by double-digits, and three of them were to teams ranked outside the top-100, including a brutal loss to Fort Hays State.

Iowa State Cyclones (1-2)

Believe it or not, the Iowa State Cyclones were actually picked by some to finish below K-State this year in the Big 12. But the low expectations were based on the fact that many of their best players were going to be transfers. With so few returning key players, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered in Ames. And while the wins haven’t been there just yet for Iowa State, these transfers are looking pretty good.

Jalen Coleman-Lands is a red-shirt senior transfer from DePaul and leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points per game. Javan Johnson is another upperclassman transfer, he came compliments of Troy, and he too has played well as he is averaging 13.7 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists a game. Tyler Harris is the third transfer that is starting and picking up big minutes for the Cyclones, and the former Memphis Tiger is averaging 9 points a game.

Who Do I Like?

I think Iowa State is going to be decent in the Big 12. They aren’t going to have a winning record in league play or anything like that, but I think they are going to be competitive, particularly at home. At the start of the season, had Iowa State been -11-point favorites against anybody, I likely would have laughed and blind bet the other side. But I am not so sure that this team is a last place team right now. The new guys have looked great, and while the rotation is painfully thin, they do have talent.

I can’t say the same thing about Kansas State. K-State is bad, really, really bad. Like they aren’t going to win a single game in Big 12 play bad. There just isn’t any discernable talent on the roster outside of a somewhat promising recruiting class that is at least a year or two away from bearing fruit.

The blowout loss at home to division two school Fort Hays State should have gotten Bruce Webber fired on the spot. The Wildcats didn’t win a single road game in conference play last season, and they aren’t going to win one this season, that starts tonight in Ames.

The Bet

This line opened up with Iowa State laying -11-points. The public hammered K-State, moving the number sharply towards the Wildcats. I mean, I guess I can kind of see why, as double-digit points in a league game between two teams that were picked to finish in the cellar of the conference seems high on the surface. And I am certainly not a big fan of laying a huge amount of wood on Iowa State, but thanks to the betting public, I get a nice discount, and I don’t have to.

The early action now has Iowa State laying just -7.5-points, and that is a reasonable number. Each of K-States losses this year have come by more than seven and a half points, and those games were at home. This is a mentally and physically weak team, and I could see this game getting out of hand. Iowa State is by no means an elite team, but they have a top-50 offense, and I think they are going to run up the score tonight in their Big 12 home opener.

So, I’ll once again fade the betting public and back the home team. Kenpom has the Cyclones winning this one by 9-points, so the data is on my side and points to an Iowa State cover. I don’t even think that Iowa State was going to have much trouble covering that inflated opening number. Give me the Iowa State Cyclones at home tonight, laying -7.5-points, let’s call it a 75-60 final score from Ames!

The Bet: Iowa State Cyclones -7.5

My Pick
Iowa State Cyclones -7.5
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL