Texas Longhorns at West Virginia Mountaineers NCAAM Pick – January 20th

We delivered a pair of winners yesterday on the Summit League showdown between the South Dakota State Jackrabbits and the South Dakota Coyotes. I felt that the Coyotes displayed some nice value as home dogs in a rivalry game, and I thought that they were much more talented than their mediocre record in league play was showing.

And while I liked the home dog in league play, as I almost always do, and felt that it warranted a small play, where I saw the real value was in the game total of 149-points. Both of these teams are very talented on offense, and dreadfully bad on defense. I expected a back and forth shootout type of game where both teams were happy to trade baskets. So, I jumped on the over and felt like I was stealing.

And when this game coasted to the over with more than ten minutes left on the clock, I knew I was on the right side. Buckets were easy to come by on both sides of the floor, and both teams shot the lights out as the Jackrabbits shot 53% from the field and 54% from three, and the Coyotes were even better as they shot 64% from the field and 60% from three.

You are rarely going to see a game with this big of a gap between the betting total and the actual game score in a power or mid-major conference game. There is just too much data out there for the books to get it this wrong on teams playing in leagues that get even the slightest media attention. That is why finding spots in games from these small leagues can provide so much value to a sharp willing to do their homework.

The books gave us a layup, and most of the public didn’t even take the time to look at it. For today’s game, we will switch gears from Summit League to the Big 12, as the West Virginia Mountaineers host the Texas Longhorns in a league play game.

Today’s Game

  • Texas Longhorns (12-5) at West Virginia Mountaineers (14-3)
  • WVU Coliseum, Morgantown
  • 4:00 PM PST
  • TV: ESPNU

The West Virginia Mountaineers were stunned this weekend as they went on the road to Kansas State and got blown out by the Wildcats. K-State was 0-4 in league play entering the game, and to see them destroy the Mountaineers, beating them by sixteen points, was shocking. WVU will look to get back on track tonight, as they host the Texas Longhorns.

For Texas, the Longhorns had won back to back league games, against Oklahoma State and Kansas State, before getting beaten by Kansas on the road on Saturday. The Longhorns looked like they just might upset the Jayhawks as they led by five points at half time, and the game was tied with under five minutes to play in the second half. But Kansas did a great job closing it out and handed Texas their third loss in five games in Big 12 play.

Spread:

  • Texas +8.5 (-110)
  • West Virginia -8.5 (-110)
Money line:

  • Texas +325
  • West Virginia -425
Total Points:

  • Over 131 (-110)
  • Under 131 (-110)

Texas Longhorns

I like this Texas Longhorns team right now. While they aren’t going to realistically contend at the top of the Big 12 with the likes of Kansas and Baylor, I think this is a team that is going to do some damage come March.

They play great defense, a signature of head coach Shaka Smart, and while they don’t score many points due to their slow pace of play, they are actually solid on the offensive side of the ball in terms of efficiency as well.

The Longhorns have a couple of nice wins this season over Purdue, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State, but for the most part, they have lost to most of the good teams they have played. None of their losses have been bad ones, as they all have come against teams in the top-75. But for Texas to breakthrough and not just compete with good teams, but actually beat them, they are going to need to find a way to win games like this one tonight on the road.

West Virginia Mountaineers

Talk about derailing a hype train for West Virginia. The Mountaineers were shooting up the national rankings and all of the major power rankings, as they had won seven out of their previous eight games and were emerging as a real contender to win the Big 12 regular-season title. Kenpom had them as high as number four in the country.

And now two days after getting destroyed by Kansas State, everyone is scratching their heads and wondering if this team is the real deal. I will say that I too, was shocked by their performance on Saturday, but I am not going to let it distract me from the fact that this team still has nine wins over the top-100 and one of the best defenses in the nation.

Who Do I Like?

While I am not going to overreact to one bad game, coming on the road in league play no less, the public sure seems to be. The Mountaineers opened as -10-point favorites, and the public has been backing Texas all morning long. The number has dropped to -9 in most places, and I even see some -8.5’s floating around out there.

It is very surprising to see so many people betting on a road team in league play, as more times than not, the opposite trend is usually what we see in conference games as home teams usually get the lion’s share of the early betting action.

And when you look at the game total, it would appear that getting torched by K-State has convinced many bettors that this Mountaineers team can no longer play defense at a high level. The total opened up at 126-points, and all of the action has been coming in on the over. And when you look at kenpom, that was probably the play, as his ratings have this game at 128-points.

But as the public always seems to do, they find a good thing, and push it way too hard. This number has moved five points already and is seemingly not done yet! The game total now stands at 131-points and offers some real value on the under.

The Bet

For those of you out there that read my daily picks regularly, you know that one of my favorites plays is to jump on the other side of the public action to fade their overreactions. While I have heard of the saying too much of a good thing, isn’t a good thing, the public certainly has not. And that is what I am going to do today in this one. Yeah, 126-points was probably too low. But now at 131-points, taking the under is the play.

Both of these teams have elite defenses, and while West Virginia is playing a faster pace this year than in year’s past, the Longhorns aren’t, as they are one of the slowest teams in the country. This is particularly true of defense, as the Longhorns force sone of the longest possessions in the country, currently ranked at #340th on kenpom.

And after seeing a bad offensive team like K-State light them up on Saturday, I can see this West Virginia team coming back out here today to make a statement and showing us that signature Bob Huggins Press Virginia defense from the outset. So, I’ll jump on the under 131-points and expect a slow-paced, low scoring affair in Morgantown!

The Bet: Under 131

My Pick
UNDER 131
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