West Virginia Mountaineers at Iowa State Cyclones NCAAM Pick – March 3, 2020

We hit a rare bump in the road last night when we backed the NC State Wolfpack, getting thirteen points, at Duke. The Wolfpack had just blown Duke out a couple of weeks before by twenty-two points, and while I didn’t expect them to pull off the upset in Durham, I did expect a very competitive game. So, I backed the Wolfpack and figured they would do enough to keep it close and cover.

And for much of the game, that is exactly what happened. NC State jumped out to an early lead, and with ten minutes remaining in the first half, they led 20-12. The Wolfpack success bled into the second half as well, as they still led in this one 46-44, five minutes into the second period. It looked like not only would the Wolfpack cover, they might just pull off the upset.

Then the wheels fell off for NC State. They allowed Duke to go on a huge run and pull away for a shockingly easy victory. NC State started settling for quick looks and stopped moving the basketball on offense, and Duke took full advantage of it.

The win stops the bleeding for Duke, as the Blue Devils had lost three of their previous four games, and they are now just one game back of Florida State and Louisville for the ACC regular-season title with just a couple of games left on the schedule.

For NC State, the loss was devastating for the Wolfpacks at-large bid dreams. They have now dropped from the last four in, to the first four out, in Joe Lunardi’s most recent bracket prediction and will need to win a couple of games in the ACC tournament to sneak into the madness. For today’s daily betting pick, we will look to shake off the run bad as we head to Ames, Iowa, where the Iowa State Cyclones host the West Virginia Mountaineers in a Big 12 battle.

Today’s Game

  • West Virginia Mountaineers (19-10) at Iowa State Cyclones (12-17)
  • Hilton Coliseum, Ames
  • 6:00 PM PST
  • TV: ESPN U

The Iowa State Cyclones host the West Virginia Mountaineers in a matchup of two struggling Big 12 teams tonight. The Cyclones are just 5-11 in Big 12 conference play, but at home, they have been a very respectable 5-2, with their only home losses coming to Baylor and Texas Tech. The Cyclones aren’t going to be playing in the NCAA tournament, barring a very unlikely Big 12 tournament title, but they do have a lot of pride in protecting their home floor and will be playing hard tonight on senior night.

For West Virginia, the Mountaineers looked like a team that had a shot at the Big 12 title not all that long ago, but Bob Huggins team has fallen on hard times as of late. The Mountaineers have lost six out of their last seven games and are plummeting down seeds in the projected brackets. Eight of the Mountaineers ten losses have come on the road, and they are just 1-7 on the road in the Big 12.

Spread:

  • West Virginia -6.5 (-110)
  • Iowa State +6.5 (-110)
Money line:

  • West Virginia -270
  • Iowa State +230
Total Points:

  • Over 139.5 (-110)
  • Under 139.5 (-110)

West Virginia Mountaineers

What happened to this West Virginia team? In early February, this team was 18-4 with signature wins over Rhode Island, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, TCU, and Texas. They rose to just outside of the top-10 nationally and looked to be a dark horse Final Four threat. Since then, it has been all heartache and struggles for the Mountaineers.

But when you look back at the full body of work, it might have been some tricky scheduling that led to a lot of those wins. Nearly every one of those wins came at home or on a neutral floor. On the road, this West Virginia team has struggled all season long. They have road losses to St John’s, Kansas State, TCU, and Texas, and none of those teams are projected to make the NCAA tournament this year. Of their recent stretch where they have lost six out of their last seven games, four of those have come on the road.

Iowa State Cyclones

The Iowa State Cyclones were never expected to do much this season, and they have lived up to those not so lofty goals as this team is going nowhere this year. But they do have a decent collection of top-100 wins, including a big one over Big East favorite Seton Hall in the non-conference. Other top-100 wins for the Cyclones have come against Alabama, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas, and TCU.

And similarly, to the Mountaineers, the Cyclones have done basically all of their winning at home. On the road, they have been absolutely awful. Believe it or not, they don’t have a single true road win this season. But at home, they are more than respectable. The Cyclones have a winning record of 10-7 against the spread at home. West Virginia? They are just 4-8 against the number on the road.

Who Do I Like?

This exact same scenario keeps popping up in recent weeks. You have a team that is clearly the lesser of the two teams in a matchup, but they are solid at home. They are home dogs to a team that, while much more talented, can’t win on the road. And for some reason, the public absolutely hammers the road teams in this spot every time that it comes up.

Just in the last couple of weeks, we have taken advantage of this multiple times. We profitably bet the home team in this exact scenario in the games between VCU at Richmond, Utah at Cal, VCU at Saint Louis and Washington at Washington State. And not only did I get home underdogs with points, the home team won outright in each of those games.

The Bet

This has been a great little play for me all season long. I always love betting home underdogs. And I especially love betting home underdogs against teams that can’t win on the road, like this West Virginia team can’t. And in nearly every case, I get to let the public move the line towards the road team and open up all kinds of extra value for me.

That is what happened in this game as the Mountaineers opened up as -4-point favorites, and the public has backed the Mountaineers heavily. That has moved this number two and a half points to where it stands now, at West Virginia -6.5-points. When you look at kenpom, the data tells us that the Mountaineers win this one by just four points, so the opening number was a sharp one, and the public turned it square.

I get to combine several of my favorite plays in this one. I get to back a home dog. I get to fade a bad road team. And I get to position myself on the other side of the betting public. All of that adds up to a lot of value for us! Give me the Iowa State Cyclones as +6.5-point home underdogs tonight!

The Bet: Iowa State +6.5

My Pick
Iowa State Cyclones +6.5
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