We are starting to pick up some steam here at the start of conference play as we picked up our third win in four bets this week, last night. Last night’s winner came by backing the Fighting Illini of Illinois as they hosted the Purdue Boilermakers as -1.5-point home favorites.
Home teams in the Big 10 have been a free money machine for me so far this year, and I felt that the Boilermakers weren’t going to be able to go on the road and win a game against a solid team in hostile territory. And it turns out that I was right.
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) January 6, 2020
Illinois dominated this one from the tip, and they held Purdue to just thirty-seven points in the 63-37 blowout victory. This was a huge win for the Illini as they try and establish themselves as a tournament level team.
For Purdue, the analytics still love the Boilermakers, but I don’t, as they drop to 9-6 on the year with the loss and are at major risk of missing the NCAA tournament this season. For today’s daily betting pick, we will shift from the Big 10 to the Big 12, where the West Virginia Mountaineers play the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (11-2) at Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-4)
- Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater
- 6:00 PM PST
- TV: ESPN2
The Oklahoma State Cowboys host the West Virginia Mountaineers in a matchup of two teams both looking for their first conference win in Big 12 play. The Cowboys lost their league play opener on Saturday, at Texas Tech, getting blown out by thirty-five points by the Red Raiders. The Cowboys have lost four out of their last six games, and they need to find a way to get things turned around quickly as they get into conference play.
Big Monday. Big stage. Big game. Get loud and help us extend our win streak against No. 16 West Virginia.
— Cowboy Basketball (@OSUMBB) January 6, 2020
For the Mountaineers, they too lost their first Big 12 game, but they did have a good showing in Lawrence against the Kansas Jayhawks. The Mountaineers led by as many as ten points in that game and had the lead late into the second half before struggling down the stretch and losing 60-53. There are not going to be too many winnable road games in the Big 12 this season, West Virginia needs to take advantage of a recently struggling OK State team tonight in Stillwater.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Bob Huggins has another contender on his hands at West Virginia this year. The Mountaineers play elite defense, currently ranked in the top five in terms of efficiency at kenpom, and they were thrust into the top twenty-five when they went into Ohio and beat the number three ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
This West Virginia team loves to do the little stuff that wins you basketball games. On top of playing an aggressive press defense and forcing bad shots, they rebound at one of the highest rates in the country, and they protect the paint. The Mountaineers have two guys averaging over nine rebounds a game in freshman sensation Oscar Tshiebwe, and sophomore Derek Culver.
But what impresses me the most about this team is their ability to compete away from Morgantown. We already talked about how they gave Kansas a run for their money in possibly the hardest place to win in the entire country, and they also have road or neutral site wins over Ohio State, Wichita State, Northern Iowa, and Pittsburgh. Those are all top-100 wins.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
When you have a league as talented as the Big 12 is right now, you are going to have some very talented teams that are just not going to win a lot of games. I have a feeling that this year, the Cowboys are that team. Kenpom has OK State at #49 right now, so don’t doubt that this team is strong, but when you look forward in league play, there just aren’t too many projected wins on the schedule.
To make matters worse, the Cowboys are struggling at the absolute worst time, with conference play now officially in full swing. After starting the season out 7-0 with signature top-100 wins over Yale, Syracuse, and Mississippi, they have now lost four out of their last six games, and one of those wins came over 320th ranked South Eastern Louisiana.
And surprisingly enough, they have actually struggled at home. The Cowboys have home-court losses to Georgetown and Wichita State, and they lost what was essentially a home game, it was played in Oklahoma, to Minnesota.
None of those teams rate out as being as good as this West Virginia team is right now. Not to mention the thirty-five-point shellacking they took against Texas Tech in their last game. If OK State is going to find a way to turn things around, it needs to happen now.
Who Do I Like?
If you read my daily picks, you know that I much prefer to back home teams, especially in league play. But in this game, we have a team that has struggled at home against a team that has played great on the road, so I will go against my own rules, and back the road team.
This number opened up at West Virginia -2. And as is usually the case, the overnight betting sharps pounded OK State as a home dog in conference play. That moved the number to where it stands now, at an even pick ‘em.
I try not to get on the other side of the sharps all that often, but that is what I am going to do in this one. I think that West Virginia is playing with a lot of swagger right now and that they caught the Cowboys at the right time, as they are really struggling in the last month.
I’ll say a quick thank you to the overnight bettors for allowing me to take this one without having to lay wood on the road, which I would have hated to do, and back the West Virginia Mountaineers at even in this one!