Kansas (-1) at Oklahoma
Kansas is on a two-game losing streak headed into Norman, while Oklahoma are winners of two straight. Both of the Jayhawks' last two losses have come on the road and three-of-four away from home this season. Oklahoma's only home loss was a two-point game versus Texas Tech in the conference opener.
Kansas beat Oklahoma 63-59 at home on Jan. 9, and they will go for the season sweep in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has lost three straight meetings with Kansas, five out of the past six and eight out of the previous 10.
It is hard not to back Kansas in this spot as they have had repeated success against Oklahoma. The Sooners are 4-18 all-time versus the Jayhawks, and all four wins have come at home in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma has never won in Kansas, and the Jayhawks are 1-2 in their last three trips, 3-3 in the previous six, and 7-4 all-time in Oklahoma.
In three-of-four wins for Oklahoma, the Over has hit, while Kansas tends to keep the series Under when they win. This is a tough matchup but Kansas is 11-1 ATS in their previous 12 road games vs. a team with a winning home record. Oklahoma is 1-6 ATS in their previous seven games following a SU win of more than 20 points, 2-6 ATS following a SU win, and 0-5 ATS at home versus a team with a road winning record above 60%.
Kansas has lost two consecutive conference games for the first time since 2013. Bill Self is aware of what three straight losses will do to this program, and it is hard to imagine the Jayhawks going 0-3 on this road trip. Kansas is ranked in both the top 20 for offensive and defensive efficiency and if they are hitting three-pointers at their 35.8% season-clip or better, I like them to win by single-digits over Oklahoma.
I am backing the Jayhawks to get out of this funk for a small wager.
Game Pick: Kansas -1 (0.5u)
Baylor (-9) at Oklahoma State
Baylor has won nine out of the last 10 meetings, with the Cowboys' lone win coming in 2018-19. Baylor has won the previous three meetings in Stillwater by four, seven, and 11 points. In each win, Baylor exceeded 70 points scoring 73 or more.
The Team Total opened at 76.5 (-122) in this matchup, and with the game's Over/Under total being bet down, I'll wait to grab Baylor at a better price. As of this morning, "sharp" money is coming in on the Under, and when that happens, you can wait briefly for a better Team Total line.
This game does not tip until 2:00 PM ET, so around 1:00, this will likely be 74.5 or 75.5. Most models project Baylor to score 78-82 points versus this Oklahoma State squad. Baylor's fast starts are key as the Bears have led by at least 10 points in every game this season. Baylor has led by 13 or more at halftime in nine-of-13 games this season.
Baylor is 9-1 versus Oklahoma State since 2016 and 14-5 vs. OSU since 2012. Baylor has won five straight in Stillwater. Baylor is the nation's only team to win every game by 8-plus points this season and to be ranked inside the top five in offensive and defensive efficiency. Oklahoma State struggles in a few categories but hitting three-pointers (32.5%) and free-throws (69.3%) have not been successful for the Cowboys. Baylor defends the three-ball well (31.7%) and shoot it at the sixth-best rate in the country making 42.3%.
Backing the Cowboys is a tough home underdog situation that I cannot get behind today. If Baylor's Team Total drops to 74.5 at any point, I'll be playing that today as I'd rather have 75 than 77.
I am going to lay the Baylor first-half spread before the game and reevaluate ay halftime. Baylor led Kansas (13), Texas Tech (8), and Oklahoma (17) at halftime in three of their last four games.
In Baylor's three road games, they led Texas Tech (8), Iowa State (4) but trailed TCU (1) at halftime before outscoring TCU by 19 in the second half. If Oklahoma State covers the first-half, Baylor's set up for an excellent second-half wager, but I expect the Bears to be too much for the Cowboys and Cade Cunningham in the first 20 minutes.
Game Pick: Baylor 1H -4.5 (1u)
SIU Edwardsville at Belmont (-17)
Belmont is 9-0 in conference play and 6-1 at home this season with revenge on their mind versus SIU Edwardsville. Last season these two squads met with Belmont as 23-point favorites, and SIU Edwardsville pulled off the upset of the year, 79-69.
Belmont's playing well overall this season. They are hitting 60.7% of two-point field goal attempts (5th) and own a 56.6% effective field goal percentage (17th). The Bruins' bench has averaged 31.3 points per game in conference play this season, a large reason why they are 15-1. Belmont has rattled off 12 straight wins after losing to Samford on Dec. 5.
SIU Edwardsville is 4-4 with two straight wins over Morehead State (69-65) and Tennessee State (67-65) headed into this matchup. They were off from Dec. 19 to Jan. 21 due to COVID. SIU's opponents were missing key players, and SIU is as well for this matchup.
SIU's Sidney Jones has not played since the layoff, and they could use the UConn transfer versus Belmont. They also have a 6-foot-10 center, Philip Pepple Jr., but he sat out the last outing along with Jones. That leaves SIU desperately undersized without a player over 6-foot-7. SIU already allows a success rate of over 50% on the opponent's two-point field goal attempts -- a red flag if they have no height.
It will be hard to monitor whether or not SIU's Jones and Pepple Jr. play, but if they are out, back Belmont as I like the chances the Bruins win by 20-plus points.
Game Pick: Belmont -17 (1u)
Kent State at Toledo (-4)
These two squads met earlier in the season and Toledo escaped with a two-point win at Kent State. The Golden Flash of Kent State won three straight in this series before Toledo earned the win this season.
In Toledo, the Rockets have won two of the last three meetings, with Kent State taking the previous matchup 83-70 in 2019-20. Although Kent State has won three of the previous four meetings, they really struggle in Savage Arena (Toledo). Kent State is 16-51 all-time when playing there.
Kent State kept it close in the first meeting behind Danny Pippen's 34 points and 16 rebounds versus Toledo in the first meeting. Pippen averages 20.4 points per game on the road and comes off his worst scoring performance of the season with six points versus Buffalo. Toledo will key in on him and I doubt he exceeds 20 in their second meeting.
Kent State was destroying Buffalo by 21 points before blowing the lead and winning at the very end by three. Behind that game and their last meeting, I have to back the home team Toledo here. Toledo is 5-0 ATS in their last five games and 17-5 ATS in their last 22 overall. I grabbed Toledo at -4 -- I would play up to -5.
Game Pick: Toledo -4 (1u)