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Reply To: CBB • Wednesday Service Plays • 1/6/16

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1-Unit Play. Take #525 Georgia Tech (+9)
over Pittsburgh
(7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
Pittsburgh has beaten Georgia Tech in each of the past two years so I’m not sure how seriously they are taking the Jackets right now. The Panthers are off a 34-point blowout win over a schlub mid-major team and they have games at Notre Dame and at Louisville on deck. I just don’t know that they are going to rear back and blow out one of the most experienced teams in the country. The Jackets have four senior starters that have been around the block. It took a while for these guys to get used to playing together but they really had North Carolina on the ropes last Saturday before losing by just eight. I think they can hang around in this one.

2-Unit Play. Take #528 Wake Forest (+8.5)
over Duke
(7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
This game just really reminds me of the Kentucky-LSU game last night. Wake Forest is a long, athletic team that will gain confidence by playing in front of a raucous crowd. The Blue Devils beat this same Wake Forest team by 43 points last March. That was one of the most humiliating losses in Demon Deacons history, and Wake will definitely want revenge. And they are capable of getting it. They only lost to the eventual national champions by eight at Cameron Indoor last season. And everyone is back from that team, plus freshmen Bryant Crawford and John Collins. Also, Wake hasn’t gotten anything close from Codi Miller-McIntyre and when he starts to regain form these guys are going to be a legit sleeper in the ACC. Duke is still a very talented team. However, they have been coddled by an easy schedule this year and they have lost to the two best teams that they’ve faced, Kentucky and Utah – neither of whom is any better than a Sweet 16-caliber team. Wake may not be any better than just a tourney-caliber team. But they are good enough to beat the Blue Devils. Duke’s only true road game of this season was last Saturday at Boston College. And that doesn’t even count as a road game because BC is one of the worst teams from any of the seven high-major conferences. Duke is an exceptionally young team that just hasn’t played in this type of environment yet. Grayson Allen is going to be the best player on the floor. But Wake actually matches up pretty well at the other four spots. I think Duke can win this game. But I have a hard time predicting a double-digit road blowout against a team as good as Wake. I’m taking the points.

1-Unit Play. Take #536 Maryland (-24)
over Rutgers
(7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)

1-Unit Play. Take #539 South Florida (+8)
over Central Florida
(7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
You have to look very closely, but this USF team isn’t as bad as its 3-12 record suggests. They’ve been crushed by injuries and will have a lot of reinforcements coming next year. In the meantime they are just trying to hold down the fort. I think they’ll get up for this rivalry game on the road. The underdog is 8-1 ATS in this series and home court hasn’t meant much, with the visitor winning four of the last six meetings. UCF does have revenge for an ass kicking they took last March. But they really haven’t done much this year and without B.J. Taylor they don’t have the guard play to really hit the jets on someone; this is the same team that only beat Bethune Cookman by five points in overtime just a couple weeks ago. UCF is really big. But they’re not that skilled. This one is really just two bad teams trading blows. And I’ll 1-Unit Play. Take a stab with the points since A) I know USF is better than it has played (their schedule has been ridiculous) and B) that’s just the way this series has gone.

2-Unit Play. Take #544 Central Michigan (-4)
over Eastern Michigan
(7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
These two teams have seven wins over D-II schools between them. So its tough to know what we are actually dealing with when it comes to these teams. But I know that Central Michigan was really, really good last year (they won 23 games) and were solid at home. They swept a better Eastern Michigan team last season and I think they can get a win here tonight. Central Michigan has its top seven scorers back from last year’s team, but they had to play their first seven games without leading scorer Chris Fowler. He’s back and these guys have been improving. As I look at the schedule I see six losses. But none of them are really that ad, with four of them coming by six points or less and all of them coming away from home against teams that I think range from good to competent. Eastern Michigan really hasn’t done anything. And they’ve been blown out in most of their losses, with four of the five coming by 10 or more. It is offense vs. defense with this matchup. I think the home team will set the tempo and I just think CMU is better.

1-Unit Play. Take #546 Ball State (+2.5)
over Toledo
(7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
Ball State brought back six of its top eight scorers from last year and added solid transfer Ryan Weber, who is now their second-leading scorer. This team already has a win over Valparaiso under its belt – that’s no small feat – and they’ve been really good at home this season. Toledo has won three straight games by blowout, all against really feeble competition. I think they think they are a little better than they actually are. And this line kind of reflects that. Neither team has played a strong schedule (they are both rated No. 320 or lower), but Toledo is really young, and this is their first road game in league play. They have lost two of their last three true road games as is. They have two of the three best players on the floor here. But I think the public is going to 1-Unit Play. Take one on the chin here as this Toledo team isn’t nearly as good as it has been the past two years.

2-Unit Play. Take #552 Illinois State (-6.5)
over Loyola-Chicago
(8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
I still think there is something going on behind the scenes with this Loyola-Chicago team. They have been a major disappointment this year and have lost their first two league games by double-digits. They have just one decent win this year – a home win over Creighton – and several bad losses. The Rambler’s haven’t done jack on the road this season, getting floored by New Mexico, Notre Dame and Indiana State, and I don’t trust them in this spot. Illinois State played a very challenging schedule to start the year and it may be paying dividends now. I hate trusting them to cover any points – they are offensively challenged – but I think that this is a good spot for them. I think they gained a lot of confidence by scoring a road win at Drake over the weekend and they are now 2-0 in league play. They beat Missouri State by 13 points at home and if the Redbirds shoot confidently in their own gym tonight I think they can win this one going away as well.

1-Unit Play. Take #560 Drake (-1.5)
over Indiana State
(8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)

2-Unit Play. Take #572 Northwestern (-2)
over Ohio State
(9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
This could be a good spot for the Wildcats, a team that I predicted would make the NCAA Tournament this year. To this point they have done exactly nothing to prove me right! They are 13-2 but they haven’t beaten anyone. Now is their chance. Ohio State has won six straight games, including a season-changing win over Kentucky on Dec. 19. They are feeling really good about themselves here. However, like a lot of my plays today, this team has played a ridiculously easy schedule that hasn’t seen them leave the cozy confines of home often – if at all – this year. Ohio State has played exactly one road game this year and they lost by 20. Thad Matta does that stuff every year. Last season the Buckeyes barely won their first road game (in OT) and lost three of their first five Big Ten road games. The year before they lost three of their first four. The year before that it was two of their first three (and that team won 29 games). Even the 2011-12 team that won 31 games lost two of their first three league road games because they spent the first two months playing at home. Ohio State is 5-16 ATS in its last 21 road games overall. Northwestern absolutely has to have this game. They’ve come so close so many times. They’ve actually gone 7-3 ATS in their last 10 against Ohio State, losing by just two points at home last year. They almost had them in 2011 and 2012 as well, and Northwestern has lost 10 straight to the Buckeyes. This could be a signature moment for Northwestern. I think they steal one here.

2-Unit Play. Take #580 Fresno State (-7)
over Nevada
(10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
For me this is a no-brainer. I think Fresno State is one of the best teams in a wide-open Mountain West this year. Nevada isn’t a threat to win anything. They’ve played hard and played a bit better than I thought they would since A.J. West left. But they have also lost their last two road games by 29 and 12 points. These two teams matchup well – they both play small – but Fresno State is just a much better team. They are one of the most experienced teams in the nation and I think they are going to bounce back quickly after their loss to new Mexico last weekend. Cezar Guerrero has played like trash the last three games. He is too good of a player to keep missing shots like he has (he’s 3-for-20 the last three games). Nevada can’t hurt Fresno State on the inside, where they are vulnerable. So in a matchup of perimeter players I’m going with the home team.

*7-Unit* Play. Take #586 Oregon State (-6.5)
over Stanford
(11 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)

1-Unit Play. Take ‘Over’ 132.5 – Stanford at Oregon State
(11 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
I still think Stanford sucks. They fluked out that overtime win over Utah. Were it not for that they would be 0-6 against teams ranked in the Top 80 this year. And four of those games were at home. This is Stanford’s first road game since Nov. 22, and in that one – their only true road game of the year – they got hammered by 18 points by St. Mary’s. They haven’t left the comfy confines of their home court since Nov. 27 – which is ridiculous. Oregon State is very good and very experienced. They just thrashed rival Oregon on Sunday, winning by 13, and I think the Beavers will set the tempo in this one. The Cardinal beat Oregon State by 27 points last February. I’m sure the Beavers have not forgotten. Unfortunately for Stanford, they will be without guys that scored 46 of the 75 points in that game, whereas Oregon State has six of its top seven scorers back along with three really promising freshmen. This is Oregon State’s best team in a long time and I think they are going to body slam the visitors tonight.

2-Unit Play. Take #583 Long Beach State (-5.5)
over CS-Northridge
(10 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
Cal-Northridge is awful. And they are going to get lit up here today. Northridge has beaten two D-II schools, Portland State and Morgan State. That’s it since Nov. 15. They’re awful. Long Beach State is not awful. They have a poor record because they’ve played the No. 1 schedule in the country. But this team has wins over BYU, Seton Hall, Colorado State and New Mexico State already this year. They almost took down San Diego State, Oklahoma State, UCLA and Pepperdine as well, losing five games to those teams by seven points or less. Their last three games have been at Oregon, at Arizona, and at Duke. I mean, if that doesn’t get you ready for the Big West nothing will. Last year LBSU won its first league game on the road against a really good UC-Irvine team. I think they’ll do the same thing here against what is literally the worst team that they’ve faced this season.

1-Unit Play. Take #595 Belmont (-11.5)
over SIU-Edwardsville
(9 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 6)
We will try once again with these Belmont losers. They are 1-3 ATS in their last four games. But they are vastly superior to SIU-E, which is one of the worst teams in college basketball.

1-Unit Play. TEASER:
Take #568 Iowa State (-5.5) over Texas Tech (9 p.m.) AND Take #575 California (+8.5) over Oregon (9 p.m.)

1-Unit Play. TEASER:
Take #569 Xavier (-10) over St. John’s (9 p.m.) AND Take #588 Hawaii (-5) over Cal Poly (11:59 p.m.)

Note: I also like a 1-Unit Play on #524 Georgia (-9.5). That was supposed to be posted with this card.