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Free College Hoops Pick – January 26th, 2019

We have another interesting Saturday of college hoops, thanks in large part to the SEC and Big Twelve spicing things up with their annual mid-conference season crossover challenge. The highlight is Kansas at Kentucky, but don’t sleep on Iowa State at Ole Miss (battle of two ranked teams), Alabama at Baylor (battle of two un-ranked with NCAA dreams), and Florida (who is reeling) and TCU (unranked, but dangerous).

Of course we have some regular conference offerings worth tuning in to as well. Duke should cruise at home against Georgia Tech, but it is good to (likely) see Tre Jones back in action.  Clemson visits NC State and Pitt travels to Louisville, and Syracuse visits Virginia Tech in a trio of games that will help the ACC settle into pecking order (or turn it to chaos), and Auburn and Mississippi might have been left out of the conference cross-over fun, but they do link up in Starkville for a huge SEC clash between ranked opponents.

It’s another great day of college hoops – and as always, lets try to make it even better with a pair of winning wagers.

TODAY’S FREE PICKS:

Marquette Golden Eagles -2.5 at Xavier Musketeers

I think this one is easy.  Much like last night’s Michigan at Indiana game.  One team is really good, playing really well and barley laying any points.  The other team is ‘very less than good’ but is at home.  I’ll take the team that IS good.  In this case, Marquette.

Marquette is 13-7 ATS this season.  Xavier is 6-12-2.  Marquette is 5-2 ATS in league play to Xavier’s 3-4 mark, and straight up, Marquette owns only a lone loss to Villanova, while Xavier is 3-4 with a road win over DePaul and a pair of razor-thin home wins over Butler and Georgetown.  The Big East is a jumble this year, with the difference between third and last just a half-game.  But the top two are clear and evident; Villanova and Marquette.

Xavier has no answer for Markus Howard, and Marquette will easily have the two best players on the floor with both he and Sam Hauser.  Both are pros in the waiting, and Howard has a strong case for the Naismith Award (sorry Zion…).  Marquette shoots 45.6% from the floor as a team and close to 39% from behind the arc. Xavier, meanwhile, has scuffled to get quality shots – especially late in games – and shoots just 32% from behind the arc.

Marquette is the far better team this season, and I look for them to go into the Cintas Center and win.  It isn’t something that has happened often for road teams since the newly-formed Big East took shape, but this is easily the weakest team Xavier has fielded in that era (and likely Marquette’s best).

MY PICK:  MARQUETTE GOLDEN EAGLES -2.5

 

Kansas State Wildcats -4.5 at Texas A&M Aggies

The Wildcats had high expectations this season after Dean Wade led a surprising Elite Eight run in last year’s wacky NCAA Tournament.  This season has disappointed, but a lot of that is in conjunction with Wade – their best player – getting injured.  Wade is back, and so are Bruce Webber’s Wildcats.  KSU has reeled off five straight after dropping their first two league games to move to 5-2 and a first-place tie with hated rival Kansas.  Given KU’s own injury woes are far more current and pressing, perhaps the Wildcats could be the unlikeliest (and most painful) of foes to snap Self’s seemingly eternal run of Big Twelve supremacy…

Alas, that is one for another day.  For now, the Aggies have a real handful coming to town.  Kansas State hasn’t just won five straight.  They’ve beaten Iowa State on the road and held Texas Tech to just 45 points.  Texas A&M meanwhile enters at 9-10 straight up, a preposterous record for a high major program, and are just 1-5 straight up in SEC play.

Even more concerning for Aggie fans?  They seem to be getting WORSE.  After a close loss at Arkansas, an expected loss at Kentucky and a nice road win at Alabama, they have been outscored by 51 points in three games (two at HOME, to Missouri and Auburn, and a road game at Florida).

I love K-State to come in and handle their business tonight.  This team is hitting form and looks like a Top 16 team, despite coming in technically unranked.  Don’t expect to get them this cheap and under the radar for long.  Their record is deceiving because of the stretch without Wade.  This is a good ballclub, and a legit contender in the Big Twelve race.

MY PICK:  KANSAS STATE WILDCATS -4.5

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