It looks like a free-for-all in the Big 12, and Monday's crucial early showdown at Iowa State between the Cyclones and Longhorns is on our free college basketball picks schedule.
One or the other was supposed to give Kansas stiff competition for this year's Big 12 regular season title. Instead, the Texas Longhorns and Iowa State Cyclones are once again chasing the Jayhawks in the conference standings and each coming off a loss this past weekend.
The two collide in Ames for big game to begin the final week of January, tip-off inside Hilton Coliseum a little after 9 PM (ET) with ESPN's cameras on hand to document the affair. Iowa State opened the betting proceedings at -4½ before overnight action on the Cyclones pushed that to a -5 line.
SBR's live college basketball odds will have a total just as soon as it is released.
It's the first of two regular season matchups between the teams, the other taking place in Austin about a month from now, and 29th get-together between Texas and Iowa State. The Longhorns have won 11 of the last 14 clashes -- beating the spread in 5 of the last 7 -- to build a 17-11 all-time lead in the series, and the squads split last year's contests, each winning and covering at home with nearly identical scores.
That marked the second consecutive season that the teams exchanged home victories and covers. The contest in Ames went to then-No. 17 Iowa State over No. 19. Texas, 85-76, the Cyclones slight 1½ point favorites and riding three 20-point scorers into the winner's circle. Eight of the last 10 regular season matchups finished 'over' totals ranging from 129 to 157.
'Horns In Tough Stretch, Coming Off 3rd Conference Loss
Texas (14-5 straight up, 10-7 against the spread) is spending this week on the road against a pair of ranked foes, a trip to Waco to face Baylor coming up Saturday to end what will be a 3-game run against top 25 teams. The Longhorns have an even longer trail vs. ranked teams looming later when they play roadies at Oklahoma, West Virginia and Kansas plus a couple of home tilts with Iowa State and Baylor.
Rick Barnes' bunch fell back to 3-3 in the Big 12 ranks with Saturday's 75-62 loss at home to Kansas. Part of the loss is definitely attributed to the 'Horns who shot poorly from beyond the arc and couldn't muster any offense on the inside to complement a fine game by sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor. The Jayhawks deserve as much credit, if not more, for winning the game on their own with some smart basketball, turning it over just three times all evening.
I'm hearing rumblings here in Central Texas about Barnes, and while public opinion isn't going to get Barnes fired, it still stands to reason he's at least on a hotter seat now than he was to begin the season.
'Clones Coming Off Stunning Loss At Tech
Iowa State (14-4 SU, 8-7 ATS) was caught with its pants down in Lubbock last weekend, and while it's never good to do that anywhere, it's particularly humiliating in Lubbock. The Cyclones weren't great before that game from 3-point range -- 34.6%, middle of the pack nationally -- but they went ice cold with a 6-of-31 performance, missing 10 straight in the first half when the 10-point underdog Red Raiders led by as many as 17.
Georges Niang has a string of seven consecutive games in double digits, including all six conference contests, but he has been bullied around a bit or had off nights in that span. The same can be said for Texas freshman Myles Turner who is off a poor performance in the loss to Kansas and struggling a bit in conference action.
How well either, neither or both do Monday isn't the only deciding factor in the battle between NCAA tournament-bound teams, but it's a good place to start. Texas has been a good wager away from Austin with a 5-1 ATS record, and my free College Basketball pick will be on the 'Horns moving to 6-1 on the road tonight.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas +5 at BookMaker
Season: 28-31 (-6.1)