Two match-ups dominate Monday night's college basketball betting board, one in the ACC, one in the Big 12. We'll take a shot at both for our top ATS Plays of the Night.
North Carolina -11 vs. Syracuse
The Tar Heels and Orange, who've combined for a lot of dead money as of late, meet at the Dean Dome.
Syracuse had won seven in a row, then lost at Clemson, bounced back to beat Boston College but last time out lost at home to Miami 66-62. The Orange were only favored by three points over the Hurricanes, and we were tempted to take the home team at the short spread, but shied away mainly because we're a little distrustful of Syracuse at the moment.
The 'Cuse trailed that game by nine early in the second half, rallied to within one point late, but came up short, thanks in part to an eight-for-19 performance from the free-throw line.
The Orange are now 0-4 ATS over their last four games, and 1-7 ATS over their last eight. Now, do we think Syracuse might begin to reverse that slide? Or will it continue along that path?
North Carolina has won five in a row, after outlasting Florida State Saturday 78-74. But the lines are beginning to catch up with the Heels; after starting this season 10-4 ATS, Carolina is 1-5 ATS over its last six games, because it didn't cover at -15 against the Seminoles, or at -21 over Virginia Tech, or at -5 over NC State, or at -3 over Louisville, and lost to Notre Dame outright at -8.
Syracuse is no great team at the moment; it's lost six games already, at least a couple to teams that won't make the tournament, and it's struggled to beat some lesser opponents. But the Orange don't get double-digits very often, and the last time they did, back in December at Villanova, they lost in overtime by five, in a game they probably should have won in regulation.
Now, that all being said, this might usually be a spot in which we took the underdog with the points, in part because this line is probably inflated by at least a bucket or two. But Carolina is the better team, and we won't be surprised if the Heels dominate this game on the boards. Also, the Orange just lost F Chris McCullough, who was averaging nine points and seven boards a game, for the season to a knee injury. Since he went down Syracuse is 2-2 SU and 0-4 ATS. So in a NCAA basketball pick that comes as a bit of a surprise to ourselves we'll take the Heels at home, giving the points.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: North Carolina -10.5 at BookMaker
Iowa State -5 vs. Texas
The Cyclones and Longhorns, both coming off conference losses, one a little more surprising than the other, clash in Ames.
We thought Texas might unseat Kansas in the Big 12 this season, and the 'Horns started 11-2, with wins over Iowa and UConn, the losses coming against Kentucky and Stanford. But Texas is only 3-3 in conference play so far, after losing last time out at home to Kansas 75-62. The 'Horns led that game early in the second half, but let it slip away. For the game Texas only shot 40 percent from the floor, and made just three of 18 shots from 3-point range.
Iowa State can throw it in the hole, and is fun to watch, but it's also only 4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS over its last seven games, after getting upset at Texas Tech Saturday 78-73. Four days after beating Kansas State on national TV the Cyclones came out cold Saturday, falling down by 19 late in the first half. They battled all the way back to within three points with 20 seconds to go, but couldn't complete the comeback.
ISU shot just 43 percent from the field Saturday, five points below its season average, and made just six of 31 three-point attempts.
Both these teams are in the same boat, looking to rebound after losing as betting favorites last time out. But a couple of items point us toward Texas; first, the Longhorns are holding opponents to just 35 percent FG shooting this season, and second, the line on this game was probably already inflated by a bucket or so, and then got pushed toward the home team by another point. And we never mind going against the betting flow.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas +5.5 at 5Dimes