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ANALYSIS AND PICKS FOR IOWA v INDIANA, BELLARMINE v LIBERTY, AND VT v LOUISVILLE


Iowa vs Indiana


One of the things I'm looking for at this point in the season is games that matter. (Though admittedly my last pick today doesn't fit that description.) Most of the Big 10 is within one game of each other in the standings with two games to play before the conference tournament, so we'll find lots of meaningful games there this week. In today's game, Iowa (10-8 conference) goes to Bloomington to face Indiana (11-7 conference). This game will contribute to these teams falling anywhere between #2 and #9 for the conference tournament.


If you've read my articles before, you know that Iowa's home/road splits are wide. In particular, they shoot terribly on the road. This translates into some big losses. Their last five losses on the road have been by 12, 20, 14, 2, and 16.


But even beyond the home/road splits, I don't buy Iowa as one of the better teams in the Big 10. They can look that way, because in a one-game sample, they can go off, especially offensively. But they are mediocre on defense, and if their jumpers aren't falling they don't have much of a back-up plan.


Meanwhile, I continue to believe that Indiana may be the best team in the Big 10. They have multiple strong options on offense, including a couple of shooters on the perimeter if teams choose to double-team Trace Jackson-Davis. They aren't amazing on defense, but they're solid.


I think this game is a mismatch, plus it's a road game for Iowa. I had the line at Indiana -8.5.


Pick: Indiana -5.5 (-105) DraftKings




Bellarmine vs Liberty


Next, we head to the second round of the Atlantic Sun tournament. Yesterday Bellarmine squeaked out a 76-74 victory over North Florida while Liberty rested.


The disparity in these teams is reflected in the line, with Liberty sitting as a 16.5-point favorite. That's a lot of points, but there are a couple of reasons to still like the Flames. First, this is a home game for Liberty as the top two seeds play at home. Second, this is a good matchup. Liberty beat Bellarmine by 17 and 20 in the regular season.


The danger here is that Liberty is up by so much that they coast to a victory and there's a backdoor cover. But hey, every bet has risk, and in a mismatch this big I'll take it.


Pick: Liberty -16.5 (-110) DraftKings




Virginia Tech vs Louisville


Who's ready to put some money on a 4-25 team?!?!? I can't blame you if you don't want to do that, but let me tell you why I am.


Virginia Tech is better than Louisville this year, but they're not great. They're 16-13 overall, but only 6-12 in conference play. And they're even worse ATS. They are 1-9 ATS away from home and 6-12 ATS in the conference. They have had a couple of nice wins lately, like their 79-72 victory over first-place Pittsburgh. They also have some bad losses, like their 77-70 defeat at the hands of Georgia Tech. The other thing worth noting is that their biggest win on the road this year was a 6-point victory over Notre Dame.


For awhile many people wondered if Louisville would win a single game this year. They started 0-9 before finally getting in the win column against Western Kentucky. Since then, it hasn't been great. They've sill only won four games, and only one of those was against a "good" team in Clemson. But here's the thing, they've been sneaky okay lately at home. They beat Clemson, lost to Virginia by 3, lost to Florida State by 3, and beat GT by 10 in their last 4.


Look, the case here is not that Louisville is good, but that they're improving and that Virginia Tech isn't great either. I think this is too many points and I'll take a shot on the Cardinals.


Pick: Louisville +10.5 (-105) DraftKings


Full transparency, I bet to win 1 unit on the spread, and I also put enough to win 1 unit on the ML (0.24U). I'm probably going overboard on the Cardinals, but I think this is a game they have a better shot to win than the line indicates.

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