Major League Baseball has the ’69 Mets and the ’88 Dodgers. The NFL has the Jets over the Colts in Super Bowl III and the Giants over the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. College basketball has North Carolina State (1983) and Villanova (1985). Hockey has USA 4, USSR 3. And boxing has Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson.
All historic upsets to be sure. And yet they pale in comparison to this shocker: After going 6-4 with last week’s college basketball picks (and profiting $320), my bankroll sits at an all-time high of $7,275—the first time in 54 weeks I’ve been on the positive side of the ledger!
As impressive comebacks go, mine has to fall somewhere between Michael Vick and Betty White, especially considering where I was as recently as Thanksgiving ($4,306). Of course, much like Vick (staying on the right side of the law) and White (staying alive), I still have work to do to prove my turnaround isn’t a fluke.
On that note, let’s get to this week’s picks as we inch closer to March Madness (all point spreads are projected) …
$440 (to win $400) on UNLV (-16) vs. Wyoming (Feb. 26): The Rebels haven’t given the Thomas & Mack faithful much to cheer about since Mountain West Conference play began, going just 4-3 straight up and 1-6 against the spread. In fact, if you include a three-point win over Boise State (as a 15-point favorite) at the Orleans Arena in December, Lon Kruger’s troops are 3-10 ATS in designated home games this season, including 2-7 ATS in their last nine when laying double digits.
By themselves, those numbers are as ugly as downtown Reno at dawn. But when juxtaposed with Wyoming’s road numbers, they look as beautiful as Sofia Vergara in a Miss Reno pageant. The Cowboys’ road woes in a nutshell: 20 consecutive losses, 14 straight double-digit losses and one spread-cover in their last seven on the highway.
And then there’s this: UNLV has beaten Wyoming eight straight times at the Thomas & Mack, winning the last two by 18 and 17 points, respectively.
$220 (to win $200) on WICHITA STATE (+3) at Missouri State (Feb. 26): Rule No. 4 in the sports-wagering handbook: Stick with what you know. Well, I think I know Wichita State. Two weeks ago, I backed the Shockers at Northern Iowa (73-55 win), and then last week I went against the Shockers when they hosted Virginia Commonwealth (68-67 loss).
Needless to say, it didn’t take an MIT degree to crack Wichita State’s code. Simply put, you fade the Shockers when they’re at home (where they’re just 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS in their last seven, including a 59-56 home loss to Missouri State on Jan. 9) and you back them on the road (where they’ve won nine in a row, going 7-0-1 ATS in the last eight—all against Missouri Valley Conference opponents, all as a favorite).
Over the past five weeks, the Bears are 1-9 ATS overall, 0-5 ATS at home and 1-8 ATS as a favorite. Also, prior to last month’s upset win at Wichita, Missouri State had lost five in a row to the Shockers.
$110 (to win $100) on Long Beach State (-10½) vs. UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 26): Joining Missouri State on the list of teams you don’t want to invest in right now, I give you UC Santa Barbara. With a 78-76 home loss to Boise State as a 3½-point favorite on Feb. 19, the Gauchos dropped to 4-11 ATS since their 68-62 victory at UNLV (as a 15-point underdog) on Dec. 15. Among UCSB’s 11 noncovers are six outright losses as a favorite, including a 71-55 setback to Long Beach State as a seven-point home chalk.
The 49ers have won 12 of 14, and they entered the week on a six-game winning streak (5-1 ATS), the last five by margins of 15, 24, 17, 13 and 18 points. Finally, the Gauchos’ last two visits to The Pyramid ended in 20- and 12-point losses.
Best of the Rest: Feb. 25 – Pacers (-4) vs. Jazz ($44); Warriors (+1) vs. Hawks ($33). Feb. 26 – St. John’s (+4½) at Villanova ($44); BYU-San Diego State UNDER ($44); Clippers (+4½) vs. Celtics ($44); Georgia State (+15½) vs. George Mason ($33); Cal (-3½) at Oregon State ($33); Air Force (-1) vs. Colorado State ($33); Notre Dame (-10½) vs. Seton Hall. Feb. 27 – Pittsburgh (pick) at Louisville ($44); Bobcats (+9) at Magic ($44); Xavier (-4) at Dayton ($33); Grizzlies (+8) at Spurs ($33).