Two weeks of Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh. Two weeks of stories about how UNR alum Colin Kaepernick is revolutionizing the quarterback position in the NFL (while somewhere in Vegas, Randall Cunningham screams, “Say what?”). Two weeks of the media drooling over Ray “Can you believe nobody remembers I was once charged with double-murder?!” Lewis.
This is the point where you expect me to bemoan the 49ers-Ravens Super Bowl matchup with a snarky comment like, “It’s official: There is no God.” Au contraire. There has to be a God, because Super Bowl XLVII (and all the hype leading up to it) is Brady-and-Belichick-free—hallelujah! (An aside: How hysterical was the media uproar about Bill Belichick blowing off an interview after his Patriots lost to Baltimore? Hey folks, you’ll find evidence of Mantei Te’o’s girlfriend before you’ll find evidence of a gracious Belichick after a loss!)
Anyway, given my playoff success (4-1-1 record), I’m sure you’re wondering whether I’m laying the 4 points with the Niners or backing the underdog Ravens. Well, you’re going to have to wonder for another week; I need to analyze this one a bit. I will offer up this much: I’m leaning the same direction as Princess, the 26-year-old Bactrian camel (Google it). And if the 49ers win, I’m going to quickly find out if God really exists, because I can’t live in a world where San Francisco is home to both the reigning World Series and Super Bowl champions.
Let’s move on to my best bets in college basketball for January 26 (note that all stats are as of January 21) …
$77 on Oklahoma State -9½ vs. West Virginia: I’ve always thought playing for ornery West Virginia coach Bob Huggins must seem like playing for the leader of the Taliban—and that’s when things were going well for Huggy Bear! This year? Not so much. Following an ugly 79-52 loss at mediocre Purdue on January 19—after which Huggins issued a public apology to the entire state of West Virginia and lamented his inability to get his players to compete—the Mountaineers stood at 8-9, having lost four of their last five. Their signature victories: a four-point overtime win at Texas (8-10) and a one-point home win over Virginia Tech (11-6). In the latter contest, West Virginia failed as an 8-point chalk and has cashed just four times in 15 lined games.
Admittedly, Oklahoma State hasn’t exactly been printing money—the Cowboys are 1-5 against the spread in their last six, losing four of those contests outright. However, three of the defeats were on the road (Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State), while the other was a one-point home loss to Gonzaga (ranked 10th this week). Oklahoma State has shown a propensity to crush weak competition—last 10 wins by double digits, including nine by 18 points or more—and right now West Virginia qualifies as weak competition.
$66 on New Mexico +4½ at San Diego State: Cynics who know I’m a San Diego State alum will claim this is a sandbag/reverse-jinx pick. Allow me to refute that assertion with cold, hard facts: First, through four Mountain West Conference games, my Aztecs haven’t exactly looked like the team picked to win the league title, squeaking past Fresno State (65-62) and Colorado State (79-72 in overtime), followed by consecutive losses to UNLV (82-75) and Wyoming (58-45, scoring a whopping nine points in the first half!). Conversely, 15th-ranked New Mexico is 16-2 overall and 8-2-1 ATS in its last 11 games. Then there’s this: The Lobos have covered in six of their last seven trips to San Diego—in fact, since 2003-04, the visitor is 8-1 ATS in this rivalry.
$55 on Florida -20 at Mississippi State: Here’s how dominant Florida has been this season: The Gators’ 14 wins have all been by double digits, with an average victory margin of 25.8 points per game! They’ve won their first four SEC contests by scores of 77-44, 74-52, 68-47 and 83-52, and they’ve easily cashed in their last five games—all as a double-digit favorite. What about Mississippi State? Here’s all you need to know: The Bulldogs lost at home to Alabama A&M on Dec. 30, and in their most recent home game, they lost to Alabama … 75-43!
Best of the Rest: Arizona State +3 vs. UCLA ($44); Duke-12½ vs. Maryland ($44); Oklahoma +14 at Kansas ($44); Northwestern -2 at Nebraska ($33); Mississippi -7 vs. Auburn ($33); South Carolina +5 vs. Arkansas ($33).