Today's Top Picks: Three best basketball bets for Monday
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Sometimes, when you have a bad weekend, you need to sweat the negativity out. On Friday, I took a bath betting on college basketball and NBA games. I got some of it back with college basketball on Saturday -- though it would have been nicer had Oklahoma State not blown a double-digit second-half lead against Baylor to not even cover the 5.5 -- but then championship Sunday came in the NFL.
I was the idiot with both the Titans and Packers on Sunday. I paid for my stupidity, though I don't think the Titans was a lousy play. Taking the Packers, despite telling everybody all season long that the Packers weren't nearly as good as their record suggested, and couldn't compete with elite teams, was truly stupid. I blame it on a life of being terrorized by Aaron Rodgers, and the fear of it happening to me again.
Anyway, I need to sweat out all of these bad vibes, and the best way to sweat out bad vibes is Under Sweats. And there is no Under Sweat sweatier than the first one of my three picks for Monday night. That's right; we're going to sweat an under in a Virginia basketball game.
All odds via William Hill.
1. NC State at Virginia: Under 117.5
The defending champions aren't looking like defending champions this year, but some things haven't changed. Virginia's defense is still one of the best in the country, but its offense is nowhere near as efficient. According to KenPom, the Cavaliers offense ranks 232nd in the nation, which is pretty bad! Tonight they'll be facing an NC State team that is a mirror image. State's offense ranks 16th nationally, but its defense is only 111th.
On the season, the under has gone 10-7 in Virginia games, including 6-4 at home and 9-6 when the Cavs are favored, both of which are the case tonight. More importantly, while a total of 117.5 is low for a college basketball game, it's high for Virginia. This will be the fourth-highest total in a Virginia game this season. The other three have all finished under. In fact, the average total in the seven Virginia games that have gone over is 108.5.
I've always been drawn to unders in NBA games between good teams because good teams tend to play defense. That's certainly the case here. The Lakers rank third in the NBA in defensive efficiency, while Boston isn't far behind in fifth. That's part of the reason why these are two of the better under teams in the league.
This total is high because both of these offenses are good too. Still, the under has gone 8-5 in Boston's non-conference games, as well as 17-13 against any team not in their division. For the Lakers, the under is 20-15 when they're favored, as well as 8-6 when favored on the road, so there's no home/away split difference here. I also wouldn't be surprised if both Anthony Davis and Kemba Walker play in this game. Both are listed as questionable, and Davis has missed the last five games, but this is such a big matchup on a holiday that both could return tonight. I like the play either way.
Much like the last game, these are two of the better defenses in the NBA, as the Pacers rank eighth, and Utah is tied for ninth in defensive efficiency. It's apparent that I'm not alone in believing this total to be too high, as it opened at 217 but has dropped three points despite nearly two-thirds of the action being on the over as I write this.
When these two met in November, the total was at 208, and while they went over by 15 points in that game, I'm not sure what has changed so much about these teams to warrant moving the total nine points to start. With both teams doing a lot of traveling lately, and Utah on the second leg of a back-to-back, there's value on the under.
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