Author's Note: Each week we will highlight several "situational spots" below with analysis on their respective matches for Saturday’s upcoming slate. While we’re not necessarily advising to blindly bet these spots, here are some useful tidbits when placing your weekend wagers in college hoops. If you bet our spots with the projected lines we gave out over the last two weeks, you would have gone 6-6.
Flat spot: A game in which a team might not be fully motivated, given a lackluster opponent and other scheduling circumstances that do not result in full intensity.
Texas visiting TCU (Sunday @ 7 PM ET on Big 12 Network and ESPN+)
KenPom projected line: Texas -12
Buy Price: TCU +9.5
Analysis: Texas made our revenge spot last week and unfortunately did not cash for us as the Longhorns went cold from the field in the second half in a 68-59 road loss against Texas Tech. This weekend, as the Longhorns wrap up their regular season at TCU, they’re coming off a game against another rival in having just traveled to Norman on Thursday night with a victory over Oklahoma. While we often see rivalry games in the final weekend of the regular season in both college basketball and college football, the Longhorns have already played theirs. They likely have their sights set on the Big 12 Tournament, and I don’t believe they win by ample margin to cover on the road here against the run-of-the-mill TCU Horned Frogs.
Letdown spot: The next game for a team after its previous one was closely contested, and often a win, against a marquee opponent.
Oklahoma State visiting West Virginia (Saturday @ 2 PM ET on ESPN or ESPN2)
KenPom Projected line: West Virginia -5.5
Buy Price: West Virginia -7
Analysis: Oklahoma State may have lost on Thursday night in Waco against Baylor, but the Cowboys covered the spread for their fifth straight game, losing 81-70 as 12.5-point road dogs. The previous four were all straight up wins, however, including a two-game sweep of in-state rival Oklahoma and a win against Texas Tech, another ranked opponent. While a lot of attention gets directed to the Big 10 - and rightfully so, as it is the best conference in the nation - the Big 12 has had a nice season of its own in 2021. Pick any of the teams in the league this year that will make the tournament and you can make a case for that team to get to the Sweet 16. Considering the marquee conference opponents for the Pokes recently, they get another one here as they travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia. This feels like the spot where the rubber meets the road for Oklahoma State and where I expect another double-digit loss. Unlike their 11-point loss to Baylor, however, this one won’t be good enough to cash a ticket.
Revenge spot: The second game between two relatively evenly-matched teams, in which we expect the team that lost the first meeting to return the favor.
Michigan State hosting Michigan (Sunday @ 4:30 PM ET on CBS)
KenPom projected line: Michigan -11
Buy Price: Michigan State +8
Analysis: I often find myself betting against bubble teams in February and early March more than I bet on them. Desperation can often inflate point spreads and doesn’t make a team more likely to win a game, even late in the year. After all, these teams are on the bubble for a reason. Having said that, I can’t pass up the Spartans here. They just lost by 19 on the road against Michigan and now get their arch rivals again at home on Sunday afternoon. A Quad 1 win like this should get the Spartans into the field, as most bracketologists have them clinging to one of the last four at-large bids right now. A loss, however, makes things awfully sweaty for Tom Izzo and company heading into the Big 10 tournament. Michigan clinched the conference regular season title with its win on Thursday night, and the Wolverines probably don’t even need to win the conference tournament to be a number one seed in the Big Dance. If there’s ever a time in a Michigan-Michigan State game where one team isn't fully motivated, it would be Michigan here in this spot. Remember, we’re not even asking the Spartans to win this game. Just keep it within single digits.
Get-right spot: A game in which a struggling team, with expectations for more, should find a way back into the win column.
Ohio State hosting Illinois (Saturday @ 4 PM ET on ESPN)
KenPom Projected line: Pick ‘Em
Buy Price: Ohio State -3
Analysis: One could certainly argue this is a revenge spot for Illinois, as the Fighting Illini lost outright as eight-point home chalk against the Buckeyes back on January 16. If you don’t want to step in front of Illinois after that blowout win in Ann Arbor on Tuesday night against Michigan, I wouldn’t blame you. I’m taking a different approach to this one though, instead focusing on Ohio State’s recent home losses against Michigan and Iowa. Last weekend, it was Iowa that needed to answer the bell against one of the Big 10’s fellow elites as the Hawkeyes entered Sunday’s game against Ohio State a combined 0-3 straight up and ATS versus the Buckeyes, Wolverines and Fighting Illini. Now it’s the Buckeyes that feel like they might be the top tier Big 10 team leaking oil. I’ll take Chris Holtmann’s team to solidify itself on the two line at worst with Selection Sunday one week away. I believe there's value on Ohio State up to -3 here.