NCAAB upset picks: Villanova, Baylor are cruising for a bruising

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January 23rd, 2020

We don’t need to wait for the lines to put multiple teams on upset alert. This wild NCAAB college basketball season has made it more difficult for the casual fan to follow along, but it provides wise gamblers a window of opportunity to make money, especially by riding the moneyline. Here’s who you should keep an eye on for Jan. 25.

#9 Villanova at Providence, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Big East is my favorite place to find upsets, especially this year. It’s arguably the deepest conference in college basketball. There are some talented teams at the top, but that gap isn’t insurmountable for programs that have a home-court advantage in an intimate venue.

Last week I told you to keep an eye on St. John’s. They were four points away from pulling off an upset against #10 Seton Hall. Providence is in a similar spot this week. The Dunkin’ Donuts Center will be rocking when Jay Wright’s team comes to town. They’re ranked ninth, but the Wildcats have not performed well away from home. All three of their losses—to Ohio State, Baylor, and Marquette—have come on the road. Playing in front of a national TV audience, Providence will be  prepared for this big moment.

#21 Illinois at Michigan, noon ET (FS1)

Brad Underwood’s Fighting Illini have been one of the most pleasant surprises in college basketball this season. Averaging 15 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, freshman forward Kofi Cockburn has fueled Illinois to an early second-place spot in the Big Ten standings. Winners of five straight, they’re one of the hottest teams in the country.
If you’ve paid any attention to college basketball this year, that’s why now is the time to bet against Illinois. A good thing can never last for too long.

This weekend Illinois is on the road at Michigan and will play in front of one of the rowdiest student sections in all of college basketball. Once a top five team, the Wolverines have lost four of their last five. This is a good spot for a get-right game against a team that accelerated their downward spiral in December.

#22 Arizona at Arizona State, 9:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Arizona ran Colorado out of the gym last week, but this week the Wildcats are on the road for a rivalry game. Rivalry games get weird. Although I’m not confident the Sun Devils will pull off the upset, if you get a few points, you are in a good spot to cash a ticket.

#1 Baylor at Florida, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Florida has been one of the greatest disappointments of the eason. Many believed the backcourt with Andrew Nembhard and Scottie Lewis would be the perfect combination to complement Virginia Tech grad transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. The former All-ACC power forward is the only one who has lived up to the hype (14.8 points, 8.7 rebounds per game). Lewis averages only 8.7 points per game. while Nembhard’s shot has been off all season (11 points per game).

The Gators have dropped six games and most recently missed a game-tying layup against LSU at the buzzer. That came right after they handed Auburn a 22-point loss. Despite their ups and downs, KenPom still likes Mike White’s team, and ranks Florida 25th overall.

Scoring against KenPom’s No. 4 defense will not come easily. The Bears are good at winning ugly, which is a nice quality to have on the road. However, I’m still not buying that Baylor is the best team in the country. The Bears have the résumé, but they don’t have the pop, which is why this feels like the right time to call for an upset.

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