Every Tuesday for the rest of the college basketball season, Dave Tuley will resume his "Tuley's Take" on the big midweek games as we head toward the conference tournaments (his favorite time to find live underdogs in recent years) and into March Madness. He'll give a projected point spread and pick for each.
Welcome to "Tuley's Take: CBB Edition."
By way of introduction (or reintroduction for those who followed my "Tuley's Take" column during the NFL season), I've covered the Las Vegas sports book beat since 1998. I've always described myself as a journalist first and a handicapper second, but I certainly try to approach the games like the pros here in Vegas.
I have a reputation as an underdog-or-pass handicapper as I've been told I can't pick a favorite to save my life (and I've learned to avoid them with my personal plays). I believe there's no such thing as a lock and that no one can hit better than 60 percent over the long haul, so while I'm confident in my selections you'll find I would never use hyperbole in a million years. My goal is to find plays that I feel have a 55 percent rate of success. I was right around that number during the NFL season, as I finished 75-62-3 (54.7 percent); if you toss out my 11-14 record with favorites as I tried to appease readers with some chalk plays, my preferred underdog plays were 64-48-3 (57.1 percent), capped off by the Baltimore Ravens' win in the Super Bowl.
I've been following college basketball since the start of the season, but really get into it as the football season winds down. While I know some basketball bettors say they have their biggest edge at the start of the season before the oddsmakers and the rest of the public catches up, I've always had my most success late in the conference season after seeing the teams play each other and also having a lot of common opponents -- and especially in the conference tournaments (which is my favorite time to find live underdogs in recent years). Hopefully that continues over the next month or so.
Here are my picks for some of Tuesday and Wednesday's biggest college basketball games:
Projected point spread: Michigan St. minus-1.5
It's not often you can get points with the No. 1 team, but that's the case here as the Hoosiers are a short underdog in the game that tips off Tuesday night's ESPN doubleheader. Part of that is because of Michigan State having home-court advantage and part can probably be attributed to Indiana star guard Victor Oladipo injuring his left ankle Saturday against Purdue and doubts about whether he will be 100 percent for this game. All reports out of Bloomington are he's ready to go, but I was just as much encouraged by how well the other Hoosiers stepped up in Oladipo's absence (even though it was against a middle-of-the-road Purdue team).