No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks at No. 4 Baylor Bears – Open: -1.5; Move: -1
These two Big 12 rivals just met Feb. 1 in Lawrence, where Baylor gave host Kansas a run for its money. The Jayhawks won 73-68, with the Bears cashing as a 6.5-point underdog. Kansas followed that outing with a rare home loss, tumbling to Iowa State, but is now on a three-game upswing (0-2-1 ATS), including Monday’s 84-80 home overtime win against West Virginia as a 5-point favorite.
That gave the Jayhawks a stout 23-3 SU mark, but Bill Self’s squad is among the worst in the nation ATS at 7-16-1, 333rd among 336 teams heading into today’s 1 p.m. Eastern tipoff.
Baylor (22-4 SU, 12-9 ATS) has been a bit up and down since the loss at Kansas. The Bears followed with a home loss to Kansas State, notched successive wins and covers at Oklahoma State and at home to Texas Christian, but lost at Texas Tech 84-78 Monday night as a 2.5-point chalk.
“Much like any matchup of this situation, the public likes the marquee Jayhawks,” Cooley said Friday evening. “We have almost 70 percent of the money on Kansas, but we haven’t budged because we have some respected dollars on the small home chalk.”
That changed late Friday night, with Bookmaker.eu dropping Baylor from -1.5 to -1.
No. 15 Virginia Cavaliers at No. 9 North Carolina Tar Heels – Open: -4.5; Move: None
Virginia gets the ACC double-whammy of facing Duke and North Carolina in back-to-back games. The Cavaliers (18-7 SU, 14-9 ATS) fell at home to the Blue Devils on Wednesday night, 65-55 laying 5 points, and have now lost three of their last four SU and ATS.
The Tar Heels (22-5 SU, 13-12-1 ATS) bounced back from a Feb. 9 loss at Duke to throttle North Carolina State 97-73 giving 11 points at home Wednesday. That cover ended a four-game ATS slide for Carolina.
“It’s tough to say where this one will go, as we haven’t had a ton of wiseguys get involved,” Cooley said. “If they don’t show up, we fully expect this number to climb in favor of the Tar Heels. Currently, almost 60 percent of the wagers are on North Carolina.”
The total was on the move, opening at 135.5 and reaching 138 by late Friday night.
Southern California Trojans at No. 5 UCLA Bruins – Open: -9.5; Move: -10
UCLA will look to avenge last month’s 84-76 loss as a 7-point favorite at crosstown rival USC. The Bruins (23-3 SU, 13-13 ATS) have won four in a row since then, including Sunday’s 78-60 victory over Oregon State as a massive 25-point home chalk. The Bruins are just 1-5 ATS in their last six outings.
Southern Cal’s upset of UCLA was part of a five-game win streak (4-1 ATS) that ended last Saturday, when the Trojans (21-5 SU, 13-12 ATS) lost to Oregon 81-70 catching 3.5 points at home.
“Not a lot of love for the Pac-12 these days regarding college basketball, but this is a massive rivalry that garners ample action,” Cooley said. “Early money had both sides of the betting spectrum on the Trojans and the under. It seems like a big number for the rivalry, and when that happens, the value players always show up.”
That said, late Friday night, there was enough of a Bruins counter-shove to bump the line to double digits at 10. The total opened at 172.5 and, as Cooley alluded, was quickly bet down to 171. But it ticked back up to 172 late Friday.
Patrick Everson is a Las Vegas-based senior writer for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @Covers_Vegas.