This week's NCAA look-ahead spots
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - When college basketball programs face a top ten team, an elite conference squad or a chief rival coming up next, they often overlook the team they play before that game.
I call it a "look-ahead" game because let's face it, most of these college basketball players are aware about the next opponent. That's why coaches always talk about taking it "one game at a time" to keep their players focused on the task at hand. In betting circles, the "look-ahead" theory is a pretty successful trend if you take the time to pay attention.
This does happen and one of the games I gave you last week was an example. Oregon takes on Arizona on Thursday night and on Saturday, they beat up on a bad USC team, 78-66. But they didn't cover the 13 points. Below, I'll give you three instances of teams that play against inferior opponents, with a much more important game on the schedule afterwards. Will they overlook that current opponent because they have their minds on the next game?
Here are the top three possibilities of a look-ahead game for this weekend:
North Carolina (15-7 SU, 11-11 ATS, 5-4 ACC) is coming off a 12-point home win over Maryland. The Tar Heels are peaking at the right time as they've won four straight games. However, they face Notre Dame (12-11 SU, 7-13-1 ATS) on Saturday on the road and that could be a dangerous game. Why? Because their next opponent after Notre Dame is Duke on Feb. 12. That's considered the best rivalry in college basketball and a win over the Blue Devils would not only be big for UNC, but could really help their NCAA Tournament resume'. Losing to Notre Dame on the road wouldn't crush them and that's a spot where they could be a slight favorite.
Ohio State (18-5 SU, 11-11 ATS, 5-5 Big 10) has had a rough start but they've now won two straight. On Saturday, Feb. 8, they face a Purdue team that is 4-6 in the Big 10 and one of the weaker teams in the league at home. That's a typical look-ahead game because they face Michigan on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at home. Michigan is the number one team in the Big 10 right now at 10-1 and a win over the Wolverines could really get the Buckeyes back on track. They are most likely a NCAA Tournament team but at .500 in the league, they can't afford to fall too far. A win over Michigan would be a huge for the team and they could probably coast and still beat Purdue, but not cover the big number at home.
Ohio University (16-6 SU, 9-7 ATS, 6-3 MAC) is having a pretty good season in the Mid-American Conference. The Bobcats are currently tied for second in the East Division, behind Akron. On Saturday, Ohio takes on Miami-Ohio at home. The Red Hawks are just 9-11 overall and 5-4 in the East Division. After the Miami-Ohio game, Ohio University takes on Toledo. The Toledo Rockets sit at 7-2 in the West Division and are 19-3 overall. They have the best chance of any MAC team of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid. Ohio should look-ahead against Miami-Ohio because Toledo is the top team in the league and they face them on the road on Feb. 12.