5* Kansas State @ Kansas -3.5 — Why dare take Kansas after their near 30-point blowout to Texas Tech in their last game? They must be falling off the rails right? I fully expect the public consensus to back Kansas State here for multiple reasons. Firstly, the return of Will Wade has significantly helped the Wildcats control games and put teams away. Additionally, the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks a few games ago by 7 at home. Kansas’ blowout in their last outing has added to the concern that the Jayhawks may be ending their streak of consecutive Big 12 titles or at least a share of the title this season. However, much of that perception is due to a very Jekyll and Hyde behavior away from Fogg Allen Fieldhouse. ALL 7 of the Jayhawks losses have come on the road. Kansas holds strong on their homecourt (or neutral games even) with nonconference wins on the year over Villanova, Michigan State, Marquette and Tennessee! Why the overreaction??! Sure, there are parallels with how the Jayhawks have taken a small step back compared to their norm (just as Villanova has). Yet, this is still an incredibly dangerous team. Give me the Jayhawks to recover from that embarrassing loss and right the ship against instate rival Kansas State.
4* Los Angeles Lakers -4.5 @ Memphis Grizzlies — LeBron spoke to the media shortly after the All-Star break and said in so many words its time for him to “turn on” his effort level. As if that shouldn’t have been done at the start of the year? To further spread the smoke about the current dysfunction of this team, James told the media “there is no sense of urgency with this team.” Admitting your own luck of effort, even as the best player in the league, coupled with calling out your team for their lack of effort is not a good look. With that said, I expect the youth of this team to come out energized and fully wanting to impress King James and his standards. Give me the Lakers in a complete performance over one of the worst teams in the league.
4* Golden State Warriors @ Charlotte Hornets – O233.5 — When Draymond Green is hurt, Golden State plays less defense. It’s a simple concept, as he is the glue on that end of the floor. However, his absence also makes the NBA’s most potent offense move the ball quicker and let their opponents put up just as many points. Charlotte plays MUCH better at home and with the Warriors in town you better believe Steph and Kemba are going to go at it. Points, points and more points!
3* Portland Trailblazers @ Cleveland Cavaliers – O222.5 — Since signing Enes Kanter, Portland has been scoring the ball with ease. The Blazers now have a second reliable inside scoring threat for Dame and C.J. McCollum to go to. Averaging 121.5 PPG since the All-Star break, Portland has been on fire from a scoring standpoint. However tonight’s opponent, Cleveland has been playing solidly in their own right winning 3 of their last 4 games and averaging ~117PPG during that stretch. Portland SHOULD run away with this one, but points should be aplenty even if they don’t.
3* Northern Colorado @ Montana – O142.5