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Houston guard Ramon Walker Jr. (3) and guard Kyler Edwards (11) bump chests after a score by Edwards during the first half against East Carolina in an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)

NCAAB Best Bets, Feb. 9

Patrick Werkmeister

Now that the college basketball season is getting so close to March Madness, these games are much more meaningful and competitive. In this jam-packed Wednesday college slate, schools from across all conferences will get some action tonight. However, the real action lies in the Top 25 programs who are scheduled to play this evening. As these teams fight it out in their respective conference, it will be interesting to see if the top dogs are able to live up to their reputations and take it the distance. Nevertheless, here is what I’m going with for these college hoops games.

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Houston (-7) @ SMU
The opening spread for this contest had Houston as seven point road favorites, and that is where the line currently sits. Although the Cougars are an average 5-4 ATS in their last 9 games played, Houston is undefeated in conference play where they are 9-0 SU. Led by star guard Marcus Sasser, among a deep overall roster, Houston is looking to at least repeat their Final Four run from last year. Similarly, the SMU Mustangs are a formidable AAC opponent where they are 2nd in the conference standings with an 16-5 overall record. However, after the Cougars blowout win over Cincinnati, the Mustangs’ chances look slim where they themselves were blown out by the Bearcats last month. Last game out, SMU was also defeated by the Wichita State Shockers by a wide margin of 15 points. Starting forward Fabian White Jr. was also another Cougar who stepped up in the win over Cincinnati with 22 points and nine rebounds. Although the Mustangs have a star guard of their own in Kendric Davis, Houston is marginally better than any other program in the conference. With more signature wins over quality opponents, Houston is the more battle-tested squad so they should find a way to secure a victory. Take the Cougars to handle SMU.

Wake Forest (-2.5) @ NC State
This line opened favoring Wake Forest by two and a half-points but they are currently listed as three and a half-point road favorites. While NC State is a shoddy 1-6 ATS in their last seven games, Wake Forest is an impressive 6-1 ATS in their past seven contests. Additionally, the Wolfpack are a staggering 1-6 SU in their last seven home games. Last time out, the Demon Deacons defeated the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee, 68-60, whereas NC State was handled by Notre Dame where they lost by 12. Despite their struggles to start conference play, Wake Forest is an efficient 8-2 SU in their last 10 ACC games. While Wake Forest’s and NC State’s records are drastically different, this is an instance where the Wolfpack’s record is a direct reflection of their poor play. The Huskies most notable win was against an unranked Virginia team, who they defeated by 14 points. However, that was the last time they won a game, which was over a month ago. Right now, they look like a bottom-tier P-5 team let alone an ACC contender. NC State just doesn’t have the talent to take down this highly skilled team. Take Wake Forest to win comfortably and cover the spread.

Baylor (-7) @ Kansas State
The opening point-spread margin for this matchup had Baylor as six point road favorites and they are currently favored by seven points. While Kansas State is an impressive 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games played, the Bears are just 4-8 ATS in their last 12. Led by an array of NBA worthy talent, Baylor is off to a solid season in the challenging Big 12 conference where they are ranked 5th in the country. According to Kenpom data, they are a top 10 offense and defense in the country for adjusted efficiency. Although they have a top 25 defense according to their adjusted efficiency, their offense won’t be able to keep up with Baylor where they barely crack the top 100. Last game out, Baylor got their doors blown off by the Kansas Jayhawks, whereas Kansas State dominated TCU. Although the Wildcats have proved they deserve to be in the mix of Big 12 teams for the NCAA tournament, with how deep their bench is, Baylor is a matchup nightmare for K-State. Additionally, after a somewhat embarrassing loss to Kansas, Baylor will be looking for a strong bounce back. The Bears just totally outmatch this Wildcats squad and I don’t see them being upset in this meeting. Take Baylor to take care of their in-conference rival.

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