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Best Bets for February 19 college basketball: Duke crosses town to NC State, and more

There’s a full slate of games tonight, including Duke vs. North Carolina State, Indiana at Minnesota, and more

Duke Blue Devils center Vernon Carey Jr. catches a pass in front of Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Juwan Durham during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Since there are no NBA games tonight (again), welcome to the casual basketball bettor! We’re glad you’re here! We look forward to seeing much more of you as we get closer to March Madness and bracket time.

This space is 17-4 the last 10 days picking college basketball games against the spread and total. We’re pretty happy with this (though we were not happy Oklahoma State had a five point lead at halftime against West Virginia, while getting 10.5, and somehow lost by 18 last night... like how does that even happen??), but know it’s been smooth sailing over here so far. We’ll try and keep it going this evening.

Duke -6.5 at North Carolina State

I have unfortunate news to report to casual college basketball fans: Duke is good again. Winners of seven in a row, sometimes in dramatic fashion, but for the most part comfortably. Tre Jones is one of the best players in America, and when paired with lottery pick Vernon Carey, they form the basis of a team that’s Top 10 in adjusted efficiency both offensively and defensively.

Meanwhile NC State is ok against competition at their level, but tends to get blown off the floor against good teams. Boat raced at home by Louisville by 20, they lost by 10 to a terrible UNC team in Raleigh as well. They just don’t have the horses in 2020. And right now the bettors agree, with 76% of the handle and 87% of the cash at DraftKings Sportsbook on the Blue Devils.

Houston -10 vs. Tulsa

Tulsa had a really nice thing going 19 days ago: they hit this great buzzer beater to knock off Wichita State in their gym half-packed with Shockers fans, and it looked like the bubble was in reach.

Then they got beat by UConn and UCF, and there went the momentum. And recent wins over patsies East Carolina and South Florida can’t fix the fundamental problems they have.

Houston plays as hard as they need to on the road (swept Wichita St., lost in OT at Cincinnati), but save the clubbings for home games at Hofheinz Pavilion. The Golden Hurricane, who don’t live near anywhere that gets hurricanes, will be the victim of UH’s depth and balance tonight. Right now 43% of the bets but 61% of the money is on Tulsa at DK, but we’ll fade the sharp action here. Cougars big.

Cincinnati -10.5 vs. UCF

You know the cat that just sort of taps at a ball of string for fun? That’s what Jarron Cumberland and the Cincinnati Bearcats tend to do against bad teams at home. A mid-70’s SMU? Beat ‘em by 22. An ECU in the 200’s? 25-point victims. A Tulsa in the 80’s? Lost by 31. UCF is 125th right now.

The Knights already lost to UC by 14 at home, and it’s a bad matchup as they have no one to contain Cumberland’s ability to score and make plays. We’ll lay a big number here, but feel pretty good about it.

Minnesota -5.5 vs. Indiana

Sometimes you’ve got to watch the games, and if you watch IU, you know what I mean. Discombobulated on offense. A step slow defensively. No real scorer you need to account for unless Devonte Green is at home and feeling it.

The win over Iowa at home that snapped the Hoosiers four-game losing streak needed an injury to CJ Fredrick and basically every call to happen. They followed that up with a 24-point loss to Michigan, and they’re on the road again tonight in The Barn.

The cloud of John Beilein being available can’t help team chemistry either. We’ll take Richard Pitino and the Gophers, who need this to show the NCAA Committee not to question their status.

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