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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 3:50 PM

College basketball fans, handicappers, and bettors are going to be seeing a lot of the Big Ten on TV this season. If you’re serious about making money in Las Vegas, you’d better figure out how to handicap the league!

It’s become apparent in recent days that underdogs are offering value. That may disappear down the road when the lesser teams get worn down and run out of gas. But, RIGHT NOW, there are all sorts of matchup types that suggest you want to focus on underdogs.


Whenever the elite teams play each other, you’re likely to see peak intensity from both teams. Either the game is close the whole way, or one team falls behind but rallies to take it down to the wire. You’ve been watching these blockbusters yourself…and you’ve seen how well underdogs have performed in big games. Recent example: Michigan (+2) beat Minnesota outright 83-75.


Those who aren’t likely to go Dancing this year are still playing with energy and enthusiasm. And, they often catch a power immediately after a big game. Somebody like Indiana, Ohio State, or Michigan can be vulnerable to a flat outing right after they go to war with a superpower…particularly if they won that game. Recent examples: Northwestern (+12) covered in a 67-59 loss to Indiana this past Sunday, Iowa (+1) beat Wisconsin 70-66.


We’ve seen some very competitive games down here off the radar too. Many of the non-contenders are evenly matched. If the road team shows up, and the home team isn’t capable of fully exploiting home court advantage (which is common in the bottom halves of conferences), then you get close games or upsets here as well. It hasn’t hurt that Illinois was thought of nationally as one of the powers when their on-court performances have suggested they’re more of an also-ran. Recent examples: Nebraska (+4) beat Penn State 68-64, Northwestern (+10) beat Illinois 68-54.

We’re not going to suggest that underdogs are going to cash 70% of the time in the Big Ten from this point out, or anything crazy like that. But, the profile we’re seeing right now does suggest a conference that will be shaded to the underdogs for the immediate future. The powers are going to stay strong barring injuries, but they’ll also be dealing with letdown spots after big games. Some of the also-rans will no doubt throw in the towel and go in the tank in a couple of weeks. That’s fairly standard in February hoops. But, some will continue to play with enthusiasm, particularly when they have a chance to catch a giant napping.

As a general rule, you should be looking for underdog value in this conference, while keeping an eye on potential collapses that you should avoid once a towel or two gets tossed.

This week’s Big Ten Schedule…

Tuesday: Iowa at Ohio State (Big 10 Network), Michigan State at Wisconsin (ESPN), Illinois at Nebraska (Big 10 Network).

Wednesday: Penn State at Indiana (Big 10 Network), Minnesota at Northwestern (Big 10 Network).

Thursday: Purdue at Michigan.

Saturday: Ohio State at Penn State (ESPN2), Minnesota at Wisconsin (Big 10 Network), Northwestern at Nebraska (ESPNU).

Sunday: Michigan State at Indiana (CBS), Iowa at Purdue (Big 10 Network), Michigan at Illinois (Big 10 Network).

Tuesday basketball from JIM HURLEY can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card. Perhaps Michigan State/Wisconsin will show up in the mix. We’re also looking at Kentucky/Alabama in the SEC, and an NBA slate that includes a potential Western Conference championship preview with Oklahoma City at the LA Clippers.

If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on how you can include the Super Bowl with any basketball package.

Back with you tomorrow as the basketball barrage continues. Be sure you’re cashing tickets SEVEN DAYS A WEEK with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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