Submitted by Wayne Root on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 3:00 PM
Because all of the current powers in college basketball have at least one exploitable weakness, 2017 could be a year where an off-the-radar team gets hot in March and pulls off a SHOCK THE NATION championship run.
If the tournament were being held right now, a team like Oklahoma State would seem to be the ideal candidate. The Cowboys won for me as a PERFECT PLAY Wednesday night on the road at TCU. You could make the case that nobody’s playing better basketball over the past few weeks than Okie State. In their last 8 games…
Oklahoma State (+6.5) won at Texas Tech 83-64 (25.5-point cover)
Oklahoma State (-4.5) beat TCU 89-76 (8.5-point cover)
Oklahoma State (-7.5) beat Arkansas 99-71 (rout in B12-SEC Challenge)
Oklahoma State (-1.5) won at Oklahoma 68-66
Oklahoma State (+10.5) won at West Virginia 82-75 (17.5-point cover)
Oklahoma State (-1.5) lost to highly regarded Baylor 72-69
Oklahoma State (-11) beat Texas 84-71
Oklahoma State (+2) won at TCU 71-68
That’s 7-1 straight up and against the spread. The only blemish was in a naibliter against a very good Baylor team. Those road wins at West Virginia and Texas Tech are extremely impressive given market expectations going in. Oklahoma State is playing GREAT in what many believe to be the nation’s best conference (though ACC fans would disagree).
Why isn’t Oklahoma State in the top 10 of the media poll, or in the projected Sweet 16 from the tournament selection committee? Because they started Big 12 play 0-6!!!
The Cowboys were ice cold out of the conference gate, while also dealing with some health and chemistry issues. But, once the players and coach all got on the same page…this has become an elite team. Don’t forget, they had flashes of brilliance several weeks back with a blowout road win at Wichita State, and a neutral court slaughter of Georgetown. Okie State can run away and hide from ANYBODY when playing at a peak level.
Of course, this could be a matter of peaking too early. THE KING OF UPSETS isn’t going to sit here in mid-February and tell you that Oklahoma State is going to be cutting down the nets on the first Monday night of April. Sure, it could happen! But, I want to prepare you for the possibility that another team LIKE Oklahoma State could be celebrating in Glendale, Arizona (football home of the Arizona Cardinals).
How can smart handicappers find such potential SHOCKERS? Here are some quick keys from the man who has more documented upset calls than anyone else in handicapping history…
*Look for teams who were good earlier in the season, but are going through a rough patch right now. It’s THAT kind of team that has some time to get things figured out in these last few games of the regular season and the conference tournaments. Most fans and handicappers are going to rule out mid-February slumpers. But, TALENTED slumpers are the type of team that will learn from their mistakes and bounce back strong.
*Look for teams that are currently ranked around #3 to #6 in their conference standings. They no longer have illusions about winning their conference. And, they’re going to be embarrassed about not making a better showing in league play. Talented, ANGRY teams are ideal for providing March betting value.
*Look for teams led by an offensive force who is getting some buzz about a potential NBA career. This type of player can carry a team on his shoulders through March…particularly if he’s focused on letting the world know about his skills. I’ve told for you for years that teams have to score points to earn upsets!
I’m not going to tip my hand much more than that right now. Obviously Oklahoma State has a chance to stay in my selection mix until they cool off. The Cowboys have their rematch with state rival Oklahoma Saturday. Honestly, I have my eye on other spots down the road with this particular team…depending on where the lines come. The NEXT Oklahoma State? Finding them is a task we both should be pursuing!
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT is the only man in the handicapping industry to have a star on the Walk of Fame here in Las Vegas. I’m always a few steps ahead of the oddsmakers. If an oddsmaker ever gets his own star, it will naturally be a few steps behind mine!
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Back next week as we continue riding down the road to March Madness. If you’re just now getting back into the baskets because football is over…it’s time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!