Daily Sweat: Texas A&M hosts Tennessee, looking to cement itself as NCAA tournament team
Last season, Texas A&M entered the SEC tournament with a 9-9 record in conference play. As the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament, it needed to either win the tournament to get the automatic bid or a minor miracle. The Aggies almost got that minor miracle, as they made it to the final of the SEC tournament, eliminating Florida, Auburn and Arkansas in the process. However, they fell to Tennessee in the SEC conference championship game. As a result, the Aggies missed the tournament, being listed as one of the first four teams out.
This season, the outlook is a bit better for Texas A&M. They are 12-2 in conference play and currently have the second-best record in the SEC, ahead of teams like Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky. The Aggies have gone 2-0 against Auburn, split the series with Arkansas and lost their lone matchup to Kentucky.
On Tuesday night, No. 25 Texas A&M is a 1.5-point home favorite against No. 11 Tennessee. This is the first time since Dec. 17 that Tennessee is an underdog in a game. On that night, the Volunteers lost by five points as a 4-point underdog against Arizona. Tennessee fell, 66-54, to Kentucky on Saturday as a short 1.5-point road favorite. This is the Vols' second straight tough road test.
Texas A&M has won five straight games and has gone 14-2 in its last 16 games. The Aggies have been especially good at home, currently holding a 13-1 record at Reed Arena. Most bracketologists have the Aggies as a tournament team, with projected seeding ranging between a No. 8 seed and a No. 10 seed. As recently as last week, CBS had Texas A&M as one of its last four teams in. While the Aggies are in good shape, they are far from a lock. A big win on Tuesday would go a long way in cementing that tournament resume.
On the season, the Aggies are 18-9 against the spread, making them one of the more profitable teams for bettors in the country. They've covered the spread in all five games of their current winning streak. On the other side, the Vols have been a pedestrian 14-13 against the number this season. They have struggled to cash bettors' tickets of late, going just 1-5 ATS in their last six games. The Aggies have a chance to send a strong message that they're the real deal on Tuesday night.
What else is on the college basketball schedule?
We have a very solid schedule on deck in the college basketball world on Tuesday as we attempt to bridge the gap until the NBA returns from its all-star break.
In the Big East, first place is on the line. No. 19 Creighton is a 5.5-point favorite over No. 10 Marquette at home. Marquette currently holds first place, but a Creighton victory could move it into a first-place tie. Elsewhere in the conference, No. 16 Xaxier is a 4.5-point favorite over Villanova.
It feels like the Big 12 delivers us intrigue almost every night, and Tuesday is no different. Texas looks to keep pace with Kansas on top of the Big 12. The Longhorns are 7.5-point home favorites over Iowa State. Elsewhere, Baylor looks to avenge an earlier loss to Kansas State, but it won't be easy on the road. No. 9 Baylor is a 1.5-point road favorite at Kansas State. Somehow, Texas Tech has worked its way back to the tournament bubble picture after winning three straight games. The Red Raiders are 2.5-point underdogs in Norman against the Oklahoma Sooners.
In the ACC, Miami is a 2.5-point road underdog against Virginia Tech. In the Big Ten, the only game on the schedule sees Indiana traveling to East Lansing, where the Hoosiers are 3.5-point road underdogs against Michigan State. The best mid-major game of the night takes place in Ohio. Toledo is a 4.5-point home favorite against Akron. Akron is a game behind Toledo in the MAC standings, and that conference looks like it could produce a NCAA tournament cinderella this season. Toledo has won 11 straight games.
What about the NHL?
The NHL features a nine-game slate on Tuesday night, and unless you like value-betting ugly, heavy underdogs, there's not much on the slate that intrigues. Carolina, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Vegas and Edmonton are all favorites of at least -300 on the moneyline. It might be a big day for parlays on the ice.
In terms of standalone games on the ice that have intrigue, there are a few.
The best game of the night might be in Minnesota. The Wild are slight -130 home favorites over the Los Angeles Kings. Minnesota is clinging to the final playoff spot in the conference and has to feel the desperation at home, but Los Angeles has won four straight games.
In the East, the best game is likely between two teams who are in the massive group competing for the two wild-card spots in the conference. Washington is a -150 home favorite over Detroit. The Capitals are two points out of a playoff spot while the Red Wings are two points behind the Capitals, though they have three games in hand on them. Washington has lost four straight games, including three straight last week without Alexander Ovechkin, who went back home to Russia after the passing of his father. Ovechkin remains out on Tuesday. Detroit had a five-game winning streak snapped in its last game, but looks to start a new streak against Washington.