The Daily Sweat: Football nears its end, but that means 'Big Monday' for college hoops fans

·4 min read

There are only three football games left that matter this season. Four if you're a big Pro Bowl fan.

Many sports fans don't get excited for February, a fairly dead time in the sports calendar after the Super Bowl ends. But it's not that bad for college hoops fans.

Without any Monday night football games for the first time in months, "Big Monday" returns. While it has morphed through the years, for a long time "Big Monday" was the made-up moniker for an ESPN doubleheader that featured a game from the Big East, capped by a Big 12 showdown. Early on, the Big West was involved as a third game to spotlight a great UNLV team. In its current form, it's an ACC/Big 12 doubleheader to kick off the week.

This season it doesn't start off with a bang, and part of that is the ACC's fault. The conference is down, so this Monday it offers two disappointing teams in Louisville and Virginia. The Big 12 game often features Kansas, and that's the case on Monday night as a defensive-minded Texas Tech team travels to Lawrence to face the Jayhawks.

In the first game, Virginia is a 5.5-point home favorite at BetMGM. That speaks to Louisville's struggles. Virginia is 11-8, 93rd in KenPom and has just one two-game winning streak since the start of December. Tony Bennett is a great coach but the roster just isn't good enough. They're still a healthy favorite over Louisville, which is 109th in KenPom, 11-8 on the season and has lost four of five. The struggles of these two programs, both with a national championship this century, sum up the ACC's poor performance as a whole.

The second game is much better. Texas Tech hasn't slipped this season despite coach Chris Beard moving on to the Texas job. Texas Tech is 14th in KenPom and has a signature win over Kansas, beating them 75-67 on Jan. 8. Texas Tech is a 6.5-point underdog, and it won't be easy for Kansas to cover considering Texas Tech plays slow and is great on defense. Kansas is a top-10 team and the revenge angle is in play. Kansas is a title contender again and rarely loses on "Big Monday." It should be a fun game.

We just saw what might be the best playoff weekend of football ever, with all four NFL games being decided on the final play. There's still plenty of drama left in the NFL season. But basketball will be taking up plenty of the spotlight for the next several weeks.

Ochai Agbaji is having a fantastic season for a very good Kansas team. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Ochai Agbaji is having a fantastic college hoops season for a very good Kansas team. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Here's the rest of the sports betting slate for Monday:

Anything else in college basketball?

Monday is usually a slow day overall for college hoops. Aside from Kansas-Texas Tech, the only other game involving a top-25 team is No. 16 USC hosting a 6-10 Arizona State team. USC is a 13.5-point favorite. At least there's the Big 12 showdown on ESPN.

Any great NBA games?

The NBA has four games on the schedule, and the best one is the Utah Jazz at the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz are coming off a hard-fought 94-92 loss at Golden State on Sunday night. The back-to-back is a reason they're hefty 9.5-point underdogs at the Suns, who are 36-9 and have the best record in the West by three games. Utah star Donovan Mitchell is expected to miss the game due to a concussion, making the challenge of even covering 9.5 points pretty big for the Jazz.

NHL has seven games

If the relatively short basketball schedule doesn't move you, the NHL has some action. The biggest game is the Vegas Golden Knights at the Washington Capitals, a showdown of two of the league's better teams. Washington is a -125 favorite.

What's the best bet?

Let's go with Kansas, which is a really good team and tough at home. Texas Tech is good too, but the Jayhawks should be locked in after losing to the Red Raiders just a couple weeks ago. It's a good chance to take a look at one of the season's true title contenders.

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