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Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State

Basketball Free Pick

2/7/12

Iowa State travels to Stillwater tonight to take on Oklahoma State in what amounts to a must win game for the Cyclones as they are clearly on the bubble as far as the big dance goes. Oddsmakers opened this game a pick em and the early money has been on Oklahoma State, pushing this line to as high as -2.5 before setting in at -2 this morning. The posted total is 139.

We can certainly understand the early line move favoring Oklahoma State. Iowa State hasn't won in Stillwater since 1988! That's a hefty 16 game losing streak. Furthermore, Oklahoma State has proven to be a tough out at home. They are just 11-12 overall and 4-6 in conference play but have gone toe to toe with some of the top teams in the nation. Their last home game was a 4 point loss to #6 Baylor and their home game prior to that one was a 79-72 win over #4 Missouri who has just two losses on the year. It also took a buzzer beater for Iowa State to beat Oklahoma State at home when these two met on January 18th, a 71-68 Iowa State win.

Coaches and players will always tell you they don't look ahead and always take one game at a time. But that would be far from the truth. Especially for a bubble team like Iowa State. There are winnable games ahead, and some that aren't so winnable. For example, you may be able to pencil in two wins for Iowa State the rest of the way, one against Texas A&M, although no guarantee there, and the other against Texas Tech. Otherwise they are looking at Baylor twice, Oklahoma and then Kansas State and Missouri both on the road.

So when you're on the bubble like the Cyclones, and you look ahead at the remaining schedule, you can clearly see that tonight's game in Stillwater qualifies as a must win. It's a winnable game and a loss will likely pop that bubble.

Our model has this one coming down to the wire. In fact, the model's prediction when using season to date data is 69-69. When we run our model using more recently results, the edge shifts in favor of Iowa State. For example looking at the last 10 games or so our model comes up with a 2 point Iowa State win. Looking at the last 5 games, a stretch where Iowa State won 4 or 5 and Oklahoma State lost 4 of 5, the model likes Iowa State by 7, 75-68.

So +2 or more definitely worth considering here. The model says so, and the motivational factors would certainly agree, this being a must win, winnable game. Losing streaks at venues eventually come to an end so we'll go out on a small limb here and call for Iowa State to win in Stillwater for the first time since 1988, keeping their "Big Dance" hopes alive. Iowa State +2 or more.

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