‘Big Monday’ is back with 2 good college basketball games

There’s no more Monday night football for a while.

College basketball fans will stay busy. Monday night is the first “Big Monday” for ESPN’s college basketball season, and they scheduled it well.

In the first game, Duke is at Virginia Tech, and the Hokies are a 2.5-point favorite at BetMGM. Then in the second game of the doubleheader, Baylor is a 2.5-point home favorite against Kansas.

The story of the first game is that Duke has been underwhelming in Jon Scheyer’s first season as coach. The Blue Devils are 14-5. They’re 4-3 in their last seven games. It’s a very young team and that’s hard to manage for a first-time head coach in a pressure-filled situation, taking over for Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils aren’t a good shooting team and that’s a big reason they’re just 31st in KenPom’s rankings. If Duke can’t beat a Virginia Tech team that has lost seven in a row, it will be time to wonder what the Blue Devils’ ceiling is this season.

Kansas has been better than Duke, but the Jayhawks are on a two-game losing streak. They lost at Kansas State in overtime and were shockingly blown out over the weekend at home by TCU. Before that KU was 16-1 so there’s not a lot of concern, but Monday night is a tough assignment. Baylor is 14-5 but seems to be ascending in a tough Big 12. The Bears have won four in a row. It’s a good offensive team and well coached again by Scott Drew. The Baylor crowd should be fired up, although Kansas is used to that.

It’s a fun night for college basketball. It’s not football, but it will have to do.

Duke center Kyle Filipowski (30) and the Blue Devils take on Virginia Tech on Monday night. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Here’s a first look at the sports betting slate for Monday:

NBA has 7 games

The NBA has a decent slate of games, with the best matchup coming late. The Memphis Grizzlies are at the Sacramento Kings and the Grizzlies are favored by 1.5. The Kings are 26-19 and have been one of the best stories in the NBA. The Grizzlies are 31-15, a game and a half behind the Denver Nuggets for the best record in the West. The Grizzlies are just 11-12 on the road though, and the Kings will be a tough out.

New York teams highlight NHL

There are only four games in the NHL, but a couple of good early matchups. The New York Islanders are at the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are a heavy -225 favorite. The Islanders are 23-20-5 but the Maple Leafs are one of the best teams in the NHL. The New York Rangers are a -135 favorite against the Florida Panthers. Both teams have been hot lately, although the Rangers are rightfully favored over a Florida team that hasn’t been very good on the road (11-14-2).

What’s the best bet?

I’ll take the bait and go with Duke as a 2.5-point underdog against a Hokies team that is 1-7 in the ACC. If the Blue Devils don’t win, hopefully it’s a very narrow loss.

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