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College Basketball: Revenge!

   by Scott Spreitzer - 02/09/2006

Emotion is a big part of college athletics. And revenge is a powerful human emotion. Put them together and you can sometimes have a significant wagering angle. This happens often in college basketball. Part of the reason is that home court play is often such a big edge. Teams that lose at the other guy's building then want to make sure they get them back at their own building.

Another reason for this is the actual facilities. College basketball features games indoors, where 15,000 screaming college kids can bounce off the walls and feel like 100,000 fans (depending on the arena and the rooting interest of the fans).

Other times a good team can come off a frustrating defeat and they are fired up to atone for it in their next game. It doesn't mean they are fired uo to take revenge on a specific opponent, just so angry they lost the last game they can't wait to get on the court and beat up ANY opponent. This is also revenge for the last game.

That certainly was a factor with Northern Iowa on Saturday. The Panthers lost 63-55 at Creighton on Tuesday in its first game as a ranked team. Talk about a let down performance! Here they work all season to get some respect and crack the national rankings, then with the whole country finally paying attention to them, they get slapped in the face by Creighton. Granted, Creighton is a very good team, but you can understand how the defeat would sting a program like Northern Iowa after creeping into the national rankings. So they had the rest of the week to practice and stew about the loss, then they came out Saturday and absolutely smoked Indiana State, 83-56. They covered easily as a 15-point favorite.

Grant Stout stepped up with 13 rebounds and six blocked shots as the Panthers WON their first home game as a ranked team. They outshot Indiana State 60% to 39%! Do you think that would have happened had they upset Creighton on Tuesday by a basket instead of feeling the sting of a loss? Probably not. The point is, revenge and emotion were a factor that helped Northern Iowa win and cover by a wide margin, an extra incentive handicappers are always on the lookout for.

A few weeks ago a similar thing happened when Duke lost its first game, getting upset at Georgetown. The Blue Devils won and covered the next game at Virginia Tech. Another situation for revenge is when a team loses to an opponent and then faces them again. New Mexico lost 64-49 at Utah back on Janury 4th, then the teams met again Saturday. New Mexico won and covered, 64-53.

Did you notice Ohio State won and covered over Minnesota Saturday, 67-53? Well, Minnesota beat Ohio State twice last season, and even won 60-56 in OT at Ohio State. The Buckeyes remembered, too. "We had to live with two tough losses to those guys a year ago," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said after Saturday's win. Terrance Dials added, "They had confidence coming in because they beat us twice last year. They came in here thinking they could win." Players and coaches are often very well aware of what happened the last time conference rivals met, even if it was a year ago. Again, those are the kind of handicapping angles that go beyond stats.

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