|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|04-08-19||Texas Tech v. Virginia -1||Top||77-85||Win||100||30 h 41 m||Show|
10* Virginia (9:20 ET): Those who follow my NCAA Tournament picks regularly know that I constantly tout the importance of defense, particularly efficiency, this time of year. If you were still on the fence about believing me, then look no further than this National Championship matchup which pits the #1 team in scoring defense (Virginia) against the #1 team in defensive efficiency (Texas Tech). For the record, Virginia is 5th in efficiency while Texas Tech is third in points allowed. Points definitely figure to be at a premium Monday night, but ultimately (pun intended!) I feel that it will be Virginia cutting down the nets. They have been the more consistent team all season and were my pick to win it all before this Tournament started.
It's not just Virginia's entire body of work that has me on them here. The Hoos have been very good in this Tournament as well. As per usual, we start w/ defense. They are giving up only 55.5 PPG for the season, 58.6 PPG in the Tournament. Remember though, they were taken to overtime by Purdue. Yes, the last three victories have all been by five points or less. But we are getting what I feel is an extremely good value here as this line would have been much higher had these teams played a couple weeks ago. Also, the Cavaliers are a perfect 11-0 ATS the L2 seasons when on the road and coming off a SU win where they did not cover. That's the situation they're in here.
Tip your cap to Texas Tech, who has been very kind to me in this Tournament. They were a *10* ULTIMATE POWER release when they upset Gonzaga in the Elite 8, then my *10* Game of the Year when they upset Michigan State. They're a perfect 5-0 ATS now in the Big Dance w/ all but one win (Gonzaga) coming by double digits. They are giving up fewer PPG (55.8) in the Tournament than Virginia. But, the irony here is that with the defensive numbers basically being a draw, it could come down to the fact Virginia is #2 in the country in offensive efficiency (Tex Tech just 28th). Virginia has been the better team all year and getting them as basically a "pick 'em" is a big deal. 10* Virginia
|04-06-19||Texas Tech +3 v. Michigan State||Top||61-51||Win||100||104 h 15 m||Show|
10* Texas Tech (8:49 ET): The Red Raiders were a signature *10* ULTIMATE POWER release for me in the Elite 8 when they upset top seeded Gonzaga. They remain a live dog moving forward, thanks to #1 ranking in defensive efficiency. This is the key metric that I've leaned on in past tournaments and Texas Tech beating Gonzaga (who was #1 in the country in offensive efficiency) was the latest example of it working out. As soon as the Red Raiders moved on Saturday night, I knew I was going take them again here, regardless of the Duke-Michigan State winner. The fact Michigan State won I believe is a better deal for the Red Raiders as they don't have the offensive weapons that Duke does. Take the points.
Since a poor 1st half in the first round game against Bradley, Michigan State has been very good, outscoring its opponents by 50 points. They outlasted Duke 68-67, sparked by Cassius Winston's 20 points. But Sparty is not a deep team. Only seven players saw action against Duke w/ one of them (Gabe Brown) playing just three minutes. Had Xavier Tillman not gotten into early foul trouble, it's likely Brown wouldn't have even seen the floor. All other MSU starters played at least 38 minutes w/ Winston playing the whole 40. I realize the Spartans have won 14 out of their last 15 games (only loss by 1 pt!) w/ three wins over Michigan. But Texas Tech, save for Duke, will be their toughest opponent to date.
Remember that Texas Tech had no problem beating Michigan in the Sweet 16 themselves. They crushed the Wolverines, holding them to 1 of 19 shooting from three-point range, in a 63-44 final. Michigan State's three wins over Michigan were by a combined 24 points. The Red Raiders have held their four tournament opponents to an average of 57 PPG and the last three have all been against top 25 offenses. They just held the #1 offense in the country (Gonzaga) to 69 pts on 42.4% shooting. I don't see Michigan State topping those numbers, so I'm clearly siding w/ the underdog in this one. 10* Texas Tech
|03-31-19||Auburn v. Kentucky -4.5||Top||77-71||Loss||-105||6 h 18 m||Show|
10* Kentucky (2:20 ET): Just as Kentucky has gotten back one of its key cogs (PJ Washington), Auburn has lost one of theirs (Chuma Okeke). This turn of events is obviously a decided edge for the already favored Wildcats and I've got no hesitation about laying the short number here. UK swept the regular season series, winning by two on the road and by 27 at home. While it is quite unlikely the beatdown will be as severe here as it was in Lexington, UK should win by more than they did down in Auburn. They scored 80+ in both previous games and are much better defensive team compared to the Tigers.
Kentucky has been outstanding defensively in this Tournament, holding all three of its opponents under 60 points. That will obviously be tested by an Auburn team that's shooting the lights out right now (53.5 FG% L2 Games). But I view the Wildcats as being up to the challenge here. They are top 10 (8th) in defensive efficiency and all three Tournament opponents have been held under 40% shooting. Obviously, Auburn is more prolific than any of UK's three previous opponents, but they were held to 32.8% shooting the last time they met. Being without their third leading scorer (Okeke) obviously hurts as well. Okeke had 20 pts last round vs. North Carolina.
Of the six teams still left standing in this Tournament, five are ranked in the top nine nationally in defensive efficiency. Auburn is the other, way off the pace at 43rd. This should end up costing them given the value of this particular metric. They can't continue to shoot above 40% from three-point range. The Tigers have given up at least 75 points in every game in the Tournament, and again, they gave up 82 and 80 points to Kentucky in the regular season. They are looking to do something incredible here - that's beating Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky in three straight Tournament games, but they ultimately fall short here. 10* Kentucky
|03-30-19||Purdue v. Virginia UNDER 126.5||Top||75-80||Loss||-105||13 h 20 m||Show|
8* Under Purdue/Virginia (8:49 ET): Purdue has been on fire in this Tournament, averaging 93 points its last two games while shooting almost 54.0% overall from the field. They have already made a record-setting 40 three-pointers in three games. Carsen Edwards has suddenly found his shot again, making 14 of those 40 three-pointers, and scoring 71 total pts the L2 games. But hey Purdue, to quote a very bad song, "Meet Virginia." The Hoos are #1 in the country in scoring defense and should drastically slow down this Boilermakers barrage. Take the Under here.
It hasn't just been Edwards lighting up the scoreboard for Purdue. Senior Ryan Cline turned in the best game of his career Thursday vs. Tennessee, scoring 27 points by making 7 of 10 three-point attempts. Anything close to a repeat performance should not be expected. Also, with Edwards, he had been cold coming into the Tournament. He's the 1st player since Davidson's Steph Curry to score 25+ pts in four straight NCAA Tournament games (goes back to last year), but that streak should end here. Note Virginia has allowed 70+ points only three times all year and two of those were against Duke.
Remember Purdue's 99 points against Tennessee came w/ OT. No matter who they played here, it would have been difficult to continue their torrid shooting of the last two games. But drawing Virginia all but ensures it will come to an end. Virginia held Oregon w/o a single made basket for the final 5:43 of their 53-49 Sweet 16 victory. Oregon had scored 73 points the game before that. Virginia also held an Oklahoma team that almost went for 100 in Round 1 to just 51 points. By the way, Purdue can play some defense too as was evident by them holding Old Dominion and Villanova to 26.9% and 34.5% shooting respectively in the first two games. All three Virginia tourney games have stayed Under. 8* Under Purdue/Virginia
|03-30-19||Texas Tech +4.5 v. Gonzaga||Top||75-69||Win||100||11 h 40 m||Show|
10* Texas Tech (6:09 ET): Once again, we have an underdog w/ a better defensive efficiency rating. Actually, as long as Texas Tech stays in this Tournament, they'll be in this role. Well, provided they're the underdog. No team in the country has a better defensive efficiency rating than the Red Raiders, who have completely stifled their three tournament opponents, holding them to 57, 58 and 44 points. The performances in the last two rounds were really impressive considering they were against Michigan (LY's national runner-up) and a Buffalo team that was among the highest scoring in the country during the regular season. Right now, I wouldn't bet against this team when getting points.
This is an interesting battle as it pits the country's #1 defensive team against the #1 offensive team. Gonzaga has looked every bit the part of a #1 seed so far, winning all three of its games by double digits. But Texas Tech will easily be their stiffest test to date. In the Sweet 16, the Zags faced a Florida State team that was top 15 in the country in defensive efficiency. The Seminoles were able to hold them to 72 points on 40.3% shooting. Again, Texas Tech is #1 in the country in defensive efficiency, so I am of the belief they're going to do an even better job here. None of the Red Raiders' opponents in this Tournament have shot better than 37.1% from the field.
Texas Tech has also won all three of its games by double digits. Their average margin of victory is actually is 18 PPG w/ every win coming by at least 15 pts. What they just did to Michigan Thursday night was very impressive. They held the Wolverines to 44 pts on 32.7% shooting, making them look like a bad team. Michigan missed its first 18 three-point attempts. That came after holding Buffalo, who averaged 84.5 PPG and had just scored 91, to 58. The Red Raiders are allowing just 53.0 PPG in the Tournament and have held seven opponents under 50 this season. Remember that Gonzaga was held under 50 in the WCC Tournament Final, so it wouldn't be unprecedented. 10* Texas Tech
|03-29-19||Virginia Tech v. Duke UNDER 144.5||Top||73-75||Loss||-110||32 h 57 m||Show|
10* Under Va Tech/Duke (9:39 ET): It's rare to see conference rivals meet in the NCAA Tournament (at least prior to the Final Four), but this is already the second time it's happened in this Tournament. The first was Michigan State crushing Minnesota 70-50. Duke is hoping for a similar outcome here in the Sweet 16 against Virginia Tech. These ACC foes met just once in the regular season and it was actually the Hokies pulling a 77-72 upset (as 3-pt dogs) in Blacksburg. That game just managed to sneak Over, but I'll call for a lower-scoring rematch and take the Under here.
Duke is 0-2 ATS so far in the Tournament and maybe even a little lucky to be here. They escaped by the skin of their teeth against UCF Sunday, winning by one as 13.5-pt chalk. (You may remember I had UCF). That was after failing to cover as huge 27.5-pt favorites in Rd 1 against North Dakota State (won by 23). The Blue Devils did hit 10 three-pointers against UCF, which is a high number for them. Believe it or not, Duke was one of the WORST three-point shooting teams in the entire country in the regular season, at least in terms of percentage. They shot just 30.2% from behind the arc, which was tied w/ SIU-Edwardsville for 339th (out of 354 teams) in the country.
A big difference between this game and the regular season matchup is Zion Williamson. He missed the regular season contest. Of course, so did Va Tech's best player Justin Robinson. With the respective top scorers back in the lineup, you might expect a higher scoring game. But I don't think that'll happen. Va Tech's last four games have stayed Under the total. The Under is 6-2 in Duke's last eight games and they haven't gone Over in B2B games since January. (The UCF game went Over). In fact, that was the ONLY time they went Over in B2B games all season (Under is 25-10-1 in all Duke games). Va Tech has had one of the easiest paths to the Sweet 16 of any team (St. Louis, Liberty) and still shot poorly in those games. 10* Under Va Tech/Duke
|03-29-19||Auburn v. North Carolina UNDER 165||Top||97-80||Loss||-110||27 h 10 m||Show|
8* Under Auburn/North Carolina (7:29 ET): Auburn seems like a real "trendy" dog here coming off the beatdown of Kansas. I played the Tigers in that 2nd round matchup, citing that they'd been priced as a top 15 team most of the year, but were a value in that spot. Sure enough, they came through. But here I think they're priced appropriately against top seeded North Carolina. The total has moved pretty significantly though, to the point that I now see value on the Under. Everyone's expecting a shootout here and because of that we're able to exploit a high number. Take the Under.
So Auburn has now won 10 straight. Most of the wins have been close games, but the one over Kansas was not as the Tigers jumped out to a huge early lead (51-25 at half!) and coasted from there. I seriously doubt they'll be able to shoot that well again (were 52.5% for the game), especially from three-point range (were 13 of 30). For the season, Auburn shot only 43.1% away from home. North Carolina has held its last five opponents to a 40.1 FG%. That includes TWO games vs. Duke! The Tar Heels rank 11th in the country in defensive efficiency.
Of the 16 teams remaining, Auburn actually has the second lowest defensive efficiency rating (only slightly ahead of LSU). So it will be a challenge keeping UNC's offense in check. Roy Williams' team averages 86.0 PPG, third most in the country. But they too shot the ball really well, especially from behind the three-point line, in their last game. Not sure they'll be able to match those percentages, even though Washington is a superior defensive team compared to Auburn. The Under is 5-0 in North Carolina's last five NCAA Tournament games and also 5-0 the last five times they've been coming off a SU win by 20+ points. 8* Under Auburn/North Carolina
|03-28-19||Oregon v. Virginia -8||Top||49-53||Loss||-110||76 h 17 m||Show|
10* Virginia (9:59 ET): Given the way this Tournament has gone ("the chalk has walked!"), the idea that Oregon could somehow win here seems a little far-fetched. Admittedly, the Ducks are as hot as any team in the country right as they come into the Sweet 16 on a 10-game win streak, both SU and ATS. But Virginia has been one of the best teams in the country all season. They still don't get enough credit because they lost in the first round last year to a 16-seed. But that's fueling them this year and after a bad 1st half in the 1st round, the Cavailiers have looked completely dominant. I'm laying the points here in what is my top play for the entire Sweet 16.
For the first half against Gardner-Webb, there had to be a sense of dread in Charlottesville. Virginia was down six going into the break and it looked like UMBC all over again. But this time the Hoos put together a vintage second half performance, holding Gardner-Webb to just 20 points and Virginia won comfortably (by 15). Then, in the second round, they faced an Oklahoma team that had turned in one of the Tournament's best 1st round performances (95-72 win over Ole Miss). Virginia held the Sooners to just 51 points. In terms of scoring defense, no team in the country is better than Virginia as they allow only 55.0 PPG.
Historically, the matchup of a #1 vs. #12 seed in the Sweet 16 has gone the way you'd think. Top seeds have absolutely dominated, going a perfect 19-0 SU head to head. None have been closer than seven points. Top seeds are also 9-3 ATS the previous 12 matchups with an average margin of victory of 16.8 PPG. All 12 won by at least eight points. Overall, #1 seeds are 14-1 SU, 12-2-1 ATS in the Sweet 16 since 2014. The odds are not in Oregon's favor here and I expect Virginia's defensive prowess to be on full display in this one as they roll onto the Elite 8 w/ a third straight double digit victory. 10* Virginia
|03-28-19||Purdue +1.5 v. Tennessee||Top||99-94||Win||100||73 h 12 m||Show|
8* Purdue (7:29 ET): I think Purdue is the better team here. Granted Matt Painter's team has not done well in the past vs. top three seeds in this Tournament, especially in this round. His Boilermakers are 0 for their last 7 against the spread when taking on a top three seed including losses by a combined 45 pts the L2 years in the Sweet 16. But Tennessee HC Rick Barnes is a big money burner in this event himself, going 1-9-1 ATS his L11 NCAA Tournament games, including 0-2 this year. Through the first two rounds, I don't think there's any denying that Purdue has looked better than Tennessee.
Now, for a half, the Vols looked unstoppable against Iowa. They were up as much as 25 on Sunday. But then came the second half. They blew the entire lead and needed OT just to advance. As an Iowa bettor, I was pretty grateful, as the Hawkeyes ended up losing by only six as 8.5-point dogs. It was only a seven-point win for Tennessee in the 1st round against Colgate, whom they allowed to hit 15 three-pointers. In my analysis for the Iowa game, I mentioned that defending the three-point line has been an issue all season for the Vols. Opponents are hitting 38.4% of their 3-pt attempts against them outside of Knoxville. Iowa was even below that percentage (w/ only seven makes), so in that regard Tennessee was actually a bit lucky.
There's been no luck needed for the way Purdue handled Old Dominion and Villanova in the first two rounds of this Tournament. They dominated both, winning by 13 and 26 respectively. The showing against 'Nova, the defending National Champs, was obviously the more impressive of the two. The game was never in doubt as the Boilermakers took a 43-24 lead into halftime. The shooting percentages they've allowed in two games are pretty ridiculous. ODU shot 26.9% while Nova was at 34.5%. On offense, Carsen Edwards was ridiculous w/ a 42-point game against Nova, including nine made threes. Similar three-point shooting from the Boilermakers here is what I expect. Look for them to finally clear that Sweet 16 "hurdle." 8* Purdue
|03-28-19||Purdue v. Tennessee UNDER 146.5||Top||99-94||Loss||-109||73 h 12 m||Show|
8* Under Purdue/Tennessee (7:29 ET): While Tennessee's issues do mainly reside at the defensive end, the bottom line is their game vs. Iowa would have stayed Under if not for OT. Instead, the extra five minutes ensured the Vols' sixth straight Over, a streak which dates back to the end of the regular season. Here they are matched up against a Purdue team that has held its first two Tournament opponents to field goal percentages of 26.9 (Old Dominion) and 34.5 (Villanova). The Boilermakers probably won't shoot as well here as they did against 'Nova (though I still have them winning!), thus I'm looking Under.
Though the field goal percentage allowed against Villanova was higher than it was in the first round matchup w/ ODU, Purdue's defensive effort was probably more impressive in the second game. Villanova is a team that came in ranked 16th in the country in offensive efficiency. Yet the Wildcats could do nothing offensively against the Boilermakers as they made only 20 shots on just 58 attempts. Now Tennessee is obviously a better team than Villanova, but the Vols did just get held to only 22 points in the second half by an Iowa team that is not good defensively. Granted, that came after a big 1st half. But the Vols aren't likely to have a half that prolific again.
If there is one saving grace for Tennessee in this game, it's that Purdue is likely to have an offensive dropoff themselves from the last round. They absolutely torched Villanova to the tune of 87 points on 53.1% shooting, led by Carsen Edwards' 42 points and nine made threes. Edwards had been struggling w/ his three-point shot prior to that game, so he'll definitely have a decrease in production here (even if his teammates pick him up some). Bottom line is Purdue is going to win here, but they won't score anywhere close to as many as they did in the last game. 8* Under Purdue/Tennessee
|03-28-19||Florida State +7.5 v. Gonzaga||Top||58-72||Loss||-109||73 h 53 m||Show|
8* Florida State (7:09 ET): This is a matchup I'd hoped for in the Sweet 16 when the brackets were first released. Florida State has a higher defensive efficiency rating (key metric!) than Gonzaga and should easily be able to stay within this number, if not pull the outright upset. One could point to the fact the Seminoles have only had to play a 13 (Vermont) and 12 seed (Murray State) to get here, but the Zags' path of Farleigh Dickinson (16-seed playing for a second time in three days) and Baylor was hardly a "murderer's row" either. Also, Florida State beat Gonzaga in LY's Sweet 16 (as a lower seed), 75-60 as six-point underdogs.
Now I did play against the 'Noles in Round 1. But they were laying a decent number to an experienced Vermont team. For three-quarters of the game, it was neck & neck before FSU pulled away late (but still did not cover). Their Round 2 performance was much more impressive though as they destroyed Ja Morant and Murray State, 90-62 as only four-point chalk. They held the Racers to 32.8% shooting as a team and it was a blowout going into halftime. FSU has now won 16 of its last 18 games, the only two losses coming to Duke and North Carolina.
Both teams are better in 2019 than they were in 2018. Gonzaga's offensive numbers are off the charts this season, but like I said earlier - Florida State is the better team defensively here. The Seminoles have the kind of size that Gonzaga normally does not have to deal w/ in the West Coast Conference or even so far in this Tournament (Baylor is an undersized team). Yes, the 'Noles will be w/o Phil Cofer here (father passed away), but they were w/o him against Murray State as well. I think they honor their teammate w/ another strong performance here. Last year, they held the Zags to 33.9% overall shooting and 25.0% from three-point range. Under HC Leonard Hamilton, the Seminoles are 7-1 ATS w/ five outright wins as a NCAA Tournament underdog. 8* Florida State
|03-27-19||Colorado +5.5 v. Texas||Top||55-68||Loss||-104||12 h 12 m||Show|
10* Colorado (9:05 ET): Both teams are obviously 2-0 here in the NIT, but while Colorado has covered both of its games (albeit barely), Texas is 0-2 ATS in theirs. The Buffs have won seven of eight overall, the only loss coming to top seed Washington in the Pac 12 Tournament. The Longhorns have now failed to cover five in a row dating back to the end of the regular season and are just 3-5 SU the L8 games. I realize this game is in Austin, but Colorado looks like the much better team and I'll gladly take the points here.
Colorado really dominated its second round NIT game against Norfolk State as they led by 20 at the half and coasted from there. They were actually pretty fortunate to cover the large spread (-14) as Norfolk State missed 11 of 21 free throws in a 16-point loss. But now the Buffaloes are back to being underdogs, a role they have actually not been in very much lately. Playing w/o rest in the Pac 12 Tournament, they did "upset" Oregon State as 2.5-point pups. Other than that, Washington is the only team they've been a dog against in the last month.
Honestly, it may be more important that Texas is a favorite than Colorado being the underdog. The Longhorns have been huge money burners as chalk this season, going 7-15 ATS in that role w/ eight outright losses. Their two wins in this Tournament have both been by six points or less and by just eight points total. They are just 18-16 SU on the season, by the way. The 1st round game against South Dakota State saw the 'Horns make 15 three-pointers (unlikely to be repeated here) and the game against Xavier went to OT. Better team is getting points. 10* Colorado
|03-26-19||Charleston Southern v. Hampton OVER 157||Top||67-73||Loss||-109||12 h 39 m||Show|
10* Over Charleston Southern/Hampton (7:00 ET): This is an interesting matchup as the teams are conference rivals, playing in a postseason tournament. It's not a longstanding rivalry, mind you. Hampton just joined the Big South last year after leaving the MEAC. The first meeting in nearly 20 years took place back in January w/ Hampton winning 92-84 as four-point road dogs. As you can see from that final score, it was a high-scoring game, one where the Over cashed by 30 points. The total is significantly higher (by about 10 pts!) for this rematch in the CIT, but I still don't think it's nearly high enough. Take the Over.
Hampton is one of the highest scoring teams in the entire country. They play at a pretty fast place (44th in adjusted tempo) and average 81.7 points per game. They've been either right at or slightly below that season average the last three games. But expecting an increase in scoring tonight does seem logical. The Pirates' scoring average jumps to a whopping 86.4 PPG at home where they are shooting 37.3% from three-point range. They scored 81 here in their opening round game of the CIT, beating St. Francis (NY) by nine. While that game just managed to sneak Under, the Over is still 18-9 in all Hampton games this season.
Charleston Southern has seen the Under cash in seven straight games, so things are "due" to swing the other way. They shot better than 50% from the floor in a 68-66 win over Florida Atlantic in opening round CIT action while also holding the Owls to just 36.2%. Despite those disparate overall shooting percentages, the game remained close because Charleston Southern could not make a three (4 of 23) while FAU was 11 of 30 from behind the arc. Charleston Southern also hardly got to the free throw line, taking only six attempts from there the entire game! I would expect the Buccaneers three-point and free throw shooting to increase tonight. At the same time, they let Hampton shoot 55% overall and 13 of 25 from 3-pt range in the regular season matchup. So I expect their defensive numbers won't be as good as the last game either. 10* Over Charleston Southern/Hampton
|03-25-19||Longwood v. DePaul -15||Top||89-97||Loss||-107||11 h 13 m||Show|
8* DePaul (8:00 ET): Longwood is outclassed here as they face a team from the Big East Conference. DePaul may not be Villanova, but they are certainly head and shoulders above their opponents in this one. Longwood pulled a real stunner in their first CBI game, beating Southern Miss 90-68 as 9.5-point home dogs. I'm not entirely sure how or why Longwood ended up w/ the home court advantage for that game, given Southern Miss was a 20-win team in the regular season. Longwood has a losing record (16-17 SU overall) and went just 5-11 in the Big South.
DePaul also delivered an impressive performance in 1st round CBI action by hanging 100 pts on Central Michigan. They gave up 86, but it hardly mattered as the Blue Demons couldn't miss and hit the century mark for the THIRD time this season and second in four games. We should expect them to score a ton again this evening while you probably can't say the same for Longwood. The Lancers did make 18 three-pointers and shoot 52.6% overall against Southern Miss, but they are averaging a scant 64.8 PPG away from home this season. That's a huge drop (double digits) from what they average at home.
Longwood clearly "wanted it more" than Southern Miss as they had way more energy at the start of the game. They raced out to a 25-13 lead and never looked back. A similar start is unlikely tonight. I know this seems like a lot of points to lay in a postseason tournament, but Longwood is probably the worst team still playing college basketball at this point. The Lancers had lost four in a row before beating Southern Miss in what I'll call a "gifted home game." DePaul can score w/ the best of 'em and should have no problems here. 8* DePaul
|03-25-19||Coastal Carolina v. West Virginia OVER 157||Top||109-91||Win||100||10 h 13 m||Show|
8* Over Coastal Carolina/West Virginia (7:00 ET): A major difference between this year's team and past editions of Bob Huggins' basketball at WVU is on the defensive end. The Mountaineers did turn in one of the better defensive efforts of the season in the CBI opener against Grand Canyon, holding the Antelopes to just 63 points on 40% shooting. For the season, WVU is allowing 76.5 PPG. It'll be a much stiffer test in tonight's quarterfinal matchup against a Coastal Carolina team that just dropped 81 in its last game (despite less than stellar shooting!) I like the Over in this one.
Coastal Carolina beat Howard in its first CBI game, 81-72 as 11-point favorites. That was a home game for the Chanticleers and you do have to worry some about them taking their act on the road where they've gone just 6-12 SU this season. I still anticipate them scoring plenty here as they average 76.4 PPG overall. But on the defensive end, they've now given up at least 70 pts in nine straight games. That's quite a bit, especially considering they've given up at least 80 in five of those nine games. On the bright side, Coastal Carolina hasn't shot well at all its last three games (just 34.9%) and I expect that number to improve - by a lot - tonight.
Before holding Grand Canyon to just 63 points last Wednesday, West Virginia had given up 70 or more in eight straight games. Five of those games, they gave up at least 82. Now, I realize that was against Big 12 competition, but Coastal Carolina can score w/ the best of them. The Chanticleers are shooting 36% from three-point range. WVU has allowed 76.5 PPG over the course of the season, which is kind of stunning. Look for this to be a high-scoring game. 8* Over Coastal Carolina/West Virginia
|03-25-19||Utah Valley +2.5 v. South Florida||Top||57-66||Loss||-109||10 h 13 m||Show|
8* Utah Valley State (7:00 ET): Another quarterfinal matchup in the CBI, this one featuring two teams that won, but failed to cover their first game. Utah Valley State is off a wild 92-84 win over pesky Cal State Northridge where they were 11-point favorites. Now they're the underdog against a USF team that struggled to get by Stony Brook (needed overtime) here in Tampa. The Bulls only won 82-79 (as 7.5-pt chalk), dropping to 1-7-1 ATS their last nine games. I realize UVSU has failed to cover three in a row, but I wouldn't trust South Florida as favorites moving forward. Take the points.
Utah Valley State had a solid finish to its regular season and has lost only one time in the last 10 games. That was to Grand Canyon in the WAC Tournament semifinals. The Wolverines finished second in the conference, behind only New Mexico State, who almost upset Auburn in the NCAA Tournament. Since the starting the year 1-3 (two losses to NCAA Tournament teams, the other at BYU), Utah Valley State has gone 24-6 its last 30 games w/ only one loss by more than seven points. This is a pretty good team and they're dangerous in the underdog role considering they average 77.6 PPG.
South Florida stumbled badly down the stretch, not only at the betting window, but straight up as well. The three-point win over Stony Brook was just the Bulls' second win in the last nine games. The other was by five, over a terrible Tulane team that didn't win a single conference game and just fired its head coach. In other words, I wouldn't want to be laying points w/ this group right now. The Bulls actually trailed Stony Brook by 18 (again, here at home!) at the half. The better team is getting points in this one, in my opinion. 8* Utah Valley State
|03-24-19||Ohio State +6.5 v. Houston||Top||59-74||Loss||-115||20 h 53 m||Show|
8* Ohio State (8:40 ET): Ohio State rewarded my faith in them by pulling a minor upset in Round 1, 62-59 over Iowa State as five-point pups. That was my biggest play of the Round of 64 and I came away even more impressed w/ the Buckeyes than I was going in. They do need to feed big man Kaleb Wesson more and I suspect that will happen here. Though OSU needed to stave off a potential game-winner from the Cyclones, they led virtually the whole way and only trailed briefly in the second half. Few will give the Buckeyes a chance here, but I'm taking the points.
Houston is the second round opponent for Ohio State. The regular season champs from the American Conference looked very impressive in Round 1, beating Georgia State by 29 as 12.5-point chalk. It was the third time in the last four games that the Cougars, a very good defensive team, held their opponent to 30.0% shooting or worse. But the competition hasn't been that strong as the other two times came against Memphis and UConn. UH did lose the American Tournament Final to Cincinnati, a team Ohio State has beaten this year. I get the Cougars have been beaten all of three times this season, but they're laying too many points.
I said this in the writeup for Ohio State in the last round, but the return of Wesson makes all the difference in the world w/ this team. A three-game losing streak at the end of the regular season coincided w/ Wesson being suspended, but he led the way w/ 21 points against Iowa State. The team is 3-0 ATS since he returned to the lineup, losing only once and that was to Michigan State in the Big 10 Tournament, by only seven points. Ohio State is undervalued right now, bottom line. The Big 10 is playing too well as a whole not to grab this many points. 8* Ohio State
|03-24-19||Buffalo +4 v. Texas Tech||Top||58-78||Loss||-109||17 h 10 m||Show|
10* Buffalo (6:10 ET): We're looking at a tournament almost bereft of major upsets. Entering play on Sunday, there's still a chance that every team seeded 3rd or higher could advance to the Sweet 16. That simply doesn't happen very often. Here, we have one of the few teams seeded 3rd or higher yet to make its way onto the Sweet 16, that being Texas Tech. The Red Raiders didn't have much problem w/ Northern Kentucky on Friday, winning 72-57 as 13-point chalk. They do own the nation's top defensive efficiency rating (per KenPom), but will be severely tested here by a Buffalo team that just put up 91 points in Round 1 and averages 85.1 PPG. Take the points.
Buffalo, the two-time reigning MAC Champs, are in the second round of the Tournament for a second straight year. Last year, they came in as a relative unknown and pulled an upset of Arizona as a 13-seed before running into Kentucky. This year, things are much different. They were the favorite in Round 1 and played like it, completely dominating Arizona State. They're a dog in Round 2 yet again, but this time only as a 6-seed and w/ a real legit shot of advancing to the school's first ever Sweet 16. Tip your cap to the job done here by HC Nate Oats, whose team is 32-3 SU this season. That's tied w/ Houston for the best win percentage (.914) in all of D-I.
Normally, I would side w/ a team that has the defensive efficiency Texas Tech does. But Buffalo is not often an underdog and is a legit Top 20 team in the country. This will be just the fourth time the Bulls have gotten points all season. They have scored 82 or more points in six consecutive games and were 5th in the regular season in points per game. This is also a veteran team. Their 1st round effort vs. Arizona State was as impressive as any turned in during the Round of 64. 10* Buffalo
|03-24-19||UCF +13.5 v. Duke||Top||76-77||Win||100||16 h 23 m||Show|
8* Central Florida (5:15 ET): The expectation is for top seed Duke to roll here. But we'll take advantage of that and grab an inflated number w/ a UCF team that really surprised me in dominating a good VCU team 48 hours ago. Yes, VCU's leading scorer was hampered with an injury. But the Golden Knights building up a lead as big as 21 points is still impressive. They're getting double digits here, because after all "Duke is Duke," but given the Blue Devils' slow start vs. North Dakota State, I wouldn't be rushing to the betting window to lay the points here. In fact, I'll do just the opposite.
Duke did get off to a slow start in Round 1. They trailed 16-seed North Dakota State (Carson Wentz's alma mater) early and were up only four at the break. Eventually, they did win rather easily, 85-62, but failed to cover the lofty 27.5-point spread. Coming into this year's NCAA Tournament as the prohibitive betting favorite (best odds to cut down the nets since 2015 Kentucky), the Blue Devils are definitely overvalued. They've covered only 3 of their last 12 games. UCF's defense can and is likely to keep them within the generous spread here.
The Knights give up just 64.1 PPG on the year w/ opponents shooting 39.2%. They held VCU to 31.1% shooting. UCF did turn in a poor effort in the regular season finale vs. Temple (lost 67-62) and then ran into the host team in the American Tourney, Memphis, and lost badly. But other than those two games, the Golden Knights have covered every game dating back to February 10th. That's a 9-2 ATS run entering Sunday. They're 8-3 SU in that same stretch w/ two of the losses coming by five points. They've suffered only one loss by double digits all season and that was in the conference tournament at Memphis. UCF has the tallest player in the country on its roster (the 7'6" Tacko Fall), so look out Zion Williamson! Also, their HC (Johnny Dawkins) is a former Coach K assistant, so his former boss isn't going to look to embarrass him. 8* Central Florida
|03-24-19||Iowa +8.5 v. Tennessee||Top||77-83||Win||100||11 h 12 m||Show|
8* Iowa (12:10 ET): The Big 10 has performed so admirably in this Tournament that how can you NOT consider Iowa plus the points here? The conference has only lost (straight up) twice so far and one of those was because Minnesota and Michigan State played one another (Wisconsin was the other). The Hawkeyes really impressed me in coming back from an early hole to defeat Cincinnati 79-72 as 4-pt dogs in the 1st Round. They were down 18-5 early, but from that point on, it was all Hawkeyes. In the second round, they'll be facing a Tennessee team that is NOT as strong as Cincinnati was defensively. I expect Iowa to score in this game and that makes taking the points the way to go. Also the game is in Columbus, a venue they regularly visit as Big 10 rivals of Ohio State.
Tennessee did not cover its 1st round game vs. Colgate. The Vols won 77-70 as 17.5-pt chalk as they were outscored in the 2nd half. With 14 minutes remaining, the game was actually tied as Tennessee could not protect a 14-point lead. Like I said earlier, I expect Iowa to have plenty of success offensively in this game. They shoot 36.6% from three-point range and average 78.3 PPG overall. Even though it was season-high (15) three pointers allowed by Tennessee against Colgate, defending the three-point line has been an issue all year for the Vols. They let opponents shoot 38.7% from behind the arc outside of Knoxville for the year. If Colgate was able to have that kind of success, just imagine what the Hawkeyes can do.
I'm not sure why Iowa isn't being given the respect it deserves here. Maybe it's their poor defensive efficiency rating, which normally would scare me off. But UT is no "great shakes" either defensively as they allow 77.8 PPG away from home and that's a big reason why I've never totally "bought in" on their success this season. Though still only 2-9 ATS the L11 games, Iowa is 5-1 SU/ATS at neutral sites in 2018-19 and rarely is getting this many points. 8* Iowa
|03-23-19||Auburn -2 v. Kansas||Top||89-75||Win||100||14 h 5 m||Show|
8* Auburn (9:40 ET): The lower seed is slightly favored here, which is telling. Now I understand, it's a 4 vs. 5 (seed) matchup, so the teams are rather evenly matched on paper. But I still feel we're getting some value here on Auburn due to the way their 1st round game vs. New Mexico State ended. The Tigers nearly blew all of a 13-point second half lead, holding on for a 78-77 victory thanks to some NMSU blunders in the closing minute. Ironically, I thought Auburn was a little overvalued for that 1st round matchup as they were coming off winning the SEC Tournament. But for much of the year, it's been a case of being undervalued and that is again the case tonight.
Kansas was the only high seed to cover the spread in the afternoon session on Thursday. They ran away from Northeastern in an 87-53 beatdown that saw the Jayhawks completely dominate the second half. They shot 56 percent from the floor, but it won't be that easy again tonight. Nor are they likely to hold Auburn anywhere close to the 28.1 FG% they held Northeastern to. I think most would agree that this Kansas team is NOT as strong as past editions, so I'm not surprise they check in as the underdog here. Note that the Jayhawks are just 5-11 ATS coming off a SU win including 0-4 ATS if that SU win was by more than 20 points.
Auburn is hot as they've won nine straight. A lot of those wins have been close, but they did destroy Tennessee in the SEC Tournament Final, a situation where I was on them. I've made the case multiple times this season that this is a Top 15 team and typically they are priced accordingly. The Tigers played much better than the final scored showed vs. New Mexico State and now don't have to win by any kind of significant margin. Kansas will not be able to rely on a 50-16 edge in points in the paint here like they did vs. Northeastern. Lay the short number. 8* Auburn
|03-23-19||Florida v. Michigan OVER 123||Top||49-64||Loss||-104||10 h 32 m||Show|
10* Over Florida/Michigan (5:15 ET): These are two of the better defensive teams in the country, so it's no surprise the total opened really low. But it clearly opened too low as is evident by the fact we've seen some significant movement w/ the number. I'm following the $$$ on this one as "average games" from both sides would equal an Over. What I mean by that Florida scores 68.3 points per game and allows 63.6. Michigan scores 70.5 PPG and allows 58.5. The shooting percentages both teams allowed in Round 1 won't be matched here. Take the Over.
Michigan met a clearly inferior opponent in Round 1 as they blew out 15-seed Montana 74-55. The Wolverines' extraordinary defense was on full display in that one as they held the Golden Grizzlies to just 33.3% in a game that was never really close. The Maize and Blue jumped out to an early double digit advantage, a much different start compared to when they faced Montana in LY's Tournament. Note it was Montana's second worst shooting percentage all season. Ironically, the Wolverines did allow more points this time against Montana. After beating them 61-47 LY, they'd go on to allow 63 in the next round to Houston (a game they won at the buzzer).
Florida will be much tougher to defend compared to Montana, obviously. But similar to Michigan, the Gators won't have as easy a time stopping the Wolverines as they did vs. Nevada Thursday. The Wolf Pack were held to 34.5% shooting in a bad all-around performance by them. While Florida is 16-3 Under outside of Gainesville this season, they did recently shoot over 60% in a game (vs. Auburn), showing that they can "bring it" offensively. At the same time, Michigan will perform a lot better from three-point range than Nevada (5 of 24) did. All we need here is for both teams to score 62 pts and that really doesn't sound too difficult. 10* Over Florida/Michigan
|03-23-19||Maryland +2.5 v. LSU||Top||67-69||Win||100||26 h 36 m||Show|
10* Maryland (12:10 ET): The defensive efficiency metric I lean so heavily on for handicapping this Tournament clearly favors Maryland in this second round matchup. The Terrapins are 24th in the country in defensive efficiency, LSU is 58th. Taking underdogs, no matter how small, with that kind of DE advantage is something I love to do. It was the strategy used in yday's big winners on Oklahoma and Washington. Neither of these teams covered Thursday, but LSU is a team I was NOT sold on for much of the regular season as they were a clear overachiever in the regular season. They also are playing w/o HC Will Wade, who is a part of the ongoing NCAA scandal. Take the points.
Maryland spent a lot of their Round 1 game trailing Belmont. The Terps are a very young team w/ six freshman seeing time. No one in their rotation had ever won a NCAA Tourney game before Thursday. In the frontcourt are two players (Fernando, Smith) who will be in the NBA. In the backcourt is one of the Big 10's best guards, Anthony Cowan Jr, who shot just 3 of 18 against Belmont (including 1 of 10 on three-pointers). The fact the Terps still won in spite of their best player having "that kind of game" is a mark in their favor, especially w/ them falling into such an early hole (trailed by 12 in 1st half). Cowan won't shoot that poorly again here.
LSU was far more in control of their 1st round game against Yale. The Tigers led by 16 at halftime and held on for a 79-74 win (but did not cover). However, the size advantage they enjoyed against Yale won't be present here. Now you can say the same for Maryland, who used size to its advantage against Belmont. However, a discussion of the LSU coaching situation bears repeating. Not having your head coach in this tournament is obviously not ideal. LSU has enjoyed a tremendous record in close games this year (including four OT wins in SEC play). You have to wonder if that luck is set to run out. I think it will. 10* Maryland
|03-22-19||Ohio State +5.5 v. Iowa State||Top||62-59||Win||100||78 h 28 m||Show|
10* Ohio State (9:50 ET): Iowa State is riding high right now, coming off an impressive win in the Big 12 Tournament. But I also believe said run makes the Cyclones somewhat susceptible to a 1st round upset. The committee did them no favors here w/ the draw of an undervalued Ohio State team, who most will disregard simply because they finished w/ a losing conference record. The Buckeyes do come into the Tournament having lost four of five. However, key to that was they were w/o their best player (Kaleb Wesson). He's back now and OSU is a live dog here. Take the points.
The edge in defensive efficiency here goes to the Buckeyes, who rank a strong 27th in that category, which is the second highest rating for any double digit seed. Meanwhile, Iowa State is 59th in defensive efficiency, putting them right behind 13-seed UC Irvine. In terms of single digit seeds, only five have a lower defensive efficiency rating than the Cyclones and two of them are either an 8 or 9 seed. Something that must be remembered here is that Iowa State had lost six of eight going into the Big 12 Tournament. Now they're the "toast of the town."
Ohio State played two horrible games w/o Wesson, losing by double digits at Purdue and Northwestern. They shot 33.3% and 29.6% in the two losses. But then they took Wisconsin to overtime (lost by 4) and Wesson returned. With Wesson back, they beat Indiana in the Big 10 Tourney before bowing out to top seed Michigan State (only lost by 7). Wesson's return is huge and makes the Buckeyes a much better team than how they looked down the stretch. Don't fall victim to recency bias, Ohio State is the play here. 10* Ohio State
|03-22-19||Washington +3 v. Utah State||Top||78-61||Win||100||76 h 32 m||Show|
8* Washington (6:50 ET): Here's yet another matchup where defensive efficiency is the key metric to lean on. Washington may have run into the buzzsaw known as "Oregon" in the Pac 12 Tournament Final, but Mike Hopkins' Huskies were regular season champs in the conference and that should mean something here. I realize that the Pac 12 was most certainly "down" this season, but the Huskies are a top 20 team in the country in defensive efficiency and that makes them a fantastic value getting points in this 1st round matchup w/ Utah State. Take the points.
Utah State was a "bubble team" entering its conference tournament (Mt West), but took itself right off the bubble by winning in Las Vegas. They caught a break though when top seed Nevada was upset in the semifinals by San Diego State. That made for an easier than anticipated final, which the Aggies won 64-57 as six-point favorites. USU has won 10 straight to get to 28-6 SU on the year, but the level of competition in the Mt West isn't what it is in the Pac 12, even in a down year for the former. Utah State ranks only 47th in defensive efficiency, so again not sure they should be favored here against the regular season champs from a bigger (and better) conference.
Washington plays a 2-3 zone as Hopkins is a Jim Boeheim disciple from Syracuse. My call is that Utah State is going to struggle to make shots against the unfamiliar defense. Also, when Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybulle is on the floor, the Huskies force a turnover on 25% of their opponents possessions. Utah State actually allows a lower FG% than Washington over the course of the season, but that's also thanks to facing the dregs of the Mountain West. Save for Nevada LY, the MWC has really struggled in this event. Utah State went 17-17 SU last year and was picked to finish NINTH in the Mountain West before the season started. The spot is likely "too big" for them. 8* Washington
|03-22-19||Oregon v. Wisconsin -1.5||Top||72-54||Loss||-109||73 h 24 m||Show|
10* Wisconsin (4:30 ET): This just might be the most fascinating line of the entire 1st round. Oregon is undoubtedly hot right now as they ran through the Pac 12 Tournament, winning three of their four games by double digits en route to garnering the automatic bid (which they needed). The Ducks are a perfect 7-0 ATS in March and being priced like it as they are essentially a "pick 'em" taking on a Wisconsin team that has spent much of this season ranked in the top 25. Under normal circumstances, I might consider Oregon in this spot. But this is a horrendous draw facing a team that ranks in the top five (nationally) in defensive efficiency.
Wisconsin comes into the Tournament ranked #21 in the country at 23-10 SU overall. They've won six of their last eight games. The only two losses were by two to Indiana and to Michigan State in the Big 10 semis. There have been instances of the Badgers dropping B2B games before, but I just do not see it happening here. This is one of the top defensive teams in the country and that carries a lot of weight w/ me this time of year. They also have an efficient offense, led by Ethan Happ, who is one of the better individual players in this entire Tournament. Oregon will NOT enjoy the pace at which Wisconsin likes to play.
Oregon has actually won eight in a row going back to the final game of February, including two wins over regular season champ Washington. But the Ducks also benefited from having played all of those opponents at least one time before. Here, that won't be the case and Wisconsin certainly doesn't play like most Pac 12 teams. The irony here is Oregon is actually no slouch defensively either. They are top 20 in the country. Had they been matched up w/ any other 5-seed, I would have probably taken them. But the selection committee dealt them a bad blow with Wisconsin, who is simply the better team in every facet of the game. Remember, the Ducks lost their best player (Bol Bol) mid-season, something that isn't even being talked about anymore. A month ago, no one would have thought they'd be in the Tournament, let alone have a chance to beat a team like Wisconsin on a neutral floor. 10* Wisconsin
|03-22-19||Oklahoma +1.5 v. Ole Miss||Top||95-72||Win||100||69 h 23 m||Show|
8* Oklahoma (12:40 ET): I'm again turning to defensive efficiency as the key metric for this NCAA Tournament and why not? It's been pretty foolproof in year's past. Three years ago, few would have predicted South Carolina would get to the Final Four. But the Gamecocks were actually top three in the country in D.E. (Last year's Cinderella, Loyola Chicago, was 17th). It's not the "end all, be all," but it is instructive. In this early Friday matchup, we're looking at Ole Miss team that ranks a rather pedestrian 65th in defensive efficiency going against an Oklahoma side that's 23rd. I think that's pretty significant when the better defensive team is taking points.
Similar to last season, Oklahoma got off to a great start and then faltered a bit in the teeth of Big 12 play. The only difference is this year's team doesn't have Trae Young. But they are much better defensively (LY's squad ranked 85th in efficiency) and thus capable of winning at least one game (which the Young-led team failed to do LY). The Sooners are allowing a FG% of just 40.2 for the season, which is a very good number (2nd in the Big 12). While they did finish w/ a losing conference reccord, don't let that fool you. This is a team better designed to win in March than on a random Tuesday in January.
Ole Miss was picked to finish 14th (last!) in the SEC before the season, so tip your cap to the job done here by 1st year HC Kermit Davis. But one thing Davis will have to work on moving forward is the defense, which is particularly suspect along the three-point line. Ole Miss opponents buried over 37% of 3PA, which is a really high number and will mean trouble against an OU squad that has multiple players that can shoot from deep. Also, the Rebels are one of the very worst teams in the field at defending in transition. The last five games saw them allow a FG% of 50.0 (!), so it's no wonder they lost four of the five games. 8* Oklahoma
|03-21-19||St. Mary's +5.5 v. Villanova||Top||57-61||Win||100||69 h 54 m||Show|
10* St. Mary's (7:20 ET): If you recall past Tournament runs (of mine), then you know defensive efficiency is a metric I lean on heavily this time of year. It can be particularly useful when the underdog has a higher DE rating. Such is the case here w/ St. Mary's taking on Villanova. Make no mistake about, this Villanova team is nowhere close to LY's juggernaut that ended up cutting the nets down. That team ranked 11th nationally in DE. This year, the Wildcats ranked 73rd, which (in my eyes) makes them susceptible to suffering a 1st round upset. I'll take the points here.
You have to wonder whether or not St. Mary's would be in the NCAA Tournament had it not been for an upset of Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament Final. But the Gaels did win that game and thus are here as an 11-seed. They are no defensive juggernaut (55th in efficiency), but they have a higher rating than 'Nova and are also comparable on the offensive end (21st vs. 16th). I just don't see the gap between the teams that the oddsmakers seem to. St. Mary's has won a NCAA Tournament game each of the last three years. They play at a very slow pace and also crash the glass at a solid rate. If they can beat the Zags, well, they are capable of beating anyone on any given night.
Villanova entered LY's Tournament as the betting favorite. That is certainly not the case this year. While they did win both the Big East regular season title and tournament, the league was down. The Wildcats also won the last two games by just four (Xavier) and two (Seton Hall) points. Also, despite a high number of attempts from behind the three-point line, the Wildcats aren't converting at their usual rate in 2018-19. I've had this team earmarked as having the potential for suffering an outright loss in the 1st round for some time. I'm not wavering from that. 10* St. Mary's
|03-21-19||Abilene Christian +23 v. Kentucky||Top||44-79||Loss||-115||68 h 19 m||Show|
8* Abeline Christian (7:10 ET): Little is known about 15-seed Abilene Christian. But Kentucky HC John Calipari seems at least a little scared, at least when it comes to those particular Wildcats' three-point shooting. And for good reason. Abilene Christian is connecting at a somewhat ridiculous 38.6% from behind the three-point line this year. Granted, the level of competition in the Southland is nothing close to what the Wildcats will see here. But given their proficiency from behind the arc and how many points they're getting, I think the underdog is a strong call here. No one will give them a chance. I think they'll outperform expectations rather easily.
So here's the deal on Abilene Christian. They were NOT regular season champs in the Southland (finished 2nd), but did unseat New Orleans in the Tournament Final, 77-60, and were 4.5-point favorites in that game. This is their 1st ever NCAA Tournament berth, but it's an experienced group w/ three seniors and one junior among the starting five. Admittedly, it's not a team w/ a lot of height and depth took a hit when two reserves were dismissed earlier in the year. But this team's level of three-point shooting can keep them in any game.
Kentucky was really strong down the stretch and should have beaten Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. But they faltered late and lost that game. As per usual, UK has a young roster. They've got plenty of talent, but I can see the players looking past this game and onto the next round. They've only covered 1 of their last 6 games. Also, Coach Cal's team will not be able to trade threes w/ Abilene Christian. Only 23.6% of UK's points come from behind the arc. That's bottom 20 in the country. The three-point shot alone should be able to keep the underdog within the generous spread here. 8* Abeline Christian
|03-21-19||Vermont +9 v. Florida State||Top||69-76||Win||100||15 h 12 m||Show|
8* Vermont (2:00 ET): I'm seen "some" go so far as to label Florida State a "Final Four Darkhorse." Maybe that's true, but the designation has also made the Seminoles a tad bit overvalued here in Round 1. I concede that the Noles have lost only twice since January 22nd. Those losses were to North Carolina and the ACC Championship Game against Duke. They're 14-2 SU the L16 games. But this Vermont team is not to be taken lightly. The America East Champs play great defense and rebound shockingly well given their lack of height. It's also been a two-year journey back to the Tourney for the Catamounts. Take the points.
Vermont fans feel center Anthony Lamb is as good as any player in the country. He was certainly the best player in his conference. The Catamounts allow just 62.6 PPG, which is the 16th best in the entire country. In conference play, they allowed just 0.885 points per possession. The last five games saw them allow an average of just 52.6 PPG. Only three teams in the country gave up fewer offensive rebounds. Something else that's key is how often Florida State sends its opponents to the free throw line and how good Vermont is at converting when they get to the charity stripe. Unaccustomed to being an underdog, Vermont will be very motivated here. By the way, this game is being played in Hartford, which is much closer to Burlington than it is Tallahassee.
Back to the journey. Last year, Vermont was one of the top mid-majors in the country. But on their home floor, they were upset by UMBC (on a buzzer beater). We all know what happened w/ UMBC (became 1st 16-seed to win a NCAA Tourney Game). Vermont was not going to be denied this year, however. They got revenge on UMBC is this year's America East Final and here they are, a year more experienced. I think that after making a run to the ACC Final, FSU is due for a letdown. Vermont is the kind of team that pulls upsets in this Tournament. 8* Vermont
|03-20-19||Arizona State v. St. John's OVER 152.5||Top||74-65||Loss||-110||12 h 37 m||Show|
10* Over Arizona State/St. John's (9:10 ET): I'm not entirely sure either of these teams belong in the field of 68, but that's all "water under the bridge" now. Arizona State has won six of eight w/ both losses coming to an Oregon team that's as hot as anyone in the country right now. Meanwhile, St. John's is really limping into the Big Dance as they've lost five of seven, including a rather humiliating 86-54 loss to Marquette in the Big East Tournament. Neither of these teams are exactly defensive stalwarts, so I'll be going Over in this Opening Round matchup Wednesday.
Arizona State comes in averaging a healthy 77.8 PPG and should have little difficulty here scoring against a St. John's team whose last five opponents have combined to shoot over 50% from the field. The Johnnies are allowing almost 80 PPG when away from home, which is a pretty frightening number for a NCAA Tournament team. Four of those last five Red Storm opponents have scored at least 81 pts, including Xavier twice and the Musketeers were one of the weakest offensive teams in the Big East. Overall, St. John's ranks an ugly 111th in defensive efficiency. Only 15 teams that made the field rank lower.
But ASU is exactly adept at limiting points, even though they held opponents to a 41.3 FG%. St. John's comes in averaging 77.5 PPG, so they also should "get theirs" tonight. All five of their starters are averaging double figures, led by Shamorie Ponds, who scored 25 or more points 10 times in the regular season. Ponds averages 19.5 PPG and topped 20 in nine straight games at one point. The Johnnies had seen four straight Overs before shooting just 32.8% in the loss to Marquette. But Arizona State is only 78th in defensive efficiency, so we'll see much better shooting here. 10* Over Arizona State/St. John's
|03-19-19||Belmont v. Temple +3.5||Top||81-70||Loss||-108||22 h 25 m||Show|
10* Temple (9:10 ET): Belmont is the rare at-large NCAA Tournament entrant. The Bruins tied for the regular season title in the OVC (w/ Murray State), but fell to the Racers (who are led by the sensational Ja Morant) in the Tourney Final. I think it's nice that the Bruins got into the field of 68 (they were deserving!), but this is a much tougher draw than most realize. I reckon that Belmont will be the popular play b/c of the story here, but it's a little surprising they are favored considering Temple is the better defensive team and played a far tougher schedule in the American. I'm taking the points here.
Temple had an early exit in the American Tourney, losing to a lower seed (Wichita State) in the quarterfinals, 80-74 as 1.5-pt chalk. They limited the Shockers to 39.1% from the field, but the problem was the Owls had their own "off-shooting night." The Owls finished 3rd in the American, behind only Houston and Cincinnati. They were one of only two American teams to beat Houston in the regular season. While an extremely fortunate 4-0 in overtime games this year, the Owls were rarely blown out. Their largest loss (18 pts) was to Tulsa of all teams. The only other DD loss came to Villanova. They went 6-3-1 ATS as underdogs.
It's not that Temple is that great defensively; it's also that Belmont is pretty bad at that end of the floor. The Bruins rank an ugly 127th in defensive efficiency, which is a key metric I lean heavily on this time of year. Belmont does shoot the three extremely well (37.4%), but Temple has fared well against such teams, going 8-0 ATS the L2 years vs. teams that shoot at least 37% from behind the arc. I don't think we'll see the usual three-point sharpshooting here from Belmont. They were just 7 of 32 (21.8%) vs. Murray State in the OVC Tourney Final, a potentially bad sign. Temple has an experienced backcourt, led by the AAC's top scorer Shizz Alston Jr. They get the cash. 10* Temple
|03-19-19||Fairleigh Dickinson v. Prairie View A&M UNDER 150||Top||82-76||Loss||-115||20 h 50 m||Show|
8* Under Farleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M (6:40 ET): With the exception of North Carolina Central (who plays tomorrow), these are the two worst teams in the entire field of 68. Because of what UMBC did to Virginia LY, we can no longer automatically "write off" a 16 seed's chances, however, odds are that whomever wins here won't be celebrating for long. That's because the winner draws Gonzaga. Neither team here is noted for its defense, but playing in the "big time" figures to have a somewhat drastic impact on the respective offenses. I'll take the Under.
Farleigh Dickinson is the champion of the NEC (North Eastern Conference). They tied (w/ St. Francis PA) for the regular season title, then beat St. Francis in the NEC Tournament Final. So that's how they got here. But they are 0-5 SU all-time in the NCAA Tournament, losing by an average of 14 PPG. The Knights do shoot the ball very well from three-point range, 40.3% in fact, which ranks 5th in the entire country! But they also play at a very slow tempo and typically don't throw it up early on in the shot clock. If their perimeter shooting is off here, then it figures to be quite the long night offensively for FDU.
Conversely, Prairie View A&M will want to speed this game up. The regular season and tournament champs of the SWAC enter the Big Dance on an amazing run, having won 21 of their last 22 games. The Aggies put up some real "eye-popping" numbers in the SWAC Tournament, including dropping 92 on TX Southern in the Final. They've scored at least 81 pts in five of their last six games. But this game is a whole different story against an unfamiliar foe. A&M is actually one of the WORST three-point shooting teams in the entire field, if not country, at 30.8%. But the good news is they do guard the three-point line well, which will come in handy against the jump shooters of FDU. The Aggies rank 31st in the country in 3PT FG% defense and also do a great job at forcing turnovers. My read is that this will not be a typical game - for either side - as it figures to be pretty slow by Prairie View A&M standards while FDU will not be getting off the usual number of three pointers. 8* Under Farleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M
|03-17-19||Texas-Arlington v. Georgia State -3.5||Top||64-73||Win||100||7 h 33 m||Show|
8* Georgia State (2:00 ET): The Sun Belt Championship Game has wormed its way onto Selection Sunday, but this matchup between UT Arlington and Georgia State may have the most value on the board. The top two seeds benefited tremendously from the SBC Tourney format, which gave both of them a bye into the semifinals, which means they each only had to win one game to get here. Those games were played yday w/ Georgia State beating Texas State 59-46 & UT Arlington beating Georgia Southern 67-58. Georgia State won both regular season matchups against UT Arlington and thus is the top seed here. I look for them to make it 3 for 3 on Sunday. Lay the points.
You may remember Georgia State from a few years ago when they pulled a historic upset (15-seed over a 2) against Michigan State. Ron Hunter is still the coach here and the program is obviously doing well. The Panthers hold non-conference victories this year over East Tennessee State, Alabama, Georgia and a St. Bonaventure team that may end up making the Big Dance. I put a high priority on defense this time of year and Georgia State certainly turned in a strong effort on that end of the floor yday. They held Texas State to 21.8% shooting (season-low for an opponent) and only 15 first half points. It was the Panthers' seventh win in their last eight games and they are 4-0 SU/ATS L4.
The two regular seasons wins over UT Arlington both saw Georgia State play outstanding defense. They held the Mavericks to 37.5% shooting overall and just 10 of 52 from three-point range. In the home game, UT Arlington shot just 2 of 25 from behind the arc! Despite attempting far more shots, the Mavericks couldn't get the job done either game. Now they did cover in both losses. They lost by five as 6.5-pt home dogs and six as 8-pt road dogs. So this looks like a value on the favorite here. UT Arlington is on a 5-0 SU/ATS run, but that ends here. 8* Georgia State
|03-17-19||Auburn +4.5 v. Tennessee||Top||84-64||Win||100||13 h 18 m||Show|
10* Auburn (1:00 ET): A late rally yday led to Tennessee stunning Kentucky in one SEC semifinal. The other one saw Auburn stave off Florida after appearing to get away w/ a foul on the potential game-tying three-pointer. Pay no mind to the respective seeding of these two teams. Tennessee might be the 3-seed in the SEC, but they're very much in play for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament were they to win today. Auburn, the #5 seed in the SEC Tournament, is a top 15 team in my eyes and an opponent no one will want to face next week. Only one can win here, obviously. I'll take the points as I'm not at all surprised Auburn got here. They've underachieved somewhat this season, but are finally starting to perform up to expectations.
Looking at the stat sheet from yday, it's somewhat miraculous that Auburn beat Florida. The Gators shot 60% from the field (season-high) and finished w/ a 32-17 advantage on the boards. But the Tigers did win. They held Florida to a season-low in shot attempts (38) and also converted 19 turnovers into 20 points. Auburn had 56 shot attempts to Florida's 38 and also killed them from three-point range. They were 13 of 29 from behind the arc while the Gators were just 6 of 15. The fact Auburn attempted only five free throws (made only two!) didn't even matter. Really, it was a remarkable performance.
With just under three minutes to go, Kentucky led Tennessee by eight. As someone holding a UK ticket, I was thinking cover not an outright loss. Back when the Vols were ranked #1 in the country, I was leery of them. In some ways, I still am. This game figures to have plenty of emotion w/ former Tennessee HC Bruce Pearl now coaching Auburn. Of course, this is not the first time Pearl has taken on his former school. In fact, he just beat them 84-80 (as a 2.5-pt home dog) last week. Auburn has now won seven in a row and I give them an excellent shot at pulling the outright upset yet again. 10* Auburn
|03-16-19||Iowa State v. Kansas -1.5||Top||78-66||Loss||-107||7 h 29 m||Show|
10* Kansas (6:00 ET): Maybe they'll be having the last laugh in Lawrence after all. After having their historic 14-year streak of winning the Big 12 regular season championship snapped this year, the Jayhawks are now favored (albeit ever so slightly) to win the Big 12 Tournament Final today. The opponent is Iowa State, a team that clearly benefitied from top seed Kansas State playing without its best player yesterday. You have to wonder what would have happened had Dean Wade suited up for Kansas State Friday night. My guess is that it would have resulted in an all Sunflower State final.
Iowa State turned it over 17 times and was not strong offensively for most of the second half. Granted, Kansas State is not just the best defensive team in the Big 12, but also one of the best in the entire country. But the Cyclones blew all of a double digit lead in the 2nd half and needed to hit some critical shots down the stretch to secure the four-point victory. While they've mostly looked good each of the last two days, remember the Cyclones lost five of their final six regular season games.
Kansas also got a bit of a break in this tournament by getting to play 10th seeded West Virginia in the semifinal as opposed to Texas Tech (who WVU upset in the quarterfinals). The Jayhawks didn't have much problem w/ the Mountaineers last night, winning 88-74 as 9.5-point chalk as they shot 52.4% from the field and had a pair of 40+ pt halves. Iowa State was a tough opponent in the regular season, but they split the two meetings w/ each team winning at home. Not winning the Big 12 regular season title has Kansas highly motivated this week and they get the job done Saturday night. 10* Kansas
|03-16-19||Tennessee v. Kentucky -1||Top||82-78||Loss||-110||5 h 55 m||Show|
8* Kentucky (3:30 ET): If either of these two schools were to win the SEC Tournament, then they'd be in line for a top seed in the Big Dance. But of more immediate importance is taking this rubber match. The home team rolled in both regular season meetings as UK won 86-69 in Lexington and Tennessee won 71-52 in Knoxville. Like a lot of people, I've had my suspicions about the Vols and I simply believe UK is the better team here. The key is a top 10 ranking in defensive efficiency.
Since being humiliated in the opening game of the season by Duke (lost 118-84!), Kentucky has been beaten only four times. Three of those were by two points or less (5 pts total!), one coming in overtime (Seton Hall) and another at the buzzer (LSU). The other was to Alabama, which was avenged yday w/ a convincing 73-55 win as 12.5-pt chalk. Coach Cal cited his team's rebounding as key to the win. Now they go to avenge the only other regular season, that being what happened in Knoxville two weeks ago. The Wildcats shot miserably in that game (31.8%) and that's not going to happen again here.
Tennessee has set a school record for wins this season (28) and like Kentucky most of their losses were close games. The one exception was against the 'Cats. It was a seven-point win over Mississippi State for the Vols on Friday as they shot 51.5% from the field. I wouldn't look for a repeat of that here today. A big key here is that Tennessee gives up 77.9 PPG away from Knoxville, which is a significant increase over what they're allowing in home games. Kentucky's PPG allowed away from home is more in line w/ what they allow in Lexington, thus their higher defensive rating. I like Kentucky (a lot) to move on. 8* Kentucky
|03-16-19||Rhode Island v. St Bonaventure -1.5||Top||51-68||Win||100||4 h 6 m||Show|
8* St. Bonaventure (1:00 ET): I played St. Bonaventure yday and came away even more impressed w/ this group than I already was going into the game. They beat George Mason 68-57 as a relatively short favorite. While that result won't exactly through "shockwaves" through College Basketball, watching the game, this team appears poised to make a run. They are very good defensively and now catch a significant break in that top seed VCU is out of the A-10 Tournament. The Bonnies will face the team that upset VCU, Rhode Island, and once again appear undervalued.
Rhode Island is now on a 6-0 SU/ATS run after upsetting VCU 75-70 yday. It was the third year in a row that the Rams ousted VCU from this event. It was also a huge revenge spot for the Rhodies, who had lost 76-42 the last time they faced VCU. The coaches and players seemed particularly motivated. "They (VCU) were heckling us a lot to get us out of our game," Jeff Dowtin said. The win does come w/ a major caveat, however. VCU lost its leading scorer Marcus Evans in the second half. After he left the game is when Rhode Island made its move.
Earlier, I touched on the kind of defense that St. Bonaventure has been playing. (Also discussed in yday's analysis). Yesterday marked the 9th time in the last 11 games that the Bonnies held their opposition to 60 points or less. They essentially controlled the game throughout, holding George Mason to 35% shooting overall. While yday was a revenge spot for Rhode Island, today it's St. Bonaventure's turn as they lost up in South Kingstown, 75-63, back in January. The Rams shot 54.3% from the field in that game, something that will not happen again here. That was one of just three games the Bonnies allowed 50% shooting in conference play this year and one of just seven overall. 8* St. Bonaventure
|03-15-19||Florida State v. Virginia -9||Top||69-59||Loss||-108||9 h 40 m||Show|
10* Virginia (7:00 ET): Despite getting off to a slow start yday vs. NC State, Virginia ended up winning by 20 (76-56) and comfortably covering as 11.5-pt chalk. Just imagine the result had the Hoos not been down at the half! Meanwhile, there was nothing easy or comfortable with Florida State's 65-63 win over Va Tech yday. That game went to overtime, putting them at a severe disadvantage today against the ACC's top seed. Virginia won the lone regular season meeting, by 13 points, in Charlottesville. It should be a similar result tonight in the first of two ACC semfinals. Lay the points.
Virginia leads the country in scoring defense, giving up only 54.6 PPG. That defensive prowess was on full display yday (particularly in the 2nd half) as they held NC State to 38.8% shooting for the game, including 3 of 20 from three-point range. It was the Cavaliers' ninth win in a row overall. This season has seen them go 8-0 ATS when on a win streak of that length. There have been plenty of wins for a team (29-2 SU overall) that I consider the best in the country right now. I feel that because of LY's historic upset at the hands of UMBC, the Hoos are going to be severely undervalued this month. Such is the case here.
Florida State shot just 34.1% from the field in the first meeting w/ Virginia and finished w/ a season-low 52 points. Virginia has a habit of doing that to its opponents. FSU got points from 10 different players yday and 33 total from its reserves. Still, it took a late three-pointer to send the game to OT where the Seminoles won on a Terrance Mann basket w/ just 1.8 seconds remaining. FSU has won 13 of its last 14 games, but the lone loss was by 18 to North Carolina. They are simply not on the same level as the other three semifinalists in the ACC. 10* Virginia
|03-15-19||George Mason v. St Bonaventure -3||Top||57-68||Win||100||6 h 38 m||Show|
8* St. Bonaventure (2:30 ET): A big key in handicapping today's card is there are a great number of rested teams facing opponents that played yday. That very situation presents itself in all four games of the Atlantic 10 Tourney where the top four seeds all got byes into the quarterfinals. Count St. Bonaventure among that group and the Bonnies are laying just a small number to George Mason Friday afternoon. George Mason was fortunate enough to draw a poor George Washington team in its opening round contest, but still only won by four points. I'll be laying the short number here.
GMU has actually been fortunate enough to play GW two straight times. (They also beat the Colonials 81-65, on the road, in the regular season finale!). But yday's tournament battle was a lot tighter as the Patriots' biggest lead was only eight points and that came early in the 1st half. They actually trailed by as many as five in the second half. Keep in mind they were nine-point favorites at the betting window. St. Bonaventure is a team they split with in the regular season as each team won by double digits on its home floor. While George Mason won the 1st meeting by 15, St. Bonaventure was more dominant w/ a 23-pt win in the rematch.
Other than GW, the only other team George Mason has defeated over the last month was Richmond, who also finished near the bottom of the A-10 regular season standings. Meanwhile, St. Bonaventure is hot, having won seven of its last eight games. The favorite has covered the spread in each of the last nine meetings between these schools and that's mainly been the Bonnies, who are 6-1 ATS the last seven matchups. Big edge to the Bonnies on defense as they rank 57th in the country in defensive efficiency while GMU is 151st. The Patriots also are allowing opponents to shoot a blistering 54.4% from two-point range, which is last in the A-10. Furthermore, GMU is now 0-6 ATS following its last six SU wins. 8* St. Bonaventure
|03-15-19||Memphis v. UCF -2||Top||79-55||Loss||-110||6 h 44 m||Show|
8* UCF (2:00 ET): The American Conference's Tournament is being played in Memphis, which obviously gives the host team some advantage. But it won't enough today for the Tigers to overcome a very underrated UCF team. While Memphis had to play yday, UCF got a bye into the quarterfinals. That, to me, is just as important as the homecourt advantage here for Memphis (if not more so). Now UCF did not fare well in their previous venture here, losing by 20 points. But that and a loss in the regular season finale (at Temple) will have them fully motivated this afternoon. Lay the short number.
Memphis really didn't need any kind of additional advantage for its 1st round matchup w/ Tulane. The Green Wave were the worst team in the American this year and quite possibly one of the worst teams in the entire country this year, excluding the smaller conferences. Tulane finished the season 0-19 SU vs. the rest of the American and 4-28 SU overall. So don't go putting much stock in the Tigers' 83-68 win yday. They totaled a season-high 52 pts in the 1st half, a number they won't come close to matching today. It was the second time they beat Tulane in the last month (both at home, no less), so the fact the Tigers have also won five of six is also slightly misleading.
UCF has had nearly a full week to "stew" over losing to Temple in the regular season finale. While that was called an "upset," Temple actually did go off as a 2.5-pt betting favorite. The loss dropped UCF out of the Top 25 and also halted an eight-game ATS win streak. Their only SU loss in those eight games was by five at Cincinnati. They later avenged that defeat and also won at Houston on 3/2, which was one of just two conference losses suffered by the Cougars all season. These teams like to play at VERY different tempos and I think it's going to be a problem for unrested Memphis here today. 8* UCF
|03-14-19||Long Beach State v. Hawaii -1.5||Top||68-66||Loss||-110||15 h 14 m||Show|
8* Hawaii (11:30 ET): The Big West is one of the few leagues that does NOT provide any advantage to the top finishers from the regular season. The conference tournament is a straight ahead format w/ the top eight teams playing four quarterfinal matchups. Now the bottom two teams from the reg season don't even get a chance to play in the tournament, but considering how bad UC Riverside and Cal Poly both were, that's of little consequence. The final quarterfinal of Thursday pits 4-seed Hawaii against 5-seed Long Beach State. The Warriors will be looking to make it a 3-0 season sweep of the 49ers after beating them twice in a week two months ago.
Long Beach State will arrive in Anaheim on a five-game win streak. But three of those wins were by five points or less and the other two were against the two teams that didn't qualify for this tournament. Before that stretch, LBSU had lost eight of nine w/ the only win coming in OT against Cal Poly (worst team in the Big West). At one point in the season, the 49ers were eight games below .500. Even w/ the strong finish, they are only 14-18 SU overall. Half of their eight league wins came against those bottom two teams. This is a team that gives up 79.5 PPG away from home.
Hawaii actually won a pair of games here on the mainland to end its regular season. They held Cal State Fullerton to 59 points in the regular season finale. Offensively, the Warriors turned in two of their better efforts of the year against LBSU. They tied a school record w/ 14 made three-pointers (on 27 attempts) in the second matchup, which was on the road. Note that Hawaii was one of only three teams in the entire Big West to finish the regular season w/ a winning SU record. They should easily move onto the semifinals to face one of the other two, top seeded UC Irvine (who is the clear class of the league). 8* Hawaii
|03-14-19||East Carolina +11 v. Wichita State||Top||57-73||Loss||-110||14 h 59 m||Show|
10* East Carolina (10:00 ET): This line would seem to be inflated even though Wichita State just drubbed East Carolina nine days ago. The Shockers won 72-55, as 14.5-point favorites, but of course that came was played in the friendly confines of Koch Arena. It was the second time beating the Pirates this year as back in February it was a 16-point win in Greenville. Wichita State certainly got hot down the stretch, winning 9 out of its last 11 games. Meanwhile, ECU has won just twice in its last 16 games and both wins were against horrendous Tulane. Despite those respective trajectories, I maintain the line is inflated and I'll take the points.
When a team comes into its conference tournament red-hot, I think there needs to be a little trepidation when they start laying big numbers. Wichita State has a track record, but this edition is not the strongest. They really did beat up on the bottom of the American, a designation which clearly applies to East Carolina, but I'm not sure we should go trusting a team that was three games below .500 on January 26th and only 2-6 SU in conference play. Of the last nine wins, two were against ECU, two were against Tulane, two were against Tulsa, two were against SMU and the other vs. UConn. That's the bottom five teams in the American. Three were by three points or less, including the regular season finale vs. Tulane, who did not win a single conference game this season.
East Carolina was clearly the American's second worst team this year w/ the only non-Tulane win being a shocker over Cincinnati. But down the stretch, they did have a few tough losses, including two in overtime. Over the last three seasons, they are 16-4 ATS following B2B games where they had five or less steals. Is anyone going to confuse the Pirates for a "good" team? No. But they deserve more credit than they are getting Thursday. Too many points for a team that shoots just 38.7% away from home (Wichita State) to lay. 10* East Carolina
|03-14-19||Connecticut v. South Florida +1.5||Top||80-73||Loss||-110||17 h 19 m||Show|
8* South Florida (1:00 ET): The American's conference tournament gets going Thursday w/ four 1st round matchups. The winner here moves on to face top seed Houston, so the odds are long for either UConn or USF going very far in this event. Neither is exactly displaying "peak form" lately either. UConn no longer resembles the program once known for coming up huge in March. The Huskies have just two wins in their last nine games. One of them was against USF, who is just 1-6 its last seven games. Something will have to give here and surprisingly, I side w/ the Bulls in this one.
There were two regular season matchups between UConn and USF and they split the pair, each winning at home. UConn was clearly overvalued as a 3.5-pt road favorite back in January, losing 76-68. They did gain a measure of revenge just 11 days ago in Storrs, but won by only two points (70-68) and thus missed out on covering (were -3!). That second meeting was an ugly shooting day for both teams. Ironically, on the day they retired Ray Allen's number, UConn didn't make a single three-pointer (0 for 15). They shot just 38.5% for the game. Fortunately for the Huskies, USF was even worse overall (32.8%) even though they made three 3-pointers (3 of 18).
Here in Memphis, the teams should shoot better. But how much good shooting did UConn "use up" in their regular season finale against East Carolina. They shot 62.5% from the field in the 82-73 win as 6.5-pt road favorites. The Huskies definitely won't be shooting that well again today. South Florida is the superior defensive side in this one, giving up just 67.0 PPG, which is a respectable number. Certainly a lot better than UConn, who gives up 77.9 PPG away from Storrs. UConn also won just two games away from home all season. That is shockingly bad. 8* South Florida
|03-13-19||Washington State v. Oregon -10.5||Top||51-84||Win||100||15 h 29 m||Show|
10* Oregon (11:30 ET): The Pac 12 was rightly maligned this season and may only end up sending one team to the Big Dance depending on how this tournament plays out. Regular season champ Washington figures to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but if they also emerge victorious this weekend in Las Vegas, then the rest of the league could very well be shutout. At the opposite end of the spectrum, there were two teams in the Pac 12 that turned in absolutely horrific regular seasons. Those were Washington State and Cal. I'll fade the former here as they've got no chance here.
Oregon is a team that came into 2018-19 w/ high hopes, but those mostly went "out the window" when Bol Bol went down w/ a season-ending injury. Still, the Ducks have persevered and actually finished the regular season on a 4-0 SU/ATS run. One of those wins came against Washington State, by 11, as 6.5-pt road favorites. You'll note the spread is several points higher today (neutral setting) but the Ducks also beat the Cougars by 20 as 13-point favorites in Eugene earlier in the year. They also just knocked off Washington in the regular season finale. In three of the last four games, Oregon has not given up more than 51 points.
Ironically, Wazzu was the one team to top 51 against the Ducks. But they may not do so here. The Cougars come into this game on a five-game losing streak, having failed to cover all five times as well. Defensively, they are very bad, giving up almost 80 PPG. (Oregon gives up only 63.7 PPG on the year). Having already taken two DD losses to the Ducks in the regular season, I don't see why the tournament will be any different for Wazzu. Oregon is 25-12 ATS the L3 seasons when coming off a conference win. 10* Oregon
|03-13-19||Rice v. Marshall -6.5||Top||65-82||Win||100||14 h 39 m||Show|
8* Marshall (10:00 ET): Marshall is a team I've jumped on a couple of times recently and both times they easily covered. In some ways the Thundering Herd benefited from C-USA's wacky "pod" system of scheduling at the end of the regular season. After every team played 14 games, the teams were grouped 1-5, 6-10 and 11-14. You then only played the teams in your own pod. Marshall swept their pod, going 4-0 SU and ATS. Thus, they actually finished tied w/ the second best record (11-7 SU) in league play. Yet because of said "pod" system, they're still seeded 6th. So that is to their detriment as they won't even get a 1st round bye in the C-USA Tournament.
But expect the Herd to make some noise in this event. Sure, I made the point that this is a much better team at home (where they won't be playing anymore). But they're hot. Also remember that this was a NCAA Tournament team a year ago (won 25 games!) and returned four starters. It was absolutely a disappointing start to the season, but they have the horses to finish strong. Their 1st opponent in the C-USA Tournament is Rice, who has been playing all of its recent games against the lowest tier of teams in the league. Facing Marshall will be a big step up in class for the Owls.
Because Rice was in the 11-14 pod, they actually played the same team back to back in their last two regular season games. It was Charlotte, who didn't even qualify for the tournament. The Owls really had nothing to play for in their last game (though it was Senior Day) and they lost to the 49ers 78-70 as 5.5-pt favorites. Two of Rice's recent wins came against the two teams that did not make this tournament: Charlotte and UTEP. They did beat Marshall earlier in the year, 74-69, but that was at home. So revenge comes into play here and I don't think the Thundering Herd will take it easy on the Owls. 8* Marshall
|03-13-19||Arizona v. USC +1||Top||65-78||Win||100||7 h 54 m||Show|
8* USC (3:00 ET): What a tumultuous season in Tucson as the Arizona program has been clouded by the specter of this NCAA investigation. It would almost be appropriate then for the Wildcats to bow out in the first round of the Pac 12 Tourney. They did have a three-game win streak in late February, but those are the only wins for the team going all the way back to late January. Overall, the Wildcats come into the postseason tourney having dropped 9 of their last 12 games, both SU and ATS. USC hasn't been much better, but the Trojans did Arizona 80-57 in the regular season.
USC has lost and failed to cover four in a row. But they had a tough schedule at the end of the reg season, having to play the final three games on the road. You may recall that I faded them last Saturday in Colorado. It was actually my *10* Game of the Week. But the thinking there was CU was a terrible matchup for the Trojans, both in terms of rebounding and getting the game in Boulder. That wound up being true. Today's game is not in hostile territory and Arizona happens to be one of the two teams in the Pac 12 averaging fewer rebounds per game than the Trojans.
In the 80-57 blowout of the Wildcats in the regular season, USC completely dominated every facet including the boards. They held Arizona to 27.8% shooting, including 5 of 25 from three-point range. It was arguably their best game all season, certainly in conference play. An argument can be made that USC deserved a better regular season record as they were 0-3 in overtime games. The Trojans should defend better here (compared to recent efforts) and they are the better three-point shooting team. 8* USC
|03-12-19||North Dakota State v. Nebraska-Omaha -2.5||Top||73-63||Loss||-108||10 h 43 m||Show|
8* Omaha (9:00 ET): This is the Summit League Finals. The top seed in this tournament (South Dakota State) was stunned in the Opening Round, losing to a bad Western Illinois team. That result has certainly "opened the door" for #2 seed Omaha to advance to its first ever NCAA Tournament (program was not D-I until 2011-12 season). The Mavericks have played two close games so far here in Sioux Falls as have their opponents, North Dakota State. Carson Wentz's alma mater was a more direct beneficiary of South Dakota State getting knocked out early as the Bison got to play Western Illinois in the semifinals yday. But they won only 76-73.
The Bison's leading scorer Tyson Ward made just 1 of 6 field goal attempts yday, but he and the rest of the team got bailed out by a season-best 20 pt effort from Sam Griesel. NDSU did lead by as many as 15 early in the 1st Half, but could not shake the Leathernecks and actually trailed briefly w/ less than 10 minutes remaining. I can't stress enough how bad Western Illinois was during the regular season. This is a big step up in class for the Bison tonight and they've already lost twice to Omaha during the regular season. Those games were decided by a total of 21 points.
Those two regular season meetings played out very differently w/ Omaha winning 90-77 at home and 58-50 on the road. The Mavericks come in off a 1-pt victory over IUPFW last night where they were held to a season-low 24 pts in the second half. But they didn't allow a single basket over the game's final four minutes either. A quick look at the regular season standings confirms that South Dakota State and Omaha were the clear class of the Summit League this year. Again, it's a major break for the Mavericks not to have to deal w/ the top seed here (who would be playing on its home court). I look for them to move on. 8* Omaha
|03-12-19||Appalachian State v. Louisiana-Monroe UNDER 155||Top||80-89||Loss||-109||12 h 28 m||Show|
10* Under Appalachian State/LA Monroe (8:00 ET): The Sun Belt Tournament gets underway Tuesday w/ a pair of 1st round matchups. LA Monroe is forced to play this "extra" game due to losing a head to head tiebreak w/ Coastal Carolina. I don't envision Appalachian State providing much resistance, however, laying this many points w/ the Warhawks doesn't sound like a particularly good idea either. What I do like here is the total. It was set way too high considering both teams have been going Under far more than they have been going Over of late. App State is 5-1 Under its last six games while ULM is 5-2 Under in its last seven. Take the Under here.
The rest of the SBC Tournament will take place down in New Orleans, but these 1st round games are at campus sites. That's a big edge to LA Monroe tonight (as well as for South Alabama playing Arkansas State). The Warhawks went 12-2 SU at home during the regular season and did average an impressive 84.6 PPG. They shot very well vs. App State in both regular season meetings (above 51% both games) and averaged 82.5 PPG. But this is the postseason now and I don't think we'll be seeing that level of scoring. Note that La Monroe just turned in one of its better defensive efforts, holding Little Rock to 62 pts in the regular season finale.
App State shot 56.5% from the field in the first game vs. La Monroe. But that was at home and a season-best FG%, at least for conference play. The Mountaineers were held to 43.5% in the rematch, which took place on 2.28. Thus, that second meeting was lower scoring and stayed Under. Things would have been even worse offensively for ASU in that game had it not been for a career-high 47 pts from Ronshad Shabazz. Simply put, I'm NOT expecting the Mountaineers to score much here. They shot just 39.0% in the reg season finale vs. South Alabama. La Monroe shot just 41.1% in its last game and only got to 79 pts because of a big night at the free throw line. 10* Under Appalachian State/LA Monroe
|03-11-19||San Diego +5 v. St. Mary's||Top||62-69||Loss||-109||15 h 17 m||Show|
8* San Diego (11:30 ET): It's become almost automatic for Gonzaga and St. Mary's to meet in the WCC Tournament Final every year. In fact, we've gotten that exact Finals pairing 7 out of the last 10 years (but not last year). The three times we didn't see the pairing, BYU made it in place of St. Marys. (Gonzaga has made the Final every year since 1997!) As per usual, Gonzaga and St. Mary's have received the double byes into tonight's semifinal round by virtue of finishing 1-2 in the regular season. But there's an upset-minded team looking to spoil the party this year and it's San Diego, who has gotten on a real late-season "roll."
This year's WCC Tournament has already featured plenty of upsets as neither Gonzaga nor St. Mary's will be facing "who they thought they would." San Diego is the 7-seed and just stunned BYU 80-57 on Saturday to get here. It was the Toreros' third straight excellent defensive performance in this tournament. They'd previously held Portland to 47 points on 33.3% shooting and Santa Clara to 45 points on 27.8% shooting. Now those were games they were favored to win. But they were 3.5-point dogs against BYU and limited them to 31% shooting from the field. I'm counting on that USD defense coming up big again tonight.
St. Mary's has been off since 3/2 when they lost the regular season finale, at home, to Gonzaga. They were held to just 55 points in that contest, which is bad news considering the team's 18-32 ATS record the L3 seasons coming off an Under. The Gaels are not as strong this year as they have been in past years. Now don't tell that to San Diego, who will be playing w/ double revenge here for a pair of double digit losses in the regular season. The Toreros shot the ball horribly (29.4%) the last meeting, which I don't expect to be the case here. In what figures to be a low-scoring game, taking the points is the way to go. 8* San Diego
|03-11-19||Ball State v. Eastern Michigan -2||Top||61-43||Loss||-109||11 h 47 m||Show|
10* Eastern Michigan (7:00 ET): The MAC Tournament gets underway Monday. These 1st round matchups are being played at campus sites, quite an edge for the home teams, who will have to win four times this week to make the Big Dance (next three rounds all played in Cleveland). Here we have the #6 vs. #11 seed matchup w/ Eastern Michigan hosting Ball State. The latter did not end its regular season well (at all) as it dropped five of six, the lone win coming by just a single bucket. Overall, Ball State is 2-11 ATS its last 13 games w/ seven straight non-covers.
So laying just a small number w/ EMU seems to be a good idea here, especially considering they swept the regular season series. It was a two-point win in Muncie back in January, then a seven-point win here in Ypsilanti just a week ago. Last week's game saw the Eagles largely in control from start to finish. They led by 12 at halftime and held the Cardinals to 38.5% shooting for the game. For the season, Eastern Michigan went 11-6 SU here at home while holding foes to 66.2 PPG on just 40.2% shooting. Ball State has averaged just 61.4 points over its last five games.
The Cardinals' regular season ended w/ a 64-57 loss at home to Northern Illinois (were 5-pt favorites). They are 9-26 ATS the L3 seasons when coming off a game that went Under the total. Eastern Michigan also lost its reg season finale, but covered the spread at Toledo in a six-point defeat. They are a perfect 3-0 SU and ATS off their previous three losses and I trust the Eagles' defense to get the job done here. Ball State is basically a wounded animal at this point, waiting to be put out of its misery. 10* Eastern Michigan
|03-11-19||NC-Greensboro v. Wofford -6.5||Top||58-70||Win||100||8 h 51 m||Show|
8* Wofford (7:00 ET): This is the Southern Conference Final and top-seeded Wofford is in the rare position of being a "smaller" mid-major that does NOT have to win its conference tournament. The Terriers are ranked 22nd in the country coming into Monday and will likely be even higher once the new poll comes out later today. I say that because they're now on a 19-game win streak (school record) after rather easily dispatching of East Tennessee State in the semifinals yesterday. But despite their "assured" NCAA Tournament status, I'm still laying the points here w/ Wofford as they have something to prove.
Because they "need" to win tonight, I'm figuring UNC Greensboro might be a pretty popular underdog tonight. But the Spartans have expended a lot of energy the last two days in coming from behind to defeat both Samford and Furman. Sunday, they ended the game on a 21-10 run to win 66-62. Saturday, they were down 12 to 7-seed Samford at the half and down six w/ six minutes to go. Privately, I think Wofford has to be ecstatic to draw UNC Greensboro in this spot, rather than Furman, who I had rated as the stronger potential opponent.
UNC Greensboro has pulled off a number of come from behind efforts to get to 28-5 SU on the year. But they got drilled both times they faced Wofford, losing by 29 and 30 points. With this game being on national TV, I don't think Wofford is going to be prone to any sort of letdown. Rather, I look for them to make their presence felt on a national level as they look to go into the NCAA Tournament w/ a fairly decent seed (a 6 or 7?). The Terriers are 20-0 SU vs. the rest of the SoCon, winning by an average margin of 17 PPG. They have covered the spread in 10 of their last 11 games, only failing when the were asked to lay 23.5 against VMI. 8* Wofford
|03-10-19||Wisconsin v. Ohio State OVER 123||Top||73-67||Win||100||8 h 45 m||Show|
10* Over Wisconsin/Ohio State (4:30 ET): Wisconsin needs a win today to lock up the #4 seed in the Big 10 Tournament while Ohio State is just trying to get off the NCAA Tournament bubble. A loss today in the home finale would drop the Buckeyes to 8-12 SU in the Big 10, not a death knell, but they are on pretty shaky ground and trending downward w/o their leading scorer/rebounder Kaleb Wesson. Despite OSU playing without Wesson and Wisconsin being incredibly stingy at the defensive end, I expect this game to go Over the total, which is too low. The teams have not met previously this season.
In the two games so far w/o Wesson, Ohio State has scored only 51 and 50 points in losses to Purdue and Northwestern. But both of those games were also played on the road. Here in Columbus, the Buckeyes are averaging a far more impressive 75.8 PPG. Even with Wesson playing in most of the games, they average only 59.8 points in "true" road games. The Under is 9-3 in those true roadies, but the Over is 12-6 in all other OSU games this season. The Buckeyes played a horrible game at N'western on Wednesday, missing the first 13 shots they took and finishing the game just 26.6% from the floor, including 4 of 26 on three-pointers. They can't possibly shoot any worse today.
Wisconsin just allowed its season-low in its last game (45 points) vs. Iowa, but that was also the third time the Badgers held an opponent below 50 pts this season. They are top five in the country in defensive efficiency. But despite all that, I'm still looking for an Over here as Wisconsin did give up 75 points in its last road game plus they should find their way offensively against a struggling Ohio State squad. The Over has cashed each of the last four times these teams have played and is 7-3 in the Buckeyes' last 10 home games. The Over is also 4-0 in Wisconsin's last four games vs. teams with an overall winning record. Look for this one to sneak Over. 10* Over Wisconsin/Ohio State
|03-09-19||North Dakota v. Nebraska-Omaha -5.5||Top||76-81||Loss||-115||23 h 7 m||Show|
8* Neb-Omaha (9:30 ET): This is a quarterfinal in the Summit League Tournament, which gets going today in Sioux Falls, SD. Second seeded Omaha is one of two teams that really dominated this league during the regular season (top seed South Dakota St being the other). There's quite a gap between those two teams and the rest of the field, so I thought it would be an opportune time to take advantage of that fact w/ the pointspread being widely available (not always the case in the Summit League). Omaha should easily roll onto the semifinals. Lay the points.
The Mavericks went 13-3 SU in conference play during the regular season. They split w/ South Dakota St (who finished 14-2 SU), but unfortunately were swept by Oral Roberts, losing both times by four points or less. But overall, this is a team that has won 16 out of its last 19 games, including 12 of 14. They concluded the regular season w/ an easy win over last place Denver (who didn't even qualify for the tournament), 86-76 as a four-point favorite. That was the Mavericks' 3rd straight road game.
Omaha's quarterfinal opponent is a North Dakota team they beat twice during the regular season, scoring 90+ pts in both games. The road win was a lot closer (92-91) as the Mavericks breezed to a 90-72 win at home. The Fighting Hawks did have a three-game win streak snapped in their reg season finale as they lost by 15 at South Dakota. But note before that three-game win streak, the Fighting Hawks were just 3-9 SU in league play. They were a perfect 4-0 against Western Illinois and Denver, the two worst teams in the league, and just 2-10 SU vs. everyone else. The last time these teams played, Omaha shot a blistering 56.5% from the field. 8* Neb-Omaha
|03-09-19||USC v. Colorado -6.5||Top||67-78||Win||100||19 h 38 m||Show|
10* Colorado (5:00 ET): This would appear to be the proverbial "two ships sailing in opposite directions" type deal. USC has lost three in a row and six of eight (also 2-6 ATS). Colorado has won and covered seven of its last nine games, including B2B blowouts here in Boulder. The Buffaloes still have a chance to finish in the top four in the Pac 12, if Oregon State were to lose at Washington State or if Utah lost at home to UCLA. That would mean a first round bye in next week's conference tournament. They have beaten USC 8 of the last 12 meetings, including 69-65 (as 4.5-pt dogs) back on Feb 5 in LA. At home, the Buffs should roll today.
USC has been pretty horrific on the defensive end of late. They've given up a combined 176 pts the L2 games, including 22 made three-pointers. Consider that the Trojans shot better than 55% from the field Thursday and still lost by nine to Utah. This is their second three-game losing streak in Pac 12 play this season. Unlike the first time, they don't have the luxury of facing Cal the next time out. They are 1-8 ATS their last nine road games against teams with winning home records. They give up 82.8 PPG on the road this year and Colorado has gone 12-3 SU here in Boulder this season.
A big edge for CU in this matchup comes on the glass. They are the top team in the Pac 12 in rebounding differential (+5.5 per game) while USC ranks 10th (-1.7). USC was really dominated on the glass by Utah on Thursday. No Pac 12 team likes the "2nd road game in three days" scenario, but Boulder is a particularly tough place to play (altitude). Colorado crushed UCLA at home Thursday night, 93-68, as six-point chalk. For a second straight game, they held their opponents below 40% shooting. It would appear as if the Buffs have all the key advantages heading into this one and I'm expecting a rout. 10* Colorado
|03-09-19||Florida Atlantic v. Marshall -6||Top||61-76||Win||100||14 h 38 m||Show|
10* Marshall (12:00 ET): I jumped all over the Thundering Herd earlier in the week and they rewarded us w/ an easy 94-78 win and cover over FIU. I had said that this was a completely different team at home and sure enough, they responded in kind. For the season, they are now 11-3 SU in Huntington and averaging an impresive 87.9 PPG. I also went over how the "pod" format being used by Conference USA may end up hurting the Herd, but the bottom line is I expect them to continue a strong finish to the regular season here in the finale vs. Florida Atlantic. Lay the points.
For awhile there, Marshall was having a real rough go of it, especially at the betting window. There was a stretch where they'd lost seven of eight game and things got even worse ATS w/ a 10-game slide. That's what landed them in the "pod" w/ the middle of the pack C-USA teams, rather than competing for a top five seed w/ the big boys. I went over this unique "pod" format in the last writeup. But just to rehash, after every C-USA team played 14 games, they were broken up into three groups. If you were a top five team after the 14-game mark, you were assured no worse than a top five seed for the conference tourney, but would only play fellow top five teams for the remainder of the regular season. The same thing holds true for the teams that were 6 through 10 in the standings as well as 11 through 14.
The bottom line is that Marshall has taken advantage of their "pod" and finishing strong. They've now won four straight, scoring 85 or more pts in every game. Despite likely entering the C-USA Tournament as the probable 6-seed, there's a chance they could end the season actually tied for 2nd place in the standings, which is kinda unlucky. They've already beaten FAU once this season, 96-84 here in Huntington. They were 11-pt favorites for that game. Curiously, they are laying a lot less for the rematch. As stated in the previous writeup, Marshall has underachieved this season as they returned four starters from LY's 25-win team. FAU just took a brutal three-point home loss to La Tech on Wednesday following a six-day layoff. That makes this a pretty rough spot facing an opponent that's started to rediscover itself. 10* Marshall
|03-08-19||Harvard v. Cornell +6||Top||59-72||Win||100||10 h 7 m||Show|
8* Cornell (7:00 ET): Cornell has lost five in a row, the last four all coming out on the road and those four road losses got progressively worse (in terms of margin) as the trip wore on. It was a nine-point loss to Princeton, 18 pt loss to Penn, 23 pt loss to Yale and 24 pt loss to Brown. Fortunately, the Big Red get the final two games of the regular season at home. The first is against a Harvard team they already beat once, 67-61 as 9.5-point road dogs. Going by that line and result, it would certainly appear as if we're getting some solid value on the home dog for tonight's rematch. Take the points.
Harvard is tied w/ Yale for the conference lead and swept the regular season series, so they have the tiebreaker. That means all the Crimson need to do is win their final two games and they are Ivy League regular season champs. But these last two games are both on the road where they are just 6-7 SU this season and have been outscored. The Crimson have won three straight, but all three wins were by single digits and the last two came at home. They shot 51.2% in the 1st meeting w/ Cornell and still lost. I don't imagine they'll shoot that well again.
Cornell actually pulled off a stunning rally in upsetting Harvard the first time around, coming back from a 13-point halftime deficit to take the game outright. They scored 46 pts in the second half after scoring only 21 in the 1st. They did have almost a 2:1 edge in FT attempts, but that could very well be the case again tonight as they are playing at home. Something to keep in mind about Cornell is that they have played 17 of their 28 games on the road. They're a solid 7-4 SU at home and tonight will be just the fourth time they've gotten points in their own gym. 8* Cornell
|03-08-19||Bowling Green v. Buffalo -14||Top||73-84||Loss||-110||10 h 39 m||Show|
10* Buffalo (6:00 ET): Though 19th ranked Buffalo has already clinched the MAC regular season title, expect no shortage of motivation from them Friday night. First off, it's Senior Night. Secondly, they'll be looking to avenge one of the two losses they suffered in conference play this year. This is the first time all season UB finds itself in a revenge spot. There was no rematch with the other MAC team they lost to (Northern Illinois). So Bowling Green should be forewarned that this final game of the regular season could get pretty ugly for them. Lay the points.
It was back on February 1st that Buffalo lost at BG, 92-88 as an eight-point road favorite. The loss to Northern Illinois was by just a single point, so this team is seven points away from being on the verge of completing a perfect MAC season. The Bulls' 27-3 (SU) record puts them as one of six teams in the country w/ an overall win % of .900 or better. They are perfect here at home (14-0), outscoring opponents by 23.2 PPG. They have outscored conference opponents by 14.2 PPG, whether it's home or the road. The first meeting w/ BG saw them blow an eight-point halftime lead. They haven't forgotten.
Bowling Green has sputtered some down the stretch, losing three of its last four. Their last game was easily the worst performance of the season as they were drubbed by Akron, 91-67 (as 2.5-pt dogs). Giving up that many points to an offensively challenged team like Akron is not a good sign for tonight. The Zips shot nearly 58% from the floor and were 14 of 31 from three-point range despite coming in as the MAC's worst 3-pt shooting team. I realize that Buffalo is 0-3 ATS its last three games, but two were on the road. The Bulls were 15 of 34 from behind the arc in their last game. This is an experienced group, so Senior Night is a big deal, and a win here would set a new school record for a single season. 10* Buffalo
|03-07-19||Evansville v. Illinois State -4||Top||60-65||Win||100||14 h 31 m||Show|
8* Illinois State (9:35 ET): The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament gets going Thursday and as always the event takes place in St. Louis. Tonight, the bottom four teams must play just to get into the quarterfinals. I like Illinois State's chances against last place Evansville. While the regular season didn't end particularly well for the Redbirds, they did sweep both meetings from Evansville. They won comfortably both times as well. So I don't think doing so a third time will be much trouble here. Evansville has posted only two SU wins since January 16th! Lay the points.
One of those two Evansville victories came in the reg season finale, an upset of Valparaiso (on the road) as five-point underdogs. Ironically, the only two games that the Purple Aces won over the last two months both came at Valpo's expense. They'd lost seven in a row between the victories and are just 2-11 SU the L13 games overall. Last weekend's win was all the more surprising because Evansville had just one "true" road win prior to it. Following a SU win, the Purple Aces are just 2-8 SU, 3-6 ATS this season. I just don't see them winning B2B games at this juncture.
Illinois State held Evansville to 38.2 and 32.7 percent shooting in its two regular season victories. The Redbirds have lost six of eight themselves and got somewhat of a "raw deal" having to play this extra tournament game as they finished tied w/ Northern Iowa for 6th, but lost the tiebreaker. Outside of Normal, ISU hasn't exactly been "gangbusters," but they did win at Evansville. They lost the regular season finale at Southern Illinois despite four players finishing in double digits. Interesting here to note is that Illinois State is 17-5 SU all-time in the MVC Tournament when playing an opponent they swept in the regular season. That includes 10 straight wins, four of them coming against Evansville. The Purple Aces are also short-handed w/ Dainius Chatkevicius still suspended. 8* Illinois State
|03-07-19||South Alabama v. Coastal Carolina -6.5||Top||70-92||Win||100||22 h 57 m||Show|
10* Coastal Carolina (7:00 ET): We're into the final week of the Sun Belt's regular season slate and both teams here figure to finish in the middle of the league's pack. Coastal Carolina's SBC record is 8-8 SU as they just pulled off a nice upset over the weekend, going on the road and beating La Monroe 97-91 as 5.5-point pups. South Alabama perhaps pulled off a bigger shocker, beating 1st place Texas State 77-63 as 3-pt dogs, albeit at home. This is a revenge spot for CC after losing by seven down in Mobile back in January. I think they get the job done in Thursday's rematch. Lay the points.
Coastal Carolina had dropped five of six before beating La Monroe Saturday. Devante Jones scored a season-high 30 pts for the Chanticleers in the upset and Zac Cuthbertson added 25. The win snapped a four-game losing streak on the road. But here at home Coastal Carolina is 8-3 SU and outscores opponents by a healthy 12.2 PPG. Their final two regular season games are both here in Conway. Note that if the Chanticleers were to sweep this week, then there is a chance they could finish fifth in the Sun Belt. They've covered four of their last five at home and are 14-5-1 ATS the L20 times off a SU win.
South Alabama really lucked out Saturday when Texas State's leading scorer Nijal Pearson (18 PPG) failed to make a single shot from the field (0 for 8). The Jaguars were able to pull away in the second half, but I certainly wouldn't look for them to shoot 62.8% from the floor again nor 10 of 17 from three-point range. They really killed Texas State from three-point range as the Bobcats were just 5 of 25. Note USA is just 2-9 SU on the road this season and sees their scoring average dip down to 68.2 PPG. The win over Texas State represents their best offensive game (in terms of shooting %) this entire season. 10* Coastal Carolina
|03-06-19||Florida International v. Marshall -6||Top||78-94||Win||100||10 h 47 m||Show|
10* Marshall (7:00 ET): Conference USA adopted a strange format for determining its seedings for the upcoming tournament in Frisco, TX. Rather than play a traditional schedule, teams were grouped into three "pods" after everyone played 14 league games. If you were a top five team after the 14-game mark, you were assured no worse than a top five seed for the conference tourney, but would only play fellow top five teams for the remainder of the regular season. The same thing holds true for the teams that were 6 through 10 in the standings after that 14-game mark. Both FIU and Marshall are in that "pod," meaning upward mobility is limited to the sixth seed, no matter how well either team plays down the stretch. Strange times, indeed.
Sure enough, both of these teams have picked up their level of play since the "pod" format started. FIU has won four straight while Marshall is on a three-game win streak. Thus, both are now actually tied for 4th place in C-USA w/ 9-7 SU records, even though (again) neither can be seeded higher than 6th. Confused yet? Well, let's get to what you NEED to know here. Marshall already beat FIU once this year, 105-97 (no overtime!) and for a second time will get to host them here in Huntington. That's a big edge considering the Thundering Herd are 10-3 SU at home this season and averaging 87.5 PPG. FIU is just 5-7 SU in "true" road games this year, giving up 85.7 PPG.
This "pod" format created some unique scheduling spots and for Marshall, they actually had a 12-day break. They responded by upsetting both La Tech and North Texas on the road as 7 and 5.5-point dogs respectively. This was a 25-win team LY that brought back four starters. So it's been a bit of a disappointing year, particularly at the betting window where before the B2B upsets, they'd failed to cover 10 in a row. But the Herd seems back on track now and I like them laying a shorter number than what they laid in the first matchup w/ FIU. Unlike the previous two times they've taken the floor, FIU hasn't had at least a week off between games. 10* Marshall
|03-05-19||Illinois-Chicago v. Green Bay -3.5||Top||77-82||Win||100||11 h 36 m||Show|
10* Green Bay (8:00 ET): This will be the third time in three weeks that I'm siding w/ the Phoenix. The first two have gone quite well as I had them in wins over Detroit and Wright State. The latter was an upset as a 4-point dog just last week. Both games were here at home as is this one, which is the opener of the Horizon League Tournament. They draw a UIC team they beat twice during the regular season, both times by five points or less, but I expect the rubber match to be the easiest win of them all as Green Bay seems to be "peaking" at the right time. Lay the points.
As I talked about each of those last two times I played Green Bay, they are a much better team here at home. They've gone 11-3 SU here, averaging 87.1 PPG. Equally as important as those offensive numbers though is how the defense improves. While the Phoenix give up 85.6 PPG on the road, a pretty frightening number, they are only allowing 75.0 at home. The fact they are outscoring opponents by double digits here at home for the season makes getting home court advantage for this 1st round Horizon League matchup so critical.
The last time these teams played, Green Bay staged a dramatic rally, coming back from a 19-point halftime deficit. That was on the road, just 10 days ago. That game saw the Phoenix held to a season-low 20 points in the 1st half, which won't happen here. They won the season's first meeting 90-85 here at home. UIC is not a good road team, so them being the lower seed definitely hurts. They are 4-11 SU/ATS on the road this season, getting outscored by more than seven points per game. I know they were dominating (for the 1st half) the last time they played Green Bay, but that was at home. This spread is way too low. 10* Green Bay
|03-04-19||Kansas State v. TCU OVER 132.5||Top||64-52||Loss||-115||13 h 10 m||Show|
8* Over Kansas State/TCU (9:00 ET): Few would have expected Kansas State to be in the position that they're currently in after they got off to an 0-2 start in Big 12 play. But, buoyed by one of the nation's top defensive efficiency ratings, the Wildcats have won 12 of their last 14 conference games and enter the final week of the regular season w/ a chance to win the outright conference title. If they win the next two games, they'll do no worse than share the honor w/ Texas Tech. But to do that, they'll certainly have to play better than they did last week when they went 0-2 ATS vs. Kansas and Baylor.
TCU is a team that had high hopes coming into 2018-19. But I didn't really view them as a Top 25 squad and they were a fade for me in the early part of the season. Tonight is the Horned Frogs' final home game and they've lost five of their last six. They too have not had a great last seven days. After losing 104-96 to West Virginia (triple overtime game), they had little left in the tank for a very good Texas Tech team, who beat them 81-64. The Horned Frogs allowed nearly 57% shooting in that loss, which took place right here in Ft. Worth.
More often that not, Kansas State holds its opponents under its season scoring average. They certainly did that to TCU in the first meeting, winning 65-55 in Manhattan. The Horned Frogs average over 75 PPG for the season and the Over is 7-3 in their last 10 games. Kansas State, as good as they are defensively, is 6-3 Over its last nine games. Two of the three Unders came last week. It was a dismal offensive showing at home vs. Kansas and then a slow start in a win (but non-cover) over Baylor. Even though this game is on the road, I expect better offense here from the Wildcats. Dean Wade is back and looking healthy. He scored 20 points vs. Baylor. The Under is 4-0 in the L4 meetings w/ TCU, but I anticipate a much more high scoring game than the last one here tonight. 8* Over Kansas State/TCU
|03-03-19||Boston College v. Georgia Tech -1.5||Top||78-81||Win||100||9 h 13 m||Show|
10* Georgia Tech (6:00 ET): The Yellow Jackets have never been a contender in the rugged ACC this season and will come into the final week of the regular season sporting a 4-12 SU record in conference play. They've lost 9 of 10, but today is Senior Day in Atlanta and that should provide some motivation to win the final home game. Their only SU win in those L10 games was here at home, over Pitt, on 2.20. I have to say that Georgia Tech "feels" like it should be better considering they rank in the top 30 nationally in defensive efficiency. Of that top 30, you can expect almost every team to make the NCAA Tournament.
Earlier this week, the Yellow Jackets had no answer for one of the top teams in the country, Virginia, who smashed them 81-51. It was the Jackets' second straight double digit road loss. But as mentioned above, this is a home game and the final one at that for the departing senior class. Given there will be no major postseason tournament for this team, expect them to treat this as the biggest game of the season. Giving up only 63.7 PPG at home is a nice foundation for Ga Tech. Interesting is that the last two games with a spread of two points or less, they won both.
Boston College comes in here having covered five in a row and they just upset Louisville in Chesnut Hill Wednesday. That makes the Eagles ripe for a letdown though, at least in my eyes. They've got two regular season games left, both of which will be at home, and the next one is North Carolina. It will be very easy for the Eagles to overlook this game. This is a team that has won just three of its last nine games straight up. They were lucky that L'ville couldn't make a shot on Wednesday. But this isn't a great defensive team by any means nor are they great offensively. Ga Tech opponents are shooting below 40% for the year. 10* Georgia Tech
|03-02-19||Kentucky v. Tennessee UNDER 142||Top||52-71||Win||100||5 h 9 m||Show|
10* Under Kentucky/Tennessee (2:00 ET): I was on UK in the 1st meeting, which was definitely a "statement game" by the Wildcats, who ended up winning 86-69 as four-point home favorites. They haven't lost since and, in fact, are 13-1 their last 14 games (only loss coming to LSU on a last-second tip-in). Coach Cal's team is definitely rounding into "Final Four form," but today they've got to go to Knoxville where Tennessee has not lost all season. After starting the year 23-1 SU, the Vols have lost two of their last four games. This should be a low-scoring struggle as I'm on the Under.
The first game saw Kentucky shoot a blistering 54% from the field en route to 86 points. That was NOT the most points allowed by Tennessee in any game all season as Kansas scored 87 against them early in the year (a loss) as did Arkansas (a win). Memphis even scored 92 on them in another game the Vols won. So they've definitely had their share of high-scoring games. But at home, they are giving up only 60.9 PPG. So look for a rather dramatic decrease in Kentucky scoring today (compared to the 1st matchup). Tennessee opponents are shooting below 40% for the year.
Kentucky is an excellent defensive team. They rank top 10 nationally in efficiency and they are holding SEC opponents to just 38.7% shooting. Ten of their last eleven games have gone Under, the game vs. Tennessee being the lone exception. The Under had been 13-4-2 the past 19 meetings. Tennessee is also 18-8 Under following an ATS loss. Both teams struggled in victories earlier this week, having to overcome halftime deficits. In those last 11 games, UK has not allowed more than 72 points. 10* Under Kentucky/Tennessee
|03-02-19||Ole Miss v. Arkansas -1||Top||73-74||Push||0||4 h 29 m||Show|
10* Arkansas (1:00 ET): The Razorbacks were able to end a six-game ATS losing streak on Tuesday w/ a surprisingly competitive effort against Kentucky as they lost by only four at Rupp Arena. But at the end of the day, it was still the Hogs' sixth straight up loss in a row. They've faced a fairly rugged gauntlet of late, only getting two games here in Fayatteville since their last win, which came on February 5th vs. Vandy. Today shapes up as their best shot at victory in a while as they host an Ole Miss squad that has be emotionally drained coming off a tough loss to Tennessee. I'm backing the home team in this one!
Ole Miss lost by two to Tennesse, at home, a game which ended in protest after a questionable call went against them to seal the deal. Ironically, in a one-poing win over Georgia last weekend, it a was a protest BEFORE the game that caught attention as the Rebels' players kneeled during the national anthem over pro-Confederate rallies that were taking place near the arena. Thus, it's been a real whirlwind of emotions lately and this just reeks of a trap game as the Rebels just got done taking one top 10 team down to the wire and have another (Kentucky) set to come to Oxford next week. This is commonly referred to as a "sandwich spot" and it's not an enviable position for the road team.
Back on January 19th, these teams met in Oxford w/ Ole Miss prevailing 84-67 as 6.5-pt chalk. It was one of Arkansas' worst performances of the season as they never led. At the time, Ole Miss was ranked #18 in the country, but they've since fallen out of the polls. Like Ole Miss did against Tennessee, Arkansas led much of the way against Kentucky, even going up by as many as 15 (on the road!). I just look at the Razorbacks as a team that's lost so many close calls against top tier opponents (eight loss by 6 pts or less!) that they're due to break through one of these times. 10* Arkansas
|03-01-19||Iona v. Rider -5.5||Top||86-79||Loss||-109||12 h 53 m||Show|
10* Rider (7:00 ET): Rider's attempt at a late season renaissance continues Friday w/ a home date against the first place team in the MAAC, Iona. At one point, the Broncs were 5-0 SU and leading the conference themselves. But a shocking mid-season swoon very nearly derailed them. From January 19th to February 12th, they went 0-9 at the betting window and 3-6 straight up. They were favored in all nine games. Many of those games were the second time they'd faced a conference foe, which is also the case tonight. But this is a rare revenge spot for the Broncs, who lost at Iona 77-71 (as 2.5-pt favorites) on January 25th.
Despite that mid-season swoon, winning the MAAC regular season title is still in play for the Broncs. They are 10-6 SU in conference play, which is one-half game back of Iona. So a win tonight would mean more than just "revenge." But the revenge angle is pretty strong here. When Rider lost to Iona last month, it was their 1st conference loss. At the time, no one could have foreseen what would ensue. But the Broncs have turned things around. They come into tonight on a three-game win streak, including a 16-pt win over Niagara last Friday. They are now 10-2 SU at home.
Given Rider was a 2.5-pt favorite at Iona last month, we're getting some good value for this rematch. Sure, the oddsmakers had to make some sort of adjustment, but this looks to be an overreaction. Yes, Iona has won six straight, covering the spread in the last five. But a good number of those wins were close games. At one point, the Gaels were just 2-12 SU away from home this season. They are still allowing 80.2 PPG on the road. Rider lost a good number of close ones during their losing streak and they are much better than their record. When seeking revenge for a road loss, the Broncs are 11-3 ATS the L3 seasons. 10* Rider
|02-28-19||Wright State v. Green Bay +4||Top||67-70||Win||100||12 h 22 m||Show|
10* Green Bay (7:00 ET): On a six-game win streak, Wright State has improbably climbed to the top of the Horizon League. It wasn't that long ago that I was writing the Raiders had been an "unlucky team" early in the season, dropping six games by six points or less. But that "worm has turned" as they have four such WINS during a 10-1 SU stretch. As good as this team feels right now, I think there ought to be some trepidation about laying points w/ them on the road. While 14-2 SU (10-3-1 ATS) at the Nutter Center this season, Wright State is just 4-9 SU away from home.
Green Bay is a team that won big for me two Saturdays ago. I released them as a ~SIGNATURE~ *10* ULTIMATE POWER release here at home vs. Detroit and they won 82-73, more importantly also covering as a short favorite. The Phoenix won their next game too, on the road, by just one over UIC. But they came up short on Sunday, losing by 11 at IUPUI, despite holding a slight advantage at halftime. Like Wright State, Green Bay plays a lot better here at home. They're 10-2 SU, averaging an impressive 89.0 PPG. Not only is that markedly better than how much they score per game on the road (75.6), we see similar improvement on the defensive end. They give up just 74.8 PPG at home as opposed to 85.6 PPG on the road.
I think the home court edge is critical here and you have the revenge angle in play as well. Back on January 26th, Green Bay lost at Wright State by a score of 87-75. As you might expect, the Raiders shot the ball well at home (55 percent) while the Phoenix struggled to find their own rhythm. But it should be a reversal of fortunes tonight as Green Bay's scoring differential goes from -10.0 per game on the road to +14.3 at home. Wright State averages 8.6 PPG less on the road than at home while they allow 8.1 PPG more. 10* Green Bay
|02-28-19||Arkansas-Little Rock +10.5 v. Georgia Southern||Top||66-81||Loss||-110||11 h 22 m||Show|
8* Arkansas Little Rock (7:00 ET): Arkansas Little Rock will do its two-game trek through the Peach State this week as it visits the Sun Belt's two Georgia schools. Up first is Georgia Southern, who is looking to win this league as is the team Ark Little Rock will play Saturday, Georgia State. There has been no previous meeting this season. Ark Little Rock having to travel does put them at a distinct disadvantage, but this is too many points to pass up. While Georgia Southern does come in on a four-game win streak (also 4-0 ATS), the double digit spread seems a bit high. Take the points.
The Eagles have largely been feasting on the bottom of the SBC recently. The only previous time they were a double digit favorite this year was against last place Troy. On the flip side of that, Arkansas Little Rock hasn't gotten double digits since a game (they covered) at Georgetown pre-Christmas. They are 3-1 ATS overall as underdogs of 10 or more, the only non-cover coming at a Nevada team that's spent much of the year in the top 15.
The Trojans last five losses have come by a total of 20 points, none coming by more than seven. So they've played better than the record shows. They certainly aren't a great defensive team, which seems problematic when facing an opponent that averages over 80 PPG. However, one interesting thing about Georgia Southern is that they do NOT shoot well from three-point range at home. They are just 28.4%. UALR actually is the better three-point shooting team here and shoots a solid 48.5% overall from the field. 8* Arkansas Little Rock
|02-27-19||Indiana State v. Drake -6||Top||68-80||Win||100||12 h 56 m||Show|
8* Drake (8:00 ET): Heading into Wednesday, Drake finds itself in a three-way tie atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings (along w/ Loyola Chi and Missouri State). This is pretty impressive considering the Bulldogs lost their leading scorer (Nick Norton) almost two months ago to an ACL injury. The team is coming off a loss, 67-60 at Illinois State over the weekend, but what's impressed me most about Drake is that they haven't dropped B2B games since early January, which is when the Norton injury took place. They've won 9 of their last 12 overall and I'm laying the points tonight.
Indiana State suffered a similar loss to Drake over the weekend, losing by almost the same score to Missouri State (67-61). Larry Bird's alma mater was able to (just barely) cover the pointspread, however, as they were 6.5-point dogs. But the Sycamores have mostly struggled in MVC play this season, going just 6-10 SU. They've yet to post B2B victories and two of their six wins have been overtime games. They already lost at home to Drake, 68-62, last month as a one-point favorite. In that game, ISU shot just 3 of 22 from three-point range.
Drake has been incredibly effective against the pointspread this season, covering 19 of their 26 lined games. They are 9-2 ATS when favored. They're also 12-2 SU and 9-2 ATS at home. Scoring jumps up to 79.7 PPG here in Des Moines, which is bad news for an Indiana State team that is allowing 77.3 PPG on the road, a big jump from how many they give up in Terre Haute. When seeking revenge for a home loss this season, the Sycamores have lost all five times. Meanwhile, there have only been two times previous to Sunday where Drake was held to 60 pts or less. They came back to win AND cover the next time after both occasions. 8* Drake
|02-27-19||DePaul v. Georgetown -5||Top||73-82||Win||100||11 h 56 m||Show|
10* Georgetown (7:00 ET): Neither of these teams have been playing particularly well of late and in the case of both, it's basically a "waiting game" until the Big East Tournament next month. Georgetown lost at Creighton on Saturday, by 13 points, in a game where they didn't play much defense. It was the Hoyas' third loss in the last four games, though the one win was a big one, here at home against Villanova. DePaul has lost three in a row, all by double digits, their latest also coming against Creighton. The Blue Demons didn't play over the weekend, but that time off won't be nearly enough for them to compete here. Lay the points.
We should probably expect plenty of points in this game. Both teams just let Creighton shoot better than 50%. In the case of DePaul, they've allowed three straight opponents to shoot better than 52% from the floor. Neither they nor G'town is exactly stout defensively. The Blue Demons are allowing 78.8 PPG on the road while the Hoyas allow 77.9 PPG overall. But the difference is G'town has proven it can score, especially here at home where they average 85.4 PPG. Remember, in their last home game, the Hoyas beat Villanova and scored 85 pts in the process.
The 79 pts DePaul allowed to Creighton was actually "nothing" compared to what they allowed in losses to Marquette and Butler that saw them give up 90+ in both games. So I believe G'town can "name" its point total tonight. This will be the first of two regular season meetings between these squads; the road team won both times LY. Given DePaul is just 3-6 SU on the road this season, I don't see a road win in the cards for them. The two times G'town has been a home favorite in the -3.5 to -6 range this season, they've covered. 10* Georgetown
|02-26-19||Texas A&M +12 v. LSU||Top||55-66||Win||100||12 h 21 m||Show|
8* Texas A&M (9:00 ET): LSU played TWO overtime games last week and ended up splitting the pair. I faded them last Wednesday when they lost outright here in Baton Rouge to Florida. But give the Tigers their due for then bouncing back and delivering a huge win over Tennessee Saturday, also here in the Bayou. LSU has now gone to OT a somewhat ridiculous five times here in SEC play, winning four of those games. That's pretty fortunate and despite them knocking off the Vols, I still say they're overrated as a top 15 team, which is where they are in the latest polls.
Texas A&M has found success in the underdog role lately, knocking off both Alabama and Arkansas in the last seven days. The Aggies were getting points in both games and have now won four of their last five overall. LSU is obviously a tougher opponent than either Bama or Arkansas, but it's not as if the Aggies aren't up to the challenge. This is a team that beat Kansas State earlier in the year. They did lose (by 15) at home to the Tigers last month, making this a revenge spot. That game saw the Aggies fall apart late as they were only trailing by one at halftime. They were also coming off the upset win over Kansas State just four days prior.
LSU also got a season-best 36 points (including six threes) from Tremont Waters in that first meeting. Waters may not play in tonight's rematch due to the same illness that kept him out of the Tennessee game. The fact that Tigers still won despite not having their leading scorer (and rebounder) is a little stunning to me. Something worth noting here is that this will likely end up being the most points LSU has laid in any SEC game this season. I know they've beaten both Tennessee and Kentucky, but they also lost outright here at home to Arkansas as 10-point chalk. I'm taking the points in what should be a clear letdown spot for the favorite. 8* Texas A&M
|02-26-19||Toledo v. Ball State -1||Top||80-72||Loss||-109||10 h 22 m||Show|
8* Ball State (7:00 ET): Unlike the other MAC play in this report, we are NOT taking the team playing w/ legit revenge for a loss earlier in the season. But in both cases, the home team comes in undervalued. Here, Ball State has already beaten Toledo, doing so 79-64 back in early January. The reason for the Cardinals coming in undervalued for the rematch is because they've dropped two straight close decisions, both as favorites, over the last week. I don't see them losing a third in a row, so grab them at this price at home where they are better than the record shows.
Toledo had lost B2B games itself before beating Northern Illinois, 57-54, over the weekend. They did not cover the spread though (-10), so that makes it three straight ATS losses. They have not fared well vs. Ball State the L3 seasons, dropping all five games and going just 1-4 ATS. Last month, the Rockets shot just 36.2% at home and despite being a pretty strong defensive team, I'd worry about them travelling as Saturday marked a season low in points scored and they're just 3-2 SU the L5 games despite opponents shooting just 38.7% from the field.
Ball State is also no slouch defensively as they've held visitors to a field goal percentage of just 38.9% for the season. They also come in averaging 80.2 PPG here in Muncie. Thus, I was pretty shocked to see that the Cardinals home record is only 7-5 SU this season. They are 32-12 SU their L44 games here and that includes a 28-point win over Toledo last season. Coming off a bad offensive showing vs. Central Michigan over the weekend, I expect them to bounce back tonight. The 23 pts scored in the 2H vs. CMU was a season-low and caused them to blow all of a double digit halftime lead. So that was a bit of a misleading final as was Toledo's win that same day considering the Rockets overcame an 11-point 2H deficit to win the game. 8* Ball State
|02-26-19||Central Michigan v. Eastern Michigan -2.5||Top||77-66||Loss||-110||10 h 22 m||Show|
8* Eastern Michigan (7:00 ET): Ok, here we are taking the team playing w/ revenge as Eastern Michigan looks like a bit of a bargain laying a short number at home. I've taken my fair share of shots at the Eagles this year, most of them being successful ones, but I like them here. They did lose up in Mt. Pleasant about a month ago (despite shooting nearly 60% from the floor!), which snapped a six-game win streak over Central Michigan. The Chippewas have been shockingly good ATS in conference play this season, going 11-2-1 overall, including 8-0-1 the last nine game. But that streak ends here.
On Saturday, Eastern Michigan was able to just barely get by rival Western Michigan, 77-76 here in Ypsilanti. They needed overtime to get the job done, but largely dominated the extra session, taking an eight point lead w/ just over one minute remaining. Western Michigan was able to make it interesting at the end, but was never really in position to win. (They hit a meaningless three-pointer as time expired). The Eagles have now won four of five and despite some woeful shooting from three-point range and the FT line, they still average 74.3 PPG at home.
Given how well Central Michigan defends the three-point line, I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles have another rough night from distance here. But I think the Chippewas' reputation (7-2 ATS as a dog) may have caught up w/ them here. They did rally back from a double digit deficit at halftime to beat Ball State on the road Saturday. But winning B2B games on the road seems highly unlikely. Before Saturday's win, they'd lost four in a row away from home. Given that they'd gone 4-0 ATS in those losses, they were due to win one and they did just that in Muncie Saturday. But I just don't see lightning striking twice w/ this team as they are giving up 77.4 PPG in conference play. Eastern Michigan shot well over 60% from two-point range in the 1st meeting. 8* Eastern Michigan
|02-25-19||Notre Dame v. Florida State OVER 139.5||Top||61-68||Loss||-110||20 h 21 m||Show|
10* Over Notre Dame/Florida State (7:00 ET): Both of these teams come off rather abysmal shooting performances on Saturday. Notre Dame shot 32.8% in an eight-point home loss to Virginia Tech. FSU was even worse, finishing at 30.5% from the floor in an 18-point loss to North Carolina. Both teams ended up scoring just 59 points. We should see each score a lot more Monday night on ESPN. The Seminoles are back in Tallahassee (where their scoring average exceeds 80 PPG). Both teams are facing weaker defensive teams that what they faced over the weekend. Take the Over here.
I don't think we're used to seeing Notre Dame shoot the ball so poorly. The Fighting Irish are shooting below 40% for the season, just 37.2% in ACC play and an even worse 35.2% the L5 games. So why should we expect any better shooting tonight? Well, this game going Over may not be necessarily as predicated on the Irish shooting better as it is on the tempo being faster. The Irish just played a Va Tech team that plays at one of the slowest tempos in the entire country. Florida State plays at the 4th fastest tempo in the ACC. Notre Dame does average 70.3 PPG and I don't see them having much trouble hitting that average tonight against an opponent that will be willing to go up and down the court.
I mentioned earlier that FSU is a pretty good offensive team at home. They're actually pretty good anywhere. They average 76.5 PPG overall, but as mentioned above that number jumps to 80.6 PPG at home. Saturday was arguably their worst offensive game of the season. The 59 points did match a season-low. The previous time the Seminoles were held to 59 pts, they came back and scored 80 their next time out. The Over is 28-13 in the Noles' last 41 home games, including 15-2 when they're favored by 12.5 or more points. The Over is 5-0 this season when they're -12.5 or higher here in Tallahassee. 10* Over Notre Dame/Florida State
|02-24-19||Stanford v. Arizona -4.5||Top||54-70||Win||100||12 h 55 m||Show|
10* Arizona (8:00 ET): The Wildcats finally snapped their long losing skid (had reached seven in a row) on Thursday by beating lowly Cal, 76-51. Given Cal's status in the Pac 12, such a victory would not be cause for celebration for most teams, but here in Tucson, it was definitely a welcome sight. Not only had Arizona lost seven straight games, they'd failed to cover the number in all of those games as well. They get to stay at home Sunday where they'll host a Stanford team coming off a double digit road loss. Arizona won this season's first meeting w/ the Cardinal and was actually favored in that game. They're available at a great price here tonight. Lay the points.
Stanford shot 54.0% overall in that first meeting, at home, and still lost. In a 75-70 final, the fact they went 15 of 26 from the FT line was a killer (Arizona was 16 of 18). But also key was the fact the Cardinal made only one three-pointer on eight attempts. (Arizona was 7 of 12). Though the free throw and three-point percentages are likely to go up this evening, the overall percentage will not. Further complicating matters is the fact that leading scorer KZ Okpala may not play tonight. He didn't play against Arizona State and the Cardinal lost by 18. The team shot just 37.5% overall.
Arizona may have had a poor last month, but they are still a strong defensive team, at least here at home. They allow just 61.9 PPG in Tucson while opponents are barely shooting 40%. In conference play, opponents have shot a lot better than that number, but five of the last seven games have been on the road. But perhaps the biggest key of all in breaking down this game is the fact the Wildcats have beaten the Cardinal 18 straight times! The Cardinal last beat Arizona in 2009. Okpala scored a career-high 29 in that first meeting and if he doesn't play here, then I don't see how Stanford can win here. Even if he does play, history says they won't do well. 10* Arizona
|02-23-19||Memphis v. Wichita State -3||Top||88-85||Loss||-115||21 h 25 m||Show|
10* Wichita State (8:00 ET): I have to say that for awhile this was not looking like a typical season from Wichita State. The Shockers were 8-11 SU following an embarrassing 20-point loss at UConn on January 26th and going "nowhere fast." But they've turned things around over the last month or so, winning five of the last six games. The lone loss was to Cincinnati. Tonight, they get a national TV game at home and it's a revenge spot vs. Memphis, who they lost to 85-74 back on January 3rd. I'll call for Wichita State's winning ways to continue here and lay the small number.
Memphis is off what'll be its easiest conference win of the year, a 26-point beatdown of Tulane at home. The Tigers do have a couple of games where the MOV was higher, but that was against the likes of Tennessee State and Florida A&M. It's not as if the Tigers shot the lights out against Tulane, a team that is now 0-13 in conference play. The game was simply played at a fast pace (Memphis is #5 in adjusted tempo nationally). But I don't figure that to be the case here against a Wichita State team that likes to slow things down. Expect Memphis to be "uncomfortable" in this game.
Wichita State has covered six straight, even the loss to Cincinnati as they were double digit underdogs. They were favored in four of the wins and then pulled a minor upset (were +2) at Tulsa earlier this week, winning 81-60. That was an impressive showing defensively as they held the Golden Hurricane to 30% shooting, including 4 of 22 from three-point range. In the first meeting w/ Memphis, they kept the Tigers in check from behind the arc (28.6%), but still allowed 50% shooting overall. The real key however was Memphis attempting 31 free throws to Wichita State's six. That advantage won't be present tonight for the Tigers, who are 0-10 SU this season as an underdog (2-8 ATS). 10* Wichita State
|02-23-19||Miami-OH v. Akron -5||Top||58-70||Win||100||15 h 25 m||Show|
10* Akron (2:00 ET): This is a very important game for the Zips, who have lost three straight close ones. It's also a revenge spot as earlier in the year, they lost at Miami 68-61 as 2.5-pt favorites. That was a game where little went right from Akron's perspective as they shot just 39.3% overall and were 6 of 26 from three-point range. They also attempted only eight free throws. Certainly, at home, we should see a dramatic spike in those numbers Saturday afternoon. This is a team that has lost only twice at home all season, one of those coming to MAC heavyweight Buffalo. The other time was a one-point loss to Marshall early in the season. I'm laying the points here.
As I said earlier, Akron comes into this game on a three-game losing streak and all three losses were close - as in by six points or less (11 pts total). The last two were on the road and both times the Zips blew a halftime lead and lost in the closing seconds. I played on Akron the last time they won a game, which was 2/8 vs. rival Kent State. In my analysis for that matchup, I noted the Zips are actually one of the nation's best defensive teams. That's still true as they're only allowing 62.7 PPG for the year. That's tied for the 15th best mark in the country and here at James A. Rhodes Arena, they allow only 58.2 PPG, which is a top 10 mark in the country.
In two of the three recent losses, Akron has allowed far more points than usual. But those games were against Buffalo and Bowling Green, the top two teams in the conference. Miami is not exactly an offensive juggernaut and in fact has shot below 40% from the field over its last five games. Incredibly, Akron has held EVERY MAC foe below its season average in scoring. Miami averages 72.5 PPG overall, but just 68.7 on the road. The Zips don't just have revenge for last month, they've actually lost to the RedHawks four consecutive times. It's payback time on Saturday afternoon. 10* Akron
|02-23-19||Auburn +7 v. Kentucky||Top||53-80||Loss||-105||15 h 1 m||Show|
8* Auburn (1:30 ET): I wrote this when I played them on Wednesday, but Auburn deserves to be ranked in the top 25. Sure enough, they staked their claim Wednesday by destroying Arkansas 79-56. Granted, Arkansas isn't very good and the game was at home. But here, the Tigers can really stake their claim to being a top 25 team as they travel to Lexington to face #4 Kentucky. You may recall that it was exactly one week ago that I took UK against (then) #1 Tennessee and they took down the Vols 86-69. That was followed by a win at Missouri. The Wildcats have lost just once in the L13 games and that was at the buzzer against LSU. But I expect this one to be close. Take the points.
These teams did already play once this year and UK won 82-80 as a 4.5-point road underdog. Auburn trailed by as many as 17 in the 2nd half before staging a massive rally late. I don't see them falling into such a hole this time around. I think it's interesting to see just how far the line has shifted for this second matchup. Auburn has not been an underdog very often. This will be just the third time all season. They did lose both of the previous two games straight up, but covered one (+11 at Duke) and then only lost by five at LSU the other time.
As hot as Kentucky is right now, I think they're prone for a letdown. What they did last Saturday to Tennessee was very impressive, but the Vols were also due for their own letdown. Power forward Reid Travis is going to miss this game w/ a sprained right knee. He averages 11.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game and his absence will be felt against an opponent like Auburn. The Tigers are a really good three-point shooting team (37.9%), something Arkansas found out the hard way on Wednesday. That'll keep them in this one throughout and I do give the dog a shot at the outright upset here. 8* Auburn
|02-22-19||Harvard v. Brown OVER 136||Top||79-88||Win||100||11 h 51 m||Show|
10* Over Harvard/Brown (7:00 ET): These teams first met three weeks ago w/ Harvard winning 68-47 as 6.5-pt favorites. As you may have guessed, such a low-scoring game easily finished Under the total. Brown turned in an awful shooting performance, making only 28.8% from the field, including 5 of 22 from three-point range. Chris Berman's alma mater would be a virtual lock to shoot better regardless for tonight's rematch, but especially so w/ the game taking place at home. The Bears come in averaging 82.1 PPG at home this season, a significant upgrade from what they average on the road (67.7 PPG). Take the Over.
Harvard is 6-2 SU in Ivy League play, which has them in second place, just one game behind rival Yale. The Crimson come into this game having won seven of their last eight overall, including B2B road wins over Princeton (78-69) and Penn (75-68). Both games went Over the total. This is a pretty strong three-point shooting team as they are hitting 38% for the year from behind the arc and they went 22 of 46 in those last two games. I will point out that the game at Penn went to OT and another recent win (over Columbia) was a triple OT game. So that does inflate the Crimson's offensive numbers some. But I still expect them to score plenty tonight.
In the first meeting, the teams combined to attempt 42 free throws, but missed 16 of them. But the real key here remains how much Brown's scoring goes up at home. Harvard is also 7-3-1 Over in road games. Look for the Crimson to lean heavily on leading scorer Bryce Aiken, who has scored 126 points in the L4 games. Brown is shooting a dreadful 40% in conference play, but their last home game saw them at 50% overall. They also put up a 40-point second half in a 65-63 win at Columbia last weekend. So both teams are more than capable of a big offensive night here. 10* Over Harvard/Brown
|02-21-19||UC-Davis v. CS-Fullerton -6.5||Top||58-62||Loss||-109||15 h 41 m||Show|
10* CS Fullerton (10:30 ET): The reality of the Big West is that UC Irvine is a lot better than everyone else. Only two other teams in the league (USCB, Hawaii) can claim to have a winning record overall. However, CS Fullerton (12-13 SU) can claim second place in the standings, thanks to an 8-3 SU conference record. The Titans come into Thursday having won eight of their last nine games, the lone loss coming at UC Irvine by a score of 60-53. While they were certainly held in check in that game, the Titans have scored at least 77 points in each of the last seven wins.
Cal Davis will also come into tonight riding a win streak as they've come out on top each of their L5 games. Three of those have been on the road, though the last two were both at home. Saturday saw them beat Long Beach State 77-73 as they rallied back from an eight-point halftime deficit. It should be pointed out that the entirety of the Aggies' win streak has come at the expense of the bottom half of the Big West. Not that Cal State Fullerton has downed any "world-beaters" either, but as you're about to read, home court advantage is going to play a significant role in this game.
CS Fullerton has only played nine home games so far. They're 7-2 SU outscoring opponents by 13.2 PPG. Given that they are just 12-13 SU overall, it should be pretty obvious that the Titans are simply a much better team here at home. Their scoring goes up substantially while the number of points allowed also drops noticeably. Cal Davis is just 3-10 SU on the road, averaging only 63.3 PPG. So, yes, coming into February, the Aggies were actually 0-10 SU on the road. This three-game win streak is pretty shocking then and unlikely to last. They are just 1-10 SU as a road underdog, getting outscored by double digits in those games. 10* CS Fullerton
|02-21-19||UL - Lafayette +3 v. Texas-Arlington||Top||76-64||Win||100||12 h 11 m||Show|
8* Louisiana (8:00 ET): UT Arlington's bid to win the Sun Belt hit a major "snag" last week as they lost twice, both times on the road. First, it was to Arkansas Little Rock by a score of 56-52. Leading scorer Edric Dennis scored only six points in that game (on 2 of 15 shooting), thus the Mavericks could not take advantage of the fact their opponents scored a season-low 30 pts in the 2nd half. On Saturday, it was a 4-point loss at Arkansas State (83-79). Dennis again struggled (only 8 pts), but it was more the Mavericks' defense betraying them than anything else.
Louisiana is coming off B2B wins. The latest was on Saturday, 83-76 over rival LA Monroe. The Rajin Cajuns had a nice long layoff going into that rivalry game (where they were also playing w/ revenge) as they had not played since the previous Friday when they beat Georgia State 76-72 as two-point underdogs. That, like the LA Monroe game, was at home. Against Georgia State, Louisiana had a double-digit lead at halftime and was able to hold on for the win.
It would be easy to simply look at where Louisiana's last two wins took place (at home!) and where UT Arlington's two losses took place (on the road!) and decide tonight will be different based on the changes in venue. But note that even though the Mavericks are still tied for third in the conference, they have a losing SU record overall (12-14) and have been beaten four times this year at home. Regardless of whether they are playing at home or on the road, Louisiana can score as they come in averaging 83.0 PPG, which is top 20 in the country. A high scoring underdog that's in better form than its opponent sounds like a "good deal" to me. 8* Louisiana
|02-20-19||Butler +6 v. Marquette||Top||69-79||Loss||-105||13 h 45 m||Show|
8* Butler (9:00 ET): Marquette is a team I've been "chasing" for much of this season. Quite frankly, I believe the Golden Eagles to be one of the more overrated teams in the country, at least in terms of ranking. Not that they don't deserve to be in the top 25 at this point, because they do. But #11 seems a little high to me. This is a team that has benefited from going an extremely fortunate 7-1 SU in games decided by five points or less. Their most recent "close" victory came two Saturday ago against Villanova, 70-69. That was followed by a much more convincing win @ DePaul.
So Marquette rolls into Wednesday having won 10 of 11 w/ the only loss coming by a single point to St. John's. They've been off for over a week and host a Butler team they already beat by 18 points - on the road - last month. Predictably, the line has shifted quite a bit for this rematch. But has it shifted TOO much? Marquette was actually an underdog when it won at Hinkle Fieldhouse. They may be playing tonight's game w/o the services of Sam Hauser, their second-leading scorer (15.3 PPG) and only one of two double digit scorers on the roster. Hauser is currently listed as questionable due to an eye injury suffered in the DePaul game. He is also the team's leading rebounder.
Butler has lost 10 straight games to Top 25 opponents. To win here, they're probably going to need to hold Marquette under 74 points. The Golden Eagles are a perfect 17-0 SU when hitting that benchmark this season, but just 4-4 SU when falling short. Butler is a team capable of having a big night from three-point range as there have been 11 games this season where they've made 10 or more shot from behind the arc. They are 9-2 SU in those 11 games. Something else to keep in mind here is that the Bulldogs' only loss in the last four games was in OT (at St. John's). They scored 91 pts against DePaul on Saturday and I like this revenge-minded dog. 8* Butler
|02-20-19||Arkansas v. Auburn -12||Top||56-79||Win||100||12 h 5 m||Show|
10* Auburn (8:30 ET): I understand why Auburn isn't currently ranked in the Top 25, but I've got them in them rated among the top 15 teams in America in my own personal power rankings and most objective rating systems (Vegas, BPI, KenPom) seem to agree. The Tigers did recently lose B2B games, to LSU and Ole Miss, but bounced back over the weekend w/ a 64-53 win at Vandy. Tonight, they return home to face an Arkansas squad that's on a three-game losing streak. The Razorbacks have pulled some upsets this year, most notably over LSU, but not tonight. Lay the points.
Auburn is 12-2 SU at home this season, generally blowing their visitors out. They've outscored the opposition by 23.6 PPG here. This is a strong offensive team, one that averages 86.3 PPG at home. They also play good defense, allowing just 62.7 PPG here. Arkansas can score too, but the big difference is the Hogs can't stop anybody, especially on the road where they are allowing 78.7 PPG. Look for that to be a major problem for them tonight. The Razorbacks have given up 77 or more points four times in the last five games. Auburn has held five of its last six opponents to 63 pts or less.
Arkansas' most recent loss was by 10, at home, to Mississippi State over the weekend. That came on the heels of two road losses to teams that were really struggling, South Carolina and Missouri. The Razorbacks did actually lead Miss St by six at halftime, but fell victim to a 23-1 run. That game is instructive b/c I have Auburn rated higher than Miss State (as would most). Right now, the Tigers would safely be in the NCAA Tournament, but a loss to a team like Arkansas could be potentially devastating. Look for them to show how "good they are" Wednesday night. 10* Auburn
|02-20-19||Florida +6.5 v. LSU||Top||82-77||Win||100||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* Florida (7:00 ET): LSU is 21-4 (SU) on the season and has climbed to #13 in the latest AP Poll (#15 in Coaches). The Tigers are a team I feel has been pretty lucky this year and that's pretty much confirmed by the fact they have gone 8-3 SU in games decided by six points or less this season. Three of their conference wins have required overtime and the last four have come by a total of 15 points (all by 4 pts or less). After beating Kentucky on a last second tip in last Tuesday, the Tigers were able to hold on against Georgia over the weekend, winning 83-79 as 7.5-point chalk. That win improved them to a perfect 7-0 SU on the SEC road.
Tonight, LSU returns to the Bayou to host Florida. The Gators have not enjoyed the same kind of luck as have the Tigers, especially at the betting window. They'd failed to cover seven in a row heading into the weekend, but then came a positive sign as they went to Tuscaloosa and upset Alabama 71-53 as 3.5-point dogs. That was one of the Gators' better efforts in recent memory as they held the Crimson Tide w/o a made basket for the first eight minutes en route to their largest MOV on the road this season. Something worth noting is that Florida has won its last two games (also beat Vandy, but did not cover) even w/ Noah Locke shooting 1 of 14 from the field.
These teams may be separated by five games in the SEC standings, but that is not an accurate measure of how they match up. Florida has a superior defensive efficiency rating (top 10 in the country). Granted, LSU is the better offensive team. But College Basketball may be the one sport left where "defense wins championships." LSU has a losing ATS record as a favorite this season. Last week, when they faced Kentucky, the Tigers probably benefited from UK having a "lookahead" to Tennessee (which UK won). Now, it's LSU w/ the lookahead to Tennessee this weekend and they're laying points. Bad spot. 8* Florida
|02-20-19||Xavier +5 v. Seton Hall||Top||70-69||Win||100||11 h 35 m||Show|
8* Xavier (7:00 ET): A late surge gave Seton Hall an 81-75 road win over Creighton this past Sunday. It was the Pirates' third win in a row overall and fourth in five games. They scored 51 points in the 2nd half, which was a season-high. As a result, the Pirates are now tied for third place in the Big East (w/ St. John's) at 7-6 SU. Recent showings are a far cry from last month when they dropped four in a row at one point. Tonight, they play host to a Xavier team they've already beaten, on the road, 80-70 as 3.5-point dogs. But the line looks a bit inflated for the rematch. Take the points.
Xavier had gone through a terrible stretch, losing six in a row - both SU and ATS. But they've since won B2B games, beating Creighton and Providence in the last seven days. The latter win came on the road and saw the Musketeers prevail by 14 on the road. They actually trailed by six going into halftime, but totally dominated the 2H, outscoring the Friars 49-29. Tyrique Jones led the way w/ 19 pts and 12 rebounds. He made 9 of 11 shots from the field. It's not too often Xavier shoots as well as they did on Saturday. They were 59.2% from the floor overall including 8 of 14 from three-point range (season-best 57.1%).
Xavier probably won't shoot that well again tonight, but they do get a slight advantage right off the bat by having an extra day to prepare for this rematch. They did not shoot the ball well at all in the first game vs. Seton Hall and I do expect them to improve on those numbers here tonight. Seton Hall is just 5-10 ATS as a favorite this season and their overall margin of victory is less than three points per game. The Pirates are also just 3-9 ATS at home. I can't call Xavier a great defensive team, but they have held B2B opponents to just 61 points. 8* Xavier
|02-19-19||Nebraska +3.5 v. Penn State||Top||71-95||Loss||-109||11 h 41 m||Show|
8* Nebraska (7:00 ET): The Cornhuskers certainly fell victim to a monumental slide in January, not only losing seven straight games, but failing to cover the spread in all seven losses as well. Some of that can be tied to the loss of the team's second leading scorer, Isaac Copeland Jr. But the slide had actually begun prior to Copeland's season-ending ACL injury and was quite mystifying. This is a team I had ranked in the top 15 of my own power rankings at one point. Thankfully, they have stopped the bleeding some w/ B2B wins over Minnesota and Northwestern in the last week. They even covered the spread against N'western, winning 59-50 as a 5.5-point choice in Lincoln.
We may have FINALLY reached the point where the Cornhuskers are truly being undervalued. Tonight, they face a Penn State team they've already beaten, 70-64, back on January 10th. They did not cover the spread in that game (were -10.5), but I certainly think it's instructive to look at how far the line has shifted for this rematch. Nebraska has gone from a DD favorite to a slight underdog here and I don't think that's warranted, even after factoring in the Copeland injury and change of venue. Penn State has won only twice in Big 10 play and both times came as an underdog. The two times they were favored both resulted in outright losses here in Happy Valley.
Exactly one week ago, the Nittany Lions did pull off a big upset here at home as they beat Michigan 75-69 as seven-point dogs. But that was followed up w/ a double digit loss at Purdue on Saturday. I do feel that Penn State has fallen victim to some "bad luck" this season, but that's all water under the bridge now. They are only 6-6 SU at home and have suffered five outright losses here (SU loss when favored). Tonight marks just the 5th time Nebraska has been an underdog all season. So as said earlier, we finally may have reached the point where they can truly be considered "undervalued." I expect them to win tonight. Take the points. 8* Nebraska
|02-19-19||Toledo -2.5 v. Eastern Michigan||Top||69-76||Loss||-109||11 h 41 m||Show|
10* Toledo (7:00 ET): This will be the second straight game we're fading Eastern Michigan. The decision worked out quite well on Saturday as they lost at Kent State, 71-58, which was my top NCAAB play for all of last week. The Eagles were facing a revenge-minded Golden Flashes team there, one that they'd beaten by 34 (here in Ypslianti) earlier in the season. Now EMU does get a slight edge tonight by returning home, but that alone will not be enough against a superior Toledo side, which had won five in a row before losing to conference leader Buffalo in its last game. Lay the short number here.
Despite losing (at home) to Buffalo on Friday, Toledo is still out in front in the MAC's Western Division w/ an 8-4 SU conference record. Two of those four losses are to Buffalo, who is quite clearly the class of this league. The Rockets were certainly a lot more competitive the second time around, losing by only six after getting blown out by 30 up in Buffalo. One of their other two conference losses came by two against Kent State, an overtime game where they blew a 17-point lead. So a strong case could be made for the Rockets being called the MAC's 2nd best team. They are 20-5 SU overall and actually led Buffalo 17-4 out of the gate Friday night. This is a strong three-point shooting team (36.6% of total pts come from behind the arc), which likely spells trouble for an offensively-challenged EMU squad.
Eastern Michigan scored only 58 pts in the loss to Kent State on Saturday. That's not too out of the ordinary as they have averaged only 57.3 points the L4 games. It would be one thing if their struggles scoring were confined to the road. But in a recent home game vs. Northern Illinois, they were held to just 48 points. I'm not even going to get into an early season loss at Rutgers where they set a NCAA record for futility, scoring just FOUR points in the 1st half. For the year, the Eagles are shooting below 30% from three-point range, which is beyond reproach. The slow pace at which they play is hurt by the fact they are turning the ball over at a 21% rate in conference play. Toledo has won 15 of the 17 games it has been favored in this season. 10* Toledo
|02-18-19||Kansas State v. West Virginia +7.5||Top||65-51||Loss||-108||21 h 52 m||Show|
10* West Virginia (9:00 ET): Back on January 9th, a result took place that set both Kansas State and West Virginia on their respective paths in the Big 12. K-State rallied back from a 21-point deficit to defeat WVU, 71-69, as four-point favorites in Manhattan. The Wildcats, despite losing Saturday to Iowa State, still lead the conference w/ a 9-3 SU record. West Virginia, plagued by injuries all season, is having a down year and is just 2-10 SU in conference play. But the line for Monday's rematch looks like a classic "overlay" to me and I'm taking the points here.
I mentioned that WVU has been hit hard by injuries this season. Well, Kansas State just had a brutal week in that department itself. Already w/o sixth man Cartier Diarra, the Wildcats lost preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Dean Wade to a foot injury in the loss Saturday to Iowa State. Wade's absence was immediately felt as the from the time he went out of the game, KSU was outscored 23-14. They lost the game by a final score of 78-64. This isn't the first time this year that Wade has been injured. He missed several weeks earlier in the year and that played a big role in the team starting slow. The Wildcats lost two of the six games Wade missed previously. Also, three of their four wins without him were by four points or less. One was the aforementioned West Virginia game.
I think it's interesting that the Mountaineers were only four-point underdogs in Manhattan, but now are catching an even bigger number in Morgantown. Yes, it's been a down year here and yes the team is short-handed. But now so too is Kansas State, who is w/o two of their top six rotation players. Given that, I wouldn't want any part of laying this many points on the road, especially since this is just the 2nd time K-State will be a road favorite in Big 12 play. The Wildcats are just 1-5 SU/ATS all-time in Morgantown w/ that one win coming back in 2013. WVU is going to be highly motivated here, not just because of revenge, but also after being embarrassed at Kansas over the weekend. They are 6-1 ATS the L3 seasons when off 3+ ATS losses, including 3-0 ATS this season. 10* West Virginia
|02-17-19||Seton Hall v. Creighton -4||Top||81-75||Loss||-110||8 h 24 m||Show|
10* Creighton (3:00 ET): Revenge was a key theme to our success yday in College Hoops as two of our three winners had revenge for an earlier season loss. Creighton is in that same spot Sunday as they host Seton Hall. This is a pretty quick rematch as the teams just played last Saturday w/ the Pirates prevailing at home, 63-58, a game where neither side shot the ball well. Back in Omaha, Creighton should bounce back as it's getting to be desperation time for the Blue Jays, who have lost three in a row (all on the road). Once again, I'll lay the points w/ a revenge-minded short home favorite.
Creighton was competitive in each of its three losses over the L2 weeks. They lost at Villanova by seven, Seton Hall by five and Xavier by three (in OT). Note that they didn't score more than 61 pts in any of those three games, which is atypical for a side that averages almost 80 PPG for the year. The last two games in particular saw poor shooting, the one vs. Seton Hall in particular where they finished just 30.3% from the field. It was their worst shooting night of the season. Anyway, expect a lot more offensively from the Blue Jays here as they return home where they average over 80 PPG (83.7 to be exact) on 51.6% shooting. Recent results are simply not indicative of what this team is capable of here.
Seton Hall had lost five of six before beating Creighton eight days ago. After winning that first meeting, the Pirates were able to beat Georgetown earlier in the week, 90-75. That was also at home. The road has been unkind to Seton Hall in conference play as they've dropped five in a row away from home. Their last road win came at Xavier on 1/2. Now three of those five losses have been by four points or less. But I wouldn't trust them here as the Pirates are only 2-5 ATS this season after scoring 80+ points. Keep in mind that the majority of Creighton's Big East losses have been close games as well. Revenge and home court advantage are again key Sunday afternoon. 10* Creighton
|02-17-19||Houston v. Tulane OVER 138.5||Top||85-50||Loss||-120||7 h 24 m||Show|
8* Over Houston/Tulane (2:00 ET): As far as mismatches go, this just may be the biggest on the Sunday College Hoops card. Houston leads the American w/ an 11-1 SU conference record (24-1 SU overall) and has won nine straight games. Today, they're facing last place Tulane, who is 0-11 SU in conference play and 4-19 SU overall. Obviously, I'd love to play Houston here, but the spread is massive and I worry about a late game scenario where the underdog could pull out a backdoor cover. But there is the total, which was set too low as Houston should score "at will" here and Tulane should score enough to help push this one Over.
Houston averages a healthy 75 PPG and should top that number today. The last time they faced a bottom-feeder from the conference was January 23rd vs. East Carolina and they scored 94 pts in that game. Now that was at home, but the Cougars' scoring doesn't drop off that much on the road. Plus, Tulane has allowed an average of 78.3 PPG in conference play. They just allowed 80 (here at home) on Thursday to Tulsa.
The lack of scoring from the Green Wave is a bit disconcerting, but it's not like they're going to shoot any worse here than they have in the last two games. They made only 27.6% of their FGA vs. Tulsa and only 36.7% at Wichita State last weekend. Houston is an excellent defensive team, but still, if this game were to get "out of hand" early (a distinct possibility!), then we probably won't be seeing the usual defensive intensity from the Cougars. Tulane's last four games have all stayed Under, but this number opened much lower than where those lines closed. Something like an 80-63 final certainly seems within the realm of possibility here and that would mean an Over. 8* Over Houston/Tulane
|02-16-19||Tennessee v. Kentucky -3||Top||69-86||Win||100||22 h 35 m||Show|
8* Kentucky (8:00 ET): Tennessee's #1 ranking gets its stiffest test to date here as they must go to Lexington and face a UK team that is going to be quite angry after losing to LSU earlier this week. Coach Cal's Wildcats had won 10 in a row before losing Tuesday here at Rupp Arena. Perhaps they got caught looking ahead to this showdown as they blew an eight-point halftime lead and lost on a controversial put-back at the buzzer. I don't see them dropping B2B home games. With all due respect, I don't know many (other than the pollsters) that think the Vols are really the top team in America. Lay the short number.
Kentucky had mostly been dominating before losing Tuesday to LSU. Maybe it was what they needed to refocus them for this Saturday night showdown. That was their first loss all year at home where they are now 14-1 SU and +17.4 PPG. Overall, they had won 17 straight at home. Defensively, I give UK a pretty significant edge in this matchup. They are top 8 in the country in defensive efficiency (per KenPom) while Tennessee is just 40th. The Vols are giving up an average of 76.9 PPG away from Knoxville this season. That simply won't cut it here as Kentucky is giving up just 62.2 PPG at home.
Tennessee is 23-1 SU, but like I already said, I'm not sure many outside the Volunteer State truly believe this to be the top team in America. They've held that spot for over a month, but that's mostly a byproduct of who they've played. Yes, they did beat Gonzaga in the non-conference portion of the schedule and won 19 in a row (school record) overall. But the schedule, particularly the SEC portion, hasn't been that challenging. Remember they needed OT to win at Vandy. The Vols definitely would NOT be a favorite on a neutral floor vs. the likes of Duke, Gonzaga or Virginia and they do not deserve to be favored here either. The time has come for them to lose. There's really no shame in it. 8* Kentucky
|02-16-19||Eastern Michigan v. Kent State -3.5||Top||58-71||Win||100||20 h 25 m||Show|
10* Kent State (7:00 ET): Massive revenge game for the Golden Flashes here. They owe Eastern Michigan a little payback due to an ugly 34-point loss up in Ypsilanti last month. Though they have won two straight coming into Saturday, Eastern Michigan rarely turns in a performance as strong as they one we saw vs. Kent last month. The Eagles shot a ridiculous 65.4% overall and were 12 of 19 from three-point range. Meanwhile, Kent State was an abysmal 35.5% from the field, including 9 of 28 from three-point range. Again, it's not like Eastern Michigan is some kind of offensive juggernaut. Earlier this year, they turned in a new record futility w/ just FOUR 1st half pts against Rutgers. I'll take the revenge-minded home chalk.
Since losing to EMU, Kent State has been a pretty good basketball team. Their record is 6-2 SU the L8 games w/ one of those losses coming to MAC-leader Buffalo. The other was to rival Akron in a rough spot last Friday. I actually faded the Golden Flashes there, noting two of their previous three wins had come in OT. The team is a perfect 8-0 SU in games decided by 4 pts or less this season, so they've been equally "lucky" as they have been good. At home though, they've been more the latter as they average 79.4 PPG here w/ an 11-3 SU record. They have won 10 of the 12 games where they've been favored this season, so the Flashes are definitely "taking care of business." Thursday, they beat Western Michigan by 19 on the road.
After its blowout win over Kent, Eastern Michigan immediately lost five of its next six w/ the lone win being another "outlier" performance (against Western Michigan). Over the last week though, the Eagles have turned in two strong defensive efforts in holding Northern Illinois to 49 and Ohio U 57 points. Such an effort here would surprise me in what is a second road game in three nights. Eastern Michigan is just 4-8 ATS (2-10 SU) as an underdog this season, so a second straight outright upset would definitely be "out of the ordinary." 10* Kent State
|02-16-19||Detroit v. Green Bay -4.5||Top||73-82||Win||100||14 h 25 m||Show|
10* Green Bay (1:00 ET): This is a massive revenge spot for the Phoenix, for they lost in Detroit last month. They didn't just lose mind you; they got blown out, 101-83, in a game the oddsmakers had listed as a pick 'em. At the time, Green Bay was the last remaining unbeaten in the Horizon League. But Detroit was red-hot from the field, shooting 53.6% overall and making 14 three-pointers. I know the oddsmakers have to make some adjustment for this rematch, but Green Bay is at home and should be favored by more than this. I'm laying the points.
To say the shooting we saw from Detroit the first time around was "irregular" would be quite the understatement. The Titans are not a team that typically shoots the ball well. In fact, their FG% for the year is below 40.0 on the road. Defensively, they have their issues as well, giving up 77.8 PPG overall and 81.3 PPG on the road. I should also mention that this will be the 4th consecutive road game for Detroit. They did win last time out (Thursday at Milwaukee), but still gave up 83+ pts for a third straight game. It should be noted that Milwaukee isn't exactly a good team either and Detroit was still listed as a slight underdog. The market hardly has much respect for the Titans and rightly so.
Green Bay is a much better team at home than on the road, which is all too common at this level. The Phoenix are 9-2 SU here on campus, thanks to averaging 89.6 PPG! Defensively, they're also a lot better at home as they allow only 74.9 PPG. That kind of point differential here at home, plus revenge, make the Phoenix a pretty easy call for me Saturday. Green Bay won here Thursday, 66-54 over Oakland, in arguably their finest defensive effort of the season. They likely won't be that stingy again, but I also expect them to shoot a lot better than they did Thursday (34.4%). Their 2nd leading scorer (JayQuan McCloud) didn't even make a shot! He's a 14 PPG scorer. The Phoenix are 6-1 ATS the L7 times laying 3.5 to 6 pts at home. 10* Green Bay
|02-15-19||Troy State v. Georgia Southern UNDER 160||Top||51-76||Win||100||22 h 31 m||Show|
10* Under Troy/GA Southern (9:00 ET): The last time these teams met, it was quite the high scoring affair. Georgia Southern won, 90-82, on the back of some lights out shooting. The Eagles finished that game w/ an overall field goal percentage of 61.0 (season-high, obviously) and were 10 of 19 from three-point range. Overall, they are a pretty good shooting team. Actually, they are one of the nation's best as one of only five teams to be above 50% overall for the year. But I don't see them matching the efficiency from that first meeting. I look for this game to stay Under the total.
Despite Ga Southern's sharp shooting, they're still only fourth in the Sun Belt. Troy is close to the bottom and coming off a bad game where they made only 40% of their field goal attempts in a 77-63 loss to Georgia State. That loss took place just two days ago, so it's a quick turnaround here for the Trojans. The poor shooting was probably long overdue after a three-game stretch where they connected on nearly 50% of their three-point attempts. They made only 25% from behind the arc in that first meeting w/ Ga Southern. On the road, Troy averages about seven fewer points per game than they do at home.
The last six times these teams have played, the Over has cashed. But not tonight. We've already established how Georgia Southern is unlikely to shoot as well as they did the first time they played Troy this season. Well, the Under has also cashed in the Eagles' last five home games vs. teams w/ losing road records. Troy is just 3-8 SU in "true" road games this season. Their games, on average, see about 151 total PPG scored. Ga Southern may be one of the highest scoring teams in the country, but this is a pretty high total and they play much better defense here in Statesboro. 10* Under Troy/GA Southern
|02-15-19||Monmouth v. Rider -8||Top||72-81||Win||100||19 h 7 m||Show|
8* Rider (7:00 ET): Rider's shocking downfall hit a new low earlier this week when they lost 98-88 to Quinnipiac ... in overtime. That was the Broncs' fifth straight loss, a stunning turn of events for a team that started MAAC play a perfect 5-0. But even moreso than Rider fans, it's those who have bet on the team left scratching their heads. This team has failed to cover nine in a row, all as favorites, including six outright losses. You just don't see that very often. Friday finds the Broncs looking to avenge one of those losses as they host Monmouth. Enough is enough. They get the job done here.
Rider had already suffered four straight losses by seven points or less before losing to Quinnipiac in OT Tuesday. It was a close game most of the way, but w/ 49 seconds left in regulation, the Broncs led by nine. They led by seven w/ just 24 seconds remaining. Then came a real "comedy of errors" that saw them allow consecutive three point baskets. They were at least able to split a pair of free throws - twice - so they still led by three in the closing seconds. But then they fouled the shooter on a three-point attempt (w/ :01 left!). Three FT's later, we were going to overtime and by that point Rider was dispirited and done for. Bottom line is that they're NOT as bad as recent results suggest nor anywhere close, for that matter. Here at home, they still have an 8-2 SU record.
Monmouth has pulled out four consecutive wins as a pick 'em or underdog, one of them coming against Rider. That upset came on 2/2 and the Hawks were 4.5-pt dogs in a 75-71 outright win. Monmouth closed the game on a 12-2 run. At the time, Rider was still leading the MAAC, but that loss started their downfall and they haven't won since. Monmouth is now in 1st place (despite a 10-16 SU overall record). Five of the Hawks' nine league wins have come by four points or less. Last week, they beat the two bottom teams in the MAAC (Fairfield, St. Peter's) on the road, holding the latter to just 27.1% shooting. I think it's telling that Rider is still such a decisive favorite here. Lay the points. 8* Rider
|02-14-19||St. Mary's -10.5 v. Santa Clara||Top||66-55||Win||100||14 h 46 m||Show|
8* St. Mary's (11:00 ET): To me, this matchup shapes up similarly to the one I played last night w/ New Mexico whipping San Diego State. The favorite (in this case, St. Mary's) was just embarrassed by its conference heavyweight (in this case, Gonzaga) its last time out. The Gaels got beat 94-46 by the 'Zags. If you recall, last night we were unafraid to lay the points w/ New Mexico, who had just gotten blown out by Nevada. Same thing here w/ SMU, who already beat Santa Clara by 20 once this season and should have little difficulty doing the same again tonight. Lay the points.
Santa Clara may not be as bad as the team we faded last night (San Jose State), but the Broncos are still severely outclassed in this particular matchup. They have not fared well against St. Mary's the last three seasons, losing all five matchups while also failing to cover four times (pushed once). Over the L5 games, this team has shot just 40.4% from the field. That simply won't cut it against an opponent that ranks 12th in the country in offensive efficiency.
Santa Clara got little going offensively in the first matchup where it scored only 55 pts on 40.9% shooting. They were 2 of 12 from three-point range. Playing at home this time around can change their fortune only so much against an opponent that is simply much better at this point. St. Mary's shot just 25% from the field against Gonzaga after two straight games where they were 52.2% or better. I expect massive improvement on the offensive end from them tonight. The Gaels are 5-1 ATS off their previous six SU losses and they should roll here against an opponent that hasn't been able to do much in conference play except beat the bottom tier teams. 8* St. Mary's
|02-14-19||Pepperdine v. San Francisco -10.5||Top||77-89||Win||100||13 h 46 m||Show|
10* San Francisco (10:00 ET): Right off the bat, I spot some value on the favorite here as they were favored by eight on the road in the first meeting of the year. Granted, San Francisco did not cover that first matchup with Pepperdine (still won 72-69). But now they're at home where the only team to beat them here all season was Gonzaga. The Dons' home record currently stands at 13-1 SU w/ an avg MOV of 16.5 PPG. They're catching Pepperdine off an upset last weekend, so that's another reason the line opened so low. I look for the Dons to win in a blowout Thursday night.
San Francisco once looked like a potential at-large team for the NCAA Tournament (assuming Gonzaga wins the WCC Tournament). That's out the window now as the Dons dropped three in a row, all on the road. They stopped the bleeding on Saturday by beating Santa Clara 78-72, but did not cover the 13.5-pt spot. So that makes it a 4-game ATS losing skid entering tonight. Again, while you don't like to see streaks of that nature, they do have their way of creating value. The Dons are still a top 50 team in the country from where I sit and should have little difficulty covering this spread at home.
For years, Pepperdine has been terrible on the road. We're talking a 3-34 SU record the L3 seasons w/ two of those wins coming this year. As mentioned above, the Waves did pull an upset in their last game, winning outright as three-point home dogs over San Diego. That was their second win of the season over the Toreros. They're just 3-6 SU vs. the rest of the WCC w/ one of those wins coming against an atrocious Portland team. The Waves did not shoot well the first go around vs. USF, making only 4 of 19 three-pointers. Somehow they were able to stay in the game, but I don't envision them shooting much better here and San Fran should play a lot better at home. 10* San Francisco
|02-13-19||San Jose State v. New Mexico -16.5||Top||60-92||Win||100||13 h 13 m||Show|
10* New Mexico (9:00 ET): Think the Lobos might be a little "surly" Wednesday night at "The Pit?" They just got embarrassed over the weekend, losing to Nevada 92-61. Sometimes the worst thing for an underdog is overconfidence. New Mexico had drilled Nevada (a top 10 team) earlier in the season (85-58 as 14.5-pt dogs) here in Albuquerque. Fortunately for the Lobos, they have the perfect opponent for a bounce back game. San Jose State is about as bad as it gets, not just in the Mountain West, but in the entire country. The Spartans come in w/ a 3-19 overall record and are 0-11 on the road. I know it's a big number (and New Mexico is 0 for 4 ATS its last four tries as home chalk of 12.5 or more points), but lay it.
San Jose State just got beat by 48 points over the weekend, so that's something that can make New Mexico feel good by proxy. It was the second straight road game for the Spartans where they allowed 100+ points and it's not as if Boise State (team that beat them) is some kind of world-beater. On the flip side, SJSU has scored more than 57 pts in only one of its previous five road games and that was still a 30-point loss. This team enters Wednesday having lost 13 in a row overall w/ 10 of the last 11 defeats coming by double digits. Seven have been by at least 20 points.
New Mexico may have been overconfident heading into the rematch w/ Nevada, but they aren't likely to overlook this game. The Lobos have lost seven of nine since beating Nevada on Jan 5th and desperately need a win here. Their last home game was an 83-70 upset of San Diego State as 2.5-pt dogs. They already score plenty here (76.8 PPG) and should take full advantage of an opponent that surrenders 84.4 PPG on the road. 10* New Mexico
|02-12-19||Air Force v. UNLV -8.5||Top||72-77||Loss||-107||14 h 59 m||Show|
10* UNLV (10:30 ET): Neither Air Force nor UNLV is playing particularly well heading into this matchup. The Flyboys have failed to cover four in a row. But admittedly that has a lot to do w/ the fact they've been favored three times in that stretch, which is a rarity. They did beat Wyoming last Wednesday, 81-76 (as 9.5-pt chalk) for their fifth conference win (against six losses). UNLV is a game better in MWC play (6-5), but has lost four of five, including an embarrassing setback Saturday where they fell by 18 here in Las Vegas to Fresno State. As I'll get into a minute, the Rebels have some serious revenge to exact Tuesday night. I'll lay the points.
Last month in Colorado Springs, UNLV got absolutely hammered by Air Force. It was a 106-88 final, which at the time was the first MWC loss for the Rebels. They were four-point road favorites in that game, but couldn't stop the Falcons from topping 100 pts for the first time since February of last season. The AFA shot nearly 60% for the game, which was shocking as they came in ranked 320th in the country in points per game at the time. They still only average 67.4 PPG for the year and that number drops down to 61.5 away from home where they are just 2-9 SU. So don't expect anything close to the same offensive numbers from the Falcons this time around.
UNLV is actually 0-6 ATS the L6 meetings w/ Air Force. But based on what happened last time and on Saturday, the Rebels aren't going to be taking their opponents lightly. Note that they have been a dog in every game during this 1-4 SU stretch. The Rebels are still the significantly better team in this matchup and we're getting a little bit of value here based on the surprising result in the first meeting. Right now, we're getting them at an ultimate "buy low" price as this should be a double digit spread from where I sit. Defense has been an issue for the Rebels lately, but shouldn't be here. 10* UNLV