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Free Sports Picks: College Basketball Wednesday Night
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 1/27/2010

Duke guard Nolan Smith

Wednesday night brings a big slate of college basketball and an ESPN doubleheader featuring Top 10 teams from the Big East and ACC trying to defend their home court against conference rivals.

Notre Dame at No. 3 Villanova, 7 p.m. EST  ESPN

The line
Villanova -10.5
Total 167

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How They Enter
Villanova is starting to be discussed as a potential No. 1 team in the country. Its only loss remains a 75-65 defeat at Temple back in mid-December. Since then the Wildcats have steamrolled their Big East competition although their schedule is back loaded with most of their tough conference games still to come.

The Fighting Irish have been as inconsistent as any team in the conference. They have non-conference loss against Northwestern and Loyola Marymount (as 21-point favorites). Their only win of substance came at home against West Virginia. Recently they are 1-2 in the conference with only a win over lowly DePaul since the West Virginia win.

Scouting Reports
Villanova has an offense that lights up the scoreboard and a defense that lets opponents do the same. The Wildcats score 85 points per game, an NBA-type average, it ranks third in the nation but it does also allow 70 points per game, 223rd in the country. Scottie Reynolds leads the Wildcat attack, scoring 18.7 points per game and Antonio Pena and Taylor King give Villanova an average post presence.

The total is 167 for a reason and the Fighting Irish can hang in there in a shootout with anyone in the conference. They score 81 points per game and are shooting 41-percent from three-point range, the 12th best mark in the country. Luke Harangody is one of the top scorers in the conference with 24.6 points per game and 10 rebounds per game. Forward Tim Abromaitis is an overlooked factor, he is shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.

Trends That Matter
Villanova is 4-0 ATS in their last four Big East games
Villanova is 7-1 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite and last eight games at home
Over is 5-0 in Villanova’s last five home games and last five games as a home favorite
12 of Villanova’s last 13 games have gone over

The Pick
Notre Dame should be able to keep things close but their inconsistency makes them a shaky bet. The play here is the ‘under’. Even though both offenses can score in droves and their defenses have been shaky at best, the total of 167 is higher than either team has seen this season. The oddsmakers may have set this one a little too high. Again, the pick is Notre Dame/Villanova ‘under’ 167.

Florida State at No. 7 Duke, 9 p.m. EST

The line
Duke -12.5
Total 140

How They Enter
After a 13-2 start to the season, Florida State dropped back-to-back games at Maryland and at home against N.C. State. The Seminoles got back on track with big conference wins over Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech at home but they have not covered a game since Dec. 22.

The road has been hard on Duke this season where the Blue Devils have suffered all three of their losses but they made a major statement at a hostile Clemson, winning 60-47 on Saturday. At home the Blue Devils have been sensational, they are undefeated and 8-3 ATS.

Scouting Reports
Even with a challenging out-of-conference schedule Florida State has posted some impressive defensive numbers all season. They hold opponents to 60 points per game and teams are shooting 35.5 percent against them, giving Florida State the best opponents field goal percentage in the country. Solomon Alabi is one of the best centers in the ACC, he has 51 blocked shots this year along with 12.6 points per game and 6.7 rebounds per game. Chris Singleton and Deividas Dulkys both average in double figures.

Duke has diversified scoring too. Jon Scheyer (18.6), Nolan Smith (18.5) and Kyle Singler (15.8) all average more points than any Florida State player. Scheyer is one of the top point guards in the country and Alabi is going to have his hands full with Singler and Miles Plumlee.

Trends That Matter
The Seminoles are 4-10 ATS this season
Duke is 12-6 ATS this season including 8-3 at home
Florida State is 0-4 ATS in its last four conference games
Duke is 5-2 ATS in its last seven conference games

The Pick
Duke has been dominant at home, not just winning but putting teams away early in games. Florida State has the second best defense in the ACC, the only comparable defense Duke has faced is Clemson’s and the Blue Devils defeated them by an average of 17 points. The pick is Duke giving the points.


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