College Basketball Betting: Weekday Primer
by Matt Severance - 2/1/2010
You know the drill – here’s the best game each weeknight this week and I’ll have a Game of the Day for you on Saturday. Get out of the house on Friday night because there’s nothing much worth watching or betting on in the NCAA basketball world.
Connecticut at Louisville (7 p.m., ESPN): I chose this game over the other Big Monday offering, Texas vs. Oklahoma State, because both UConn and Louisville (both 13-8) are squarely on the NCAA bubble right now and both badly need to start building their NCAA Tournament resume. As of this writing, the Huskies will be without head coach Jim Calhoun for a fifth game as he remains on a medical leave of absence. UConn is 2-2 under interim coach George Blaney, but those two losses have come in the past two games – and to not exactly two of the better teams in the Big East (Providence and Marquette). In fact, if you look at the conference standings, UConn is ahead of only DePaul, Rutgers and St. John’s. The Huskies tend to lose the tight ones: Five of Connecticut's eight losses this season have been by five points or less. The Cardinals, who are 6.5-point favorites, have lost four of five (1-4 ATS), including a three-point setback Saturday at West Virginia. They still haven’t beaten a ranked team yet, and it’s unlikely they get a chance here because UConn should fall from the Top 25 when the polls are released. The Huskies have won five of seven all-time meetings – including the lone matchup last season -- and are 2-1 in Louisville. However, this season UConn is 0-4 (2-2 ATS) in true road games.
Michigan State at Wisconsin (9 p.m., ESPN): This begins the toughest stretch of Big Ten play for conference leader Michigan State, as the Spartans visit Madison and then Illinois before a big game with Purdue. Sparty is the only unbeaten team in Big Ten play at 9-0 and has a three-game lead over a handful of schools, including those next three opponents. Michigan State has won 10 games in a row overall, while UW enters off a Saturday loss in Purdue. Wisconsin enjoys one of the nation’s top home-court advantages, however, having won 17 in a row there. In fact, UW is 132-10 at home under Bo Ryan, the third-best winning percentage in the country. Look for this game to be rather ugly, as MSU’s 54-47 win over Wisconsin was on Jan. 6. Neither team shot better than 39 percent from the field in that one. UW tends to bring out the worst in Michigan State, having beaten the Spartans in four of the past six meetings. And Wisconsin is 3-0 at home against ranked teams this year.
Pittsburgh at West Virginia (7 p.m., ESPN 360): Pitt was one of the biggest surprises of the season for a while there but has begun to fall back to earth, having lost three of its past four (and trailing at the half in the one win). As a team, Pitt is shooting 23.6 percent (13 for 55) from behind the three-point line the past four games. Leading scorer Ashton Gibbs (17.1 ppg) is 20 for 67 from the field the past five games. The Panthers were scorched by South Florida’s Dominique Jones on Sunday but were without their best defensive player in guard Jermaine Dixon because of a sprained ankle. However, Dixon should be able to play by the time this one rolls around (no pun intended) because he almost went Sunday. WVU enters on a four-game winning streak (1-3 ATS), having beaten Louisville on Saturday. Pitt has won five of the past seven meetings in this series, including a 12-point victory in Morgantown last year.
Portland at Gonzaga (11 p.m., ESPN2): Let’s give a little love to the mid-majors by picking this game over Georgia Tech at Duke as the one to watch on Thursday night. The Pilots are a pretty good team – having beaten Oregon, UCLA and Minnesota -- and could throw the West Coast Conference up for grabs by handing Gonzaga its second loss in a row. The Zags fell at San Francisco on Saturday for their first WCC loss in 28 games. Portland has won four in a row (3-0-1 ATS) since leading scorer Nik Raivio went down with an Achilles’ strain – Jared Stohl has stepped up and averaged 18.5 points per game in that stretch. Gonzaga also could look past Portland as it has a non-conference tilt at Memphis on Saturday. The Zags beat Portland by three points back on Jan. 9, with Stohl missing a tying three-pointer at the buzzer. Gonzaga has won 13 straight in the series.
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