College Basketball Betting: Weekday Primer
by Matt Severance - 2/15/2010
It’s a great week in sports … because pitchers and catchers report this week. Oh, and there are some pretty good matchups in college basketball, too. Here’s the top game each night this week, and we’ll have a Game of the Day preview for you on Saturday.
Connecticut at Villanova (7 p.m., ESPN): Coach Jim Calhoun’s return from a medical leave couldn’t stop UConn’s tailspin from continuing Saturday, as the Huskies lost for the fifth time in their past six games. At 14-11 and 4-8 in the Big East, that makes tonight’s game at Villanova almost a must-win for UConn to have a prayer of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. Nova leads the Big East and has won two straight since its lone conference loss (to Georgetown). UConn does seem to play its best against the best competition: In five previous games against Top 10 opponents, the Huskies lost four by an average of five points and beat then-No. 1 Texas. However, UConn also is 0-6 on the road this season, and Nova – a 9.5-point favorite -- is unbeaten at home and has covered in its past four at home in this series.
Kentucky at Mississippi State (7 p.m., ESPN): UK made it five straight wins by double digits on Saturday against Tennessee, but Mississippi State presents arguably the Cats’ toughest SEC competition to date. MSU is led by shot-blocking machine Jarvis Varnado, who will soon become college basketball’s all-time blocked shots leader. He had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a win over Auburn on Saturday. That was his fifth double-double in a row, and Varnado vs. UK freshman big man DeMarcus Cousins is a can’t-miss matchup. MSU certainly will be the underdog here, and the dog has covered in the past four in this series. The Bulldogs’ only loss at home came in the season opener (4-3-1 ATS at home this year).
Purdue at Ohio State (6:30 p.m., Big Ten Network): These are the two hottest teams in the Big Ten, with the Boilers on a seven-game winning streak (4-3 ATS) and the Buckeyes’ run is at six straight (3-3 ATS). Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson is the current Big Ten Player of the Week after 20.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game to lead the Boilermakers over Michigan State and Iowa last week. Purdue won two of three meetings last year, but the loss did come in Columbus. This year, Purdue has the nation’s best record against RPI Top 25 opponents (5-1). And the Boilermakers haven’t lost since a three-game hiccup in mid-January. But one of those came to Ohio State, which got 32 points from Evan Turner for a 70-66 road win. OSU trailed by 12 at the half in that one. Robbie Hummel tied a school record with eight three-pointers for Purdue.
Syracuse at Georgetown (7 p.m., ESPN2): This great rivalry matchup lost a bit of its luster because both Syracuse and Georgetown enter off a loss. The Hoyas fell by three at Rutgers on Sunday in what has to be called a trap game – GU had beaten Villanova previous to that and obviously had this game to look forward to. Syracuse, meanwhile, was beaten at home by desperate Louisville on Sunday, ending the Orange’s 11-game winning streak. Leading scorer Wes Johnson was clearly bothered by a bruised hand, shooting only 5-for-20. Oddly, both of SU’s defeats this year have come at home. But the Orange beat the Hoyas 73-56 at the Carrier Dome back on Jan. 25 despite falling behind, 14-0. SU has won 10 of its last 13 games overall vs. Georgetown.
Old Dominion at Northern Iowa (7 p.m., ESPN2): This is one of those ESPN BracketBusters made-for-TV matchups. These are two of the better mid-major teams in the country this season. UNI leads the Missouri Valley Conference, while ODU is tied for the Colonial Athletic Association lead and also won at Georgetown this season. ODU is a monster at home – 21 straight home wins, the fifth-longest streak in the nation, but only 7-5 on the road. Northern Iowa is unbeaten at home this season. Both teams are among the nation’s leaders in scoring defense (the total here may barely be in triple digits) and probably locks to get into the NCAA Tournament whether they win their conference tournament or not. UNI is 4-3 all-time in BracketBusters games, and it won’t have second-leading scorer Jordan Eglseder. The center was arrested early Sunday and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated hours after the Panthers lost at Bradley, 68-59, on Saturday to snap a six-game winning streak. He was suspended three games by the team.
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