College Basketball Betting: Weekday Primer
by Matt Severance - 2/8/2010
It’s “Rivalry Week” on ESPN, which basically means that Duke and North Carolina are playing. But it is a great week of matchups, and there’s even one worth watching – and betting on – Friday. Check back Saturday for a Game of the Day preview.
Kansas at Texas (9 p.m., ESPN): If KU doesn’t lose here, the Jayhawks might not fall again the rest of the regular season (although that season-ending trip to Missouri will be tough). Kansas has won eight straight and is in full command of the Big 12 with a three-game lead; it’s the only BCS conference team still unbeaten in league play. But we know KU is good. The story here is mostly about sliding Texas, which has opened as a two-point dog at WagerWeb. Since ascending to their first No. 1 ranking, the Longhorns have dropped four of six games. Free throw shooting is a major problem for this team, as it hits only 61 percent from the charity stripe and was a ridiculous 10-for-27 there in Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma. In Texas' four defeats (by a combined 35 points), it has missed 49 of 96 free throws. Stunningly, UT has covered just once in its past 10 games overall. Kansas leads the overall series 16-6 and has won two straight and five of the last six. But the games are usually close, as the past five have been decided by 10 points or less with three of those by four points or less. UT is 14-2 all-time at home in Big Monday games. KU has covered just twice in seven road games this year.
Purdue at Michigan State (9 p.m., ESPN): One week ago, Michigan State had a three-game lead and was turning the Big Ten race into a laugher. But a visit to Wisconsin – where MSU never wins – and an injury to star Kalin Lucas (sprained ankle) led to an 0-2 week for Sparty, and Purdue can tie MSU in the loss column in conference play and turn the Big Ten into a five-team race down the stretch. State had 18 turnovers without Lucas on Saturday at Illinois, and Lucas’ status could again be a game-time status on Tuesday. Lucas is arguably one of the most important players to his team of any top program in the country, so hold off betting on this one until you know if he’s playing. Purdue escaped at Indiana on Thursday and has won five games in a row (2-3 ATS). These two teams split last year, each winning at home. Purdue has lost nine in a row in East Lansing, with the last win there coming March 1, 1998.
Duke at North Carolina (9 p.m., ESPN): Here’s all you need to know about this game: The Dukies can possibly drop UNC to last place in the ACC by winning in Chapel Hill on Wednesday. Obviously the reigning national champion Tar Heels have been the nation’s biggest disappointments this season, as they are on their second three-game losing streak since mid-January. Carolina also has lost a stunning three games in a row at home. This team won’t be in the NCAA Tournament barring an ACC Tournament championship. Duke has won two games in a row to take over the ACC lead, but the Blue Devils are just 2-4 in road games this year (1-5 ATS). Carolina has won six of the past seven meetings with Duke.
Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga (11 p.m., ESPN2): Gonzaga has won nine West Coast Conference regular-season titles in a row, but that could be in jeopardy if the Gaels can pull the upset on Thursday night. Saint Mary’s enters the week with a half-game lead in the WCC at 8-1. But SMU’s only loss in conference and in the past 12 games overall was 89-82 at home to Gonzaga on Jan. 14. That was the Zags’ fifth straight win in the series. Gonzaga is 70-4 at home in the past five years and only one of those losses (in 2007) came to a WCC team. Overall, Gonzaga has won 23 of its past 24 conference games – but that loss came at San Francisco on Jan. 30, ending a 28-game WCC regular-season win streak. Saint Mary’s, for what it’s worth, has trounced USF twice this season. And the Gaels must win this one to bolster their NCAA Tournament resume.
West Virginia at Pittsburgh (9 p.m., ESPN): Because it’s “Rivalry Week,” we actually get a Top 25 matchup on Friday night – assuming the Panthers stay in the new polls when released on Monday. Pittsburgh has lost four of its past six games, including a 70-51 setback at West Virginia on Feb. 3. The Mountaineers had won six games in a row (3-3 ATS) entering Monday night’s big game with Villanova. The Panthers also played Monday night, hosting Robert Morris. Entering that game, Pitt was 12-1 at home. It is 53-10 vs. Big East opponents at the Petersen Events Center. WVU has lost six of its past seven at Pitt.
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