College Basketball Picks: Jimmy V Classic Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 12/7/2010
We have a terrific quartet of teams for this year’s Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden as No. 4 Kansas faces No. 13 Memphis in the opener and No. 7 Michigan State faces No. 8 Syracuse in the nightcap. Certainly it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see one or more of these teams in the Final Four this spring.
"It's three Hall of Fame coaches and me," Memphis coach Josh Pasnter joked on a conference call of KU’s Bill Self, MSU’s Tom Izzo and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim. "If any of them want to cut in early, I'll just hang up."
For the opener the Jayhawks have opened as 12-point favorites with the total at 150. KU was ranked No. 1 last year when it edged Memphis, 57-55, in St. Louis as part of the Hall of Fame Showcase. The Tigers have started 7-0 this year (2-4 ATS) for the second time in the past 15 seasons, but they might be a bit of a mirage. They blew an 18-point lead to Arkansas State two games ago and were pushed to overtime. Three days later, Memphis gave up 25 offensive rebounds and was outrebounded, 43-41, by a small Western Kentucky team. Junior swingman Wesley Witherspoon, one of two returning starters from last year, leads Memphis in scoring with 13.7 points per game and rebounding at 5.0 rebounds per game.
Kansas (7-0, 3-2 ATS), led by twins Marcus and Markieff Morris, are outrebounding foes by nearly six per game. Marcus Morris leads four Jayhawks averaging in double figures with an 18.6 scoring average. Markieff Morris leads in rebounding at 9.1 per game. The Jayhawks already have a couple of impressive wins, beating the Arizona Wildcats, 87-79, to claim the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 27 and then UCLA 77-76 on Dec. 2 in Lawrence in the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. KU leads the Big 12 in most of the important statistical categories, including scoring offense (89.9), scoring margin (+30.4), field goal percentage (56.9) assists (21.1) and blocks (6.3). Oddly, the Jayhawks have lost their past four games at the Garden.
In the nightcap, Michigan State is a 1.5-point favorite over the Orange, according to college basketball odds, with the total at 137. Izzo always schedules one of the nation’s toughest nonconference schedules and it has bitten Sparty (6-2, 4-3 ATS) with losses to UConn in Maui and Duke in Durham. Izzo says his team is “tired” as in a span of 13 days MSU played six games in three different states, including three games in three days in Hawaii. That fatigue showed in star point guard Kalin Lucas on Saturday. In a 74-39 win over Bowling Green, Lucas played only 15 minutes, took one shot and didn’t score for only the second time in his career. Lucas admitted his Achilles’ tendon, which he tore during last year’s NCAA Tournament, was bothering him. He hasn’t practiced since playing Saturday but is expected to play tonight.
Syracuse (8-0, 2-6 ATS) enters off a six-point win over N.C. State on Saturday but has yet to play a Top-25 team. Obviously the Orange should have a big advantage in terms of fan support for this game. However, Boeheim said Monday that star freshman center Fab Melo has been nursing an injury to his Achilles’ tendon that has slowed his progress.
"His Achilles has been sore for a couple weeks and he's having trouble getting up and down the court like we need him to," Boeheim said. "That's held him back."
The Orange are holding opponents to just 37.4 percent shooting from the field, but they are creating only three more turnovers than they give up per game. Turnovers and free throw shooting have been Michigan State’s main problem this year. Sparty is turning the ball over on average 18 points a game, which is among the worst in the nation. Syracuse led the nation in offensive field-goal percentage at 51.6 last season but is down to 43.0 percent this year.
MSU and SU haven’t played since 2004.
College Basketball Picks and Predictions for the Jimmy V Classic: Kansas simply has way too much depth for Memphis, but 12 points is too much. Take the Tigers even though they are only 3-13 ATS in their past 16 nonconference games. Also, take Michigan State because the Spartans should have too much inside especially if Melo isn’t 100 percent but also only if Lucas is for sure playing. Otherwise take SU.
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