NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Saturday
by Alan Matthews - 1/23/2015
Three ranked teams in action on this list -- well technically four -- with potentially challenging road matchups on Saturday. And the good thing about basketball compared to football? We don't have to hear anything about whether the balls were inflated enough, although I can almost guarantee you the announcers will bring it up from a basketball perspective in every single telecast. Please let this story die! Here's a look at three intriguing matchups on the schedule.
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No. 1 Kentucky at South Carolina (+10.5)
It's a noon start on ESPN for this SEC matchup, and it's probably the only chance Kentucky has of losing before visiting Florida on Feb. 7. I'm not predicting that, mind you, but South Carolina has been solid at times this season. The Gamecocks (10-7, 1-4) have lost four of five entering this one but destroyed a pretty good Oklahoma State team in Columbia earlier this season and upset then-No. 9 Iowa State in Brooklyn on Jan. 3 in the nonconference finale. And of those four SEC losses, three have been by four points or fewer: to Florida, at Auburn and Tuesday at home against Tennessee in which USC nearly rallied from a 17-point hole with under nine minutes left. South Carolina had a chance to tie, trailing 65-62, but Justin McKie's 3-pointer rolled around the rim and out with 14 seconds remaining. After a 4-for-17 night from 3-point range, South Carolina is now shooting 29.2 percent in SEC play, which isn't going to win you many games.
I thought Kentucky (18-0, 5-0) might have some trouble last Saturday at Alabama, but UK dominated in 70-48 win. The Cats weren't quite as good in Tuesday's 65-57 home win over Vanderbilt. Vandy was within four points with 2:36 left but couldn't get closer. Kentucky's 18-0 start is the second-best under Coach John Calipari and the fourth time one of his teams (any school) has started 18-0. None of the previous three won a national title. Kentucky is holding teams to 32.2 percent shooting, which would be the lowest in college basketball since 1978.
Kentucky was No. 17 last season when it visited South Carolina in the teams' only meeting, and USC pulled off a 72-67 victory. It was South Carolina's first win over Kentucky since beating the No. 1 Wildcats 68-62 in January 2010 in Calipari's first game against the Gamecocks.
Key trends: Kentucky is 6-2 ATS in its past nine after an ATS loss. South Carolina is 0-5 ATS in its past five after a loss and 0-6 ATS in its past six SEC games. Kentucky is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Why take the favorite: I'll admit I thought this line would be 4-5 points higher. At this number I'll stick with UK.
No. 25 Iowa at Purdue (TBA)
Noon tip from West Lafayette on the Big Ten Network. I'm really not sure what Iowa had done to deserve to enter the Top 25 this week, but the Hawkeyes' stay will be short no matter what happens here. That's because Iowa (13-6, 4-2) was embarrassed 82-50 at No. 6 Wisconsin on Tuesday. It was 35-17 at the half, and that was all she wrote. Wisconsin had just one turnover. A little bit of controversy came from that when ESPN announcer Dan Dakich called Iowa center Adam Woodbury "gutless" and "cowardly" during the broadcast. Woodbury appeared to poke the eyes of Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes and Frank Kaminsky in separate incidents.
Purdue (11-8, 3-3) lost 66-57 at Illinois on Wednesday. The Boilers played most of the game without leading scorer Kendall Stephens, who aggravated a pinkie finger he broke earlier in the season. Stephens, scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting, left the game with 6:16 remaining in the first half. Coach Matt Painter said he did not know if Stephens, who came in averaging 11.6 points and shooting 42 percent on 3s, would miss more playing time. Purdue was just 5-for-21 from long range without him.
Iowa and Purdue met only once a year ago, with the Hawkeyes winning 83-76 in Iowa City. Purdue has won the last six meetings in Mackey Arena.
Key trends: Iowa is 2-11 ATS in its past 13 following an ATS loss and 1-9 ATS in its past 10 following a straight-up loss. Purdue is 11-5 ATS in its past 16 vs. teams with a winning record. The home team is 9-2 ATS in the past 11 meetings.
Why take the ... depends: I will not include a TBA game all that often unless I find injury value in it. This has it. I like Purdue to win outright if Stephens plays. Take Iowa if not. The line will swing a couple of points depending on him.
No. 11 Kansas at No. 17 Texas (-3.5)
This Big 12 matchup is at 2 p.m. on CBS. It's the fourth straight ranked opponent for Kansas, which opened this stretch with a home win over Oklahoma State, lost at Iowa State and then beat Oklahoma 85-78 on Monday. KU (15-3, 4-1) was up 19 on the Sooners at the half, becoming the first team to score at least 50 points on OU by halftime. However, Oklahoma actually took a 59-58 lead midway through the second half and was still ahead with 3:45 left. Brannen Greene's 3-pointer started a run of five straight Kansas baskets as the Jayhawks pulled away. For the second straight game and fourth time this season, five different Jayhawks scored in double digits. Freshman Kelly Oubre led the Jayhawks with 19 points. Starting forward Jamari Taylor, playing through a hip injury, had just four points and no rebounds.
Texas (14-4, 3-2) has followed back-to-back losses with back-to-back blowout wins. UT clobbered TCU 66-48 in the Frogs' gym on Monday, never trailing. Point guard Isaiah Taylor had perhaps his best game of the season with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. The Longhorns shot 48 percent from the field and held TCU to 33.3 percent. Texas improved to 12-1 this year when holding its opponent below 40 percent shooting. UT has won 10 straight vs. TCU. Despite coming off the bench, freshman Myles Turner leads Texas in scoring at 11.8 points per game, rebounding at 6.8 per contest and the Big 12 with 2.7 blocked shots per outing. He will be a high lottery pick this summer.
Kansas has won five of the last six meetings with Texas and nine of the last 11 matchups. They split last season, each winning by at least 12 points at home.
Key trends: Kansas is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. It is just 1-4 ATS in its past five Saturday games. Texas is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings.
Why take the underdog: This line surprises me a tad as well. I was leaning Texas but now will take the points.
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