NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Saturday
by Alan Matthews - 1/9/2015
The NFL's Divisional Round of the playoffs doesn't kick off until a little after 4:30 p.m. ET time, and there's some solid college basketball action before that. Here's a look at three intriguing games on the schedule, two of which will be concluded before the kickoff of Ravens-Patriots, including a potential Final Four preview when Louisville visits North Carolina's Dean E. Smith Center for the first time as an ACC co-member. The Cardinals are +2500 at Sportsbook.ag to win the national title and the Tar Heels +3500.
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Cincinnati at Connecticut (-3.5)
You can get an early betting start on Saturday's NCAA action as this game tips off at 11 a.m. ET, earlier than any other, and will be shown on ESPN2. The Bearcats will play the rest of this season without head coach Mick Cronin as he's dealing with a non-life threatening vascular condition known as arterial dissection, which is a type of brain aneurysm. It was discovered just through a routine physical, so that's a good thing. Cronin remains in an advisory role, with assistant Larry Davis coaching the squad. UC (11-3, 2-0) is 4-1 under Davis. The Bearcats routed East Carolina 69-48 on Tuesday. Gary Clark filled the stat sheet with 16 rebounds (most for a UC player since December 2008), eight points, four blocks, four steals and three assists. As has long been the case, this isn't a good offensive team but excellent on defense, ranking seventh nationally in points allowed per game (54.1).
The defending national champion Huskies (8-5, 1-1) have won two straight, both on the road (first true road games of season), since a 57-53 home overtime loss to Temple. UConn won at South Florida 58-44 on Tuesday. The Huskies trailed by seven early but took command with a 21-2 run mostly led by bench players, including 14 straight points to open a 42-26 lead early in the second half. USF's 44 points against the Huskies marked the lowest for a Connecticut opponent this season. The Huskies rank second in the AAC in scoring defense behind Cincinnati, allowing 59.7 points a game.
These teams split two close games last season. Cincinnati is 0-2 all time in Hartford.
Key trends: Cincinnati is 6-15 ATS in its past 21 road games. The Bearcats are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 Saturday games. UConn is 7-1 ATS in its past eight following an ATS win. The Huskies are 1-6 ATS in their past seven after allowing less than 50 points in their previous game. UConn has covered the past five meetings overall.
Why take the favorite: Don't see Huskies losing two straight at home.
No. 5 Louisville at No. 18 North Carolina (-3.5)
It's a 2 p.m. ET tip on ESPN for this terrific matchup. With all due respect to Wake Forest and Clemson, this is the true ACC opener for Louisville in the Cardinals' first season in the conference, and it should be quite an atmosphere in Chapel Hill. Louisville (14-1) has bounced back from its horrific offensive performance on Dec. 27 in a loss to Kentucky with three straight wins. The Cardinals were pushed in their first two ACC games, an 85-76 win at Wake Forest and then 58-52 at home against Clemson on Wednesday. Louisville trailed the Tigers 22-18 at the half, but Chris Jones scored 20 after intermission. That's the thing with Louisville. It's an amazing defensive team, but it really struggles to score at times. Wednesday was the third time this season Louisville failed to score 20 points in a half; it didn't happen once in 2013-14. U of L did play Clemson without a starter, but I use that term loosely. That would be 7-foot Egyptian Anas Mahmoud, who was out with a migraine. He averages 1.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in around 13 minutes per game.
UNC (11-4) is ranked No. 16 nationally in scoring at 80.1 points per game and No. 2 in the nation in rebounding (45.1 per game). The Heels opened ACC play with a 74-50 blowout at Clemson but lost 71-70 at home to No. 13 Notre Dame on Monday. UNC went 1-for-14 in the final seven-plus minutes and missed its final eight shots. Star Marcus Paige, the preseason ACC Player of the Year, missed two potential winning shots inside the final 10 seconds.
North Carolina is 9-3 all time vs. Louisville. The schools met early last season in a holiday tournament in Connecticut, with the No. 24 Heels beating the No. 3 Cardinals 93-84. Paige had 32 points, while Russ Smith, now in the NBA, had 36 for the Cards. That dropped Rick Pitino to 0-5 against Carolina in his career, with three losses coming at Kentucky.
Key trends: Louisville has covered just one of its past 12 overall. The Heels are 4-0 ATS in their past four after an ATS loss. UNC is 2-6 ATS in its past eight at home vs. teams with a winning road record.
Why take the underdog: Cards probably win outright.
Kansas State at No. 16 Oklahoma (-14)
It's a 7 p.m. tipoff from Norman with the game on ESPNU. Might Oklahoma (11-3, 2-0) be the team to beat in the Big 12? Not ready to proclaim that yet, but the Sooners have opened conference play very impressively. They beat ranked Baylor in Norman by 10 on Jan. 3 and then destroyed No. 10 Texas in Austin 70-49 on Monday. Oklahoma led 33-14 at the half, which was a school-record low points for a half for UT. Buddy Hield led five Sooners in double figures with 13 points. TaShawn Thomas had 12 points and 11 boards. Oklahoma beat a Top-10 team on the road for the first time since 1993 and tied its largest margin of victory ever at Texas. It tied as the biggest home loss for Texas during the 17-year Rick Barnes era. The Horns entered the game ranked second nationally in rebounding margin (+14.4 per game) but were outrebounded by OU 42-37. Oklahoma committed only nine turnovers, the fourth time in the last five games it has committed less than 10.
Kansas State (8-7, 1-1) ended a three-game losing streak with a 58-53 win over a solid TCU team on Wednesday. Marcus Foster scored a game-high 23 points for the Wildcats. K-State held TCU to a season low in points and avoided starting the conference slate 0-2 for the first time since 2011. KSU is not a good offensive team. It has failed to reach 60 points in four straight games, the longest streak at the school since February 1997. K-State is now 31-4 under head coach Bruce Weber when holding opponents to less than 60 points, but only 3-2 this season. Oklahoma is one of six teams nationally that have held opponents to 69 points or fewer in every game.
Oklahoma beat Kansas State 86-73 in Norman last year. OU led 41-22 at half and by 27 points midway through second half.
Key trends: K-State is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 road games. It is 1-4 ATS in its past five vs. the Big 12. OU is 8-1 ATS in its past nine conference games. The home team has covered five of the past seven meetings.
Why take the favorite: OU has dominated its seven home games, winning by an average of 22.9 points, while K-State is 0-3 in true road games.
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