NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Saturday
by Alan Matthews - 2/20/2015
Top-ranked Kentucky isn't the only team that can go unbeaten in conference play this season. If No. 3 Gonzaga wins at Saint Mary's on Saturday night, then the Zags should run the table in the West Coast Conference, including the conference tournament. That should be enough for the top seed in the West Region considering Gonzaga's only loss was in overtime at Arizona. Currently the Zags are the fifth-favoritesat Sportsbook.ag to win the national title at +1400. Here's a look at their game and two others that caught my eye on Saturday.
Miami at No. 12 Louisville (-9)
This ACC game starts at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN. It's a must-have for Miami as the Hurricanes right now among the "Next Four Out" on ESPN's Bracketology. Louisville is a No. 4 in the South Region.
Miami (17-9, 7-6) has won two straight, but it's nothing to get too excited about as they were against ACC weaklings Boston College and Virginia Tech. In the 76-52 rout of the Hokies on Wednesday, Tonye Jekiri led the Canes with 15 points and 15 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season. The Hurricanes outrebounded the Hokies 40-19, and UM is now 9-1 this season when outrebounding its opponents. This is the third time this season the Hurricanes have won two ACC games in a row. They haven't won three yet. Louisville (20-6, 8-5) has lost two straight and three of four as the Cards are struggling on offense. They managed just 59 in a 10-point loss at unranked Syracuse on Wednesday. The big news from that game was Louisville starting guard Chris Jones was suspended indefinitely beforehand. Jones leads Louisville with 3.7 assists per game and is third in scoring (13.6 points). Apparently Jones did what he had to do because he has been reinstated and will play.
The Cardinals won at Miami 63-55 on Feb. 3. Jones was a star in that one with 16 points, eight rebounds, six steals and five assists. Backcourt mate Terry Rozier had 22 points and big man Montrezl Harrell 18 points and nine rebounds. Jekiri had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, which shot only 34 percent.
Key trends: Miami is 2-5 ATS in its past seven overall. The Canes have covered just one of their past seven after an ATS win. Louisville is 5-2 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Cards have covered two of their past 10 at home.
Why take the favorite: With Jones back this should be a rout.
UCLA at No. 7 Arizona (-15)
ESPN shows this Pac-12 game at 9 p.m. ET. Arizona controls its destiny to win the Pac-12 regular-season title and perhaps grab a No. 1 seed in the West, although it's currently a No. 2. UCLA is among the "Last Four Byes" and a No. 11 seed in the East.
The Bruins (16-11, 8-6) might be out of the field with a loss here because they suffered a potentially devastating 68-66 defeat at Arizona State on Wednesday. Isaac Hamilton missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. UCLA is usually a great frontcourt team and leads the Pac-12 in rebounding, but the Sun Devils outrebounded the Bruins 39-27 (only seventh time UCLA was outrebounded this season) and outscored them down low 36-22. ASU was down 10 in the first half but shot 53 percent after intermission. Star freshman Kevon Looney had 14 points, six rebounds and five steals for UCLA. Arizona (23-3, 11-2) blew out visiting USC 87-57 on Thursday for a 35th straight home win, No. 2 in the nation behind Gonzaga. Freshman Stanley Johnson had 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists. I thought Arizona might look past USC toward this game but clearly not. UA has beaten nine of its Pac-12 opponents by 18 points or more.
This is the only scheduled meeting between the teams. Last year, UCLA and Arizona split, with the Bruins winning 75-71 in the championship game of the Pac-12 Tournament. UCLA also won its last trip to Arizona in 2013.
Key trends: UCLA is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The Bruins are 3-9 ATS in their past 12 road games. Arizona is 6-0 ATS in its past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Cats are 4-0 ATS in their past four at home. UCLA has covered four of the past five meetings.
Why take the favorite: Arizona is clicking on all cylinders right now.
No. 3 Gonzaga at Saint Mary's (+8)
This is my favorite rivalry outside the power conferences. The West Coast Conference showdown tips at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Gonzaga is currently projected on ESPN' as the No. 1 seed in the West. Saint Mary's isn't listed right now but that would change with a win here.
The Gaels (20-6, 12-3) come off a 68-51 home win over Portland on Thursday. SMC was up just one early in the second half before going on an 18-0 run to take control. Kerry Carter led Saint Mary's with 21 points, while star Brad Waldow added 12 points and eight rebounds. SMC shot 54 percent from the field. Gonzaga (27-1, 15-0) won 86-75 at Pacific on Thursday for its 20th straight win, tying a school record. Kyle Wiltjer, the transfer from Kentucky, blew up with 45 points, the most at Gonzaga since 1961. Wiltjer was 15-for-22 from the field (7-for-10 from 3-point range). The Zags clinched at least a share of another WCC regular-season title. They have won 14 of the past 15 regular-season crowns.
Gonzaga beat visiting Saint Mary's 68-47 on Jan. 22. It was close early in the second half before the Zags blew it open with a 22-2 run. Gonzaga held Saint Mary's to 36 percent shooting and the Gaels were only 2-for-15 from 3-point range. Wiltjer had 11 in that one, while Waldow had 14. It was Gonzaga's seventh straight win in the series.
Key trends: Gonzaga is 1-4 ATS in its past five games. The Zags have failed to cover six straight on the road. SMC is 7-1 ATS in its past eight at home. It is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. Gonzaga has covered six straight in the series.
Why take the underdog: It's the home finale for Saint Mary's, and this will go down to the wire.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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