NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Sunday
by Alan Matthews - 3/7/2015
It's the final day of college basketball's regular season on Sunday. I hope you enjoyed these daily previews and gleaned some valuable betting information from them. I do plan to keep going for a few more weeks into the NCAA Tournament (perhaps some NIT games as well), which will get us nearly to the start of baseball season. Not really any huge matchups this Sunday with only four ranked teams in action. Here's a look at three games that caught my eye, including for sure the first New Hampshire-Albany preview in my lifetime.
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New Hampshire at Albany (-8)
It's a semifinal game of the America East Tournament at 2 p.m. on ESPN 3. ESPN Bracketology projects Albany to win the tournament and be a No. 15 seed in the Big Dance. Obviously the America East isn't going to get an at-large team, so it would be a shame for Albany to lose to a good New Hampshire team here after the Great Danes (22-8) finished 15-1 in conference play in the regular season to win the title by three games.
Albany is the two-time defending champion of the America East Tournament, beating Vermont in the final in 2013 and Stony Brook last year. The Great Danes have never won an NCAA Tournament game in four tries, losing as a No. 16 seed to No. 1 overall Florida 67-55 last year in Orlando. Albany enters on a four-game winning streak and beat a terrible Maine team 83-66 to open the conference tournament. Albany jumped out to a 26-9 lead and that was that. In addition to scoring a season-high 83 points, the Danes also made a season-best 11 3-point field goals. They outrebounded Maine 40-19. Evan Singletary led Albany with 19 points. The team's star, leading scorer and rebounder Sam Rowley, recorded his ninth double-double of the year with 10 points and 11 rebounds. New Hampshire (19-11, 11-5) is the fourth seed. The Wildcats advanced with a 67-63 OT win over No. 5 seed Hartford. Jaleen Smith led the way with 16 points and nine rebounds. He had given UNH a 54-52 lead by hitting the first of two free throws with one second left in regulation, but Hartford's Mark Nwakamma rebounded Smith's miss and was fouled while attempting a Hail Mary pass, sinking both free throws and forcing overtime.
Albany was 2-0 vs. New Hampshire this season but both were very close. On Jan. 6 in Durham, the Danes won 64-62 as Rowley made a layup with one second left. He also made two free throws with 49 seconds remaining to tie the game. On Feb. 4 in Albany, the Danes won 63-62. Singletary hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1:04 to play. Frank Okeke missed a potential winning 3 for UNH.
Key trends: UNH is 3-7 ATS in its past 10 on the road. Albany is 6-0 ATS in its past six on Sunday. It is 8-1 ATS in its past nine against teams with a winning record.
Why take the underdog: Won't pretend I'm an Albany or New Hampshire expert but going by the first two meetings how can't you take UNH?
Tulsa at No. 22 SMU (-8)
It's a 3 p.m. ET tip on ESPNU for the American Athletic Conference regular-season championship. How much does one game matter? Tulsa was in the field of 68 when I previewed the Golden Hurricane's home game against Cincinnati on Wednesday. Now they are among the "First Four Out" after a 56-47 home loss that probably clinched a tournament at-large berth for Cincinnati. SMU will be in no matter what happens and is projected as a No. 6 seed in the Midwest.
As noted above, the Golden Hurricane (21-8, 14-3) were upset by UC on Wednesday. Cincinnati led for all but 2:03 of the game as the Bearcats never relinquished the lead after going ahead 5-4 at the 16:22 mark. The Hurricane could get only as close as three points once in the final 20 minutes as their four-game winning streak ended. Tulsa had been 17-0 when holding its opponent to fewer than 65 points. SMU (23-6, 14-3) saw its five-game winning streak end with an 81-73 loss at Connecticut one week ago. The Mustangs led only once at 53-51 on a jumper by Markus Kennedy with 8:10 left. It snapped a seven-game road winning streak as well for the Mustangs. SMU looks for its first conference title since 1993. It has never played a winner-take-all conference title game at home. The AAC Tournament is in Hartford next week and obviously the winner here will be the top seed.
SMU won at Tulsa 68-57 on Feb. 7, handing the Golden Hurricane their first conference loss. Nic Moore had 23 points, reserve Cannen Cunningham a career-high 16 and Yanick Moreira 31 points and 13 rebounds for the Mustangs. After Rashad Smith tied the game at 43 with 11:57 remaining, Tulsa didn't score again until two free throws by Brandon Swannegan with 4:36 left. Tulsa shot just 28.3 percent (17-for-60) and 9-for-28 from 3-point range.
Key trends: Tulsa has covered nine of its past 12 after an ATS loss. It is 5-2 ATS in the past seven on the road. SMU is 5-0 ATS in its past five after an ATS loss. The Mustangs have covered nine of their past 11 at home. Tulsa is 5-0 ATS in its past five at SMU.
Why take the underdog: Tulsa has to have a good showing.
No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 23 Ohio State (pick'em)
This Big Ten matchup is at 4:30 p.m. on CBS. I wonder how motivated Wisconsin will be as it already has wrapped up the Big Ten regular-season title and I think will be a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance regardless of what happens here or in the Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State is currently listed as a No. 7 in the East and with a matchup against Cincinnati, which would be great for the state of Ohio.
Wisconsin (27-3, 15-2) won at Minnesota 76-63 on Thursday behind 25 points, seven assists and six rebounds from lock Big Ten Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky. It was the first 20+ points, 5+ rebounds, 5+ assists performance of his career. It's the ninth outright Big Ten regular season title for Wisconsin but only the third since 1950. The two previous times the Badgers accomplished the feat, they would eventually lose in the Sweet 16. It's Senior Day at Ohio State but almost surely the final home game for star freshman guard D'Angelo Russell, who will be a Top-5 pick in this summer's draft. The Buckeyes (22-8, 11-6) won their third straight on Wednesday, 77-67. The fabulous Russell had 28 points, and Thad Matta tied the school record with win No. 297 at OSU. Matta's next win also will be No. 400 in his career (also coached at Butler and Xavier). Russell has had more than 20 points in 14 games this season. How did OSU get him out of Kentucky? It was only Ohio State's third win in 11 games this year when trailing at halftime. The Buckeyes enter the weekend in a four-way tie for third in the Big Ten with Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue. If all four remain tied after this weekend, the Buckeyes would be the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue and Iowa are home and should win, while MSU is at Indiana.
This is the only scheduled meeting between OSU and UW. In the only matchup last year, Ohio State pulled off a 59-58 upset in Madison. Kaminsky had just eight points on 1-for-6 from the field.
Key trends: Wisconsin is 1-4 ATS in its past five games. OSU is 6-1 ATS in its past seven at home. UW is 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Why take the Buckeyes: I sense a UW letdown.
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