NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Sunday
by Alan Matthews - 1/24/2015
Sunday could be a historic day in college basketball as Duke's Mike Krzyzewski can become the first Division I college basketball coach ever to win 1,000 games, which is just unfathomable. Fittingly, Duke will play for No. 1,000 at Madison Square Garden, the same arena that Coach K broke Bob Knight's record for career victories in November 2011. Knight is Coach K's mentor as Krzyzewski spent the 1974-75 season on Knight's staff at Indiana before being hired as the head coach at the U.S. Military Academy, Krzyzewski's alma mater, for the next season. Duke hired him on March 18, 1980. Here's a look at that and two other games that caught my eye on Sunday.
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No. 23 Indiana at Ohio State (-7.5)
It's a 1:30 p.m. tip on CBS in what could be a letdown game for the Hoosiers -- or a second straight impressive win. IU (15-4, 5-1) beat No. 13 Maryland 89-70 in Bloomington on Thursday, officially ruining the hopes of all those Hoosiers fans who have been calling for the school to fire Coach Tom Crean. In its fourth win over a ranked team this season, Indiana shot a ridiculous 60 percent (30-for-50) overall from the field and 68.2 percent (15-for-22) from beyond the arc. Yogi Ferrell had a career-high seven 3-pointers and led the team with 24 points. Freshman James Blackmon Jr. scored 22 points. Indiana's 89 points were the most allowed by Maryland this season. IU leads the Big Ten in scoring offense, averaging 81.6 points per game, and has beaten the schools that rank 2-4 (Nebraska, Ohio State, Maryland) in the league in scoring defense.
Ohio State (15-5, 4-3) escaped at Northwestern on Thursday, 69-67. Freshman star D'Angelo Russell scored a career-high 33 points, and his 3-pointer with 3:34 to play snapped a 60-all tie. Russell's sixth 3-pointer of the night made it 66-60 with 1:36 to play. Russell has now scored 60 of Ohio State's 136 points in its last two games. He averages 19.3 points overall, second in the conference to Penn State's D.J. Newbill (21.9 entering the weekend).
On Jan. 10 in Bloomington, unranked Indiana was a 2-point underdog but upset the No. 22 Buckeyes 69-66. Troy Williams scored 15 points with 12 rebounds, and Blackmon Jr. scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half. IU nearly blew a late 10-point lead, but Ferrell had four free throws in the final 21 seconds and Russell missed a 3 at the buzzer. OSU was just 3-for-21 from long range. Russell finished with 13 points.
Key trends: Indiana has covered four straight Sunday games. The Hoosiers are 4-10 ATS in their past 14 after an ATS win. Ohio State is 5-1 ATS in its past six at home. The Buckeyes are 3-10 ATS in their past 13 vs. the Big Ten.
Why take the underdog: Sometimes I write these stories before the lines are out with a pick in mind. This is one. I was going OSU, figuring as just a favorite of a couple of points. Now I'm taking the points.
No. 5 Duke at St. John's (+6)
It's a 2 p.m. tip for this non-conference game that will be televised nationally on Fox. It's almost like that two-game losing streak Duke had recently was ordained so that Coach K could break the record at the Garden, the world's most famous arena. Plus now it will be the sporting focus on a Sunday that doesn't have any NFL football (if you think the Pro Bowl is NFL football, you are crazy). If you are wondering, and I was, Coach K's first career win was Nov. 28, 1975, at West Point -- about 54 miles from Madison Square Garden. Army beat Lehigh, which was coached by future NBA coach Brian Hill, 56-29. Both Krzyzewski and Hill were just 28 years old.
This is the final non-conference game for Duke (16-2), which has turned things around following that two-game skid with impressive double-digit wins at Louisville last Saturday (missed that one) and Monday against Pittsburgh. Freshman Tyus Jones matched a season high with 22 points and hit a season-best four 3-pointers in the 79-65 win over the Panthers. Duke struggled defensively during the losing streak, but Coach K has switched the team primarily to a zone the past two games and it has worked. Duke played a 2-3 zone on 67 percent of Pittsburgh's possessions, the second straight game the Blue Devils have played zone at least 65 percent of the time.
St. John's (13-5) beat visiting Marquette 60-57 on Wednesday, although failed to cover (which I projected). It was an impressive victory considering star guard D'Angelo Harrison, favorite for Big East Player of the Year and the third-leading scorer in school history. was just 3-for-18 from the field. It was his second straight rough game after suffering a strained calf. Sir'Dominic Pointer stepped up big for St. John's with 15 points, 12 rebound and six assists. Marquette's Matt Carlino missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Key trends: Duke is 2-5 ATS in its past seven non-conference games. The Blue Devils are 0-5 ATS in their past five on Sunday. St. John's is 5-1 ATS in its past six out of conference. The Johnnies are 1-5 ATS in their past six overall.
Why take the underdog: Tough to handicap this game. Will Coach K's players be pressing to get that historic win? Will they be looking ahead to a huge week, Wednesday at No. 8 Notre Dame and Saturday at No. 2 Virginia? I say yes, and that St. John's is fired up for its biggest game.
Creighton at No. 4 Villanova (-15.5)
This Big East matchup is at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1, and I already feel bad for what might happen to the Bluejays. Creighton (9-11, 0-7) frankly doesn't belong in the Big East, but the school was good for a while because of superstar Doug McDermott. The program has flat-lined without him. Creighton lost its eighth straight game on Wednesday, 64-61 at Butler. Creighton never led until two James Milliken free throws capped an 11-0 run that put the Bluejays ahead 59-57 with two minutes to play. However, that lead was short-lived. Three of Creighton's past four losses have come in the final seconds. In addition, Creighton guard Isaiah Zierden had to be helped from the court after injuring his right knee with four minutes to play in the first half. He wouldn't return. Zierden, who seems unlikely to play, is second on the team in scoring at 9.5 points per game.
Why do I expect Villanova to cruise here? The Wildcats (17-2, 4-2) were embarrassed 78-58 at Georgetown on Monday, the type of loss that could cost the school a No. 1 seed down the line. The Hoyas outscored Villanova 29-8 over the final 12 minutes. Georgetown also enjoyed a 24-7 advantage in points scored off of turnovers as the Hoyas forced the Wildcats into a season-high 17 turnovers. One of Villanova's best players, Daniel Ochefu, fouled out with 4:13 to play and had only four points and four rebounds. He averages 10.1 points and a team-high 8.4 rebounds. It was a season low in points for Villanova.
Key trends: Creighton is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 games. It is 3-7 ATS in its past 10 on the road vs. teams with a winning home record. Villanova is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 after a loss.
Why take the favorite: Another reason by Villanova will be out for blood here? The Wildcats were slaughtered twice by Creighton last year, losing by 28 and 21 points. I expect at least a 20-point Nova win here.
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