NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Sunday
by Alan Matthews - 2/14/2015
It's time to start getting geared up for March Madness because the NCAA Tournament's Selection Sunday is exactly one month from Sunday, March 15, with the First Four starting two days later in Dayton. Right now your No. 1 seeds look to be Kentucky in the Midwest, Duke in the South, Virginia in the East and Gonzaga in the West. The first team on the outside looking in? That would be Wisconsin, which plays Sunday afternoon. The Badgers are +650at Sportsbook.ag to win the national title. Here's a look at the UW game and two others on Sunday.
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Illinois at No. 5 Wisconsin (-13)
It's a 1 p.m. ET tip on CBS for this Big Ten matchup. ESPN's Bracketology has Illinois (17-8, 7-5) among the "Last Four In" and as a No. 11 seed facing UCLA (UCLA?) in First Four game. The Illini are playing well right now, beating Michigan 64-52 in overtime on Thursday for their fourth straight win. The Illini were down seven points with three minutes left in regulation and tied it on a Kendrick Nunn 3-pointer with 1:25 remaining. Somehow neither team scored again until OT. The big news out of that was the return of Illini leading scorer Rayvonte Rice. He had missed the previous nine games due to injury and suspension. He came off the bench and had four points, five rebounds and three steals in 27 minutes. Fellow guard Aaron Cosby (7.8 ppg) remains suspended indefinitely.
Wisconsin (22-2, 10-1) might clinch the Big Ten regular-season title by next weekend as no other conference team has fewer than four losses. The Badgers have won seven straight since losing at Rutgers when star Frank Kaminsky, the likely Big Ten Player of the Year, was out with a concussion. UW won at Nebraska 65-55 on Tuesday, its fourth straight win by double digits. Sam Dekker tied a career high with 21 points and Kaminsky had 13 points and 12 rebounds. How much better is Wisconsin than the rest of the Big Ten? Its entire starting five ranks in the conference's Top 10 in individual offensive rating. Kaminsky is the only player in the nation averaging at least 17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
Wisconsin has won seven straight over Illinois, the team's longest-ever win streak vs. the Illini. That includes four in a row at home.
Key trends: The Illini are 2-7 against the spread in their past nine road games. Wisconsin has covered just one of its past seven at home. The Badgers have covered seven straight meetings.
Why take the favorite: I'm not buying Illinois' hot streak.
Nebraska at Purdue (-7.5)
It's a 5:15 p.m. tip on the Big Ten Network and a huge game for the Boilermakers (16-9, 8-4). They are currently listed among the "Next Four Out" on ESPN's projections. The school has missed the Big Dance each of the past two seasons. The Boilers won at Rutgers 61-51 on Thursday, their fifth win in the past six games and snapping a seven-game road losing streak in the month of February. A.J. Hammons filled the stat sheet with 17 points, seven rebounds, three steals and four blocks. Purdue held Rutgers to just 16 first-half points and 33.3 percent shooting overall. Purdue has held its opponents to 20 or fewer points in a half nine times this year and when it holds opponents to 59 or fewer points overall under Matt Painter, the Boilermakers are 101-4. They have now surpassed last year's win total.
Nebraska (13-11, 5-7) won't be returning to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskers come off a 65-55 home loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday, their fourth defeat in the past five games. NU was down 52-37 with 3:37 left, got within five with 1:04 remaining but would get no closer. Huskers star guard Terran Petteway scored 18 of his 23 points after halftime. Nebraska, which had a five-game home win streak snapped, shot just 21 percent in the first half in falling behind 27-13 at the break.
This is the only scheduled meeting of the season. They split last year, each winning at home. The 76-57 win in Lincoln was Nebraska's first victory over Purdue since joining the Big Ten.
Key trends: Nebraska has covered six of its past seven on Sunday. The Huskers haven't covered their past six road games. Purdue is 8-1 ATS in its past nine at home. It has covered 14 of the past 17 vs. the Big Ten.
Why take the favorite: Purdue is sneaky good at home.
No. 7 Arizona at Washington State (+16)
This tips at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. Arizona bounced back from a loss at Arizona State -- which might cost it a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance -- with an 86-62 win at Washington on Friday. Freshman Stanley Johnson led the way with 20 points. If you "YouTube" Rondae Hollis-Jefferson today you will see he was about to thrown down a breakaway dunk in the game but slipped and fell before doing so. Thankfully for the Cats he wasn't hurt. Washington State (11-13, 5-7) beat Arizona State 74-71 on Friday behind a career-high 27 points from Dexter Kernich-Drew. He had been averaging just 4.4 points per game and hadn't started a game since late November.
This is the only scheduled meeting of the season between Arizona and Washington State. Last season Arizona beat the visiting Cougars by the crazy score of 60-25. It broke the McKale record for fewest points scored and was the fewest points for Washington State since 1938. UA was started the game on a 21-2 run and was up 28-7 at the half. WSU finished with nine field goals on 45 attempts and its leading scorer had six points. WSU has lost the last seven in this series.
WSU has beaten 35 ranked teams all-time at Beasley Coliseum (35-92) and tries for its first win over a Top-10 opponent since beating No. 7 Arizona at home in overtime in January 2007. WSU has only seven all-time wins in 131 tries vs. Top-10 teams anywhere and has lost 14 straight. That includes an 81-66 loss at then-No. 9 Gonzaga on Dec. 10.
Key trends: Arizona has covered six of its past seven games. Wazzu has covered five straight at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The Cougars are 6-2 ATS in their past eight at home. The Wildcats have covered seven straight in the series.
Why take the underdog: Certainly Arizona will win but that's too many points by about five.
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