NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Sunday
by Alan Matthews - 2/28/2015
Can you believe that this Sunday is the second-to-last one of college basketball's regular season? I certainly can't. Only two weeks until Selection Sunday. With Wisconsin's loss earlier this week to Maryland, I think the Badgers' chances of getting a No. 1 seed are all but gone -- barring a collapse down the stretch by Virginia, Duke or Gonzaga. Kentucky will be a No. 1 no matter what. The Badgers can wrap up the Big Ten regular-season title Sunday as they try to avoid their first losing streak of the season. Here's a look at that matchup and two others that caught my eye.
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No. 21 SMU at Connecticut (pick'em)
This American Athletic Conference game tips at 2 p.m. on CBS. Right now the defending national champion Huskies aren't listed anywhere on ESPN's Bracketology, but perhaps they could climb onto the bubble with a win here. Most likely, they have to win the conference tournament or it's the NIT. SMU, which is battling for the AAC regular-season title with Tulsa, is currently a No. 6 seed in the West.
The Mustangs (23-5, 14-2) passed a tough road test Thursday with a 66-57 victory at Memphis, SMU's fifth straight win. The Mustangs outscored Memphis by seven in the second half and Nic Moore scored 14 of his 16 points in the final 20 minutes. SMU has won seven straight road games after opening 1-3. That road winning streak is the longest for the school since winning eight in a row in 1955-56. SMU improved to 21-2 this season when holding an opponent under 70 points. It ranks 20th nationally in points allowed at 59.0 per game. UConn (16-11, 9-6) has followed a two-game losing streak with back-to-back wins. The Huskies won at East Carolina 60-49 on Wednesday after trailing by nine at the half. Ryan Boatright scored 16 points and freshman Daniel Hamilton grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds. Those were the most for a Husky since Alex Oriakhi in the 2011 Big East Tournament.
SMU hosted UConn on Feb. 14 and won 73-55. The Mustangs big men duo of Yanick Moreira and Markus Kennedy dominated down low as Moreira had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Kennedy had 13 points and eight rebounds. SMU shot 48.1 percent and UConn just 34. Boatright had 19 points, but starting center Amida Brimah was pushed around and had only six points and four rebounds. The Mustangs swept UConn last year as well.
Key trends: SMU is 4-0 ATS in its past four against teams with a winning record. It has covered four of its past six on the road. UConn is 3-10 ATS in its past 13 overall. It is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home.
Why take SMU: This line baffles me honestly. Happy to get the Mustangs and not give points.
Michigan State at No. 5 Wisconsin (-9)
It's a 4 p.m. ET tip for this Big Ten matchup on CBS. Both will of course be in the NCAA Tournament. MSU is listed as a No. 7 seed in the East, while Wisconsin is a No. 2 in the Midwest -- that's bad because it's the region in which Kentucky is the top seed.
The Spartans (19-9, 10-5) had been playing their best basketball of the season and on a four-game winning streak, but that ended in a 96-90 overtime home loss to Minnesota on Wednesday. The Gophers, who ended a 15-game losing streak in East Lansing, got a tying 3-pointer from Carlos Morris with 2.2 seconds left in regulation (why not foul beforehand?), and he even was fouled on the play but missed the free throw. MSU led by six with 30 seconds remaining. Denzel Valentine had 27 points and Travis Trice 21, but they didn't get much help from anyone else. Tuesday was really rough on the Badgers (25-3, 13-2) as their 10-game winning streak ended with a 59-53 loss at Maryland (I called that) and then the team plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh due to an engine malfunction. The team eventually flew out Wednesday. The Terps closed Tuesday's game on a 12-6 run for the upset. Wisconsin hadn't lost since Jan. 11 at Rutgers when star Frank Kaminsky was out. He had 18 points and eight rebounds vs. Maryland.
It's looking like former UW starting point guard Traevon Jackson could return from a broken foot for this game. He was hurt in that Rutgers loss. Wisconsin and MSU split last year, with Wisconsin winning by two in Madison but losing by eight in the Big Ten Tournament.
Key trends: MSU is 4-0 ATS in its past four road games. Wisconsin is 2-5 ATS in its past seven and has covered only two of its past nine at home. The Spartans are 7-0 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Why take the favorite: Badgers will play focused after Tuesday's loss.
Pittsburgh at Wake Forest (-1)
This ACC game starts at 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU. Means nothing for Wake Forest but pride, while it's a must-win game for Pittsburgh, currently among the "Next Four Out" for the Big Dance. The Panthers have missed the NCAA Tournament just once this decade, in 2012. They have two winnable regular-season games left: home to Miami (another bubble team) on Wednesday and at Florida State next Saturday.
Wake Forest (12-16, 4-11) has lost three straight, all to ranked teams. Wednesday at home against No. 2 Virginia was an ugly 70-34 defeat. It was Wake's lowest-scoring game ever at Joel Coliseum, which opened in 1989. Wake didn't get 20 points in either half and shot 21.8 percent overall (12-for-55). Konstantinos Mitoglou had 10 points and no other player more than seven. Pittsburgh (19-10, 8-7) has won six of eight and the losses were at ranked Louisville and Virginia. The Panthers come off a 71-65 home win over Boston College on Tuesday. Pitt's Jamel Artis had 24 points and eight rebounds and Michael Young 22 points and nine boards. It was Artis' seventh 20-point game in his last 13 contests. Young tallied his third career 20-point game. Both are sophomores.
A win here would give Pitt 20 for the 14th straight season. The Panthers beat Wake easily twice last year, once at home and then in the ACC Tournament.
Key trends: Pitt has covered one of its past eight on the road. It is 0-5 ATS in its past five against teams with a losing record. Wake is 1-4 ATS in its past five after a double-digit home loss.
Why take the underdog: Another line I don't understand (even with above Pitt trends). I'll happily take the point with the better team.
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