NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Thursday
by Alan Matthews - 2/18/2015
I'm taking a look at three games involving NCAA Tournament bubble teams on Thursday's schedule. I use ESPN's Bracketology for my guide not because I'm an ESPN homer -- honestly the network irritates me at times -- but because Joe Lunardi is usually dead on with his projections. He currently has Purdue among the "First Four Out." Here's a look at the Boilers' big game against rival Indiana and two others that caught my eye.
Temple at No. 21 SMU (-7)
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It's a 7 p.m. ET tip for this American Athletic Conference game on ESPN2, and both schools should be in the NCAA Tournament. Temple (19-7, 10-3) missed out last year but is a No. 10 seed in the Midwest on ESPN's Bracketology. I would think a win here totally sews up a bid and eliminates any possible bubble status. SMU (21-5, 12-2) has a bid locked down and is currently a No. 6 in the East. The Mustangs lead the AAC, although the regular-season title could be determined in the regular-season finale against second-place Tulsa. Temple has a shot with an upset here.
The Owls have won seven straight since a three-game losing streak (to the other three top teams in the AAC). Six of those seven wins have been by double digits, including Saturday's 66-53 home win over East Carolina. Senior guard Will Cummings was Temple's leading scorer for a second game in a row with 17 points, while junior forward Jaylen Bond had a game-high 16 rebounds. The Owls' 49 rebounds were one shy of their season high. The Mustangs have won three straight, beating UConn 73-55 on Saturday as big men Markus Kennedy and Yanick Moreira combined for 26 points and 18 rebounds.
SMU won at Temple 60-55 on Jan. 14. Nic Moore hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:20 left as SMU rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit. Kennedy had 21 points and seven rebounds. Cummings had just one point in 27 minutes for Temple, which was only 8-for-26 from long range. Cummings, the reigning AAC Player of the Week, missed all or part of the team's three losses prior to the current streak (he came off the bench and played limited minutes vs. SMU after suffering a strained muscle in his leg the game before).
Key trends: The Owls are 7-0 against the spread in their past seven games and 6-1 ATS their past seven on the road. SMU is 8-1 ATS in its past nine at home vs. teams with a winning road record. It has covered only once in the past six Thursday games.
Why take the underdog: Temple is more desperate and will only lose by a few points.
Purdue at Indiana (-3.5)
This Big Ten matchup starts at 7 p.m. on ESPN. It's indeed a big one for Purdue as the Boilermakers (17-9, 9-4) are out of the field despite that very good conference record. That's what happens when you play a weak non-conference schedule. The Hoosiers (18-8, 8-5) are currently a No. 7 in the East.
Indiana is just 3-4 in its past seven games but does come off a 90-71 home blowout of Minnesota on Sunday. The Hoosiers were 18-for-32 from 3-point range, a school record for makes. It was also a Big Ten record for most 3-point field goals made in a conference game. Freshman James Blackmon again led the way with 24 points (career-high six 3-pointers) and seven rebounds. The Hoosiers shot 59.3 percent from the field, the 10th game this season they have shot 50 percent or better. IU ranks 23rd nationally in field-goal percentage. The Boilermakers have won six of their past seven games. They beat visiting Nebraska 66-54 on Sunday behind 15 points from Vince Edwards. This seven-game Big Ten run is Purdue's best since 2011. Purdue is 15-0 this season when attempting more free throws than its opponent. Purdue attempted 30 free throws to nine for the Huskers.
Purdue beat visiting Indiana 83-67 on Jan. 28 when the Hoosiers were No. 22 in the nation. Boilers big man A.J. Hammons had 11 points and a career-high eight blocks, the second-most in school history. IU fell down 30-15 in the first half and never recovered. Blackmon had 13 for Indiana.
Key trends: Purdue is 5-0 ATS in its past five after a win. It is 5-1 ATS in its past six on the road. The Hoosiers are 4-1 ATS in their past five after a win. They are 7-3 in their last 10 at home. The home team has covered four of the past five meetings.
Why take the favorite: Hoosiers totally different team at home.
Ole Miss at Mississippi State (+5.5)
It's a 9 p.m. tip on ESPN2 for this SEC matchup and it's not a game that Ole Miss (17-8, 8-4) wants to lose or it will find itself right on the bubble. Currently ESPN has the Rebels as a No. 8 in the South Region.
Ole Miss lost 71-70 at home to Arkansas on Saturday. After trailing for much of the game, the Rebels went ahead 61-59 on a 3-pointer by Terence Smith with 8:03 left and led until the closing seconds of the game. Down 70-69, Arkansas guard Manuale Watkins hit a floater in the lane with 6.4 seconds left. Rebels star Jarvis Summers drove the length of the floor and had a good look at the basket on the other end but his floater was off the mark. Ole Miss shot just 37.9 percent overall.
MSU (12-13, 5-7) will miss the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight year. The Bulldogs are not a good offensive team, ranking 300th nationally in scoring at 62.0 points per game and nearly last with just 8.4 assists a night. Mississippi State does come off a 77-74 win at sorry Missouri on Saturday. MSU shot a season-best 56.1 percent from the floor in SEC play and rallied in the closing minutes after losing an 11-point halftime advantage. Roquez Johnson and Craig Sword both finished with 22 points, pacing Mississippi State, which ended a two-game losing streak.
Ole Miss-Mississippi State is the SEC's most-played rivalry as this will be the 252nd game. The Rebels are seeking their first win in Starkville since 2009 and the first season sweep of the Bulldogs since 1998. Ole Miss beat MSU in Oxford 79-73 on Jan. 28. Summers had 22 points, all in the second half, including a key four-point play that helped the Rebels rally. Sword scored a season-high 27 points for Mississippi State, which shot 55.6 percent yet still lost.
Key trends: Ole Miss is 4-0 ATS in it past four after a loss. The Rebels have covered seven of their past nine on the road. MSU is 7-3 ATS in its past 10 overall. The home team is 8-1 ATS in the past nine meetings.
Why take the underdog: It's a rivalry game so throw out records. MSU getting that many at home is good value.
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