NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Thursday
by Alan Matthews - 2/11/2015
Wow, it has been a rough few days for the college basketball world. First, former North Carolina coach Dean Smith died on Saturday night, then fellow Hall of Famer Jerry Tarkanian passed away Wednesday at age 84. Tark's.790 win percentage is Top 10 all-time for men's basketball. I'll never forget his 1990-91 UNLV team as that was club was unbelievable and must-see TV, usually on at midnight on ESPN. Of course, the Runnin' Rebels were upset in the Final Four by Duke in an incredibly memorable game. RIP Tark. Here's a look at three games in college hoops that caught my eye on Thursday.
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Ole Miss at Florida (-3.5)
It's a 7 p.m. tip for this SEC game on ESPN. The Rebels (16-7, 7-3) currently are listed as a No. 10 seed in the Big Dance, so they are squarely on the bubble. They are trending the right way, having won five straight games. Ole Miss won at Auburn 86-79 on Saturday. LaDarius White had 20 points to lead five Rebels in double figures. It's the first five-game winning streak in the SEC for Ole Miss in two years, and the school is 5-1 in SEC road games this season. The Rebels lead the SEC in scoring in conference games at 75.5 ppg and are No. 2 in the nation in free-throw percentage, hitting 79.4 percent of their attempts, which would lead the NBA.
Florida (12-11, 5-5) is going to miss the Big Dance, barring winning the SEC Tournament, for the first time since the year after repeating as national champion in 2007. And the Gators are going to find winning this one tough because leading scorer Michael Frazier II is going to miss the game. Frazier averages 13.2 points per game and leads the team in 3-pointers (55) and free-throw percentage (87.7) wile ranking second in rebounds and steals. He's dealing with a high-ankle sprain and missed much of the second half of Saturday's 68-61 home loss to No. 1 Kentucky. The Gators have lost five of seven, and the two wins easily could have been losses (won by a combined three points). They are 1-11 this season when allowing 60 points or more.
Ole Miss beat the visiting Gators 72-71 on Jan. 24. Rebels star Jarvis Summers scored four points in the final 9.8 seconds, including the winning free throws with 3.5 seconds remaining, and finished with a team-high 16 points as well as eight assists. The Rebels trailed most of the game. Frazier had a season-best 27 points for the Gators. Ole Miss hasn't swept the Gators in a season series since 1990 and hasn't won in Gainesville since 1999.
Key trends: Ole Miss has covered six of its past eight on the road. The Rebels are 6-2 ATS in their past eight vs. teams with a winning record. UF has covered only four of its past 14 at home. Ole Miss has covered six straight meetings.
Why take the underdog: No Frazier really hurts Florida, and it's no longer hard to win in Gainesville.
Stanford at No. 11 Utah (-10)
This Pac-12 game is at 9 p.m. ET and on the Pac-12 network. Stanford (16-7, 7-4) is another bubble team, currently listed as a No. 9 seed on ESPN. The Cardinal ended a two-game losing streak on Saturday with a 70-62 home win over USC. Marcus Allen scored four of his 10 points in the final four minutes and grabbed three of his career-high 11 rebounds in the same stretch as Stanford rallied and then held USC off. The Cardinal had five players score in double figures for only the second time in 2014-15. They shot only 36.7 percent, winning for the third time this season when under 40 percent.
Utah (18-4, 8-2) has won two straight in blowout fashion since an upset loss at UCLA. The Utes pummeled Colorado in its gym 79-51 on Saturday. Brandon Taylor scored 18 points on a career-best six 3-pointers. The Utes shot 57.8 percent from the field and are fifth nationally in that category. Utah's average margin of victory in its eight Pac-12 wins is 24.6 points. The Utes one of five teams nationally to have not allowed an opponent to score more than 72 points yet.
Stanford has won three straight overall in the series, including a 61-60 victory in the 2014 regular-season finale for both teams. The Cardinal are 2-2 against nationally-ranked foes this season.
Key trends: Stanford has covered only five of its past 18 in the Pac-12. Utah has covered 12 of its past 18 Thursday games.
Why take the favorite: Utah has a 15-game home winning streak dating back to last season, the longest in the Huntsman since the 2004-05 season.
Saint Mary's at BYU (TBA)
It's a 9 p.m. start for this West Coast Conference game on ESPN2. It's a 100 percent must-win for Saint Mary's, which isn't even listed on ESPN's Bracketology despite an 18-5 overall record and 10-2 mark in the WCC. That's probably because SMC is only No. 61 in the RPI rankings and doesn't have a win against any Top-50 teams. To have any shot at an at-large bid, the Gaels are probably going to have to win out in the regular season, and they host Gonzaga on Feb. 21, and then reach the conference tournament final and lose close to the Zags (or just win it and erase any doubt).
The Gaels come off a 73-58 home win over Pacific, which followed a very damaging 67-62 home loss to Pepperdine. Desmond Simmons had first his double-double as a Gael with 14 points and 11 rebounds against Pacific, while leading scorer Brad Waldow had 18 points. SMC jumped out to a 21-8 lead and wouldn't trail. It shot 55 percent (12-for-22) from long range. The Gaels played without point guard Aaron Bright due to an ankle injury. He's questionable here. Bright, a senior, averages, 10.6 points per game and is the clear floor leader. BYU (18-8, 8-5) won 87-68 at Loyola Marymount on Saturday behind 23 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists from Kyle Collinsworth, his NCAA record fifth triple-double of the season. The NCAA career triple-double mark is six, held by Michael Anderson (1985-88) and Shaquille O'Neal (1990-92). Tyler Haws, the nation's second-leading scorer, had 22 points.
These schools played Jan. 17 in Moraga, and Saint Mary's won 82-77 behind 24 points and 14 rebounds from Waldow. Bright made two free throws with 23.9 seconds left to give SMC a five-point lead and BYU missed a pair of 3-point attempts in the final seconds. Haws led BYU with 28 points.
Key trends: SMC is 6-1 ATS in its past seven road games. It is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 after a win. BYU is just 3-13 ATS in its past 16 at home. The Cougars are 1-8 ATS in their past nine at home vs. teams with a winning record.
It depends who to take: SMC will be a dog regardless, but I like the Gaels if Bright plays (thus the TBA). BYU if not. Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett is confident Bright will go.
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