NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Thursday
by Alan Matthews - 2/25/2015
Only four ranked teams in action on Thursday, and all four should have little trouble winning, although I suppose Memphis could knock off visiting No. 21 SMU. Thus, I'm taking a look at three unranked NCAA Tournament bubble teams on Thursday's schedule. All three are at home against teams they should beat -- and they will need to with the regular season coming to a close a week from Sunday. Neither Temple nor Purdue nor Stanford is winning its conference tournament, so only an at-large bid will get them in. Here's a look.
Houston at Temple (-13.5)
This American Athletic Conference game tips at 7 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. There's really no way Temple should lose to the AAC's worst team, and the Owls better not. They are currently listed among ESPN Bracketology's "Last Four Byes." The site has No. 11 Temple playing No. 6 Butler in a first-round game (I refuse to call that the second round). The Owls have two games left after this: at East Carolina and vs. UConn.
It's amazing how bad the Houston (9-17, 1-13) program has become. The Cougars have lost five straight since an odd two-game winning streak that included a victory over defending national champion UConn. They lost by 10 at home to Cincinnati on Saturday. Houston was up 28-25 at the half but starting point guard L.J. Rose had to sit the second half with a foot injury. He's one of the team's key players, averaging 9.8 points, 5.3 assist and 2.5 rebounds in nearly 35 minutes a night but is done for the season. He missed some games earlier this year with the same problem and apparently broke it for the third time in seven months. Cavon Baker, who started six games at point guard to begin the season, returned to practice this week after a four-game suspension for violation of team policy. He might take Rose's spot. Temple (19-9, 10-5) is going the wrong way, coming off losses to SMU and Tulsa, although those two are the best teams in the AAC. The Owls managed only 39 points on Sunday at Tulsa and were 1-for-14 from 3-point range. Temple can't shoot at all, ranking near the bottom of Division I in field-goal percentage at 38 percent.
The Owls have held opponents to 60.1 ppg in conference play, which is 18.0 ppg better than last season to rank second nationally in terms of differential. Houston won both of last year's meetings, the first two ever between the schools.
Key trends: Houston is 3-8 ATS in its past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. The Cougars are 2-6 ATS in their past eight on the road. The Owls are 5-0 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a losing record. Temple is 10-1 ATS in its past 11 after scoring less than 50 points in its previous game.
Why take the favorite: Houston has quit and Temple is duly motivated.
Rutgers at Purdue (-14)
This Big Ten game is at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU, and Purdue can't afford a slip up. The Boilermakers are, like Temple, currently in the "Last Four Byes," but apparently literally the last overall bye. Purdue is a No. 11 facing No. 6 Georgetown in the first round. The Boilers finish with three tough games: at Ohio State, at Michigan State and home to Illinois.
Purdue (18-9, 10-4) has won three straight and seven of eight, with the only loss a close at Minnesota. During that stretch, Purdue has allowed just 59.3 points per game, which would be good for second in the Big Ten if over the whole season. The Boilers completed an impressive sweep of rival Indiana last Thursday, 67-63 in Bloomington. Purdue's 7-foot center, A.J. Hammons, had 20 points, including two free throws with 4.3 seconds left to clinch the Boilers' first win at Indiana in four years. Hammons was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. Purdue held Indiana to 16.6 points below its pregame scoring average and has held all 14 Big Ten opponents under their pre-game scoring average during regulation. Rutgers (10-18, 2-13), not surprisingly, is the worst team in the Big Ten. It was clobbered 84-54 at home by Indiana on Sunday. IU shot 53.4 percent to Rutgers' 37 percent. The Scarlet Knights' 11-game losing streak is the school's longest since 1988.
Rutgers hosted Purdue on Feb. 12 and lost 61-51. Hammons had 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Kadeem Jack had 16 points and eight rebounds to lead Rutgers, which was down 29-16 at the half and shot 33.3 percent overall.
Key trends: Rutgers is 0-5 ATS in its past five after a loss. Purdue is 4-0 ATS in its past four at home. The Boilers are 17-5 ATS in their past 22 Big Ten games. They are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a losing record.
Why take the favorite: Rutgers is ready for season to end and Boilers are playing great.
Oregon State at Stanford (-9.5)
This tips at 11 p.m. ET on the Pac-12 Network, and Stanford is another bubble team that 100 percent can't lose at home. The Cardinal are listed as the first of the "First Four Out." I'm not sure I see Stanford getting in because it finishes at home vs. Oregon, at Arizona State and at Arizona. One loss seems guaranteed and three possible.
The Cardinal (17-9, 8-6) finished off a season sweep of rival Cal with a 72-61 home win Saturday. Stanford leading scorer Chasson Randle scored 19 points and had a career-high eight assists. Anthony Brown added 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Michael Humphrey tallied 14 points and 11 rebounds. Stanford was playing its third straight game without junior forward Rosco Allen, who is out indefinitely with a back injury. He is averaging 8.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in 28 minutes per night. Oregon State (17-10, 8-7) was picked to finish last in the Pac-12 but should get an NIT bid. The Beavers ended a three-game losing streak with Saturday's 72-58 win over Colorado. OSU held the Buffs to 12 points on 3-for-21 shooting in leading by 22 at intermission. Gary Payton II led Oregon State with 24 points, a school-record seven blocks, five rebounds and four steals. The Beavers are 15-1 at home, the best mark in school history. Obviously they aren't good on the road.
This is only meeting between Stanford and Oregon State in the regular season. Stanford is 19-1 at home against the Beavers since 1993. An upset would equal OSU's most conference wins since 1989-90.
Key trends: OSU is 2-7 ATS in its past nine games. It is 0-4 ATS in its past four on the road. Stanford is 1-5 ATS in its past six games.
Why take the favorite: Again, I like the team with something to play for.
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