NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Thursday
by Alan Matthews - 3/4/2015
Davidson's basketball program is probably best known as the alma mater of likely 2015 NBA MVP Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors. He led the Wildcats to the regional final of the NCAA Tournament in 2008. Davidson didn't return to the Big Dance until 2012 and was back in '13 but missed out last year. The school has big one at home against Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday night to help boost the Wildcats' at-large chances for this March. Davidson is the type of well-coached club no Power 5 team would want to face in the first round. Here's a look at that game and two others that caught my eye.
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No. 18 Arkansas at South Carolina (+1.5)
This SEC matchup is at 7 p.m. on ESPN2. Arkansas doesn't have to worry about an NCAA Tournament bid. The Hogs are listed as a No. 5 seed in the East Region. This could be a major letdown game because in reality the Razorbacks have little to play for right now and they might be looking ahead to the home finale this week. South Carolina is simply playing out the string.
Another reason I don't like Arkansas here is I don't know how the Hogs aren't flat after losing their game of the year on Saturday, 84-67 at Kentucky. That ended Arkansas' seven-game winning streak. Just for a point of comparison, after losses earlier this season at Iowa State and Tennessee, the Hogs then lost the next game as well. UK's amazing defense held the SEC's top scoring team to just 37.5 percent shooting and 12 points below its average. The Hogs were 0-for-9 from long range in scoring 26 first-half points and trailing by 16. South Carolina (14-14, 5-11) ended a two-game losing streak with an 81-68 home win over Mississippi State on Saturday. Senior guard Tyrone Johnson had a career-high 28 points, and USC shot 46.3 percent (25-for-54) from the field, its highest percentage in 12 games. South Carolina's 81 points vs. Mississippi State was its the most in an SEC game this season.
On Feb. 3 in Fayetteville, the Razorbacks beat the Gamecocks 75-55. Hogs star Bobby Portis had 18 points and 13 rebounds. Arkansas held USC to 27.9 percent (17-for-61) shooting and scored 21 points off 20 turnovers. Sindarius Thornwell led South Carolina with 16 points.
Key trends: Arkansas is 1-7 ATS in its past eight following an ATS loss. The Hogs are 0-4 ATS in their past four games. USC is 2-6 ATS in its past eight at home. It is 0-5 ATS in its past five following a win. Arkansas is 1-5 ATS in the past six at South Carolina.
Why take the underdog: I'll admit that I thought USC would be getting a few more points, but this shapes up as an outright upset.
Temple at East Carolina (+6)
This American Athletic Conference game starts at 7 p.m. on ESPNU. The Owls have to have it as they are currently listed among the "Last Four In" and are a No. 12 seed, facing fellow No. 12 BYU in a play-in game in Dayton. ECU can play spoiler.
Temple (20-9, 11-5) ended a two-game losing streak with a 66-54 home win over Houston last Thursday. Junior guard Quenton DeCosey led the Owls with 16 points and tied his career high with nine rebounds, helping the Owls notch their 20th win of the season. Coach Fran Dunphy is now only three wins away from 500 in his career and has led the Owls to 20+ wins seven times in his nine seasons at the helm. Temple is the group that can't shoot straight, ranking 340th in the nation with a field-goal percentage of .383. The team closes the season at home against UConn. East Carolina (13-16, 6-10) opened its first season in the AAC with a 1-6 mark but has won five of its past nine. The Pirates won at Central Florida 71-66 on Saturday. Terry Whisnant's 3-pointer with 1:06 left gave East Carolina the lead for good, snapping the Pirates' 15-game road losing streak. ECU shot 63 percent in the second half. The school is a solid 11-4 at home, including wins over Cincinnati and Memphis.
This is Temple's first-ever trip to ECU. The schools played in Philly on Feb. 14 and the Owls won 66-53 thanks to a 34-18 halftime advantage that East Carolina could never trim under 11. Will Cummings was 7-for-7 for 17 points and six assists for the Owls.
Key trends: Temple is 6-1 ATS in its past seven after a win. The Owls are 5-1 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a losing record. ECU is 6-1 ATS in its past seven at home. The Pirates are 3-8 ATS in their past 11 after a win.
Why take the underdog: Temple should win, but ECU covers on Senior Night.
VCU at Davidson (-3)
It's an Atlantic-10 matchup at 9 p.m. on ESPNU. Davidson is currently in a second place in the conference, a half-game back of Dayton (tied in loss column). The Wildcats are listed among the "First Four Out" for the Big Dance. VCU is 1.5 games back of Dayton and projected as a No. 7 seed for the NCAAs.
VCU (21-8, 11-5) lost one of its best players, and by far its best defensive player, in Briante Weber earlier this season. So I don't think the Rams are a Final Four threat. They lost their second straight close game Saturday, 59-55 at home to Dayton. Down by two in the last minute, VCU had two chances to tie or take the lead. However, Treveon Graham missed a long 3-pointer. Mo Alie-Cox grabbed the rebound, but couldn't convert the putback. The Rams scored just three points off turnovers and failed to score any fast-break points for the second consecutive game. That's shocking with the "Havoc" defense. Graham is now just 22 points away from becoming the third player in VCU history to score 1,800 or more career points. Davidson (21-6, 12-4) beat George Washington 77-66 on Saturday for its seventh straight win. - Jack Gibbs (22) and Brian Sullivan (21) combined for 43 points and the Wildcats were 14-for-28 from long range. Davidson is averaging 11.8 3-pointers per game and shooting 45.3 percent from behind the arc at home this season.
Three of Davidson's losses this season have come against Top-25 teams. That includes 71-65 at then-No. 20 VCU on Jan. 7. Gibbs, Davidson's best player, was just 1-for-10 from the field. Graham led the Rams with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Weber was around then and had four steals and six assists. This will be VCU's first-ever trip to Davidson.
Key trends: VCU is 6-15 in its past 21 after a loss. The Rams are 1-6 ATS in their past seven against teams with a winning record. Davidson is 13-3 ATS in its past 16 at home. It has covered four straight on Thursday.
Why take the favorite: Davidson is one of the nation's top offensive teams, and that VCU defense looks vulnerable at moment. Plus a win here would be huge for the Wildcats.
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