NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Tuesday
by Alan Matthews - 3/2/2015
It's time for your updated Sportsbook.ag odds on whether Kentucky will run the table through the NCAA Tournament. An impressive win Saturday over ranked Arkansas has "yes" that UK will finish with a zero in the loss column at +150. "No" is -185. Tuesday is a big night because it's Kentucky's final true road game of the season as the Cats visit a good Georgia team. I'd argue this will be UK's toughest game until probably the Sweet 16. Here's a look at that matchup and two others that caught my eye.
No. 1 Kentucky at Georgia (+9.5)
This SEC matchup is at 9 p.m. on ESPN. Georgia is currently listed as a No. 8 seed in the East on ESPN Bracketology, facing off against No. 9 Oklahoma State in the Big Dance. Kentucky remains the No. 1 in the Midwest and will stay there even with a loss.
Kentucky (29-0, 16-0) beat the visiting No. 18 Razorbacks 84-67 on Saturday to officially clinch the SEC regular-season title and end a three-game losing streak in the series. Trey Lyles led UK with 18 points. Kentucky held Arkansas to 37.5 percent shooting and has now held its opponents to a 34.4 shooting percentage on the season. That's on pace to be the lowest opponent field-goal percentage in a single season since the adoption of the 3-point line in 1986-87. Kentucky also improved to 5-0 against ranked teams, beating them by an average of 16.6 points per game. UK is the fifth team since 1979, the year NCAA Tournament seeding began, to start 29-0. Interestingly, none of the previous four won the title. The most recent was Wichita State last year, which lost to Kentucky in the Round of 32. Georgia (19-9, 10-6) blasted Missouri 68-44 on Saturday for its third straight win. The win was by the largest margin of victory in an SEC contest under Coach Mark Fox. Nemanja Djurisic led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Georgia sophomore guard Juwan Parker played for the first time since missing 11 straight games with an Achilles injury.
Georgia played pretty well at Kentucky on Feb. 3, losing 69-58. Dawgs leading scorer and rebounder Marcus Thornton missed that one. He's back now. Georgia was within five points with under two minutes left. Karl-Anthony Towns had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Cats. UK was without Lyles.
Key trends: UK is 4-0-1 ATS in its past five after a loss. The Cats have covered only one of their past five on the road. Georgia has covered 12 of its past 17 vs. teams with a winning record. The Dawgs have covered three of their past 11 after a win of more than 20 points. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Why take the underdog: I think Georgia might win. If the Cats roll, then I'm totally on board with them going all the way.
No. 20 West Virginia at No. 8 Kansas (TBA)
ESPN2 shows this Big 12 game at 9 p.m. ET. Kansas is currently projected as No. 2 seed in the East Region, while West Virginia is No. 6 in the Midwest.
The chances of Kansas winning a national title could hinge on whether star freshman Cliff Alexander is cleared of an NCAA investigation into his potential eligibility. He didn't play Saturday in the Jayhawks' 69-64 home win over Texas. The 6-foot-8 forward and former Top-10 recruit will not play again until the issue is resolved. The likely lottery pick is averaging 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. With Alexander out against Texas, junior forward Perry Ellis stepped up and finished with season highs in points (27) and rebounds (13), his seventh double-double of the year. There's two player concerns for WVU (22-7, 10-6) as well. Senior guard Juwan Staten, who averages 14.5 points and 4.6 assists per game, missed Saturday's 78-66 loss at Baylor with a knee injury. Coach Bob Huggins had said Friday he expected Staten to play, so maybe he does here. However, the status of team captain Gary Browne is also up in the air after he left the Baylor game less than three minutes in with an ankle injury.
This is the home finale for KU, which has won its past 31 straight home finales. A victory would guarantee KU at least a share of its 11th-straight Big 12 regular-season title. West Virginia beat visiting Kansas 62-61 on Feb. 16. Staten had 20 points, including the go-ahead layup with four seconds left. Ellis' shot at the buzzer rimmed out for KU.
Key trends: WVU is 4-1 ATS in its past five Tuesday games. The Mountaineers are 8-18 ATS in their past 26 after loss. Kansas is 0-4 ATS in its past four games. The home team is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings.
Why the TBA: Doesn't seem like Alexander will play, and both WVU guys are iffy. I think KU romps regardless.
NC State at Clemson (pick'em)
Another 9 p.m. start for this game on ESPN3. It's a must-win for NC State, which is currently listed among the "Last Four Byes." The Wolfpack are listed as a No. 10 seed in the West.
The Wolfpack (17-12, 8-8) lost a game they shouldn't have on Saturday, 79-63 at Boston College. The Eagles shot 65 percent in the first half and led by 17 at intermission. NC State was led by Kyle Washington's 14 points off the bench. Ralston Turner had 13 as the Wolfpack had their three-game winning streak snapped. It was clearly a letdown game after an upset of North Carolina. NC State is now 1-7 in the game following a regular-season win over UNC in the past 18 seasons. Keep that in mind for next season. It's the home finale for Clemson (16-12, 8-8). The Tigers come off a 70-63 overtime win over Georgia Tech, but they blew a 23-point lead as Tech missed its first 14 shots. Jaron Blossomgame had 19 points to lead Clemson.
Clemson won 68-57 at NC State on Jan. 28. The Tigers nearly blew a 23-point lead in that one too. The Tigers held the Wolfpack without a basket for more than 9 1/2 minutes, jumping to a 36-13 lead. NC State rallied to within three points with about nine minutes left but couldn't get closer. Jordan Roper led Clemson with 18, while Trevor Lacey scored 17 points to lead the Wolfpack, who shot 29 percent.
Key trends: NC State has covered 13 of its past 16 after an ATS loss. Clemson is 4-0 ATS in its past four at home. The Wolfpack are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings.
Why take the Wolfpack: That UNC hangover is in the past.
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