NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Tuesday
by Alan Matthews - 2/9/2015
Top-ranked Kentucky was able to get out of Gainesville with a win on Saturday, so I'm calling it now: If the Cats win at LSU on Tuesday night they are going unbeaten into the NCAA Tournament. LSU represents Kentucky's toughest road game left, although Saturday's matchup at Tennessee won't be totally easy. Kentucky is listed at -340 on Sportsbook.ag to not finish the season unbeaten (including NCAA Tournament) and +260 to run the table fully. Here's a look at UK's game Tuesday and two others that caught my eye.
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No. 1 Kentucky at LSU (+10)
This SEC matchup tips at 7 p.m. and is on ESPN. The Wildcats (23-0, 10-0) beat the Gators 68-61, their first win by single digits since Jan. 10. UK got 18 second-half points from Aaron Harrison and made 21 of 22 free throws (second-best percentage, minimum 20 attempts, under John Calipari) to tie the 1966 team for the second-best start in school history. That snapped Kentucky's three-game losing streak to Florida. The Gators led by nine in the first half and used a 6-0 run to go up 44-42 midway through the second. Then Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein threw down a huge dunk and that totally altered the momentum. It was just the fifth Kentucky game decided by 10 points or less this season. UK played a third straight game without freshman forward Trey Lyles due to illness, but he did practice in a limited capacity on Monday and might return.
LSU (17-6, 6-4) is currently in ESPN's "last four byes" category for the NCAA Tournament. If the Tigers win this game, they are getting in barring losing every other game the rest of the regular season. LSU hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2009. It ended a two-game losing streak on Saturday, 71-60 at home against Alabama. Jordan Mickey had 24 points and added 12 rebounds as LSU led wire-to-wire. It was Mickey's 14th double-double on the season and his ninth straight game in double-figure points. He became the first LSU player to eclipse 20 points in three consecutive games since Charles Carmouche during the 2012-13 season. Tuesday's game is the first official sellout for the school since 2009. LSU is coached by Johnny Jones, who was the interim coach in 1999-2000 at Memphis. The school didn't retain him, instead hiring Calipari.
LSU was 1-2 vs. Kentucky last season, winning the game in Baton Rouge against the No. 11 Wildcats 87-82. The Tigers lost a one-point OT game in Lexington and were blown out in the SEC Tournament.
Key trends: Kentucky has failed to cover its past four games. LSU has covered four straight vs. teams with a winning record. The Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings.
Why take the underdog: LSU has a couple of NBA-caliber players on its roster. I'm not calling the upset, but the Tigers should keep it in single digits.
Georgetown at Seton Hall (-2.5)
This Big East game is at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1. Georgetown is currently listed as a No. 6 seed for the Big Dance on ESPN, but that seems awfully generous as the Hoyas are just 15-8 overall and 7-5 in the conference. They also have lost two straight and three of four. Georgetown was routed 69-53 at No. 7 Villanova on Saturday, which knocked the Hoyas from the Top 25. Georgetown leading D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (15.8 ppg) and Joshua Smith (11.9) both struggled in a big way. Smith-Rivera was scoreless in the first half and Smith scored only two points on a combined 1-for-6 shooting. They finished just 4-for-11 for nine points. The Hoyas were just 1-for-17 from long range.
Seton Hall is currently listed in the "last four byes" category. The Pirates (15-8, 5-6) dropped their second straight on Saturday, 57-54 at home against Marquette. A shot by Sterling Gibbs to send the game into overtime bounced off the rim. The Hall was down as much as 13 with just over six minutes left. Seton Hall leads the nation in 3-point defense and held Marquette to 1-for-10 from long range. The Pirates have now held their opponent to less than 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc in eight of 11 conference outings.
Seton Hall was 2-0 vs. Georgetown last year, winning by 10 and 15 points.
Key trends: The Hoyas have covered just four of their past 15 vs. the Big East. GU is 2-7 ATS in its past nine vs. teams with a winning record. The Pirates are 9-3 ATS in their past 12 at home. The home team has covered five of the past seven meetings.
Why take the favorite: Pretty even matchup, so I'm taking the home team.
New Mexico at Colorado State (-7)
This is the last game on the Tuesday schedule as the Mountain West Conference matchup starts at 11 p.m. ET on ESPNU. It's a very important game for Colorado State (20-4, 7-4) as the Rams are currently on the NCAA Tournament bubble. ESPN's Bracketology has CSU under "last four byes," which is one category above "last four in." I guarantee a loss here knocks CSU down at least to that run if not to "first four out." Colorado State is only 2-2 in its past four games but comes off an 83-82 win over UNLV on Saturday. The Rams rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit thanks largely to a 17-0 run that concluded with CSU up 46-41 early in the second half. A potential winning 3-pointer by UNLV's Jordan Cornish at the buzzer rimmed out. Stanton Kidd led Colorado State with 19 points.
The only shot New Mexico (14-9, 6-5) has of getting into the Big Dance is by winning the Mountain West Tournament. The Lobos lost 63-60 at home to Utah State on Saturday, their second straight defeat. Statistically UNM shouldn't have lost as it outrebounded Utah State by 10, had eight more second-chance points, outscored the Aggies 34-24 in the paint and had only 10 turnovers. The Lobos also had 19 bench points to four for the Aggies. New Mexico missed four 3-pointers in the final minute that would have tied it.
New Mexico upset then-No. 24 Colorado State 66-53 on Jan. 3. The star was freshman reserve guard Sam Logwood as he had 15 points, while hitting all five field goals and all four free throws. New Mexico leading scorer Deshawn Delaney had only four points. Daniel Bejarano led Colorado State with 13 points on 4-for-13 shooting. Rams coach Larry Eustachy is 0-6 against New Mexico in his career.
Key trends: UNM is 2-5 ATS in its past seven Tuesday games. The Rams are 0-5 ATS in their past five on Tuesday. The Lobos are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Why take the favorite: Rams will be hungry for payback.
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