NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Tuesday
by Alan Matthews - 2/16/2015
With the NBA's extended All-Star Break this season, the only basketball action on Tuesday is of the college variety. So I'm sure the lead to SportsCenter, barring some big news, will be whatever Kentucky does Tuesday night in Knoxville, especially if the Cats lose. (As an aside, I think that UK could beat the New York Knicks now that they have bought out Amare Stoudemire and are likely to shut down Carmelo Anthony.) On Sportsbook.ag's updated odds, UK is +220 to finish the entire season unbeaten and -300 not to. This might be their toughest road test left, although a March 3 trip to Georgia won't be a walk in the park. Here's a look at the UK-UT game and two others that intrigued me.
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No. 1 Kentucky at Tennessee (+14)
It's a 7 p.m. ET tip on ESPN for this SEC matchup. Is this the night the Wildcats are tripped up? If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago I would have said maybe, but the Vols (14-10, 6-6) are not playing well right now, having lost five of seven to fall out of NCAA Tournament at-large contention. Obviously a win here would at least get UT back in the conversation. It comes off a 73-55 home loss to LSU that really wasn't even that close as it was 47-20 at intermission. I think the Vols were spent after rallying from a five-point deficit in the final 15 seconds of regulation against Vanderbilt in the previous game and then winning in overtime. The 18-point margin matched Tennessee's most one-sided loss of the season. Tennessee is now 4-2 in SEC road competition but only 2-4 in conference home games. Vols coach Donnie Tyndall said UK would beat his team by 100 if the Vols play like they did in the first half vs. LSU.
Kentucky (25-0, 12-0) blasted South Carolina 77-43 on Saturday to match the best season start in school history. Willie Cauley-Stein had 14 points and Dakari Johnson 13 rebounds and 10 points. Forward Trey Lyles made his first start since Jan. 24 and had eight points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Kentucky led the entire game and has trailed for only 144:57 of a possible 1,015 minutes this season. UK held USC to just 23.6 percent shooting, the 11th time an opponent has shot under 30 percent against the nation's scariest defense.
The Vols haven't beaten the nation's top-ranked team since a January 2010 victory over Kansas. This is the only meeting of the regular season between Tennessee and Kentucky. The Cats won the only meeting last year by eight at home.
Key trends: Kentucky is 1-5 ATS in its past six games. The Vols are 4-0 against the spread in their past four following a double-digit loss at home. UT is 0-4 ATS in its past four at home. Kentucky is 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings.
Why take the underdog: This is Tennessee's season.
St. John's at Georgetown (-7.5)
This begins at 7 p.m. and is on Fox Sports 1. These are two bubble teams, although ESPN's Bracketology has both in right now, with the Red Storm a No. 10 in the South Region and Hoyas No. 7 in the Midwest. Thus, it's clearly a bigger game for St. John's (17-8, 6-6), which brings a three-game winning streak into it. The Johnnies won at Xavier 78-70 on Saturday and are off to their best 25-game start since 1999-2000. Sir'Dominic Pointer tied a career high with 24 points, shooting 9-for-10 from the field and 6-for-6 at the free-throw line. St. John's shot 51.8 percent from the field, its third straight game hitting at least 50 percent.
Georgetown (16-8, 8-5) ended a two-game losing streak with an 86-67 win at Seton Hall last Tuesday. The game was tied early in the second half before the Hoyas went on a 25-9 run. The Hoyas finished the game shooting 52.5 percent from the floor (32 of 51), including 57.1 percent in the second half (16 of 28). D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera led the way with 23 points.
This is the first meeting of the season between the schools. The Hoyas have won nine straight at home in the series. St. John's snapped Georgetown's six-game win streak in the series with an 82-60 rout of the Hoyas in the last meeting on Feb. 16, 2014, at Madison Square Garden.
Key trends: The Red Storm are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 games. They have 1-5 ATS in their past six after a win. The Hoyas are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. They are 2-6 ATS in their past eight after a win. The favorite has covered four straight in this series.
Why take the favorite: Hoyas are well-rested.
LSU at Texas A&M (+4)
Back to the SEC for this matchup, which starts at 9 p.m. on the SEC Network. This game has potentially major NCAA Tournament ramifications. Both the Tigers and Aggies are among ESPN's "Last Four Byes," with LSU currently a No. 11 in the West and A&M the same seed in the South. LSU (18-7, 7-5) would have locked down a bid with a win over No. 1 Kentucky last Tuesday but lost by two. I thought the Tigers might have a bit of a letdown game on Saturday at Tennessee and probably would have picked the Vols to win had I previewed that. Glad I didn't as LSU won easily, 73-55. Jordan Mickey was a beast with 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks. Obviously he was three blocks shy of becoming the first Tigers player to record a triple-double since Shaq in 1992. LSU never trailed and was up 27 at halftime.
Texas A&M (17-7, 8-4) has lost two of its past four games but beat visiting Florida 63-62 on Saturday. Kourtney Roberson had a season-high 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting. After trailing the entire game, Florida took its only lead on a tip-in by Chris Walker that made it 62-61 with 1:47 to play. Jalen Jones got the lead back for A&M with two free throws with 1:12 to play and those were the final points. A&M hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2011. It already has matched its SEC win total of last year.
These schools played Jan. 17 in Baton Rouge and A&M won 67-64. The Aggies rallied from a 13-point deficit while LSU had just two points in the final 4:26. Mickey had a big game with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks but had a key turnover (traveling) with under 30 seconds left. The Aggies took their first lead of the second half with 23 seconds left, when Daniel House's jumper from the top of the key made it 65-64.
Key trends: The Tigers have covered nine of their past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. They are 4-1 ATS in their past five road games. A&M is 5-1 ATS in its past six after an ATS loss. The Aggies have covered five of their past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings.
Why take the underdog: Simply think LSU is better.
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