NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Wednesday
by Alan Matthews - 1/13/2015
Let's give a little love to the job Coach Larry Shatt has done at the University of Wyoming. The Cowboys are atop the Mountain West Conference and the only club in the MWC without a conference loss. UW's 4-0 start in the Mountain West is its best since 2002-03 and just one win shy of its best ever. Wyoming entered the AP poll this week for the first time since March 1988. This is a program that hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2002. The Cowboys have a tough one at home Wednesday night against preseason conference favorite San Diego State. Here's a look at that and two other intriguing matchups.
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No. 12 Notre Dame at Georgia Tech (+4)
This 7 p.m. ACC matchup is available on ESPN3. It could be a bit of a letdown game for the Irish (15-2, 3-1) as they gave unbeaten Virginia all it could handle on Saturday before falling 62-56 in South Bend to end an 11-game winning streak. The Irish, who had shot 50 percent or better in 14 of their first 16 games and lead the nation in field-goal percentage, were held to season-low 34 percent shooting by the Cavaliers, who rank second in the nation in scoring defense. Irish star Jerian Grant was held to six points on 2-for-8 shooting. The loss ended a streak of five straight wins for the Irish at Purcell Pavilion against Top-10 teams.
It could be a long season for Georgia Tech (9-6, 0-3). The Jackets have lost three straight and four of five and were beaten 76-69 in Wake Forest on Saturday. The Deacons didn't even have a field goal in the final six minutes but kept hitting their free throws. Georgia Tech entered the game fourth nationally in rebound margin but was outrebounded in a game for the first time this season (41-29). Only one of Tech's five losses this season have come by more than seven points.
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech have played once already, with the Irish winning 83-76 in double overtime at home on Jan. 3. Pat Connaughton likely would have won it late in the first overtime but missed two free throws. In the second OT, he had five points, two rebounds, a steal and a block. Grant finished with a game-high 24 points. Marcus Georges-Hunt scored 20 points to lead the Yellow Jackets. He had a chance to win it at the end of regulation but lost the ball on a drive to the basket.
Key trends: Notre Dame has failed to cover six straight Wednesday games. Georgia Tech is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. the ACC. The Irish are 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings.
Why take the underdog: Tech has been very competitive at home this year.
No. 15 North Carolina at NC State (+3.5)
It's a 7 p.m. tip between Tobacco Road ACC rivals, and both could be a bit flat after huge wins over the weekend. North Carolina (12-4, 2-1) beat No. 5 Louisville 72-71 on Saturday (I recommended the Cardinals and the 3.5 points). Star Marcus Paige won it for the Heels on a layup with 8.5 seconds left as North Carolina completed a rally from down 13 points in the final 8:43. Paige had missed a tying 3-pointer late in a game in December in a loss to Iowa and then missed two shots in the final 10 seconds of a home loss to Notre Dame. Paige missed part of the second half against Louisville after rolling his right ankle.
NC State (12-5, 3-1) knocked No. 2 Duke from the ranks of the unbeaten with a very impressive 87-75 home win Sunday. The Wolfpack had dropped their two previous games against ranked teams, each by double digits. Trevor Lacey led NC State with 21 points against the Blue Devils, with the Wolfpack shooting 55 percent from the field. They were a terrific 10-for-16 from 3-point range. Entering that game, Duke had the best 3-point field-goal defense of any major conference team.
North Carolina was 2-0 against NC State last year. The game in Chapel Hill was a 14-point win, while the one in Raleigh was 85-84 in overtime. Paige hit a driving basket with 0.9 seconds left and finished with 35 points. It was the most points by a UNC player since Harrison Barnes scored 40 in the 2011 ACC Tournament semifinals against Clemson. It was the first OT game between the rivals since 2003. UNC has won 16 of the past 17 matchups with NC State.
Key trends: The Heels are 4-1 ATS in their past five road games. They are 1-7 ATS in their past eight vs. the ACC. NC State is 1-5 ATS in its past six after a win. The home team has covered the past four meetings.
Why take the favorite: Heels seem to have a hex over their little brothers.
San Diego State at No. 25 Wyoming (-3)
Everyone presumed that San Diego State would be the best team in the Mountain West Conference again this season, but that school could indeed be Wyoming. The Cowboys (15-2, 4-0) have won seven straight overall and 13 straight at home, the program's longest run there since the 2000-01 season. It comes off a 65-54 home win over Boise State on Saturday behind 18 points and 10 rebounds from Larry Nance Jr. He's the son of former NBA player Larry Nance, who won the first Dunk Contest at the All-Star Game in 1984 and was a three-time All-Star. The Cowboys rank third nationally in scoring defense at 52.2 points per game allowed.
San Diego State (12-4, 2-1) was ranked for a while. The Aztecs have solid nonconference wins over Utah, BYU and Pittsburgh and lost by just two to Arizona and in overtime at a good Cincinnati team. It's a very good defensive team as well, allowing just 53.5 points per game (No. 4 nationally), which it needs to be because SDSU ranks 300th nationally in scoring (62.0 ppg) and shooting (.403 from field). Winston Shepard is the only player averaging double-digit points at 11.4 points per game. San Diego State has gone a season-long eight days between games. The Aztecs have won four of their last five times when playing with at least seven days between games. SDSU is 33-16 (67.3 percent) in true road games since the beginning of the 2010-11 season. That is tied for the seventh-best record nationally during that timeframe.
Wyoming was just an 18-15 team a season ago, but the Cowboys' biggest win was an upset of No. 5 San Diego State 68-62 in Laramie. Riley Grabau had 17 points and Nance Jr. 14 for the Cowboys' first home win over a Top-5 team since Feb. 12, 1998. The home team has won the last four games in the series.
Key trends: SDSU is 2-7 ATS in its past nine games. Wyoming is 2-5 ATS in its past seven at home against teams with a losing road record. The home team has covered the past four meetings.
Why take the favorite: Cowboys unbeaten at home, Aztecs winless on road.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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