NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Wednesday
by Alan Matthews - 2/3/2015
I realize that the University of Texas is always going to be a football school first, but there's really no excuse for not winning big there as a basketball coach because you still have all the resources in the world at your disposal. Thus I would not be surprised if Coach Rick Barnes is fired after this season if UT misses the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons. Texas hasn't won more than one game in the Big Dance since 2008, and that should be unacceptable in Austin. Here's a look at the Horns' important Big 12 game Wednesday and two other matchups that caught my eye.
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No. 18 VCU at George Mason (TBA)
This Atlantic 10 matchup tips at 7 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network. Virginia Commonwealth (17-4, 7-1) begins life without its best player, senior guard Briante Weber. He absolutely shredded his knee, tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus, during the final minutes of the Rams' loss to Richmond on Saturday, so obviously his college career is over. Weber is the key player in Coach Shaka Smart's pressure defense that he calls "Havoc." Weber, perhaps the best on-ball defender in the nation, was just 12 steals shy of setting the all-time record in Division I. He has led the nation in steals percentage every season since 2011-12. Weber wasn't a big-time scorer, averaging just 8.1 points this season. Sophomore JeQuan Lewis likely will move into the starting lineup; he averages 6.0 points in 17.8 minutes per game. Smart says the Rams are still going to play the same type of defense but that "to think losing him will have no impact would be a little naive." That loss to Richmond ended VCU's 12-game winning streak that was the school's second-longest under Smart..
George Mason (7-13, 2-6) has lost six of its past seven games. It fell 62-53 at Duquesne on Saturday, with the Patriots shooting just 25.8 percent from the field, including 13.8 percent in the first half when GMU totaled only 15 points. It was the worst first-half performance for the school since 2004. Isaiah Jackson led the Patriots with 12 points. Last season these teams played once, with VCU winning 71-57 in Richmond. Weber had 12 points and five steals. VCU scored 18 points off 19 George Mason turnovers. That was GMU's first-ever game in the Atlantic 10.
Key trends: The Rams are 4-13 ATS in their past 17 after a loss. They have covered only five of their past 22 vs. teams with a losing record. GMU is 2-5 ATS in its past seven games.
Why take the underdog: Not sure why this didn't open with a line. I expect VCU to be a double-digit favorite, but this type of crushing injury can cause a team to go into a bit of a slump, especially away from home. Take the points here.
Georgia Tech at No. 4 Duke (-17.5)
This ACC game tips at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, and it sure looks like a huge potential trap game for Duke. The Blue Devils (18-3, 5-3) come off a emotional win at No. 2 Virginia on Saturday, knocking the Cavs from the ranks of the unbeaten, and then host No. 10 Notre Dame on Saturday in a payback game as the Irish beat Duke 77-73 on Jan. 28. So I'm not sure how focused the Blue Devils will be on a bad Yellow Jackets team. The Dukies beat Virginia 69-63, rallying from down eight with under 4:48 to go. Duke was 28-for-55 from the field, the first team to shoot 50 percent against the nation's top defense. The Blue Devils scored 44 points in the paint, their most in ACC play this season. Entering the game, Virginia allowed only 19.2 points per game in the paint. It was also Duke's first game since the surprising announcement that key reserve junior guard Rasheed Sulaimon, once a highly-touted recruit, had been kicked off the team. Sulaimon is the first player to be dismissed in Mike Krzyzewski's 35 seasons as Duke coach. Sulaimon had appeared in all 20 games this season and averaged 7.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
Georgia Tech (10-11, 1-8) lost 81-80 in overtime at home to NC State on Saturday. The Jackets have been quite competitive in every ACC game except a blowout loss at Virginia; seven of their eight conference losses are by seven points or fewer. The Wolfpack's Trevor Lacey hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win. Tech, which led by four with 19 seconds left, was led by 23 points from Marcus Georges-Hunt. He went over 1,000 in his career and scored at least 20 for the third straight game.
Duke was 2-0 vs. Tech last season, winning each by at least 17 points. The Blue Devils have won seven straight in the series. Tech has won just five times ever at Cameron Indoor Stadium and not since March 2004. This is the teams' only meeting this year.
Key trends: Georgia Tech has covered six straight Wednesday games. It has covered 12 of its past 16 on the road. Duke has covered two of its past eight at home. It has covered only one of its past seven at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The Jackets are 1-5 ATS in their past six at Cameron.
Why take the underdog: Obviously Tech won't win but Duke will be sluggish.
Oklahoma State at No. 25 Texas (-6)
An 8 p.m. start for this Big 12 game on the Longhorn Network. These are two teams that have work to do in hopes of getting an NCAA at-large bid even though Texas is ranked for some reason. Oklahoma State (14-7, 4-5) is in the midst of playing five straight ranked teams. The Pokes started that run with a minor upset of Baylor but then lost 64-56 at home to Oklahoma on Saturday. OSU led by 12 at one point in the first half. One of the team's best players, Le'Bryan Nash, played only four minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. He needs just six points to pass Keiton Page for eighth on OSU's all-time scoring list.
Texas (14-7, 3-5) enters on a three-game losing streak, its longest of the season. The Longhorns were bombed 83-60 at No. 20 Baylor on Saturday. Isaiah Taylor had his first career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 10 assists, while Cameron Ridley posted his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but UT shot only .386 from the field and 5-for-26 from long range. Texas missed its first 12 shots of the game.
Texas lost at Oklahoma State on Jan. 10, 69-58. Nash and Phil Forte each had 20 for the Cowboys. Freshman Myles Turner had 18 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots for Texas, which shot only .344 from the field in that one. OSU has won five of the past six vs. Texas but the Horns have won nine of the past 10 in Austin.
Key trends: OSU is 6-0 ATS in its past six Wednesday games. The Pokes have covered only six of their past 26 road games. Texas is 1-5 ATS in its past six at home. The favorite is 4-0-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Why take the favorite: UT will play with sense of urgency.
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