NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Wednesday
by Alan Matthews - 2/10/2015
I don't really consider Gonzaga a "mid-major" anymore because the Zags have been so good for so long. Thus I would say that No. 13 Northern Iowa has the best shot of any mid-major to reach the Final Four as the Panthers are just a few points from being unbeaten. Of course another Missouri Valley Conference team, Wichita State, did enter last season's NCAA Tournament without a loss. NIU already has beaten the Shockers this season. However, the Panthers are still +20000 long shots at Sportsbook.ag to cut down the nets in April in Indianapolis. Here's a look at Northern Iowa's game Wednesday and two more intriguing matchups.
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Kansas State at No. 21 West Virginia (-10)
ESPNU shows this Big 12 game at 7 p.m. ET. K-State (12-12, 5-6) is in a freefall, having lost four straight -- three to ranked teams -- and clearly would need to win the Big 12 Tournament for an NCAA berth. The Wildcats lost 61-57 at home to No. 25 Texas on Saturday. Down 59-57 with 17 seconds remaining, K-State had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Thomas Gipson's shot missed. UT got the rebound, and Isaiah Taylor hit two clinching free throws. Kansas State tied a season worst by shooting just 31.9 percent. Nino Williams led the way with 13 points. It was the second straight game that KSU was without two players due to suspension: Marcus Foster and Malek Harris. Foster leads the team in scoring at 14.0 per game, while Harris averages only 13.6 minutes a night. Coach Bruce Weber still hasn't given a definitive timetable for their return, but there have been reports it's a three-game suspension for both, so if that's true they won't play here.
West Virginia (18-5, 6-4) has lost two straight games, both in blowout fashion. The Mountaineers fell 87-69 at home to ranked Baylor on Saturday. WVU was pretty much off from everywhere. It shot 6-for-23 from 3-point range, missed 11 of 18 layup attempts, shot 36.4 percent overall and missed 10 of 25 free-throw attempts. Devin Williams led the Mountaineers with 20 points and 15 rebounds - both career highs.
West Virginia played at Kansas State on Jan. 27 and won 65-59 as the Mountaineers' pressure defense forced 25 turnovers. Foster led the Wildcats with 15 points, but KSU played much of the game without Williams, who tweaked a knee injury. Reserve guard Tarik Phillip led WVU with 12 points. The Wildcats had won six straight against ranked teams at home. The team is 2-5 vs. the Top 25 this season, including 1-2 on the road. KSU hasn't been below .500 since Jan. 28, 2004.
Key trends: The Wildcats have covered just two of their past eight after a loss. They are 1-5 ATS in their past six on Wednesday. WVU is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 on Wednesday. K-State has covered only one of the past six meetings.
Why take the favorite: K-State likely short-handed again and 1-6 on the road.
Illinois State at No. 13 Northern Iowa (-8)
This Missouri Valley game starts at 8 p.m. and is on ESPN3. Northern Iowa (22-2, 11-1) lost at VCU in mid-December in double overtime and at Evansville on New Year's Day by just three points, blowing a 16-point lead. No one is going to want to play this defensive demon in the Big Dance, that's for sure. The Panthers won their 11th straight game Saturday, 69-53 over Drake. UNI also won its 15th straight home game behind a game-high 16 points from senior Seth Tuttle. The Panthers tied a season-high with 11 made 3-pointers and their 11 straight MVC wins match a school record.
Illinois State (15-9, 7-5) had a three-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 65-59 loss at Southern Illinois. ISU was down 18 in the first half and was able to briefly take the lead in the second before fading. The Salukis outscored the Redbirds 10-2 over the final 109 seconds. Reggie Lynch had a career-high 18 points with eight rebounds and four blocks for Illinois State, while DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell scored a team-best 19 points.
UNI won at Illinois State 54-53 on Jan. 25 as Nate Buss hit a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to secure the victory. UNI rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final 10:48 of the game. ISU's Daishon Knight missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12 seconds left and the Redbirds up two. He also missed a driving 5-footer as the buzzer. Northern Iowa is also 8-0 all-time against Illinois State in the McLeod Center
Key trends: ISU is 1-7 ATS in its past eight games. NIU is 11-3 ATS in its past 14 vs. teams with a winning record. The underdog is 9-4 in the past 13 meetings.
Why take the favorite: If this were a double-digit line I'd probably go with ISU.
No. 2 Virginia at NC State (+8.5)
It's an 8 p.m. tip for this ACC matchup on ESPN3. Virginia (21-1, 9-1) got a big home win over No. 9 Louisville on Saturday, 52-47, but it came at a cost. Star Cavs guard Justin Anderson fractured a finger on his left (shooting) hand in the first half and didn't return. He will miss 4-6 weeks. Anderson leads the team in 3-point shooting (48.4 percent), is No. 2 in scoring (13.4 ppg) and No. 3 in minutes per night (29.4). That timetable means he might not return by the start of the NCAA Tournament. Big loss. Louisville was the third straight Top-15 team Virginia had played, a first for the Cavs since the 1997 season. Virginia committed just two turnovers against Louisville, the fewest of Tony Bennett's tenure and the fewest forced by Louisville in any of Rick Pitino's 488 games at the school.
NC State (14-10, 5-6) has been off since an 88-84 loss at Wake Forest on Feb. 3, the Wolfpack's fourth defeat in the past five games. Anthony Barber had a career-high 28 points for NCSU. Over the past two games, Barber is averaging 25.5 points and 5.5 assists with just one turnover. This will be the Wolfpack's sixth game against a ranked team this season and they are 1-4. A loss to Virginia on would make four straight home losses for NC State for the first time since 2008.
NC State visited Virginia on Jan. 7 and lost 61-51. The Wolfpack did lead 42-41 with 9:20 left but Virginia scored the next 10 points as NC State went scoreless for 5:58. Barber had just six points in that one as NC State shot 37.7 percent. Anderson led Virginia with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Key trends: Virginia is 7-1 ATS in its past eight road games. It has covered 13 of its past 16 following an ATS loss. NC State has covered eight of its past 11 after a loss. The Cavs have covered seven straight at NC State.
Why take the underdog: Wolfpack are well-rested, and that Anderson injury will take some time for UVA to adjust to. An outright win wouldn't surprise me.
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