NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Wednesday
by Alan Matthews - 2/24/2015
I'm pretty much resigned to the fact that I will include Kentucky in this space anytime the Wildcats take the court because they are far and away the most interesting story of the 2014-15 season. And on your updated Kentucky unbeaten odds (through NCAA Tournament) at Sportsbook.ag, that UK does it is down to +200 and not is -250. UK shouldn't have much trouble on Wednesday at struggling Mississippi State, but it might be a bit of a trap. Here's a look at that matchup and two others that caught my eye.
No. 1 Kentucky at Mississippi State (+19)
It's a 7 p.m. start on the SEC Network for this one, with Kentucky just four wins from completing a perfect regular season. This could be a bit of a trap game because UK's toughest remaining regular-season game should be Saturday against No. 18 Arkansas.
Mississippi State (12-15, 5-9) has lost two straight, both at home. The Bulldogs played pretty well in both, however. They hung with No. 18 Arkansas on Saturday but fell 65-61. There were eight lead changes and the score was tied nine times. The Bulldogs led much of the second half but could not overcome a six-minute scoring drought down the stretch. MSU turned the ball over 23 times and hit only three 3-pointers. Craig Sword had a team-high 15 points. Starting point guard I.J. Ready didn't play because of an ankle injury suffered against Ole Miss on Thursday. Ready, who averages 8.2 points per game and is the team's best ball-handler, is questionable for this one. The Bulldogs are a turnover-prone team even with him as MSU is minus-61 in its turnover margin during SEC games. Kentucky has turned opponents over 399 times this season. Kentucky (27-0, 14-0) blew out Auburn 110-75 on Saturday. That was by far a season high in points scored. The huge Cats outscored the Tigers 62-24 in the paint and outrebounded them by a margin of 44-22. Karl-Anthony Towns had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. UK has tied the 1995-96 team for the longest single-season win streak in school history. Coach John Calipari tied his longest coaching win streak. The 2008-09 Memphis squad won 27 in a row as well.
Kentucky beat Mississippi State twice last year, each by at least 10 points. The Wildcats have won seven straight in this series.
Key trends: Kentucky has covered only one of its past five after scoring more than 90 points in its previous game. MSU is 6-1 ATS in its past seven after a loss. The home team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings.
Why take the underdog: Obviously not predicting an upset here, but MSU will be fired up and cover.
Florida State at Miami (TBA)
This ACC matchup begins at 9 p.m. on ESPN3. The Hurricanes definitely can't afford a loss, especially at home to an unranked foe, as they are currently among the "Next Four Out" for the Big Dance.
Miami (17-10, 7-7) had a two-game winning streak snapped in a 55-53 loss at Louisville on Saturday. Montrezl Harrell hit two free throws with 35.6 seconds left to put the Cardinals up for good. Miami's Angel Rodriguez attempted a winning 3-pointer with three seconds left but came up short. He struggled big time in the game, going just 1-for-12. Center Tonye Jekiri had his third straight double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds. Miami fell to 10-3 when leading at the half as it was up 10 at intermission. Florida State (15-13, 7-8) plays its final road game of the regular season and comes off a 51-41 loss at Virginia on Sunday. FSU missed each of its last 12 shots, a stretch that lasted the game's final 10:33. Devon Bookert, coming off an 18-point effort against Boston College, finished 0-for-8 from the floor with only one point.
Miami visited Florida State on Feb. 1 and lost 55-54 when ranked UM was ranked No. 23. The Seminoles rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit. They won despite three starters, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Bookert and Phil Cofer, combining for just five points on 2-for-14 shooting. Miami was only 6-for-19 from the field in scoring 18 second-half points. Sheldon McClellan led UM with 13 points but missed a floater in the lane as time expired. The Noles are looking for a regular-season sweep of the two-game series for the third time since 2010.
Key trends: FSU is 4-0 ATS in its past four after a loss. It has covered five straight road games. Miami has covered one of its past six following a loss. The underdog has covered four straight meetings.
Why the TBA: Honestly not sure. My only take is that it's for UM's Jekiri. Louisville coach Rick Pitino made a comment about why a Miami doctor cleared Jekiri to return to Saturday's game after possible suffering a concussion. Coach Jim Larranaga said Jekiri, the ACC's leading rebounder, was fine on Monday. So UM will be a slight favorite here. And I like the Canes to win going away.
Washington at UCLA (-9.5)
This Pac-12 game tips at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2, and it's pretty much a must-win for UCLA, which is currently among the "Last Four In" on ESPN's Bracketology.
The Bruins (16-12, 8-7) were swept at the Arizona schools last week. They were beaten 57-47 at No. 7 Arizona on Saturday whereas an upset likely would have punched UCLA's ticket to the Big Dance. After falling behind 32-18 at halftime, UCLA opened the second half on a 17-0 scoring run to secure a 35-32 lead with 13:26 to play. Arizona would eventually tie it at 39-all with 9:32 left and not trail again. The Wildcats had a 40-23 rebounding advantage and outscored the Bruins 16-0 on second-chance points. Bryce Alford led UCLA with 22 points. On the bright side, that was UCLA's final true road game of the regular season. Washington (15-11, 4-10) was ranked when opening the Pac-12 schedule. The Huskies ended a seven-game losing streak with Sunday's 87-84 victory at Washington State. Andrew Andrews capped a career-high 35-point game by hitting the winning 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left. Forward Jernard Jarreau returned for UW after missing 10 games due to arthroscopic knee surgery. The junior had six points and four rebounds in 28 minutes.
This is the only scheduled meeting. Last season, UCLA won the only meeting against Washington, a 91-82 decision in Seattle. The Bruins have won three straight in the series.
Key trends: Washington is 2-6 ATS in its past eight games. UCLA has covered six straight at home. It is 4-1 ATS in its past five after a loss. The Huskies are 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings.
Why take the favorite: UCLA has been very good at home, only losing to Gonzaga there.
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