NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Wednesday
by Alan Matthews - 3/10/2015
The Power 5 Conference Tournaments get fully underway starting on Wednesday. Here are your Bovada favorites in those five: ACC (Duke at 5/4), Big Ten (Wisconsin at 10/11), Big 12 (Kansas at 5/2), Pac-12 (Arizona at 1/2) and SEC (Kentucky at 1/4). I don't think there's any shot that UK loses, but I certainly wouldn't call any of the other four locks -- probably Arizona the closest thing among them. Here's a look at opening-round games in the ACC and Big 12 on Wednesday along with the Patriot League final.
American at Lafayette (-4)
The Patriot League Tournament title game is at 7:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network. ESPN projects Lafayette as the winner and as a No. 16 in a play-in game next week for the Big Dance.
Lafayette (19-12, 9-9) was the No. 4 seed for this tournament. It has won three straight and advanced with an 80-74 win at Bucknell, the regular-season champion, on Sunday. Nick Linder had 22 points and Dan Trist 21 as the Leopards won at Bucknell's Sojka Pavilion for the first time in a tournament game and for the second time overall ever. The Bison were looking for their 11th straight championship game appearance. Trist is Lafayette's leading scorer (17.6 ppg) and rebounder (6.6 rpg). Lafayette is hosting its first Patriot League championship game since the 1999-2000 season. The school has never lost at Kirby Sports Center in Patriot League Tournament history, going 9-0. It hasn't played in the NCAA Tournament in 15 years. American (17-15, 8-10) is the No. 6 seed and looking to return to the Big Dance. It upset top-seeded Boston U in last year's Patriot final before losing to No. 2 Wisconsin 75-35 in the first round of the NCAAs. American moved on with a 73-62 win at Colgate on Sunday to reach the seventh championship game in school history. John Schoof led the Eagles with 17 points.
American is the only Patriot League team that Lafayette didn't beat in the regular season. At Lafayette, the Eagles won 78-76 on Pee Wee Gardner's buzzer-beating floater. At home, American won 88-77 on Valentine's Day.
Key trends: The Eagles are 4-1 ATS in their past five road games. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Leopards are 6-2 ATS in their past eight after a win.
Why take the favorite: Tough to beat a team three times in one season when fairly evenly-matched as these two are.
Pittsburgh vs. NC State (-4)
It's an ACC Tournament matchup at 7 p.m. from Greensboro, N.C., and on ESPN2. The Wolfpack currently are comfortably in the Big Dance as a projected No. 9 seed but I wouldn't go losing this game if I was them. Pitt won't be in the NCAAs without winning this tournament. The winner here faces Duke.
NC State (19-12, 10-8) closed the season strong, winning five of six to get the No. 7 seed in this tournament. I think if you finish with a winning record in the ACC regular season then you should get a bid to the Big Dance. The Wolfpack, who have qualify wins over Duke, Louisville and North Carolina, closed the regular season with a 71-57 home win over Syracuse on Saturday. NC State trailed 25-17 when a 27-2 run that bridged both halves lifted the Wolfpack to a 17-point lead. Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner each had 19 points to lead the way. Lacey was named third-team All-ACC by the league's coaches. He was sixth in the conference in scoring (16.1 ppg) while appearing among the league leaders in 3-point percentage (.407), 3-pointers made (2.33), assist-turnover ratio (1.81) and minutes played (35.90). No. 10 seed Pitt (19-13, 8-10) will miss the NCAAs for the first time since 2012. It's the Panthers' own fault as they lost their final three games, all to unranked foes. They are led by third-team All-ACC Jamel Artis, a sophomore forward. Artis leads Pitt in scoring in both overall games (13.8 ppg.) and ACC games (16.1). Artis was one of only four underclassmen named to one of the first three teams in the ACC. Last year in Pitt's first-ever ACC Tournament it won two games before falling to Virginia in the semifinals.
Pitt lost at NC State 68-50 in the ACC opener for both on Jan. 3 in their only meeting. Lacey had 19 for the Wolfpack, who shot 51.9 percent overall. Pitt was led by 13 from Artis but shot only 32.7 percent from the field.
Key trends: Pittsburgh is 0-4 ATS in its past four games. NC State is 5-0 ATS in its past five vs. teams with a winning record. The Wolfpack are 6-1 ATS in their past seven overall.
Why take the favorite: Wolfpack have the momentum right now and it's practically a home game.
Texas Tech vs. Texas (-10)
This Big 12 Tournament game in Kansas City tips at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU and is a must have for the Longhorns. They are listed among the "Last Four In" and in a play-in game against fellow No. 11 seed Temple. The winner of this one gets a date with Iowa State. If Texas doesn't make the Big Dance for the second time in three years, I could see Rick Barnes getting fired.
No. 7 seed Texas (19-12, 8-10) had a crushing four-game losing streak late in the year but did end with back-to-back home wins over Baylor and Kansas State. The Longhorns blocked 14 shots in the 62-49 win over the Wildcats on Saturday. They lead the nation in that category. ESPN flat-out says UT will not make the NCAAs with a loss here. Texas' Myles Turner, who is probably one-and-done, was named the conference's Freshman of the Year. Turner leads the league in blocked shots (87, three shy of Big 12 and UT single-season freshman record and five shy of overall UT single-season mark) and the team in rebounding (6.6 rpg) and ranks second on the Horns in scoring (10.8 ppg). He'll be a lottery pick. Texas Tech (13-18, 3-15) is the No. 10 seed as it finished last in the conference. The Red Raiders lost seven of their final eight games. The three conference wins were all at home, against Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Tech is 0-12 away from home this season.
TTU lost 70-61 at home to Texas on Jan. 3 in the Big 12 opener when the Horns were ranked 11th. The Longhorns scored 26 points off 15 turnovers. On Feb. 14 in Austin, UT won 56-41. Turner had perhaps his best game with 25 points (10-for-13 shooting), 12 rebounds and three blocks. Tech has lost 19 straight games in Austin.
Key trends: TTU is 5-1 ATS in its past six games. The Red Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their past six neutral-site games. Texas is 1-6 ATS in its past seven against teams with a losing record. TTU is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
Why take the favorite: The line seems about five points too low.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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