NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Wednesday
by Alan Matthews - 1/20/2015
Larry Brown is a Hall of Fame basketball coach, and he has turned SMU into a solid program that could make the Big Dance this season for the first time since 1993. Wherever Brown goes he wins. However, wherever Brown goes trouble seems to follow, and now the NCAA is looking into some academic issues at SMU, which has seen a handful of players leave the program, including the nation's top-rated point guard recruit, Emmanuel Mudiay, who went to play in China amid eligibility concerns. The short-handed Mustangs have a tough one Wednesday at Tulane. Here's a look at that matchup and two others.
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Marquette at St John's (-6.5)
This Big East matchup begins at 7 p.m. and is on Fox Sports 1. I thought St. John's was a legitimate contender for the Big East title when the Johnnies entered conference play ranked 15th in the nation and with solid nonconference wins over Syracuse and Saint Mary's (Calif.). However, the conference slate hasn't been kind as St. John's has lost four of five. The Red Storm (12-5, 1-4) enter off a 71-67 overtime loss at DePaul on Sunday. SJU led by as many as 11 in the second half. Red Storm senior guard D'Angelo Harrison, who leads the team in scoring at 20.0 points per game, played through a strained calf suffered Saturday and struggled by going 2-for-10. He says he will be close to 100 percent for Wednesday.
Marquette (10-7, 2-3) lost 62-58 at Xavier on Saturday, blowing an 11-point second-half lead of its own. Matt Carlino led the Golden Eagles with 27 points. Marquette leads the Big East in scoring defense (61.2 ppg), but the team struggles to score and is among the nation's worst teams in rebounding. Each of the team's three league losses this season has come on the road and by an average of just 4.3 points. Marquette is coached by former Duke player Steve Wojciechowski, who some believe is the heir apparent there to Mike Krzyzewski whenever Coach K steps down. Wojo replaced Buzz Williams, who surprisingly left for Virginia Tech.
Marquette has won 13 of the past 16 meetings with St. John's. The Red Storm had a 91-90 double-overtime win in Milwaukee in the most recent matchup on March 8, 2014. MU guard Derrick Wilson's baseline jumper as time expired bounced off the rim in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Key trends: Marquette is 8-1 ATS in its past nine vs. teams with a winning record. St John's is 1-6 ATS in its past seven after a loss. The Golden Eagles have covered just one of the past seven meetings.
Why take the favorite: Marquette is 0-4 in true road games.
Penn State at Michigan State (-12.5)
It's a 7 p.m. tip from East Lansing for this game on the Big Ten Network. So much for Penn State making its third NCAA Tournament appearance this decade. I drank a little bit of PSU Kool-Aid when the Lions opened the season at 12-1, but I should have looked a bit closer because there were really no quality victories in there. So naturally Penn State has lost its first five Big Ten games and is the only team without a conference win. The Lions took visiting Purdue to overtime on Saturday but fell 84-77. It was a crusher as D.J. Newbill, who had a game-high 37 points, had given PSU a 67-64 lead with 12 seconds in regulation. Penn State opted to foul instead of allowing Purdue a game-tying 3-point attempt. The Boilermakers' Jon Octeus missed both free throws, but Kendall Stephens got the rebound, ran out into 3-point range and tied the game at 67 with 5.7 seconds left. Newbill missed an off-balance shot for the win after stumbling on the way to the basket. His 37 points were the most by a Penn State player since 1965. No other Lions player had more than nine points.
Michigan State (12-6, 3-2) looks like a bit of a bubble NCAA Tournament team, so the Spartans don't want to lose a game like this. They come off a 75-59 loss at Maryland on Saturday, the Terps' second win this season over Sparty. MSU lives and dies largely on the 3-pointer, and it was just 3-for-17 on Saturday. By comparison, Maryland was 11-for-21 from long range. Spartans leading scorer Travis Trice had just five points; he's not the leading scorer anymore.
The Spartans had little trouble with Penn State last season, winning 79-63 in Happy Valley and 82-67 at home.
Key trends: Penn State is 2-7 ATS in its past nine road games. The Lions are 1-6 ATS in their past seven after a loss. Michigan State is 7-1 ATS in its past eight at home vs. teams with a losing road record. The home team has covered six of the past seven meetings.
Why take the underdog: MSU will win but isn't really good enough to be this big of a favorite.
SMU at Tulane (+6.5)
It's a 9 p.m. start for this American Athletic Conference game on the CBS Sports Network. It was a rough weekend for Brown's Mustangs (14-4, 5-1). Sure, they did win their fourth straight game on Saturday, trouncing East Carolina 77-54. However, the team lost one of its best players and could also be facing NCAA trouble. The player was sophomore guard Keith Frazier, who has been ruled academically ineligible and will miss the rest of the season barring an unlikely successful appeal. Frazier, a McDonald's All-American in high school (like Mudiay), was averaging 10.5 points and four rebounds per game this season. In addition, senior reserve Justin Martin, who averaged 5.7 points and 2.2 rebounds, also left the team for academic issues. In the wake of losing those guys, the school got a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA that includes accusations of academic improprieties within the men's basketball program. Big man Markus Kennedy missed the first semester this season also because of academics. SMU, which has won 12 of its last 13 games, was No. 22 in both the preseason polls.
Tulane (13-5, 4-2) enters off a 68-65 win at AAC doormat Houston on Saturday. Jonathan Stark hit a pair of free throws with 27 seconds remaining to give Tulane a three-point lead and then hit two more with five seconds left to make it a six-point game and help secure the victory. Stark finished with 15 points. Tulane has been to the NCAA Tournament only three times overall and not since 1995. The Green Wave have a shot at taking the AAC Tournament, however. These schools haven't played since the 2012-13 season when they were in Conference USA. SMU is just 3-11 all-time at Tulane.
Key trends: SMU is 2-6 ATS in its past eight road games. Tulane is 1-5 ATS in its past six at home. The home team has covered the past six meetings.
Why take the underdog: Tulane might win outright -- that many points are a gift.
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