If you just put together a team of key injured players from power conferences this season, I'd probably take that club to win the national championship. The latest one hurt is Georgia's Yante Maten. He is out indefinitely with a knee injury. The 6-foot-8 junior is averaging 18.7 points and 6.9 rebounds. Maten was hurt as he defended a layup by Kentucky's Isaiah Briscoe less than two minutes into Saturday's loss. "Obviously he's been the most consistent player on our team, so we're going to have to probably look at some things for the rotation, obviously, and how we play to compensate for the fact that he's going to be out," UGA coach Mark Fox said.
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Georgia at Alabama ( -4.5 )
SEC game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Even though Maten - who still might be named first-team All-SEC -- left just 95 seconds into Saturday's game vs. Kentucky, the Dawgs still played well enough to hold a two-point lead with 55 seconds left before falling 82-77. J.J. Frazier blew up with season-best 36 points. It was his third career 30-point performance and the most points scored vs. Kentucky this year. The Bulldogs shot 51 percent from the floor, while the Wildcats hit only 43 percent. However, Kentucky outrebounded Georgia 41-26. At 15-12 overall and 6-8 in the SEC, the Dawgs are probably NIT-bound. Fox didn't say it was impossible for Maten to return in the postseason, just that his regular season was over. Many Georgia fans want Fox gone after this year. He is 141-115 at Georgia with two NCAA Tournament trips.
Alabama (16-10, 9-5) has work to do to get on the NCAA bubble - the fact that the SEC is weak and probably only has four teams likely in as of now doesn't help the Tide's chances. They have won two straight since dropping three of four. It was 90-72 at home over terrible LSU on Saturday. It was Bama's first 90-point performance in a regulation-length SEC game since a 90-69 win over Ole Miss at the end of the 2009 season. Bola Olaniyan has his first double-double with 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds. The Tide jumped to a 16-point lead with 8:06 remaining in the first half and never let LSU get closer than nine points. Before the game, the Tide announced suspension of forward Shannon Hale. He started one game this season after logging 47 starts over the past three seasons. Hale will not return before the SEC Tournament if at all.
Key trends: The Bulldogs are 7-0 against the spread in their past seven road games. The Tide are 2-5 ATS in their past seven at home. The Dawgs are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Disagree with those trends because of Maten. Take the Tide.
Memphis at No. 15 Cincinnati (-13)
American Athletic Conference game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Memphis (18-9, 8-6) has a solid enough record but it's not even on the bubble as of now because of an ugly RPI of 109, just one Top-50 win and five losses to teams below 100 in the RPI. The Tigers also have lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, 74-62 at home to Temple on Feb. 12 and then at UConn 65-62 last Thursday. Memphis was up 14 at the half and led 33 for minutes vs the Huskies, but they closed on a 10-0 run over the final five minutes. The Tigers currently sit in solo fifth in the AAC and it's important to not fall lower as the top five teams in the conference will get a bye in next month's conference tournament, which will be played in Hartford.
Cincinnati (24-3, 13-1) is a half-game behind SMU for the AAC lead. Those two schools split their meetings. Both UC and SMU still visit UConn and that could be a loss for either/both. Cincinnati is off an 80-60 home blowout of Tulsa on Saturday. It was UC's 24th straight home win (school record is 41 in a row) and Coach Mick Cronin's 300th career victory. Cronin, who holds a 231-132 record at the helm of the UC program, also posted a record of 69-24 as the three-year head coach at Murray State (2003-06). UC freshman guard Jarron Cumberland did not play due to a curfew violation. He averages 7.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in about 17 minutes and will return here. This is the only scheduled meeting between Cincinnati and Memphis. They split last year.
Key trends: The Tigers are 2-6 ATS in their past eight games. The Bearcats are 1-5 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Memphis.
Towson at UNC Wilmington (-11)
Colonial Athletic Association game at 7 p.m. ET with no national TV. UNC Wilmington could be a good sleeper choice to win a game or two in the Big Dance and Coach Kevin Keatts could be ticketed for a bigger job this offseason - NC State is expected to give him a call if it can't land its first or second choice. The Seahawks were CAA regular-season and tournament champions last year and then gave Duke fits in the Round of 64. UNCW will clinch at least a share of the CAA regular-season title here with a victory as it leads second-place Charleston by a game - those two split their meetings. Charleston also plays Thursday, hosting Delaware. The Cougars should win that and then Saturday at home to close the season vs. Drexel. UNC Wilmington, one of the nation's top offensive teams (85.0 ppg), also should win Saturday as it hosts Northeastern.
Towson in solo third in the CAA but any realistic chance the Tigers had of a run to the CAA Tournament title and the NCAA berth that comes with it likely was lost recently when senior forward Johnny Davis was standing near his home in south Philly with friends and family and was shot in the knee. He apparently will be OK but has now been ruled out for the season. Davis is third on the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and fist in rebounding (7.6 rpg). Towson has won both games without him and enters on a six-game winning streak. The Tigers opened CAA play on New Year's Eve with a 76-67 loss to UNC Wilmington. Davis led Towson with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Key trends: The Tigers are 3-0-1 ATS in their past four. The Seahawks are 1-3-1 ATS in their past five at home. Towson is 5-1 ATS in its past six at UNCW.
I'm leaning: Towson.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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