As with some of this weekend's NBA games, BetOnline is offering cross-sport props on a few top college basketball players against Super Bowl LI between the Patriots and Falcons . I won't go through them all, and I recommend you go check them out. Here are a couple of examples: The total number of points, rebounds and assists by North Carolina star Justin Jackson (-115) vs. Notre Dame against the longest reception by Patriots receiver Chris Hogan (-115); or the number of points by Kentucky star freshman Malik Monk (-115) at Florida vs. the number of receiving yards for Patriots running back Dion Lewis (-115).
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Wagner at Fairleigh Dickinson ( -3 )
I feel obligated to look at this game from the Northeast Conference because it's your first betting choice of the day with an unusual 11 a.m. ET start time - presumably so it could be shown on ESPNU. Schools this small would play in Iran if it got them a few TV bucks and exposure. Go look at the NEC standings. There's only one school in the entire conference that has a winning overall record: LIU-Brooklyn. Last season, Farleigh Dickinson beat Wagner 87-79 in the NEC Tournament Championship Game for the school's fifth-ever NCAA Tournament bid and first since 2005. The Knights were a No. 16 seed in the Big Dance and pounded by Florida Gulf Coast 96-65 in the First Four.
Wagner, which was the NEC regular-season champion last year, is middle of the pack this season, so it will have to win the conference tournament to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003. FDU is two games behind Mount St. Mary's for the conference lead. Fairleigh Dickinson already has more home conference wins (five) than it did last season (four). The Knights go for the season sweep of Wagner after a 70-69 win on Jan. 5 in New York. Stephan Jiggetts had 17 points and dished out seven assists. Wagner's Blake Francis missed a jumper with one second remaining. Both schools are on quick turnarounds here after playing Thursday night. Wagner won 70-60 at Central Connecticut, while FDU was upset at home 74-70 by Sacred Heart for its second straight loss.
Key trends: The Seahawks are 2-8 against the spread in their past 10 games overall. The Knights are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. the NEC.
I'm leaning: Fairleigh Dickinson.
Illinois State at Wichita State (-10)
Big one from the Missouri Valley Conference at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The Redbirds, who haven't won the Valley title in 19 years, are 11-0 in the MVC and Wichita State is 10-1. No other school is better than 6-5. So the winner of this game would seemingly be in the driver's seat for the top seed in the conference tournament. Especially if it's Illinois State, as on Jan. 14 the Redbirds beat Wichita State 76-62 in Normal. A late first-half run of 12-3 gave ISU a 36-27 lead at the break that it would never relinquish. MiKyle McIntosh scored 20 points to lead Illinois State. Landry Shamet and Darral Willis Jr. led Wichita State with 14 points each.
ISU is on a 12-game winning streak but has lost McIntosh due a torn meniscus that's expected to cost him around three weeks - potentially putting him on track to return the week before the MVC Tournament starts March 2 in St. Louis. McIntosh was hurt Jan. 21 against Drake, and played part of the following game Jan. 25 against Indiana State, but the preseason all-conference pick hasn't played since. He finally had surgery Monday when an MRI revealed the tear (what took so long?). McIntosh is second on the team in scoring (13.5 ppg), rebounding (6.4 rpg) and assists (2.0 apg). Wichita has won five in a row largely in blowout fashion since that ISU defeat. The Shockers have won 20 games for an eighth straight year.
Key trends: The Redbirds are 7-0 ATS in their past seven on the road. The Shockers are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 on Saturday. ISU is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings.
I'm leaning: Wichita State (so much for trends; injuries overrule trends).
No. 11 UCLA at Washington (+11)
A 10:30 p.m. ET start on the Pac-12 Network. I don't see UCLA winning the Pac-12 regular-season title considering it already has losses to Arizona and Oregon, the top two teams in the conference, but that's not to say the Bruins can't get a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance if they get hot now and win the Pac-12 Tournament. They ended a two-game losing streak Wednesday with a 95-79 blowout of Washington State. Freshman TJ Leaf scored a season-high 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. UCLA was 3-for-16 from long range but 38-for-50 inside the arc.
What this game is really all about is the matchup of freshman superstar point guards Markelle Fultz of Washington and Lonzo Ball of UCLA - potentially the top two picks in the 2017 NBA draft. Washington is shockingly terrible at 9-13 overall and 2-8 in the Pac-12 and the only thing from keeping Coach Lorenzo Romar in his job is another good recruiting class coming next season. You can bet a Super Bowl cross-sport prop on Fultz's total points, rebounds and assists at -115 against the distance of the longest field goal made (-115) in Sunday's game. Fultz, who has been compared to Russell Westbrook and James Harden, is averaging 23.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists. He's going No. 1. Fultz is from Maryland and Ball from the L.A. area, but I'm assuming they have faced off on the AAC circuit or something. This could be the start of a great rivalry.
Key trends: The Bruins are 2-9 ATS in their past 11. The Huskies are 2-9-1 ATS in their past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. UCLA is 4-1 ATS in the past five in Seattle.
Early lean: UCLA.
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