There will be no Power 5 team to enter the 2017 NCAA Tournament with an unbeaten record. Not a huge surprise really, but the last major conference team to lose was new No. 1 Baylor at No. 10 West Virginia, as I expected, on Tuesday night. That leaves only Gonzaga without a loss and it's quite possible that the Zags reach the Big Dance with a zero in the loss column. They also could get to No. 1 in the next AP poll by sweeping their WCC foes this weekend. The Zags shouldn't have much trouble Thursday vs. Loyola Marymount.
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No. 20 Notre Dame at Miami (-2)
ACC game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Irish have five won straight a fter close back-to-back losses to ranked Villanova and Purdue at neutral sites. Last Wednesday, Notre Dame upset No. 9 Louisville 77-70 and then avoided a letdown game Saturday at home with a 75-70 win over Clemson. Matt Farrell hit a 3-pointer with under 10 seconds left to clinch the win over the Tigers. V.J. Beachem who matched his career-high in scoring with 22 points and Bonzie Colson completed his third straight double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. He's an ACC Player of the Year candidate. It was the 700th game in Mike Brey's coaching career. He's the 35th active D-I coach to reach the mark. This one starts a three-game road trip for Notre Dame.
Miami had a seven-game winning streak snapped last Wednesday in a loss at Syracuse, 70-55. Against a Hurricanes defense that entered the night ranked 11th nationwide in field-goal percentage, Syracuse shot 25-for-44 from the field. Miami shot just 21-of-54 from the field. UM coach Jim Larranaga is one win shy of 600 career victories, posting a 599-394 mark in 33 seasons as a head coach. With 600 wins, he will be one of five ACC coaches to reach the mark. The Canes have won 21 straight home games and swept the Irish last season. In the series history, Miami is 7-0 when it holds Notre Dame to less than 60 points.
Key trends: The Irish are 5-11 against the spread in their past 16 after a win. The Canes are 1-8 ATS in their past nine games. Notre Dame is 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Miami.
Loyola Marymount at No. 5 Gonzaga (-22)
West Coast Conference game at 9 p.m. ET with no national TV. The Lions get their second shot at a ranked team this season as they were beaten 72-60 at No. 19 Saint Mary's on Dec. 29. LMU did end a three-game losing streak on Saturday with a 66-56 home victory over Santa Clara. The Lions outscored the short-handed Broncos 39-2 off the bench and 36-18 in points in the paint. LMU's perimeter defense held Santa Clara leading scorer Jared Brownridge to just 1-for-11 from the field. The 56 points allowed to Santa Clara was the eighth time this season the Lions have held an opponent under 70 points. They are 7-1 in those games. Loyola leads the WCC in forcing 14.3 turnovers per game.
Unbeaten Gonzaga, the highest-scoring team in the WCC, could be a big rusty as its game at Portland on Saturday was postponed due to a winter storm in the Pacific Northwest. Since beating No. 16 Arizona by seven on Dec. 3, the Zags' closest win has been by 10 (Tennessee). Their three WCC wins are each by at least 15 points. Gonzaga ranks fourth nationally in scoring margin (+20.5) and third in 3-point field goal defense (28.0%). It has won 14 straight in this series and 26 consecutive vs. LMU in Spokane. The Lions' last win in the series came on Feb. 18, 2010, 74-66, in L.A.
Key trends: Loyola is 5-2 ATS in its past seven road games. The Zags are 10-1 ATS in their past 11 in the conference. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five.
I'm leaning: LMU -- Zags could be looking ahead to ranked Saint Mary's on Saturday.
Washington at California ( -11.5 )
Pac-12 game at 9 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. Washington is a vastly disappointing 8-7 overall but at least comes off perhaps its best outing of the season, an 87-61 blowout of Oregon State on Saturday. Late in the game, for some reason superstar freshman Markelle Fultz, who had 20 points, was still in the game and he collided with teammate Malik Dime. Fultz initially clutched his ankle, while Dime appeared to have a finger injury. Coach Lorenzo Romar says both are fine and should play here. Fultz is an amazing talent. He entered the game as the second-leading freshman scorer in the nation at 22.3 points per game, trailing only Kentucky's Malik Monk (22.6).
Cal comes off a 74-73 upset win at No. 25 USC on Sunday. All-American candidate Ivan Rabb hit the go-ahead free throws and then blocked Jordan McLaughlin's driving shot attempt at the buzzer. It was Cal's first road win over a Top 25 opponent since Nov. 20, 2014 (73-59 vs. No. 23 Syracuse at Madison Square Garden). It win is Cal's first true road win against a top 25 foe since a Feb. 21, 2013 victory at No. 23 Oregon. Rabb was named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Monday. Rabb led his team by averaging a double-double with 17.0 points per game and 14.0 rebounds per game in a two-game swing through Los Angeles. Cal won the lone meeting with Washington last season, 78-75 in Seattle. Rabb was limited to 23 minutes due to foul trouble.
Key trends: The Huskies are 0-6 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Bears are 11-3-1 ATS in their past 15 in the conference. Washington is 0-5 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: California.
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