I have yet to see any odds on a player to win the Wooden Award, but they will be out eventually -- probably at sportsbooks after the Super Bowl once the books shift their focus to basketball. But the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list was revealed this week, and just one player who was on last year's Midseason ranking is back: Maryland's Melo Trimble. Four players who were not on the Preseason Top 50 have joined: Baylor's Johnathan Motley; Butler's Kelan Martin; UCLA's TJ Leaf (a freshman); and Duke's Luke Kennard. If I had to pick a favorite right now it would be Villanova senior Josh Hart. In February, a Top 20 list will be released and the final ballot is produced in March. The winner is announced around the Final Four.
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No. 7 Duke at No. 14 Louisville (-4)
ACC matchup tips off at noon ET on ESPN. I try not to fall into the trap of previewing every Duke game, but the Blue Devils seem to always be in the news for something and they are the most popular college basketball team to bet on, albeit mostly against because the majority of people don't like Duke. And I really am tired of Grayson Allen's antics, but if you saw him push a Florida State assistant coach while diving for a loose ball over the FSU bench in Tuesday's loss in Tallahassee, well, I don't think that was accidental. If any other player does that, it's not even noticed. But Allen gave a hard two-handed shove. The FSU assistant said it wasn't dirty, and I guess that puts an end to things. Allen clearly doesn't get it, though. He also left the game with six minutes remaining due to a head injury. It's not thought to be serious. Allen had nine points and five assists. Big man Amile Jefferson missed the game with a foot injury. He's probably out here too.
Louisville was in a potential look-ahead game on Wednesday at home against Pittsburgh and failed to cover the 13-point spread in an 85-80 victory. The Cards pretty clearly took their foot off the gas and were perhaps starting to think about Duke as they nearly blew a 59-35 lead with 14 minutes left. Jamel Artis singlehandedly brought the Panthers back as he torched one of the nation's best defenses for 43 points. It was the most against Louisville since 1995. The 32 3-point attempts by Pittsburgh were the most by a Louisville opponent since Notre Dame's 34 on Feb. 4, 2006. Duke and Louisville split both meetings last year and Allen was involved in a bit of a scrap with a U of L player in both. Think he might be baited here?
Key trends: The Blue Devils are 1-6-1 against the spread in their past eight road games. The Cards are 1-6 ATS in their past seven vs. the ACC. The home team is 3-1-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Louisville.
No. 9 Florida State at No. 11 North Carolina ( -7.5 )
We stay in the ACC with a 2 p.m. ET tip on ESPN. The Seminoles are a legit Final Four threat, and this is the school's best team under Coach Leonard Hamilton. They are currently +2500 to win the National Championship. That's solid value. Florida State dominated Duke 88-72 on Tuesday for its school-record 12th straight win. Hamilton has a deep roster and he used 12 different players, 10 of whom scored at least two points. Junior guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes led with 21 points. The Seminoles' 16-point margin of victory was their largest ever over Duke (the previous was five, on multiple occasions) and their third-biggest win over a Top-10 team. But I'll just tell you right now that while I like this team, this sets up as a major letdown effort. Not just because of the huge win over Duke but because it's FSU's fourth straight game against a ranked team. Deep or not, this group is going to run out of gas in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina wasn't overly sharp in a 93-87 win at Wake Forest on Wednesday. That was a letdown game after a record-setting win over rival NC State on Sunday. The Heels led Wake by as many as 19 in the second half and the Deacons were able to get within one. Justin Jackson hit a big 3-pointer with 1:03 left. He finished with 19 points, while Kennedy Meeks had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman center Tony Bradley left with a concussion so he's probably out here. He averages 8.1 points and 5.7 rebounds. This is the Heels' fourth game vs. a ranked foe and they are 1-2. The first three were all away from home.
Key trends: The Noles are 4-0 ATS in their past four vs. the ACC. The Heels are 11-3 ATS in their past 14 at home. FSU is 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings.
I'm leaning: UNC beat FSU by 19 last year in the lone meeting and a similar result wouldn't surprise me.
No. 10 West Virginia at Texas (+12)
Big 12 matchup at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2. In my mind, this is the trap game of the day. The Mountaineers were fantastic at home Tuesday night in handing No. 1 Baylor its first loss in an 89-68 spanking. WVU's pressure defense forced a whopping 29 turnovers. The Bears, whose previous season high of turnovers was 16, played 11 guys and eight at multiple turnovers. Nathan Adrian starred for WVU with a career-high 22 points, six rebounds, three steals and two assists. It was the second consecutive year West Virginia has knocked off No. 1 at home in January. Last season, it was Kansas that lost to the Mountaineers, 74-63. WVU did lose its next game, albeit at a very good Oklahoma team.
Texas is struggling with a 7-9 record and things are about to get worse as sophomore swingman Tevin Mack has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. He's the team's leading scorer at 14.8 ppg and averages 4.8 rebounds and a team-high 31.3 minutes. Mack also was suspended for the season opener for an undisclosed incident. He had nine points and nine rebounds in 38 minutes in Wednesday's 64-61 home loss to TCU. It was the Frogs' first win in Austin since 1987. Guard Kendal Yancy missed his third straight game with a high ankle sprain, and he's not playing here.
Key trends: The Mountaineers are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 vs. the Big 12. UT is 13-5 ATS in its past 18 vs. the Big 12. The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six.
I'm leaning: I still like UT to cover here.
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