NCAA Basketball Expert Predictions: Three Interesting Jan. 17 Opening Lines
by Alan Matthews - 1/16/2017
I have never previewed a women's college basketball game in my life, and I'm not going to start now. But I have to give kudos out to the UConn women after they won at SMU 88-48 on Saturday for their 91st straight victory, breaking their own NCAA mark (men or women). UConn scored the game's first 21 points and gave up a season-low two points in the first quarter. I had literally forgotten that the women play quarters now. The Huskies go for No. 92 on Tuesday night at Tulsa, which is one of the worst teams in the American Athletic Conference. At 5Dimes, you can bet UConn at -190 against the field (+150) to win the NCAA title. The Huskies have won the past four NCAA titles.
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Pittsburgh at NC State ( -2.5 )
ACC matchup at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Pittsburgh enters on a three-game losing streak and was blistered Saturday at home by Miami, 72-46. Jamel Artis led Pitt with 15 points a game after going for a career-high 43 in a loss to Louisville. He is now six points shy of becoming the 17th player at Pitt to top the 1,500-point mark. The Panthers shot only 34 percent vs. the Canes (who were at 55.6 percent) and were dominated on the boards. Junior forward Ryan Luther, who averages 6.6 points and 4.2 rebounds, sat out with a foot injury and is in doubt here. Fellow forward Michael Young played with a mask on his face to protect his right eye and missed all 10 of his field-goal attempts. It was Pitt's worst loss ever at the Petersen Events Center. Pitt and Davidson are the only two schools in the NCAA with two players averaging at least 20 points (Artis and Young).
The Wolfpack also have dropped three straight following an 86-76 home loss to Georgia Tech on Sunday. Tech entered last in the ACC in scoring, shooting percentage and 3-point percentage but hit 49 percent overall and 10 of 16 from long range. Dennis Smith Jr., one of the best freshmen in the nation, had a career-high 31 points for NC State along with eight rebounds and six assists. He'll be a 2017 NBA lottery pick. Pitt defeated NC State, 74-62, Jan. 4, 2014 at PNC Arena in its first conference game as a member of the ACC. However, the Panthers are just 1-7 all-time in Raleigh.
Key trends: Pitt is 2-6-1 against the spread in its past nine ACC games. The Wolfpack have covered seven of their past 10 following a double-digit home loss. Pitt is 0-4 ATS in the past four meetings.
I'm leaning: NC State.
Illinois at No. 21 Purdue (-13)
A 7 p.m. ET tipoff on the Big Ten Network. The Illini lost for the third time in five games on Saturday and second time in that stretch to Maryland, this time 62-56 in Champaign. Maverick Morgan led the way for Illinois with 15 points and five rebounds. Leron Black scored 14 points and added nine rebounds. He was 2-for-2 from long range after entering with one career 3-pointer made. Star Malcolm Hill was held to 11 points on 5-for-14 shooting. Illinois had a seven-minute scoring drought in the second half and was outscored 32-14 in the paint. The Illini haven't won back-to-back Big Ten games since the end of the 2014-15 season.
The Boilers had a two-game winning streak end in an 83-78 loss at Iowa on Thursday. Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Caleb Swanigan had 17 points and eight rebounds. He missed a layup in front of the rim with 13.8 seconds left and the Boilermakers down 79-78. Purdue was outrebounded for just the second time this season in the loss to Iowa. Since the start of last year, just four of 53 opponents have outrebounded the Boilermakers. This marks the lone meeting between the two teams this season. It is the second straight year they will only meet once in the regular season. Illinois won at home last year 84-70 but Purdue then took an 89-58 blowout decision in the Big Ten Tournament.
Key trends: Illinois is 3-12-2 ATS in its past 17 on Tuesday. Purdue is 8-3-1 ATS in its past 12 vs. the Big Ten. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings.
I'm leaning: Purdue.
New Mexico at Boise State (-6.5)
Your last betting option of the night as the Mountain West game tips at 11 p.m. ET on ESPNU. The Lobos ended a three-game losing streak -- each by five points or fewer -- with an 84-71 victory at Colorado State on Saturday. Elijah Brown led the Lobos with 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Also, CSU coach Larry Eustachy said New Mexico assistant Terrence Rencher tried to instigate a fight with a Rams player outside the arena. There was a second-half skirmish between the teams that resulted in Rencher and another Lobos assistant being ejected for leaving the bench. A CSU player also claimed Rencher directed derogatory, racially-charged language at him during pregame warm-ups.
Boise State's seven-game winning streak ended Saturday, 89-80 at Fresno State. BSU, which had been the only team unbeaten in conference play, trailed by as many as 28. The Broncos missed their first 10 shots and started the game 1-for-13 from the field. Sophomore Zach Haney made his first career start in place of injured sophomore forward David Wacker (left foot) and had four points and four rebounds. The Broncos are allowing 67.6 points per game, which is second among the league. This will be the 12th meeting between the Lobos and the Broncos. UNM leads 8-3 and won both last season.
Key trends: UNM is 2-7 ATS in its past nine games. BSU is 5-1 ATS in its past six at home. The Lobos are 1-3-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: The Broncos have lost their last three trips to Fresno, but rebounded to win the next game the last two times. That continues here so give the points.
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