Welcome to my first college basketball opening lines story of the New Year, where I will provide you with some early next-day lines where we might be able to find solid betting value. I'll also of course try and keep on top of any relevant injuries around the nation -- that's not quite as easy to do as in the NBA, but that's what we're here for. I'll have these for you each Tuesday-Saturday but not some Thursdays because Friday is always the quietest NCAA basketball night on the schedule. We'll play it by ear there. More often than not -- but not always -- I'll look at ranked teams because those games draw more action. We have three unbeatens left as we hit the New Year: No. 1 Villanova, No. 2 Baylor and No. 5 Gonzaga. My guess is the Zags will be the last to lose simply because they have the easier conference schedule.
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Saint Joseph's at Rhode Island (-11.5)
Atlantic 10 matchup at 7 p.m. ET on the CBS Sports Network. Saint Joseph's was an NCAA Tournament team last season and won a game in the Big Dance, but I don't see the Hawks getting back to the tournament as they are just 7-5 overall and lost their best player, Shavar Newkirk, to a season-ending torn ACL in Friday's 68-63 win over George Washington in the conference opener. Late in the first half, Newkirk had made a steal and was going for a breakaway layup when his knee gave out -- he wasn't touched. Newkirk is the Hawks' leading-scorer, averaging 20.3 points per game. He has scored 20-plus points in all but four of the team's 12 games. The junior guard also averaged 4.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Sophomore guard Lamarr Kimble, the second-leading scorer, will now have to step up.
Rhode Island was ranked briefly earlier this season and has a quality win over then-No. 24 Cincinnati and played Duke pretty tough. The Rams come off a 90-56 destruction of Saint Louis on Saturday in the conference opener. Five Rhode Island players reached double figures in the scoring column for the second time this season. The 34-point margin of victory was the largest for the Rams since a 39-point win over Delaware State on Dec. 13, 2014. It was also the largest margin of victory in Atlantic 10 play since Feb. 11, 1997, when Rhody beat Fordham 110-72 (38 points). Saint Joe's won both meetings last year. The average margin of victory in the past five is 6.4 points.
Key trends: The Hawks are 1-5 against the spread in their past six road games. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Rhode Island.
Texas A&M at No. 6 Kentucky (-14.5)
SEC game at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Aggies and Wildcats tied for the SEC regular-season title last year, but A&M doesn't look like nearly the same quality thus far at 8-4 overall. The Aggies opened SEC play with a 73-63 home loss to Tennessee last Thursday. It matched A&M's fewest points of the season and it shot just 34.4 percent from the field. The Aggies also had a season-high 16 turnovers to go along with a season-low 10 assists. Sophomore D.J. Hogg led A&M with 21 points, the third 20-point game of his career. This is the Aggies' first true road game of the season . Last year, they were the only SEC team to post a non-losing record on the road in league play (5-5).
Kentucky bounced back from its second loss of the season on Dec. 21 at No. 10 Louisville with a 99-76 blowout win at Ole Miss last Thursday. There had been one triple-double at UK entering this season but already the Cats have two of them following Isaiah Briscoe's 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds the Rebels. De'Aaron Fox had the other one this season vs. Arizona State. Super-freshman Malik Monk had 34 points for UK vs. Ole Miss. Kentucky and A&M played two OT games last year, the Aggies winning in the regular season at home on a buzzer-beater and UK by five in the SEC Championship Game. The margin of victory in the series is 7.0 points since A&M joined the SEC.
Key trends: The Aggies are 1-6 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Kentucky.
Kansas State at No. 3 Kansas (-12.5)
Big 12 matchup and Sunflower Showdown at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. K-State might be pretty good as it has just one loss and that was by a point to Maryland. But Kansas is the first ranked team the Wildcats have seen. They opened Big 12 play with a 65-62 home over Texas on Friday. The Wildcats hit 9-for-10 from the free-throw line in the game's final 59 seconds. UT was down 10 with 2:30 to go but made seven straight shots to make things tight. Sophomore Dean Wade paced three Wildcats in double figures with 18 points. K-State's seven-game winning streak is its longest since the 2013-14 season and its 12-1 start is the best since the 2009-10 season.
Kansas has won 12 straight since a season-opening loss to Indiana in Hawaii. On Friday, the Jayhawks won their 26th straight Big 12 opener with an 86-80 victory at TCU. Senior guard Frank Mason III had 22 points and seven assists and senior center Landen Lucas his first double-double of the season with 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. KU star freshman Josh Jackson had some foul trouble and played only 13 minutes. Kansas is second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally with a 51.0 field-goal percentage. Mason III leads the conference in scoring with a 19.8 ppg average. KU has won 52 of the past 57 meetings in the series and nine straight at home. The Jayhawks are on a 46-game winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse.
Key trends: The Wildcats are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The home team is 16-4-1 ATS in the past 21 meetings.
I'm leaning: K-State.
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