I don't think it's particularly fair that a head coach get fired because injuries torpedoed his team, but I believe Indiana's Tom Crean is in some trouble with his Hoosiers certainly on the NCAA Tournament bubble and now having lost another key player. A couple of weeks ago, potential NBA lottery pick OG Anunoby was lost for the season to a knee injury, and now junior guard James Blackmon Jr., the team's leading scorer, is out indefinitely with a lower leg injury. He was hurt during IU's ugly 90-60 loss to Michigan last Thursday and sat out Sunday's defeat against Northwestern. Blackmon missed the entire Big Ten season in 2015-16 after suffering a right knee injury that required season-ending surgery. He declared for the NBA draft before eventually returning to school. Blackmon is averaging 17.6 points this year.
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Pittsburgh at No. 12 North Carolina ( -18 )
ACC game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Pittsburgh has fallen off a cliff in losing six in a row -- I wonder how all those Pitt backers are feeling about running Coach Jamie Dixon out of town at this point. Assuming the Panthers lose this one and Saturday at Duke, they will be 1-9 in the ACC and have zero shot at the Big Dance. Pitt comes off a 67-60 home loss to Clemson on Saturday. The Tigers won for the first time in 2017 by holding Pitt to just 32 percent (18-for-55) shooting. The Panthers were 5-for-28 in the second half and missed their final five.
North Carolina had a seven-game winning streak snapped in a 77-62 loss at Miami on Saturday. The Tar Heels' point total was a season low and 27 below their average, and they shot only 35 percent. UNC shot just 22 percent in the first half, the second-lowest in the Roy Williams era. The Heels had zero fast-break points and their eight second-chance points tied their fewest this year. Carolina played without big man Theo Pinson due to a right foot injury. Before the season, Pinson broke the fifth metatarsal in that same foot and the injury forced him to miss UNC's first 16 games. He has also twice broken the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. So it's not clear when or even if he will play again this season. Pinson is averaging 6.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists. The Heels beat Pitt twice easily last season.
Key trends: The Panthers are 3-7 against the spread in their past 10 on the road. The Heels are 11-4 ATS in their past 15 vs. the ACC. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
I'm leaning: Pittsburgh.
Vanderbilt at Texas A&M (TBA)
SEC matchup at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Vandy is off an 84-78 win over Iowa State in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Saturday. Senior captains Luke Kornet and Nolan Cressler combined for 41 points. Cressler made 8 of 10 field goals and 4-for-4 on 3-pointers to score 20 points, his most in two seasons with the Commodores since transferring from Cornell. Those two are the only seniors on first-year coach Bryce's Drew nine-player roster. Drew replaced Kevin Stallings, who took over at Pitt when Dixon left for his alma mater TCU.
I thought Texas A&M had a decent shot at upsetting West Virginia in Morgantown on Saturday because WVU was off a huge home win over Kansas. The Aggies didn't win but did cover in the 81-77 loss. The Aggies were down 20 at one point in the second half. Admon Gilder scored 24 points for the Aggies, and Tyler Davis had 19 points and 18 rebounds. Gilder has played in all but one minute of the past four games. Davis' 18 rebounds were the most for the Aggies since Andy Slocum also had 18 against Texas in 2004. A&M played a second straight game without sophomore forward D.J. Hogg, and he's questionable here with a foot injury. He averages 13.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. These schools split last year, each winning at home.
Key trends: Vandy is 7-3 ATS in its past 10. A&M is 3-8 ATS in its past 11.
I'm leaning: Vandy, which will be a dog regardless, if Hogg sits and A&M if he returns.
Georgia at No. 8 Kentucky (-16.5)
Also from the SEC at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Dawgs are on the NCAA Tournament bubble at the moment, probably the wrong side of it with no great nonconference wins. This starts a season-defining stretch with games at South Carolina. vs. Florida and at Tennessee up next. Georgia beat visiting Texas 59-57 on Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Yante Maten led the Bulldogs, who were down nine at halftime, with 21 points and Horns freshman Jarrett Allen missed a close shot at the buzzer (it rimmed out) to send it to OT. "I'm not going to lie to you, I thought it was good," Maten said. "How it came out of his hands, it was about halfway down and then it popped out." Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins was honored at halftime of the game.
I had Kentucky beating No. 2 Kansas in Lexington on Saturday, but the Cats were upset 79-73 for their second straight loss. The Jayhawks shot 59 percent in the second half and turned 17 UK turnovers into 21 points. Malik Monk and Derek Willis each had 18 points for the Wildcats. UK led by 12 on three different occasions and had been 204-3 under John Calipari when taking a double-digit lead in a game. When scoring less than 85 points in a game this season, the Cats are now 1-3 (lone win vs. Michigan State, which is down this season). Kentucky has lost back-to-back games for only the eighth time under Calipari. It's only the third time in eight years under Calipari that the Wildcats have lost at least two home games (2012-13 and 2013-14). UK was 2-0 vs. Georgia last season.
Key trends: The Dawgs are 4-0 ATS in their past four on the road. The Cats are 1-5 ATS in their past six. The home team is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.
I'm leaning: Georgia.
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