NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 1/13/2018
In my first 3-Point Play story of the year for Tuesday's games, one that I previewed was Georgetown at St. John's - the Hoyas were 8-point underdogs, and I recommended taking the points. GU won 69-66 in Patrick Ewing's return to Madison Square Garden. One key St. John's player missed that game and hadn't played since Nov. 27: sophomore guard Marcus LoVett, the Red Storm's second-leading scorer at 14.9 ppg. Now he won't play again this season as the team made the decision to shut him down and focus on rehab. Just one more reason to fade the Johnnies, who are the only team without a Big East win.
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Michigan at No. 4 Michigan State ( -10.5 )
Big Ten matchup at noon ET on Fox. Because all the Power 5 conferences have gotten so big - other than the Big 12 - you don't see every school playing its conference opponents twice any longer each season. That's fine, but some rivalries need to be saved so there can be a home-and-home series. Duke-North Carolina, for example, is that way. It's absolutely ridiculous this is the only meeting of the season between the Wolverines and Spartans. Michigan has about the toughest week possible as it hosted No. 5 Purdue on Tuesday and did everything but win in a 70-69 loss. A late possession call that originally gave the ball to U-M was overturned after a long review and went Purdue's way, which led to the winning free throw. A desperation Michigan 40-footer did nearly go in. The Wolverines had rallied from a 13-point deficit early in the second half to take a 67-63 lead with 3:47 remaining.
Sparty fell from No. 1 in the polls with a one-sided loss at Ohio State last Sunday, ending MSU's 14-game winning streak, and it played no better on Wednesday in escaping visiting Rutgers, 76-72 in overtime. I'm guessing Tom Izzo put his guys through some not-fun practices the past couple of days. Star Miles Bridges didn't score against Rutgers until almost seven minutes were left in regulation and finished with as many turnovers as made field goals (3). His fellow sophomore, Cassius Winston, hit six free throws in the final 30 seconds of OT to avoid the mega-upset. U-M and MSU split last year, each winning at home.
Key trends: Michigan is 8-1-1 against the spread in the past 10 vs. the Big Ten. Sparty is 20-6 ATS in its past 26 at home. The favorite has covered four straight in the series.
The pick: Michigan State.
No. 5 Purdue at Minnesota (+9.5)
We stay in the Big Ten with a noon start on ESPN2. Absolutely, positively fade the Golden Gophers the rest of the season, and they aren't going to be returning to the NCAA Tournament. Last week, the school announced it had indefinitely suspended reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Reggie Lynch for a sexual assault allegation. The university's Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action office recommended Lynch's expulsion on Jan. 3, yet Lynch wasn't even kicked off the team - he just couldn't play as he appealed. Now another allegation has surfaced, so he's obviously done as a Gopher. Lynch was averaging 10.1 points and 8.3 rebounds this season. In addition, another of the team's best players, guard Amir Coffey, is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. He was averaging 14.1 ppg. The Gophers have played two games since all this transpired. They lost at home last Saturday to a mediocre Indiana team and then were clobbered by 23 at a struggling Northwestern on Wednesday. Coach Richard Pitino said it "sure seemed like" the off-the-court issues impacted his team's performance.
The Big Ten pretty much sucks this year outside of Michigan State and Purdue, with the Boilermakers currently atop the standings - they and Ohio State are the only schools without a conference loss. Purdue nearly had one Tuesday at Michigan, but 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas made the go-ahead free throw with four seconds left. Purdue is 5-0 in conference play for the first time since 1989-90. The Gophers and Boilermakers played once last year, and Minnesota won 91-82 in OT in West Lafayette. Nate Mason, about the only Gopher still standing currently, had 31 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.
Key trends: Purdue has covered 11 of its past 15 Saturday games. The Gophers are 2-7 ATS in their past nine. The Boilers are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings.
The pick: Well, I can't really pick Minnesota now …
No. 25 Creighton at No. 10 Xavier (-3)
Big East game at 2 p.m. ET on Fox. Villanova is the No. 1 team in the country, but Creighton actually leads the conference as the Bluejays have one more win than the Wildcats. Those two haven't played yet. Creighton is clearly pretty good as its losses came to ranked Baylor, Gonzaga and Seton Hall, all away from home. The Jays also have wins over ranked (at the time) Northwestern and UCLA. They are off an 85-74 home win over Butler on Tuesday. Senior guard Marcus Foster is a Big East Player of the Year candidate and was named to the Wooden Award midseason Top 25 this week. Foster leads Creighton at 19.0 points per game this season and the nation's active players with 662 career field goals and is fifth with 1,838 career points. Foster had 21 first-half points in the win over Butler.
Xavier likely will fall out of the Top 25 with a loss as it comes off defeats at Providence and Villanova. The Musketeers were no match for Nova on Wednesday in an 89-65 loss. XU star Trevon Bluiett had just 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting, and the senior guard is shooting 34.8 percent from the floor and 29 percent from three-point range in Big East play. "It's just between the ears," Coach Chris Mack said of Bluiett's confidence right now. When Bluiett makes his first shot of a game, he's averaging 20.6 points vs. 16.8 points when he misses his first shot. Butler was 1-2 vs. Creighton last year. Foster hit a game-winning 3-pointer in their Big East Tournament matchup.
Key trends: The Jays are 1-6 ATS in their past seven after an ATS win. The Musketeers are 9-3 ATS in their past 12 at home. The underdog has covered seven straight in the series.
The pick: Xavier.
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