NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 1/23/2018
TCU hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since the 1977-98 season, but this year's Horned Frogs should get there under second-year coach Jamie Dixon, although they have faded a bit since starting 12-0. Dixon got some bad news late last week in that starting point guard Jaylen Fisher will miss the rest of the season with a meniscus tear. Fisher, a sophomore, was averaging 12.1 points and 5.4 assists. The main ball-handling duties will now be held by junior Alex Robinson, and all he did was dish out 17 assists in the first game post-Fisher injury. Sophomore Desmond Bane has taken Fisher's starting spot. The Frogs are +12500 at BetOnline to win the national title. Yeah, can't recommend that wager.
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No. 18 Clemson at No. 2 Virginia ( -10 )
A 7 p.m. ET tip on the ACC Network Extra. It's the only scheduled meeting between the schools this season. Clemson had about the worst weekend possible. Sure, the Tigers beat visiting Notre Dame on Saturday, 67-58. But senior forward Donte Grantham tore his ACL during it and is obviously done for the season. He was averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds, both second on the team. He was also shooting a career-best 56 percent from the floor, including 42 percent from 3-point range. Grantham had started 113 of 114 career games. In addition, one of the best high school basketball prospects to come out of South Carolina, Zion Williamson, surprised many by spurning Clemson and committing to Duke. Go YouTube some of his dunks. Pretty impressive.
As usual, Virginia is the nation's top defensive team, and the Wahoos held Wake Forest to just 49 points Sunday in a 10-point victory in Winston-Salem. Kyle Guy scored 17 points in UVA's 10th straight win - its only loss this year was Dec. 5 at a very good West Virginia team. The Cavs have only trailed at the half twice all season, to Wake and WVU. Sunday marked the eighth time UVA has held an opponent to fewer than 50 points this season. It is surrendering just 52.4 ppg. This will end a stretch of three games in six nights for the Cavaliers. Last year, Virginia won at Clemson, 77-73, as the Cavs shot 58 percent from the field. Jaron Blossomgame led the Tigers with 22 points.
Key trends: The Tigers are 2-6-1 against the spread in their past nine road games. The Cavs are 12-5-1 ATS in their past 18 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The favorite has covered six of the past eight meetings.
The pick: Virginia.
No. 5 Kansas at No. 12 Oklahoma (+1)
Big 12 matchup also at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Kansas won its fifth straight game Saturday, 70-67 over visiting Baylor. Sophomore Malik Newman scored nine points in the final three minutes as KU closed on an 11-2 run. He led all scorers with 24 points. Kansas was outrebounded, though, for the eighth straight game, the longest stretch in the Bill Self era. Kansas is 9-2 this season when being outrebounded, but that's playing with fire. Self got some bad news when five-star freshman Billy Preston left the program to play professionally overseas. He was Rivals' No. 8 player in the Class of 2017 but hadn't suited up for Kansas yet because the school was investigating the "financial picture" regarding his vehicle after a one-car accident on campus and later sent its findings to the NCAA, which still hadn't ruled on it.
Oklahoma dropped its second in a row Saturday, 83-81 in overtime at rival Oklahoma State. Freshman sensation Trae Young had a career-high 48 points but missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. His 39 shot attempts and 20 3-point attempts were both Big 12 records. None of Young's teammates scored more than eight points. Hard to take much from last season when KU was great as usual and Oklahoma was terrible, but Kansas won both meetings by at least 10 points. The Jayhawks did have to rally from a nine-point halftime deficit in Norman. Kansas leads the overall series with Oklahoma, 146-66, and has won the last four meetings with the Sooners. Two of those four have been in Norman, where KU is 52-42 all-time.
Key trends: The Jayhawks are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. The Sooners are 5-12 ATS in their past 17 at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The underdog has covered five straight in series.
The pick: Kansas.
Vanderbilt at No. 22 Tennessee (-10.5)
ESPNU has this SEC 7 p.m. tip. If you are a Vanderbilt alum who has been betting the Commodores all season, you have my condolences. Vandy has by far the worst ATS mark of any major conference school in the nation at 2-13-1 but did cover Saturday as a 2-point favorite in an 88-81 home win over LSU - the Commodores' only other cover was as a 9.5-point dog at Florida, an 81-74 loss. Senior Riley LaChance hit two free throws with 2:01 left to put Vanderbilt ahead to stay against LSU. He had 26 points. Vanderbilt's second-leading scorer, Matthew Fisher-Davis, missed his second straight game with a right shoulder injury. It's possible his season could be over.
The Vols won at South Carolina on Saturday, 70-63. Lamonte Turner led Tennessee and matched his career-high with 25 points, adding six rebounds. UT held South Carolina to just 1-for-11 shooting from the field to spur a closing 11-3 run, during which Tennessee was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. These state rivals played in Nashville on Jan. 9 and the Vols won 92-84, rallying from down 10 at halftime. Tennessee sophomore Grant Williams had a career-high 37 points to go with seven rebounds and three blocks. Admiral Schofield (great name) tied his career high with 22 points. It was the most points UT, which was 25-for-28 from the free-throw line, has ever scored in Memorial Gym. Freshman Saben Lee led Vanderbilt with 21 points.
Key trends: The Commodores are 5-16 ATS in their past 21 overall. The Vols are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. the SEC. The road team has covered the past four in the series.
The pick: Tennessee.
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