NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 1/25/2018
SMU has made the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons after not doing so since 1993, but the Mustangs' chances of returning to the Big Dance this March recently got longer as junior guard Jarrey Foster has been ruled out for the year due to a partially torn ACL. The team was originally hoping it was a knee sprain, and at least it's only partially torn as Foster should thus be good to go when the 2018-19 season starts. Foster was SMU's second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, averaging 13.2 points and 5.9 rebounds. With Foster, the Mustangs had impressive wins over ranked teams Arizona, USC and Wichita State this season. SMU is at UConn on Thursday.
No. 25 Michigan at No. 3 Purdue ( -12 )
ESPN Big Ten game at 7 p.m. ET. Purdue and Ohio State remain the only Big Ten teams without a conference loss - Michigan State has two and every other school at least three. Michigan bounced back from an ugly 15-point loss at Nebraska last Thursday with a 62-47 cakewalk home win over Rutgers on Sunday. The Wolverines held the Scarlet Knights to 22.5 points below their scoring average coming in. Zavier Simpson scored 10 points and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds, while Moritz Wagner had 16 points for U-M. Duncan Robinson had 12 off the bench and tied Tim Hardaway Jr. for eighth on the school's all-time list in made 3-pointers with 202. It was Michigan's 11th double-digit win of the season.
Purdue's two loses were back-to-back in a Thanksgiving holiday tournament to Tennessee and Western Kentucky. The Boilers won their 15th straight on Saturday, 87-64 at Iowa, setting a school record with 20 3-pointers made. Carsen Edwards scored 22 points with a career-high eight assists. Their 31-point halftime lead (51-20) was the third largest in school history in a Big Ten game. Purdue has now won three straight Big Ten games by 23 or more points for the first time ever. It also has now avenged all four of its Big Ten regular-season losses from last year (Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa). No Purdue team has won more than 16 straight games or started Big Ten play at 9-0. On Jan. 9 in Ann Arbor, Purdue beat Michigan 70-69 on an Isaac Haas free throw with four seconds left. The Boilers shot 57.1 percent from long range.
Key trends: The Wolverines are 10-3-1 against the spread in their past 14 vs. the Big Ten. Purdue is 5-1 ATS in its past six following an ATS win. The home team has covered seven of the past eight in this series.
The pick: Michigan.
UCF at No. 17 Wichita State (-13.5)
American Athletic Conference game at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Central Florida's football team had the best season in school history as the nation's only unbeaten - and the "national champions" will be honored during Sunday's Pro Bowl in Orlando - but the basketball team is just a middle-of-the-pack team in the AAC and hasn't made the NCAA Tournament since 2005. It wasn't likely to anyway this season but even less of a chance now that one of college basketball's most interesting players, 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall, will miss the season with a shoulder injury. Fall, a junior from Senegal, was averaging 11.3 points (76.7 percent shooting), 7.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in about 22 minutes per game. The Knights did win their first game without him, 71-69 at rival South Florida on Saturday. But USF is absolutely terrible.
With all five starters back from last year's excellent club, I honestly thought Wichita State had a shot of going unbeaten this regular season, but the Shockers have found the move from the Missouri Valley Conference to the AAC a little more challenging. They enter off back-to-back losses, home to SMU last Wednesday and then at Houston on Saturday. Wichita State had not lost back-to-back conference games since the 2012-13 season and had had won 27 straight games as Charles Koch Arena. The Shockers were just 4-for-20 from long range vs. Houston. Leading scorer Landry Shamet, a preseason All-American, had seven points. It should be noted that the 2012-13 team that ended up losing three conference games in a row would reach the Final Four. UCF is one of four American foes that WSU is facing for the first time ever this year.
Key trends: UCF is 7-3 ATS in its past 10. Wichita is 1-6 ATS in its past seven vs. teams with a winning record.
The pick: Wichita State.
BYU at No. 16 Saint Mary's (-9.5)
West Coast Conference game at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2. I'm a huge fan of WCC games, specifically these two schools and Gonzaga. Unfortunately, the NCAA Tournament selection committee rarely gives more than two schools in the conference spots in the Big Dance. Right now, SMC and Gonzaga are locks, but BYU, an NIT team last year and not in the NCAAs since 2015, needs a quality win or two. It's not the Cougars' fault they can't find any good teams to play them out of conference, but they lost to Alabama and UT Arlington. They haven't played Gonzaga yet in the WCC but lost at home to Saint Mary's on Dec. 30, 74-64. BYU couldn't stop likely WCC Player of the Year Jock Landale as he had 31 points on 13-for-15 shooting along with 13 rebounds. Yoeli Childs was 11 of 23 from the field and finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars
Saint Mary's lost back-to-back games on Thanksgiving weekend to Washington State and Georgia by a combined seven points but has won 14 in a row since, including a 74-71 victory at Gonzaga last Thursday. The Gaels nearly were caught in a trap game Saturday at Pacific but escaped 72-69. Landale was named WCC Player of the Week for a fourth time this season Monday and is among the national leaders in points per game (22.4), rebounds per game (10.2), field-goal percentage (65.7), total field-goals made (188) and double-doubles (13). He's averaging 24.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and shooting 67.2 percent in conference games.
Key trends: The Cougars are 4-0 ATS in their past four. The Gaels are 7-0-1 ATS in their past eight Thursday games. The favorite has covered eight straight in the series.
The pick: BYU.
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