NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 1/30/2018
It's looking more and more like that national title UConn won under Coach Kevin Ollie in 2014 was a fluke and simply on the back of players (specifically Shabazz Napier) recruited by former coach Jim Calhoun. Things have gone downhill for the program since. It missed the Big Dance last year with a 16-17 record and will this year too barring an unlikely run to the AAC Tournament title. Now comes word that the NCAA is investigating Connecticut for recruiting violations. Remember, the Huskies couldn't defend their title in the 2014-15 season because they were banned from postseason play for violations under Calhoun. Ollie was a red-hot coaching candidate after that title run, even rumored for some NBA jobs. Maybe he should have left when he had the chance as UConn could be headed for major sanctions. At least the school still has Geno Auriemma and the women's program.
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Rhode Island at UMass ( +9.5 )
Atlantic 10 game at 6:30 p.m. ET - first tipoff of night - on the CBS Sports Network. The Rams are probably the third-best mid-major right now behind Saint Mary's and Gonzaga, but it's hard to know if Rhode Island is actually any good. Yeah, it will win the A-10 regular-season title, but that conference is really down this year as teams that are usually pretty good like VCU, Richmond and Dayton aren't - it will be a one-bid league to the NCAA Tournament. The Rams also lost to their three best nonconference opponents, Nevada, Seton Hall and Alabama (to be fair, all away from home). Just in case you aren't aware, Rhode Island's coach is Dan Hurley, brother of former Duke star and current Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley. Their father is Bob Hurley, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as he built a national powerhouse at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, N.J.
Rhody won its 12th straight game Saturday, 61-58 over Duquesne on a Stanford Robinson 3-pointer at the buzzer. It was the school's 17 th conference win in a row. UMass lost its fourth in a row Saturday, 82-69 at Fordham. The Minutemen led by four at intermission but were outscored 19-5 immediately coming out of it. These schools met on Jan. 17 in Kingston, a 73-51 Rhode Island victory. Jared Terrell scored 24 points and Robinson added 17 points with 12 rebounds for the Rams. It was over at the half with Rhode Island leading 40-20.
Key trends: The Rams are 13-3 against the spread in their past 16 conference games. UMass is 0-4 ATS in its past four.
The pick: UMass.
Florida at Georgia (+2.5)
A 7 p.m. ET tip on the SEC Network. The Gators went out of conference on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge and beat visiting Baylor 81-60. Chris Chiozza led UF with 20 points, six rebounds and six assists. UF shot 14-for-25 from long range after going 12 of 53 from distance the previous two games combined. The Gators are now 8-2 this year when they make at least 10 3-pointers. You might want to bet on Florida against whichever team it plays in next year's Challenge as it is 3-0 with a combined plus-70 point differential in that event under Coach Mike White. You might remember Chiozza as the guy who hit the shot of the 2017 NCAA Tournament to beat Wisconsin at the buzzer.
I have a feeling that Georgia might fire Coach Mark Fox after this season unless the Bulldogs turn things around now and reach the Big Dance. Fox is in his ninth season in Athens and the Bulldogs have made the tournament just twice. At 12-8 overall, they'll likely have to win the SEC Tournament to get there. They do have one of the conference's best players in senior power forward Yante Maten, who leads the SEC in scoring at 19.6 ppg and is second in rebounding (9.2 rpg). He had 16 points in Saturday's 56-51 loss at Kansas State. UGA also has dropped four of the previous five league games. Florida won both meetings last season, in overtime at home and by 12 in Athens.
Key trends: The Gators are 6-2 ATS in their past eight road games. The Bulldogs are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. the SEC. UF is 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings.
The pick: Florida.
North Carolina at Clemson (-1.5)
A 7 p.m. ET ACC matchup on ESPN. North Carolina lost its second straight game on Saturday, 95-91 in overtime at home to an average NC State team. It was the Wolfpack's first win over a Top-10 UNC team since 2007. Luke Maye had 31 points and 12 rebounds for Carolina, while Theo Pinson had career highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds. UNC shot 53 percent but made just 4 of 19 3-pointers. It led by four with three minutes to go in regulation. North Carolina's four ACC losses match last year's total in winning the regular-season title. There's basically no shot of repeating that with Virginia at 9-0 in the ACC. Clemson was held to just 36 points in a blowout loss at Virginia last Tuesday but bounced back with a 72-70 win at Georgia Tech on Sunday, rallying from down 12. Gabe DeVoe scored a career-high 25 points, and Marcquise Reed hit a decisive layup with 25 seconds left. Reed had 13 points and a career-high 11 assists. It's the first time since 1986-87 that Clemson is 21 games into a season without losing consecutive games
North Carolina improved to 59-0 all-time at home - the longest home winning streak by any school over another - with an 87-79 victory over Clemson on Jan. 16. The Heels led by as many as 18 in the second half but nearly blew it all. The Tigers made 15 straight buckets at one point to make it interesting. Pitt transfer Cameron Johnson led UNC with 21 points (he hasn't topped 16 in any other game) on 7-for-10 shooting. The Heels shot 51 percent overall. Reed led Clemson with 21.
Key trends: The Heels are 0-3-1 ATS in their past four games. The Tigers are 7-1 ATS in their past eight at home. UNC is 8-1-1 in the previous 10 meetings.
The pick: North Carolina.
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