NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 2/17/2018
NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Saturday
By Alan Matthews
Wednesday was a good news/bad news situation for Nevada. The Wolf Pack won in a slight upset at Boise State, 77-72, in the Mountain West Game of the Year. That gave Nevada a season sweep and means it should be the regular-season champion and top seed in the conference tournament. However, starting point Lindsey Drew, the son of former NBA head coach Larry Drew, ruptured his Achilles on a last-second half-court shot at halftime and is obviously done for the season. Drew was averaging 8.1 points, 4.3 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Think I’ll be taking Boise State or UNLV to win the conference tournament now. Nevada has a mega-trap game Saturday at Utah State.
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No. 10 Auburn at South Carolina (+6)
SEC Network game at 3:30 p.m. ET. Speaking of trap games, this looks for all the world like one for the SEC-leading Tigers. They are up two games on second-place Tennessee and won the biggest home game in years on Wednesday, 76-66 over Kentucky. True, UK isn’t what it usually is, but it’s still Kentucky (hilariously, Auburn fans were chanting “NIT, NIT, NIT” at the end toward the Wildcats players – they might be right.). Leading scorer Bryce Brown returned from a one-game shoulder injury absence and led with 18 points in the victory. Jared Harper, one of the SEC’s best point guards, also scored 18 and had seven assists. The game marked only the third time a ranked Auburn team faced an unranked Kentucky team, and the first since 1987. The Tigers won despite opening the game 1-for-16 from the field. As if beating Kentucky isn’t reason enough for a trap here, the Tigers have the Hardwood Iron Bowl up next against Alabama on Wednesday looking to avenge an earlier loss.
South Carolina had that surprise Final Four run last season but lost a lot off that team, led by star Sindarius Thornwell. He and a few other players will be at this game to receive their Final Four rings at halftime as that club is honored. There will be no such run this year as the Cocks are just 13-13 overall and tied for last in the SEC at 4-9. They enter on a six-game skid, three competitive and three blowouts, reaching 70 points just once. USC is one of the worst offensive teams in the conference. This is the only scheduled meeting between these schools. USC has beaten two ranked teams this season in Kentucky and Florida.
Key trends: The Tigers are 6-0 against the spread in their past six Saturday games. The Gamecocks are 1-5 ATS in their past six. The underdog has covered 14 of the past 19 in the series.
The pick: South Carolina.
No. 3 Villanova at No. 4 Xavier (+1)
Big East game at 4:30 p.m. ET on Fox. Villanova might get a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but it’s not winning the Big East regular-season title for a fifth straight season if it loses to the Musketeers. They have a two-game lead over the Wildcats and there are just four remaining in the regular season after this one. Villanova lost for the second time in three games Wednesday, perhaps caught looking ahead in a 76-71 defeat at a decent Providence team – which hugely helped the Friars’ NCAA at-large chances. The Wildcats entered the game averaging 11.5 made 3-pointers per game (No. 3 nationally) and shooting 40.8 percent from deep (No. 4 among major conference teams) but were just 3-for-20 from long range. This is also a really thin bunch after losing Phil Booth to a broken hand.
Xavier won its ninth straight game Wednesday, avoiding a trap vs. Seton Hall in a 102-90 home victory. Trevon Bluiett had 37 points (on just 12 shots), three shy of a career high and coming off a season-low six points last time out in a close win over Creighton. Xavier went 14 of 29 from beyond the arc while topping 100 points in a Big East game for the first time in school history. Xavier’s last loss was 89-65 at Villanova on Jan. 10. Booth was around then and had a career-high 21 points. Villanova hit 12 3-pointers that day while Xavier was just 3-for-17 from deep. The Musketeers’ starting five totaled just 24 points, led by Bluiett’s 11.
Key trends: The Wildcats are 10-3 ATS in their past 13 after a loss. The Musketeers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven Big East games. Nova is 9-1 ATS in the past 10 meetings.
The pick: Xavier.
No. 20 West Virginia at No. 13 Kansas (-4)
Big 12 game at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN. If West Virginia loses this one, it can forget about winning the Big 12 regular-season title because it’s already two games behind first-place Texas Tech, which holds one victory over WVU. Kansas, which also lost its first meeting with TTU, is a game back of the Red Raiders as KU looks to win an unprecedented 14th straight regular-season conference title. West Virginia had a stretch where it lost five of six but seems to have turned things around by winning three of four. This is a really different team at home because that pressure defense feeds off the energy of the home crowd. It’s simply not as effective on the road. WVU comes off an 82-66 win over visiting TCU on Monday. Teddy Allen had 16 points off the bench after not scoring the previous two games. West Virginia's 38 bench points were its most in a Big 12 game this season.
Normally, this would be a no-brainer pick because KU never used to lose at home but has done so three times already. It is off an 83-77 win at Iowa State on Tuesday. The nation’s leader in field-goal percentage, Udoka Azubuike, scored 19 points on 9-for-10 shooting. The Nigerian 7-foot sophomore is shooting an absurd 76.5 percent on the season. Yes, most are within two feet of the rim, but still. Kansas swept ISU for the first time since 2014 and reached 20 wins for the 29th consecutive season, adding to the longest-active NCAA record streak. On Jan. 15, KU was ranked No. 10 when it won at No. 6 West Virginia. The Jayhawks trailed by as many as 16. Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte Graham combined for 26 points in the second half, including 20 of the Jayhawks' final 26 points. That ended KU’s four-game skid in Morgantown.
Key trends: WVU is 6-13 ATS in its past 19 Saturday games. KU has covered just one of its past seven at home. The home team is 9-3 ATS in the past 12 meetings.
The pick: Kansas.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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