NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 2/21/2018
A hugely disappointing season at Minnesota - which saw the Gophers start the season 13-3 and ranked in the Top 25 - likely won't be getting any better with the few remaining games left as sophomore small forward Amir Coffey has decided to have season-ending surgery on his right shoulder. He had missed several games earlier with the problem. Coffey was averaging 14.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 31.6 minutes. His loss is on top of Reggie Lynch recently being expelled from the university following sexual assault allegations against him. Will Coach Richard Pitino survive all this? I'd fade his team the rest of the way, including Wednesday in the home finale vs. Iowa.
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No. 6 Texas Tech at Oklahoma State ( +5 )
Big 12 game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU. This had the potential to be the best season in Texas Tech history and maybe it still will be. However, the Red Raiders lost at Baylor on Saturday to see their seven-game winning streak end and fall into a temporary tie with Kansas (now a half-game ahead) atop the Big 12 - those two play Saturday in Lubbock. In addition, TTU star and leading scorer Keenan Evans left that Baylor game with a toe injury. It sounds like Coach Chris Beard has avoided disaster as Evans is being called day-to-day. Do you risk further injury by rushing him back here or wait until that KU game? Evans, a senior guard, is averaging 18.2 points, 3.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds. He was limited to 18 minutes vs. Baylor and wasn't effective in shooting 1-for-6 from the field and only four points. Even though TTU does come off a loss, it rose to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 on Monday. That's the highest AP ranking in school history.
Oklahoma State is ahead of only Iowa State in the Big 12 standings. The Cowboys haven't won back-to-back games since the end of non-conference play and are off a 90-70 loss at TCU on Saturday despite leading by 12 early. OSU made seven of its first 10 shots but went 15-for-50 thereafter. Kendall Smith scored 21 points to lead Okie State. It was his eighth straight game in double figures and he's averaging 17.5 ppg over that stretch. On Jan. 23, Oklahoma State lost 75-70 at Texas Tech. Evans scored 22 of his 26 points after halftime in leading his team back from a 15-point deficit. TTU shot 15-for-28 from the field in the second half, including 6-for-9 from deep.
Key trends: The Red Raiders are 1-4 against the spread in their past five after a loss. The Cowboys are 2-10 ATS in their past 12 at home. TTU is 1-6 ATS in its past seven in Stillwater.
The pick: Oklahoma State (whether Evans plays or not as this is a look-ahead game).
No. 17 Michigan at Penn State (-3.5)
Big Ten Network game at 7 p.m. ET. Huge one for the Nittany Lions as they currently sit among ESPN Bracketology's "next four out" for the NCAA Tournament. PSU hasn't been to the Big Dance since 2011 and only twice this century. It probably would have gotten off the bubble had it won at Purdue on Sunday, but the Boilers escaped with a 76-73 victory to end the Lions' four-game winning streak. Tony Carr missed a half-court 3-pointer at the buzzer. Before that, teammate Mike Watkins - a 61 percent free-throw shooter - had two attempts from the line with his team down two and 4.9 seconds to go. He missed the first and made the second, and then Purdue hit two freebies. Watkins, who averages 12.9 points per game, had just two points as he was in foul trouble. PSU closes the regular season Sunday at fellow bubble team Nebraska.
Michigan has no such Big Dance worries but is trying for a top-four finish in the conference - it is currently tied for fourth with the Cornhuskers. The Wolverines won their third straight game, all by double digits, on Sunday, 74-62 over then-No. 8 Ohio State in the home finale. Freshman Jordan Poole had 15 points off the bench. Senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 17 points in his final Ann Arbor game. He has played in 127 consecutive games at Michigan. This is the only scheduled meeting between UM and PSU. Last year they also met once and Michigan won 72-69 at home, rallying from 14 down in the second half.
Key trends: The Wolverines are 6-2 ATS in their past eight road games. The Lions are 7-1 ATS in their past eight overall. The home team is 5-2 ATS in the previous seven meetings.
The pick: Penn State.
Florida at No. 19 Tennessee (-5)
SEC game at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2. ESPN doesn't have the Gators on the bubble at 17-10 overall but CBS' Jerry Palm has them among his "Last Four In." I could easily see them missing out because the remaining schedule is about as the tough as the SEC has to offer: After this it's home to No. 12 Auburn, at Alabama and home to Kentucky. Florida isn't trending the right way, either, losing back-to-back games by 3 points each. It was 71-68 at a bad Vanderbilt team on Saturday after getting swept in the season series last week at home by a very mediocre Georgia team. Vanderbilt trailed 47-36 with 13:46 left on Saturday. UF had only three turnovers in the game but lost for a fifth time this season after building a double-digit lead and for the ninth time this season when leading in the second half.
Tennessee lost for the second time in three games Saturday, 73-62 at Georgia. There was some major home cooking in that one regarding the referees as the Dawgs had 38 free-throw attempts, making 27, and Tennessee had 15, making 10. Tennessee entered the game averaging 17 made free-throws per. Star forward Grant Williams had maybe his worst game of the season in shooting 1-for-8 with five points and five fouls. He was hugely outplayed by Georgia's best player and counterpart, Yante Maten. This is the only scheduled meeting between UT and UF. The Gators won the lone matchup last year at home, 83-70. Williams fouled out of that one.
Key trends: The Gators are 1-5-1 ATS in their past seven SEC games. The home team has covered four straight in this series.
The pick: Tennessee.
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