NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 2/5/2018
How wild was Saturday around college basketball? There were upsets from coast to coast with Duke being shocked in New York by a bad St. John's team that is winless in the Big East and Arizona falling on a buzzer-beater in Seattle to Washington. Kentucky and Kansas also lost to unranked teams. The Jayhawks had dropped just three games at their home Allen Fieldhouse in the previous five seasons combined but have dropped three there this season. Their streak of 13 straight regular-season conference titles is far from a sure thing to continue.
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Tennessee at Kentucky ( -1 )
SEC game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Vols are second in the SEC, two games behind surprising Auburn. UT won its fifth straight game Saturday, crushing visiting Ole Miss 94-61. Grant Williams and Lamonte' Turner scored 17 points each to lead five Tennessee players in double figures. UT shot 71.4 percent in the second half on the way to 59 points. The media projected Coach Rick Barnes' squad to finish 13th in the 14-team SEC. Kentucky had a three-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 69-60 loss at Missouri, the Tigers' first-ever win in the series. They had been 0-10. Only one UK player scored in double figures: freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 15 points but made only 5 of 16 shots. Kentucky's streak of making a 3-pointer in 1,034 straight games, the nation's best, was in jeopardy as it didn't have won with three minutes to go but would finish 2-for-20 from long range.
These two met on Jan. 6 in Knoxville and the Vols won 76-65, which was crucial because a loss would have dropped UT to 0-3 in the SEC - it really changed the season for Barnes' squad. Admiral Schofield had 20 points and nine rebounds as the Vols rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit. It was the third consecutive season that Tennessee has beaten Kentucky in Knoxville. The Cats lost both PJ Washington (to injury) and Wenyen Gabriel (to fouls) with about 12 minutes left in the game.
Key trends: The Vols are 8-1 against the spread in their past nine on the road. The Cats are 3-10 ATS in their past 13 on Tuesday. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
The pick: Kentucky.
Alabama at Mississippi State (-3)
Another 7 p.m. ET tipoff on the SEC Network and two NCAA Tournament bubble teams, with ESPN having the Tide in right now but not the Bulldogs. Alabama has one of the nation's top freshmen in guard Collin Sexton, who is a sure thing to go in the 2018 draft lottery presuming he declares. He helped Alabama improve its resume with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists Saturday in a 68-50 upset win at ranked Florida. Donta Hall was 7-for-7 from the field for 14 points and 11 rebounds, his fourth double-double of the season. The Tide outrebounded UF 43-25, outscored the Gators 46-26 in the paint and 29-1 in bench points. It was Alabama's fourth consecutive victory over an AP Top 25 opponent this season and marked the school's first back-to-back wins at Florida for the Tide since the 1990 and 1991 seasons. Mississippi State is trending the right way as it won a third straight Saturday, 72-57 over visiting Georgia, to improve to 15-1 at Humphrey Coliseum this season. Lamar Peters led MSU with 20 points and had four steals.
On Jan. 20, Alabama beat Mississippi State, 68-62, despite blowing 19-point halftime lead. Sexton missed that one with an abdominal injury. Braxton Key led the Tide with 16 points, adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals. With Bama up two, Dazon Ingram made two free throws with 21 seconds left. Peters led Mississippi State, which shot just 37.5 percent, with 17 points.
Key trends: The Tide are 10-3 ATS in their past 13 conference games. The Bulldogs are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 after a win. Alabama has covered four straight at MSU.
The pick: Mississippi State.
Boise State at New Mexico (+2)
Mountain West game at 10 p.m. ET on ESPNU. Boise State is one of the better mid-major programs out there and is battling Nevada for the Mountain West regular-season title. The Wolf Pack won the first meeting at home and the two play in Boise on Valentine's Day. Boise State hasn't made the Big Dance since 2015 and has never won a game in it in seven tries. The Broncos won a third in a row Saturday, 93-91 in overtime against visiting UNLV to sweep the season series. Boise State went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line in overtime to improve to 13-0 at home this season, which matches the longest single-season home winning streak in program history.
New Mexico was a MCW powerhouse at the start of this decade in making four NCAA Tournaments in five years but hasn't been back since 2014. Craig Neal was fired after last season and replaced with New Mexico State's Paul Weir. Pretty unusual that a coach would jump from one rival to the other. Can you imagine a Michigan coach going to Michigan State or something similar? Alas, Weir's first season isn't going great with his team just .500 overall following a 71-68 win at Mountain West doormat San Jose State (one of the truly wretched teams in the nation) on Saturday. Senior Joe Furstinger did a little of everything with 12 points, seven rebounds, a career-high tying four blocks, an assist and a steal. The Lobos won despite being outrebounded a ridiculous 43-19. On Jan. 3, Boise State beat New Mexico, 90-62. It was over at the half with the score 45-22. Justinian Jessup scored 23 points and led five players in double-figure scoring. Boise State shot 59 percent to UNM's 35 and outrebounded the Lobos 45-25.
Key trends: The Broncos are 0-5-1 ATS in their past six after a win. The Lobos are 5-0 ATS in their past five at home. Boise is 1-3-1 ATS in the previous five meetings.
The pick: Boise State.
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