NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 2/8/2018
The NCAA almost never reverses one of its decision on appeal, so Auburn fans can't possibly be surprised that the organization has denied the school's appeal of a ruling declaring center Austin Wiley ineligible for the rest of the season. The NCAA had announced on Jan. 11 that Wiley won't be eligible until 2018-19 because of some violations surrounding his recruitment. He was a five-star recruit who averaged 8.8 points per game as a freshman last season. Auburn has held Wiley and fellow sophomore/touted recruit Danjel Purifoy out all year in the wake of that FBI sting that shocked NCAA basketball earlier this year and included allegations against former Tigers associate head coach Chuck Person. Yet, Auburn is having its best season in many years.
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Georgia Tech at Louisville ( -9 )
ACC game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Part of me wanted Louisville to fail miserably this season in the wake of all that Rick Pitino mess, but then you realize that the current players did nothing wrong. It's not their fault their former coach was clearly breaking the rules with reckless abandon for much of his Hall of Fame career. So, it was a nice story that the Cardinals got off to a 15-4 start and 4-1 in the ACC under interim coach David Padgett (who deserves the full-time job). However, if you watched U of L in the nonconference slate, you should have recognized that record was misleading as Louisville basically lost to every good team it played (Purdue, Seton Hall and Kentucky - beating Indiana and Memphis is no big deal this season). The fade appears to be in full swing as the Cards have lost three straight and four of five. It was 78-73 at home to an average Syracuse team on Monday, which puts Louisville on the NCAA Tournament bubble. The team's defense has wilted as the past five opponents only turned the ball over on 16.9 percent of their possessions, a major drop from the first six ACC games.
Georgia Tech is one game under .500 overall and just lost guard Curtis Haywood for the remainder of the season with a stress reaction in his right shin. The freshman was playing nearly 25 minutes per night and averaging 5.3 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Now Coach Josh Pastner basically only has a six-man rotation. The Jackets lost for the fifth time in seven games Sunday, 80-72 in OT at Boston College. Tech is now 1-6 on the road, with that lone victory coming at a terrible Pittsburgh team. Louisville beat Georgia Tech by 15 last year in their lone meeting. It was the Cards' sixth straight win in the series.
Key trends: The Jackets are 2-5 against the spread in their past seven road games. The Cards are 7-3-1 ATS in their past 11.
The pick: Louisville (only as Tech is thin and not very good).
No. 9 Duke at No. 21 North Carolina (Pick'em)
ACC matchup at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. Did you really think I wouldn't look at a Duke-North Carolina game? I believe it's an FCC violation for this not to be shown on ESPN and hyped all week. Loses a bit of luster, I suppose, because UNC looks a bit down this season, and neither team has a shot at winning the ACC regular-season title, which is rare to say at this point in February (Virginia is running away with it). Duke still could get a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, however. I absolutely believe that the young Blue Devils players were looking ahead to this game on Saturday when Duke inexplicably lost out-of-conference at a bad St. John's team, 81-77. Coach Mike Krzyzewski called his team's effort "disgusting." SJU attempted 32 layups or dunks, leading to 40 points in the paint.
UNC is just 6-5 in the ACC but did end a three-game losing streak last time out, thumping sad Pittsburgh, 96-65 on Saturday. Luke Maye scored 26 points to help the Heels end their first three-game losing streak in four years. Not sure beating Pitt solved anything, however. The good news is that senior forward Theo Pinson played after leaving the previous game early with an injury. Pinson was held to two points vs. the Panthers but had 13 rebounds and eight assists. The Tar Heels lead the overall series with Duke 135-110. The team split last regular season but Duke defeated UNC 93-83 in the ACC Tournament, the Tar Heels' last loss before winning the NCAA title.
Key trends: The Blue Devils are 4-0 ATS in their past four after a loss. The Heels are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning road record. Duke is 4-1-1 ATS in the past six meetings.
The pick: Duke.
UCLA at No. 13 Arizona (-8)
Pac-12 game at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN. Huge game for bubble team UCLA. Right now, ESPN's bracketology has the Bruins as among the "first four out" of the NCAA Tournament. The Bruins have an RPI of 56 with three Top 50 wins: Kentucky, Washington and USC. UCLA also has just one true road victory, at Cal. The Bruins are trending the right way, though, with three straight wins. They ended rival USC's six-game winning streak on Saturday in an 82-79 decision. Senior 7-footer Thomas Welsh hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 51 seconds left. He also had two big late free throws and finished with 21 points on his 22nd birthday. Welsh is among the national leaders in rebounds and one of just 11 players to have recorded at least 13 double-doubles. Aaron Holiday led UCLA with 23 points and ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring (19.2 ppg).
Arizona is atop the Pac-12 by a game over USC. However, the Cats were one of a handful of marquee teams to lose Saturday against unranked opponents as they were upset at Washington, 78-75, on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Arizona freshman star Deandre Ayton had blocked a previous shot, but the ball went right to UW's Dominic Green. Ayton was a monster with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, but missed a free throw with 21 seconds left. Arizona and UCLA have split the past 12 meetings. UA won two of three last year but lost at home.
Key trends: The Bruins are 1-6 ATS in their past seven Thursday games. The Wildcats are 0-5-1 ATS in their past six at home. The road team is 7-2 ATS in the past nine meetings.
The pick: UCLA.
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