NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 3/13/2018
Enjoy college basketball's postseason tournaments this year because it might be the last time we see the sport as we know it in the wake of that wide-ranging FBI investigation into corruption in the sport. Some big-name coaches/programs are going to take major hits: Will this be Arizona's last season being relevant for a while, for example? Plus, there's talk that the NCAA might start allowing transfers to play immediately instead of sitting out a year, which could be huge. If coaches can come and go as they see fit, then why shouldn't players? If you or I are attending Duke as a student and decide we don't like it, we can leave and go somewhere else. Players should be allowed to do the same.
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No. 11 St. Bonaventure vs. No. 11 UCLA ( -3.5 )
This is the second First Four game of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton on Tuesday (9:10 p.m. ET, truTV - whatever channel that is), with 16 seeds LIU Brooklyn and Radford tipping things off. I don't pretend to know much about those two schools, although I'd lean Radford. The winner of this game faces East Region No. 6 Florida on Thursday night in Dallas. St. Bonaventure, UCLA, Arizona State and Syracuse were the last four teams in the Big Dance - the Sun Devils and Orange play in the First Four Wednesday. Somewhat curious that UCLA got in ahead of USC even though the Trojans finished second in the Pac-12 and reached the conference title game. The Bruins did sweep their crosstown rivals, though, so I'm sure that was the deciding factor. No question that the Bonnies deserved the at-large bid as they finished second in the Atlantic 10 before being upset by Davidson in the conference tournament semifinals. St. Bonaventure had quality wins over the likes of Rhode Island, Buffalo, Vermont and Syracuse.
What you will want to focus on here is the backcourt matchup of the Bonnies' excellent duo of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, who both play nearly 38 minutes a night and combine for more than 38 points a game, against UCLA junior Aaron Holiday, who leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 20.3 ppg. Where the Bruins should have the edge is in size, especially 7-footer Thomas Welsh, who puts up 13.0 points and 10.7 rebounds (second in Pac-12) per night. The Bonnies really don't have anyone to deal with him. BTW, both these schools were in the 1970 Final Four. UCLA won it all, while St. Bonaventure lost in the national semifinals to Jacksonville.
Key trends: The Bruins are 4-9 against the spread in their past 13 nonconference games. The Bonnies are 1-4 ATS in their past five neutral-site games.
The pick: UCLA.
No. 7 Northern Kentucky at No. 2 Louisville (-10.5)
NIT first-round game at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday with the winner facing either Middle Tennessee or Vermont - two regular-season champions of their conferences that were upset in postseason tournaments. I think Louisville got totally jobbed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, at least as it pertains to Syracuse getting in over the Cardinals. Louisville finished one game higher in the ACC standings at 9-9 and played a much better nonconference schedule - albeit losing most of the biggest games. If U of L hadn't blown a four-point lead with less than a second left to No. 1 Virginia and lost at home on March 1, it probably is in the Big Dance. Louisville fans might want to enjoy this postseason tournament because it could be the school's last for a very long time with all the violations that allegedly went on under Rick Pitino. Has interim coach David Padgett done enough to get the full-time job? I'd think so. Not sure any big-name coaches would want to go to that toxic situation.
Northern Kentucky is a good team and was the Horizon League regular-season champion but was upset by Cleveland State in the conference tournament quarterfinals - NKU had easily won the two regular-season meetings. This will be the Norse's second game this season on the road against a power conference school as it lost at No. 8 Texas A&M on Dec. 19 by just six points. Drew McDonald is the team's star with 17 double-doubles and averages of 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds. This is the first time Northern Kentucky and Louisville have met in men's basketball. You'd think they would have previously beating in-state foes.
Key trends: The Norse are 14-3 ATS in their past 17 nonconference games. The Cards are 2-6 ATS in their previous eight home games vs. teams with a winning road record.
The pick: Northern Kentucky.
No. 8 UNC Asheville at No. 1 USC (-18)
NIT first-round game at 11 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with the winner getting either Western Kentucky or Boston College. Trojans coach Andy Enfield was none-too-pleased that his team was left out of the NCAA Tournament - if Davidson doesn't steal a bid by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament, USC probably gets that last spot. When's the last time you heard of a team finishing second in a power conference not making it? The Trojans had an RPI of 34. Since the field was expanded to 68 teams in 2011, no power-conference team with an RPI higher than 49 had been left out. A home loss to Princeton probably was a killer "If all that matters is the quality of your best win or two on your schedule, then we shouldn't even play and just set the field in December after the out-of-conference was complete," Coach Andy Enfield said after learning his team's fate. "It basically discredited our entire league schedule, and no matter what we or some of the other teams in our league did during the Pac-12 or the conference tournament did not obviously matter."
UNC Ashville was the regular-season champion of the Big South but knocked off by fifth-place Liberty in the conference tournament. Radford ended up winning it. It's the first NIT appearance for UNC Asheville since 2008. It played two power conference teams during the season, losing 79-76 at Vanderbilt and 83-52 at Clemson. For what it's worth, USC also played at Vandy and won in overtime. UNC Asheville's Ahmad Thomas was chosen as the Big South Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. With 81 wins in their career, the UNC Asheville senior class of Alec Wnuk, Kevin Vannatta, Raekwon Miller and Thomas has the most victories over a four-year stretch in program history.
Key trends: The Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS in their past six after a loss. The Trojans are 5-2 ATS in their past seven non-conference games.
The pick: UNC Asheville.
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