NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 3/2/2018
Very interesting news Wednesday night from South Bend as Notre Dame star forward Bonzie Colson returned on Senior Night in the Irish's easy win over Pittsburgh after missing 15 games due to a left foot fracture. The Irish are now 12-3 with Colson, the preseason ACC Player of the Year, in the lineup but are squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. How much might the NCAA Tournament selection committee take the Irish's record with and without Colson into its decision-making? Notre Dame, currently listed among the "Next Four Out" on ESPN, could now be very dangerous Saturday to close the regular season at No. 1 Virginia on Saturday as well as in next week's ACC Tournament.
Buffalo at Bowling Green ( +6.5 )
Mid-American Conference game on ESPNU at 6 p.m. ET. This is a mega-trap game for Buffalo in its regular-season finale as the Bulls have already won the MAC East Division and clinched the No. 1 overall seed in the conference tournament for the first time in school history. Because it is the conference's regular-season champion. UB is guaranteed a spot in the NIT if it doesn't make the NCAA Tournament. At 14-3 in the MAC, Buffalo also has set a program record for conference wins in a season. I'm not even sure why Coach Nate Oats would play his key guys much here other than to keep them a bit fresh. The Bulls open the MAC Tournament next Thursday with a quarterfinal matchup vs. the 8-9 winner at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Buffalo is a very good offensive team, having shot 50 percent or better in nine consecutive games, averaging 88.3 points during those. It's the longest streak since UB returned to Division I in 1991-92.
It's Senior Night at Bowling Green, which is 16-14 overall and 7-10 in the MAC East, good for fourth place. The Falcons lost their fourth straight game Tuesday, 75-59 at Ohio. Demajeo Wiggins posted his sixth consecutive double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds to lead Bowling Green, and Justin Turner finished with 14 points, but no other player had more than six. In order to get a home game in the first round of the MAC Tournament, the Falcons must win this game or have Western Michigan win at Central Michigan also on Friday. BGSU lost at Buffalo on Feb. 16, 95-82, to start this four-game skid. Bulls star CJ Massinburg had 24 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. After trailing by 15 at the break, Bowling Green got as close as four in the second half but then faded.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-7-2 against the spread in their past 10 games. The Falcons are 7-2 ATS in their past nine. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
The pick: Bowling Green.
Pennsylvania at Yale (-1)
Ivy League game at 7 p.m. ET with no national TV. Remember, the Ivy has a conference tournament now, but only the top four teams make it - the tournament takes place March 10-11 at The Palestra. At 11-1, Penn leads the Ivy by a game over Harvard; they split the regular-season meetings. Those two just played Saturday in Philadelphia and Penn won 74-71 to take sole possession of first place behind AJ Brodeur's 17 points and 12 rebounds. It was the sixth career double-double for the sophomore, and Penn is 6-0 in those games. Penn is now 3-0 this season in games decided by three points and 6-1 in games decided by five points or fewer. The Quakers should win the regular-season title with a victory here because they visit Brown on Saturday and the Bears are the second-worst team in the league after Dartmouth. Harvard is likely to go 2-0 as it hosts Cornell and Columbia.
Yale has clinched a spot in the Ivy League Tournament as it sits third in conference play at 7-5. In the preseason poll, Harvard was picked to win the Ivy but just barely over Yale, with Penn fourth. The Bulldogs have just one loss in their past six and swept trips to Cornell and Columbia last weekend. Yale was beaten at Penn on Feb. 3, 59-50. Just one Bulldog had more than eight points: Freshman Paul Atkinson had 20 to go with 13 rebounds. Caleb Wood had 14 off the bench to lead four Quakers in double figures. Penn has beaten Yale 106 times in 133 meetings.
Key trends: The Quakers are 4-1 ATS in their past five road games vs. teams with a winning home record. The Bulldogs are 3-8-1 ATS in their past 12 at home. The road team is 6-2 ATS in the previous eight meetings.
The pick: Penn.
Iowa State at Oklahoma (-10)
Big 12 game at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and surely the final home collegiate game for Sooners superstar freshman and Norman native Trae Young. It would be a gigantic upset if he doesn't declare for the draft. I think we all want to see Young play in the NCAA Tournament, but the Sooners might not get there if they don't win this game at 7-10 in the Big 12 and 17-12 overall. After ending a six-game losing streak on Saturday with a home win over K-State, OU was shellacked again away from home on Tuesday at Baylor, 87-64. That was over at the half with the Bears up 39-19. The Sooners were 5-for-25 in the first half and finished shooting 38 percent for the game. Young had 18 points but was just 7-for-20 shooting (2-for-11 from long range) and had eight turnovers.
Iowa State is easily the worst team in the Big 12 at 4-13 and 13-16 overall. The Cyclones will be opening the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday against the No. 7 seed, which actually could be a rematch of this game depending on what happens this weekend. ISU enters on a five-game skid. It lost 80-71 in its home finale on Tuesday vs. Oklahoma State. Senior Donovan Jackson was back in uniform after missing Iowa State's last game to attend the funeral of his father. Jackson had 17 points vs. the Cowboys. ISU's only win in its past eight was an 88-80 home upset of Oklahoma on Feb. 10. The best freshman on the floor that night was the Cyclones' Lindell Wigginton, who had 26 points, five rebounds and five assists. Young had 22 points and 11 assists but was 1-for-8 from deep and had six turnovers.
Key trends: The Cyclones are 2-10 ATS in their past 12 road games. The Sooners are 4-1 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a losing record.
The pick: Oklahoma.
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