NCAA Basketball Expert Betting Advice: Three Interesting Opening Lines 3/8/2018
Thursday could be the last game as UConn coach for former Huskies star player Kevin Ollie as his team faces SMU in the AAC Tournament. Ollie's star was incredibly bright after leading Connecticut to the 2014 national title, but things have pretty much gone downhill since and there are alleged recruiting allegations surrounding the school. Barring a miracle run, UConn (14-17) will finish back-to-back seasons with losing records for the first time since 1985-86 & '86-87. That latter season was Jim Calhoun's first in Storrs as he worked to rebuild the program. School officials already have announced they will evaluate Ollie whenever the season ends. Doesn't sound promising. I would think it's still a very good job, although tough to be overshadowed by the women's program.
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TCU vs. Kansas State ( +3 )
Big 12 Tournament game from Kansas City at 12:30 p.m. ET with no national TV - the winner probably faces Kansas in the semifinals. KSU is the No. 4 seed and TCU the No. 5, but it appears the Wildcats are the bubble team. The Frogs are safely in the Big Dance for the first time since 1998, but K-State is among ESPN Bracketology's "Last Four Byes." I've heard some talk that KSU coach Bruce Weber could be in some trouble if the Cats don't make it for the third time in four seasons. They have an RPI of 62 with four wins over Top 50 schools (all in conference) and no horrible losses. Kansas State ended the regular season losing two of its final three. TCU is currently projected as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN. Dixon has this program pointed way up with some good talent headed to Fort Worth next season. The Frogs had a four-game winning streak snapped to close the regular season, falling Saturday at Texas Tech, 79-75.
These schools split their two meetings, each winning at home. K-State won 73-68 on Jan. 20 behind 20 points from Dean Wade and 52.9 percent shooting overall. On Feb. 27, TCU won 66-59 behind 16 points and 11 rebounds from Kenrich Williams in his final home game. That gave the Frogs their first four-game league winning streak since 1997-98, when they went 14-0 in the Western Athletic Conference under Billy Tubbs. Then Texas Tech ended that run Saturday.
Key trends: The Frogs are 6-0-1 against the spread in their past seven after a loss. The Cats are 0-4 ATS in their past four neutral-site games.
The pick: K-State (simply because of location).
Alabama vs. Texas A&M (-1.5)
SEC Tournament game at 1 p.m. ET from St. Louis (weird place for that tourney but good for Missouri, I guess) on the SEC Network. The Aggies are the No. 8 seed and the Tide the No. 9, with the winner getting regular-season champion Auburn (tied with Tennessee but won head-to-head tiebreaker) in the quarterfinals. I completely believe either of these teams can beat Auburn, which was slumping to close the season. In fact, I could see about eight schools winning the wide-open SEC Tournament. There will not be a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance at stake in this event. I generally don't question ESPN's Joe Lunardi because he's usually right with is projections, but I don't see how Alabama belongs among the "Last Four In" on a five-game losing streak and at 17-14 overall and 8-10 in the SEC. A&M is comfortably in the NCAA Tournament.
Could be the last time for Tide fans to see one of the top recruits in school history, freshman point guard Collin Sexton. He's a lock to declare for the draft after leading the team in scoring at 18.3 ppg. Either he or Oklahoma's Trae Young should be the first point guard taken in the 2018 draft. I suppose if Bama loses here, it could be headed to the NIT or one of those other silly tournaments. It's an immediate rematch between these schools as A&M beat visiting Alabama on Saturday, 68-66. Both teams shot under 21 percent from deep. The Tide opened SEC play on Dec. 30 with a rout of A&M when the Aggies were ranked No. 5 in the nation.
Key trends: The Tide are 1-4 ATS in their past five. The Aggies are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record. Alabama has covered six straight in the series.
The pick: A&M.
Providence vs. Creighton (-4)
Big East Tournament game from Madison Square Garden at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The Bluejays are the fourth seed and the Friars the No. 5, with the winner most likely facing regular-season champion Xavier. Creighton has nothing to worry about regarding the NCAA Tournament as the Bluejays try to win the Big East Tournament for the first time; they were a finalist last year, losing to Villanova. Creighton is currently projected as a No. 8 seed in the Big Dance after losing its regular-season finale at Marquette. This one matters much more to Providence, which is listed among ESPN's "Last Four Byes." With an RPI of 41, the Friars are in decent shape and they do have a win each against Xavier and Villanova - but also horrific losses to Minnesota, UMass and DePaul. In the Friars' 38-year history at the Big East Tournament, they have won it just twice: 1994 & 2014.
PC is 8-4 against Creighton since the Bluejays joined the Big East. This year, Creighton won the first in Omaha, 83-64 behind 18 points from All-Big East guard Marcus Foster. The Jays never trailed and went on a 13-4 run spanning the halves to take control. In Providence, the Friars won 85-71 behind 20 points and seven assists from their star Kyron Cartwright. The Friars jumped to an 18-7 start and never trailed. Foster had 22 for Creighton.
Key trends: The Friars are 1-4 ATS in their past five after a win. The Bluejays are 2-7 ATS in their past nine. PC is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 meetings.
The pick: Providence.
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