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|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|01-15-18||Kansas +5 v. West Virginia||Top||71-66||Win||100||23 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up:The Jayhawks and Mountaineers are both 4-1 in Big 12 play, leaving them as half of the four teams atop the conference standings (Texas Tech and Oklahoma are the other two). Kansas is 14-3 overall and currently ranked No. 12 in the AP poll, while West Virginia is 15-2 and currently ranked second. However, Texas Tech ended West Va's 15-game winning streak with a 72-71 home win over the Mountaineers, so West Va. will not be No. 2 when the AP's new poll is announced on Monday afternoon. Kansas has taken a slightly different route to its share of the Big 12 lead, losing its second conference contest (85-73 to Texas Tech) but then reeling off three straight wins, with the latest being Saturday’s 73-72 victory over visiting Kansas State.
Kansas: The Jayhawks may have won three straight league games but each have been hard-fought, nip-and-tuck affairs, with the three wins coming by a combined total of just 10 points. Senior guard Devonte’ Graham scored a game-high 23 points vs. the Wildcats (his ninth straight in double figures) and continues to pace the team at 18.4 PPG and by handing out 7.4 APG. Three other guards also average in double figures, Saviatoslav Mykhailiuk (16.5), Lagerald Vick (14.9 & 6.0) and Malik Newman (10.7 & 4.5). Center Udoka Azubuike averages 14.8 PPG and a team-high 7.7 rebounds. However, no other Jayhawk averages as much as four points per game. Kansas leads the Big 12 in field-goal (51.0) and three-point (41.5) percentage. Those figures rank 9th and 8th in the nation, respectively. Kansas also ranks 17th nationally by averaging 85.8 PPG.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers saw an 11-point lead slip away in the final 13 minutes of Saturday’s 72-71 road loss to Texas Tech. Guard Javon Carter scored a game-high 28 points and junior forward Esa Ahmad, playing his first game of the season since returning from an academic suspension, added 18 points and six rebounds off the bench. However, it wasn’t enough to keep Bob Huggins’ team alone atop the conference standings. “We just had guys (who) were really out of character,” Huggins said in his post-game news conference. “We’ve got our center shooting whatever that was, a three-pointer from the top of the key. We just did a lot of things out of character from what we normally do.” What is in character for West Va, is a excellent offense (82.1 PPG ranks 39th) and a formidable defense (65.4 PPG allowed ranks 34th). Carter’s 28 points Saturday were just one off his career high. He is averaging 16.8 points and a team-high 6.5 assists and is joined in double figures by guard Daxter Miles Jr. (13.2) and forward Lamont West (12.2 & 5.5). The 6-8 Konate averages 8.9 PPG and a team-high 7.6 RPG and of course, the 6-8 Ahmad is now the 'wild card,' after his 18-point season debut.
The pick: Kansas has won seven of the 11 meetings since West Virginia joined the Big 12 in 2012 but the Mountaineers are 4-1 in Morgantown, including an 85-69 win last season. Will Kansas suffer a fifth straight loss in Morgantown, something the program hasn't experienced since losing at Oklahoma from 1987 to 1991? My bet say N-O! Make Kansas a 10* play.
|01-15-18||Youngstown State +13 v. Wright State||Top||67-77||Win||100||18 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: It's a late-afternoon Monday game in the Horizon League, as the Youngstown State Penguins visit the Wright State Raiders at Nutter Center in Dayton. The Penguins have lost their last two games versus Oakland and Detroit Mercy, to fall to 5-13 overall, ruining a 3-0 start in Horizon play. Meanwhile, the 13-5 Raiders welcome the Penguins to Nutter Center with a perfect 5-0 start in Horizon play. Youngstown State is off a 13-21 season (5-13 in Horizon) and Wright State off a 20-12 season (11-7 in Horizon) but did not play in a postseason tourney.
Youngstown State: Veteran guards Morse (15.2 & 4.6) and Hartfield (14.2) are the team's lone double digit scorers and 6-6 freshman forward Bohannon (6.2 & 7.2) is the team's top rebounder. However, scoring hasn't been Youngstown State's Achilles Heel, but rather it's been the team's inability to stop opponents from scoring that has hurt them. The Penguins are allowing 83.5 PPG, ranking 339th in the nation.
Wright State: Senior guards Benzinger (15.6 & 4.6) and Mitchell (11.1 & 7.1) are tge etam's top-two scorers but two freshman have made huge impacts. There is the 6-9 love (10.8 & 9.1) plus guard Hall (8.3). Unlike Youngstown State, Wright State plays very solid defense, allowing 66.5 PPG (54th).
The pick: Youngstown State may have lost its last two Hotizon games (after opening 3-0) but the Penguins covered them both and head to Wright State a perfect 5-0 ATS in Horizon play this season. Wright State is the better team and the more disciplined one under second-year head coach Scott Nagy, who won big at South Dakota State in this previous stop, but I won't ignore the Penguins' 5-0 ATS record in league play. Also, Mitchell will miss due to personal reasons and his 11.7 PPG and 7.1 RPG will be missed. Make Youngstown State an 8* play.
|01-14-18||NC State +15 v. Virginia||Top||51-68||Loss||-110||19 h 28 m||Show|
The set-up: The Virginia Cavaliers were unranked and projected by most to be a middle-of-the pack squad in the ACC by pundits in the preseason, while under first-year coach Kevin Keatts, the N.C. State Wolfpack were picked to finish among the bottom teams of this brutally tough conference. However, Virginia welcomes NC State to Charlottesville for this Sunday matchup at 15-1 (lone loss 68-61 at WVa) and ranked No.3 in the latest AP poll. That's no small feat, as the Cavaliers are the fifth team in ACC history to move from unranked in preseason to inside the top-three, joining Miami (2012-13), Georgia Tech (2003-04), Wake Forest (1980-81) and North Carolina (1972-73). The Wolfpack were just 10-5 on the season (including 0-2 with two blowout losses to open ACC play), before upsetting Duke (then-No. 2) last Saturday and just this past Thursday, knocking off No. 19 Clemson. It marked the school's heir first consecutive wins against ranked teams since 2007.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack committed just four turnovers against Clemson (their fewest in nearly six years), while converting 17 Clemson miscues into 23 points. Grad transfer Allerik Freeman, averaging a team-high 15.2 PPG (along with 4.7 rebounds, & 3.0 assists) added 14 points and also tied his career high in assists for the second straight game with five. The Wolfpack boast five double-digit scorers, which is to be expected in first-year coach Keatts’ up-tempo style. Right behind Freeman are Torin Dorn (13.1 & 7.2), the 7-0 Omer Yurtseven (12.7 & 6.8), the 6-8 Lennard Freeman (11.3 & 5.4). and freshman guard Braxton Beverly (10.2 & 4.5 APG). The Wolfpack are averaging 83.1 PPG, which ranks 31st in the nation.
Virginia: Sophomore guard Kyle Guy (15.4) led the Cavaliers with 22 points in the team's last outing, becoming the first player in coach Tony Bennett’s tenure at the school (since 2009-10) to play 40 minutes. Senior guard Devon Hall (11.9-4.2-3.4) added 13 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Those two are the only players averaging in double figures for UVa but a third guard, Ty Jerome, just misses at 9.8 PPG. All three are deadly three-point shooters, with Hall connecting on 44.6%, Guy 44.2% and Jerome at 43.7%. The Cavs don't score like NC State (70.7 PPG ranks 271st) but few teams play better defense. Virginia ranks first in points allowed (53.0 per) and second in FG percentage (36.1%).
The pick: The Cavaliers are 44-4 SU at home in ACC games over the past six seasons and Virginia is 10-0 against N.C. State in its last 10 regular-season matchups. In fact, the Wolfpack haven't beaten the Cavaliers in their last seven tries at John Paul Jones Arena and Virginia has held the Wolfpack to 55 points or fewer in their last five meetings. All signs point to another Virginia triumph over N.C. State in this one but the Wolfpack have proven to be giant killers this season. A win over Virginia would give N.C. State its third consecutive victory over a top-25 opponent and fourth this season (beat then-No. 2 Arizona back on Nov. 22). PG Markell Johnson (8.7 PPG & 6.6 APG) is expected to return to the floor for NC State against Virginia on Sunday, after missing the last seven contests due to a suspension stemming from a legal issue. He should provide a big boost and first-year coach Kevin Keatts will remember that Virginia defeated his former team, UNC Wilmington, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. Take the points and make NC State a 10* play.
|01-13-18||Michigan +9.5 v. Michigan State||Top||82-72||Win||100||12 h 8 m||Show|
The set-up: The Michigan State Spartans lost their No. 1 ranking last Sunday by getting blown out 80-64 by at unranked Ohio State (the defeat ended a 14-game winning streak) and then barely survived at home against unheralded Rutgers on Wednesday, before pulling out a 76-72 overtime victory. Now ranked No. 4, Michigan State (16-2 , 4-1 in Big Ten play) will host in-state rival Michigan on Saturday in conference action at the Breslin Center. The 14-4 Wolverines (3-2 in Big Ten play) also played this past Wednesday when they saw their seven-game winning streak snapped as they lost 70-69 at home to No.5 Purdue. Michigan leads the all-time series between the rivals 98-81, although Michigan State has won 25 of the last 35 meetings. This marks the rivals' only regular-season matchup this season.
Michigan: "We thought we had them," said guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman. "We just didn't make some plays down the stretch." The Wolverines now face their second top-5 opponent in a row, this time on the road..John Beilein has a perimeter-based team, as the 6-11 Wagner (13.9 & 7.1) is the lone frontcourt player averaging more than 5.0 points. Guard Charles Matthews (15.6 & 5.1) leads Michigan in scoring (followed by Wagner) and is joined on the perimeter by Abdur-Rahkman (10.8-4.4-3.30, Robinson (9.9), Poole (5.9) and Simpson (5.7 & 3.4 APG). Beilein teams always play excellent defense and Michigan is allowing 62.1 pPG (12th), while asos ranking 17th in turnover margin at plus-4.2. Abdur-Rahkman ranks second nationally with an assist-to-turnover ratio of six-to-one.
Michigan State: Despite its recent "mini-slump," many feel that this could be Izzo's most talented team. All five starters average in double digits, led by 6-7 swingman Bridges (16.5 & 7.5). The 6-8 Ward (14.8 & 7.1) and 6-11 freshman Jackson (11.1 & 6.4) start up front, joined by the backcourt duo of Winston (12.8 & 7.1 APG) and Langford (13.8). MSU knows a lot about playing good defense too, holding opponents to 63.0 PPG (19th). However, this team scores better than almost all Izzo teams of the past, averaging 85.9 PPG (10th) on 52.0% shooting (2nd).
The pick: Bridges is the only player in the country averaging at least 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, three assists and one block per game, but the Spartans' two losses, as well as in Wednesday's close call against Rutgers, Bridges' unselfishness became a liability. Izzo wants Bridges to stop deferring so much to his teammates. Bridges went scoreless in the first half against the Scarlet Knights and finished with just 11 points. He has scored fewer than 20 points the last six games. The Wolverines are coming off that agonizing 70-69 home loss to No. 5 Purdue on Tuesday., when the 6-11 Moritz Wagner was called for a foul with four seconds left and Boilermakers center Isaac Haas sank one of two free throws to give his team the lead. Charles Matthews' desperation half-court heave at the buzzer bounced off the rim. Michigan is getting significant points in this one and in its only game against Michigan State last season, the Wolverines snapped a five-game losing streak in the series with an 86-57 victory at Crisler Center. Michigan will be seeking its first win at the Breslin Center since 2014 and while the Wolverines may not accomplish that feat, I'm taking the points. Make Michigan a 10* play.
|01-12-18||Idaho +2 v. Eastern Washington||Top||58-51||Win||100||16 h 34 m||Show|
The set-up: It's Big Sky college hoops Friday night from Cheney, Washington as the 10-6 Idaho Vandals visit the 8-9 Eastern Washington Eagles. The Vandals are trying to gather up some consistency after alternating wins and losses in each of their last six games and come off a 73-72 home loss to Portland State in their last outing. Meanwhile, the Eagles will look to stay hot, having won three in a row and five of six after an 82-67 home victory over Sacramento State in their last outing to climb within a game of .500 on the season.
Idaho: The Vandals are coming off a 19-win season plus returned all five starters. Guard Victor Sanders led the team with 28 points on 10 of 18 shooting in the one-point loss to Portland State and checks in averaging a team-high 19.6 PPG. He's joined in the backcourt by PG Callandret (9.9 & 3.3 APG) plus the Vandals feature a nice tandem of forwards in the 6-7 Blake (13.9 & 9.6) and the 6-8 Sherwood (10.2 & 5.2). Idaho averages 72.8 points PPG but relies more on a defense holding opponents to 65.2 PPG (34th) on 39.4% shooting (26th).
Eastern Washington. The Eagles won 22 games last season but despite some recent good fortune, remain a game below .500. Eastern Washington's Cody Benzel led the team with 25 points in the win over Sacramento State, while Benas Griciunas chipped in 16, Jack Perry added 14 points and six assists, Mason Peatling added 12 points in 13 minutes, plus Sir Washington added 10 points. However, none of those players average in double digits on the season. 6-6 guard Bogdan Bliznyuk scored just two points the last time out but averages 18.5 PPG and is the lone player scoring in double digits on the season. He also leads the team in assists (3.6) and is the second-best rebounder (6.3) behind only the 6-7 Hunt (9.1 & 6.6). Eastern Washington averages 75.8 PPG but allows 73.9 PPG (220th) on 44.1% shooting (205th).
The pick: Eastern Washington is the hotter team right now (see above) and checks in at 5-0 SU at home. However, Idaho is a veteran team (all five starers are back) and is significantly more balanced that the Eagles, who are more of a "one-man team" in Bliznyuk. Idaho is also the better defensive team and that's why I'm making them a 10* play.
|01-11-18||Clemson -4 v. NC State||Top||77-78||Loss||-105||13 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: The Clemson Tigers entered the current season off 16, 17 and 17-win seasons and little was expected of them. However, Clemson has opened 14-1 (3-0 in ACC play) and comes into this contest on a 10-game winning streak. Clemson has won three straight against the Wolfpack, including a 78-62 home win on Dec. 30 to open conference play. The Wolfpack hardly looked ready for prime time in losing their first two ACC games, averaging just 60.0 PPG in losing to Clemson and Notre Dame, while allowing 83.0 PPG. However, N.C. State rebounded for a 96-85 home win over the then-No. 2 Duke Blue Devils last Saturday. The Wolfpack welcome Clemson to PNC Arena standing at 11-5, including 1-2 in ACC play.
Clemson: Head coach Brad Brownell’s teams typically are known for their stingy defense and that's true again this season, as the Tigers are allowing 63.5 PPG (22nd) on 40.2 shooting (45th). However, all five of the Tigers’ starters average double-digits in scoring. Guard Marcquise Reed (15.9 & 4.6) and 6-8 forward Grantham (14.6 & 7.3) lead a balanced attack that averages 77.9 PPG on 48.2% shooting (47th). PG Mitchell (12.4 & 4.2 APG), fellow guard DeVoe (11.6 & 4.5) and the 6-9 Thomas (11.6 & 8.3) round out the group.
N.C. State:The Wolfpack also boast five double-digit scorers, which is to be expected in first-year coach Kevin Keatts’ up-tempo style. Guards Allerik Freeman (15.3 & 4.8 ) and Torin Dorn (13.4 & 7.3) lead the way but but freshman guard Braxton Beverly (10.4) has increased his output to 12.3 PPG during ACC play. The frontcourt consists of the Lennard 6-8 Freeman 11.7 & 5.3) and the 7-0 Omer Yurtseven (11.7 & 6.9). The Wolfpack average 83.4 PPG (34th) but allow 72.6 PPG (190th) on 43.9% shooting (200th).
The pick: The victory over Duke was the second major upset of the season for N.C. State, which also beat then-No. 2 Arizona back on Nov. 22. However, the inconsistent Wolfpack also had a head-scratching 81-76 home loss to UNC Greensboro on Dec. 16. Fresh off another major upset, North Carolina State looks to take down a second consecutive ranked opponent when it hosts No. 19 Clemson. The Tigers are riding a 10-game winning streak and have won their first three ACC games for the first time since 2006-07, and only the sixth time in history. Clemson Big man Elijah Thomas posted a double-double (10 & 10) and recorded a career-high six blocks in the first meeting, while Donte Grantham was one rebound shy of a double-double ( 13 & 9), as the Tigers dominated inside. Only two opponents have exceeded 70 points against Clemson and the Tigers have the ACC's second-best defensive rebounding percentage at 75.4 percent of opponents' misses. Can N.C. State handle Clemson's frontcourt any better this time around? Probably not plus the recent suspension of soph gaurd Markell Johnson (8.7 PPG and a team-high 6.6 APG) sure doesn't help. Make Clemson a 10* play.
|01-10-18||Northern Iowa +1.5 v. Indiana State||Top||67-69||Loss||-101||19 h 10 m||Show|
The set-up: The 8-8 Northern Iowa Panthers will travel to the Hulman Center in Terre Haute to take on the 7-9 Indiana State Sycamores this Wednesday night in MVC action. For UNI, back-to-back second round NCAA appearances (in 2015 and 2016) seem 'light years' away right now, after the Panthers went 14-16 last season and have opened the current season 8-8. As for Indiana State, the Sycamores came into the current season off 15, 15 and 11-win win seasons, so this yerars 7-9 start (2-2 in MVC play), is "business as usual."
Northern Iowa: Making the Panthers' 8-8 record much worse than .500 is the fact that they have lost six in a row, including opening MVC play at 0-4. Northern Iowa held a 48-45 lead late in the 2nd half in its most recent game against Loyola-Chicago but struggled offensively down the stretch and allowed the Ramblers to come away with a 56-50 victory last Saturday, after the Panthers scored just two points over the final 4:30 of regulation. Leading the way for the Panthers was 6-10 senior Bennett Koch who had 17 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Koch (13.9 & 6.8) is the lone UNI player averaging in double digits and the team averages only 64.6 PPG (336th) on 41.8% shooting (301st).
Indiana State: The Sycamores lost 75-72 this past Saturday against Drake. Indiana State struggled offensively in the first half and although the Sycamores fought back, they couldn’t overcome the 39-29 lead Drake entered halftime with. Indiana State allowed Drake to shoot 53.1% from the floor, which is unacceptable. Leading the way for the Sycamores was guard Brenton Scott who had 25 points and seven steals. This is a guard-oriented team, with the team's top-four scorers all playing on the perimeter. PG Barnes leads in scoring (16.5) and assists (4.3), followed by Scott (14.8 & 5.2), Davis (10.4 & 5.2) and Key (8.2). Murphy is an undersized 6-7 center (7.9 & 4.2) and the best frontcourt contributor. Indiana State averages 74.1 PPG but also allows 73.5 points.
The pick: Not used to seeing Northern Iowa on a six-game slide and note that despite its woes, the Panthers are an excellent defensive team, holding opponents to 60.8 PPG (7th) on 38.2% shooting (13th). Take Northern Iowa and the points as a 10* play.
|01-09-18||Tennessee -2 v. Vanderbilt||Top||92-84||Win||100||12 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: The Tennessee Vols are 10-4 on the season. They dropped their first two SEC games but a 76-65 home win over Kentucky kept them in the AP's latest poll at No. 24. The Vols travel to Nashville on Tuesday to face the 6-9 Vanderbilt Commodores, who have also dropped two of their first three league contests, after falling 71-60 Saturday at South Carolina. Vanderbilt knocked off Alabama with strong three-point shooting last Tuesday,but finished just 8-for-29 from three-point range and were hindered by turnovers and charging fouls in the defeat to the Gamecocks. “If we erase four of those charges and kick it out for 3’s, it could have been a much different ending to the game, a lot tighter,” Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew told the media afterward.
Tennessee: Rick Barnes had publicly challenged his team last week regarding its lack of "toughness" but the Vols rallied from eight points down at halftime to beat Kentucky by double digits. “We showed toughness,” 6-5 Tennessee forward Admiral Schofield (12.9 & 5.6) told reporters after scoring 20 points with nine rebounds against Kentucky. “It’s time to get that back. I think we are the hardest-playing team in the country, and we’ve just got to go out and show it.” 6-7 forward Grant Williams (15.8 & 6.8) provided a huge boost against the Wildcats, scoring 16 of his 18 points after halftime and finishing with eight rebounds. Guards Bowden (10.5), Turner (9.9), Bone (9.0 & 3.4 APG) and Daniel (6.9 & 3.7 APG) plus the 6-11 Alexander (5.6), join top scorers Williams and Schofield in getting 20 minutes-plus per game. Tennessee leads the SEC and ranks 18th nationally in assists per game (17.9), finishing Saturday with 23 assists on 25 made field goals.
Vanderbilt; The 6-6 Roberson (14.5 & 8.1) is the 'Dores best player, supported by a trio of guards including the 6-5 Fisher-Davis (12.3 & 5.3), LaChance (10.9) and freshman Lee (10.5), who scored a team-high 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the floor against South Carolina and is averaging 17.7 points through three SEC games. However, the Commodores are last in the SEC in shooting from the floor (40.9 percent) and scoring (71.0 points per game).
The pick: These in-state rivals meet Tuesday night in Memorial Gymnasium. Tennessee leads the series 118-75 and the Vols have had their share of success in Memorial\ Gym. Starting with Vandy's 72-69 win in 2007-08 over then then-top-ranked Tennessee, the teams have alternated wins each season at Vanderbilt, including Tennessee's 87-75 upset last year. The Vols' strength is in their balance. Seven players average 20 minutes or more, and five average nine points or more (see above). Why not take teh road team here? Vanderbilt is 3-13 ATS in their last 16 games overall and 0-7 ATS in their last seven home games. Make Tennessee a 10* play.
|01-07-18||Davidson -4 v. George Mason||Top||86-59||Win||100||11 h 53 m||Show|
The set-up: Bob McKillop has had some career at Davidson. He's currently in his 29th season and has led the Wildcats to eight NCAA berths, including the school's memorable 2008 run to the Elite 8 (ever heard of Steph Curry?). However, last year's team was a disappointing 17-15, coming off five 20-win seasons, including three NCAA berths. However, Davidson lost only one starter from last season, so this year's 6-7 start is a big disappointment. The Wildcats will visit EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va. on Sunday to take on the George Mason Patriots, who also check in under .500 at 7-8.
Davidson: The Wildcats have won two of their last three and will square off against GMU with pretty much a "three-man team." The 6-7 Ekwu hasn't played this season and the 6-10 Kovacevic went down with an injury in early Dec. The 6-7 Aldridge (21.1 & 6.9) has been excellent, as has freshman guard Grady (15.7). However, the only other player averaging more than 6.2 PPG is sophomore guard Jon Axel Gudmundson (13.7-6.1-5.0).
George Mason: The Patriots' glory days are long gone, although GMU did go 20-14 last year, after winning 11, nine and 11 games the previous three seasons. The Patriots' five starters all play about 27-plus minutes with four in double figures. Guard Livingston (15.5 & 4.4 APG) leads the way, joined on the perimeter by Grayer (13.9 & 7.5) and Kier (11.9 & 4.5). The 6-7 Mar (11.9 & 4.4) joins that trio in double digits.
The pick: Both teams have been disappointments but I'll take Davidson's "pedigree." GMU has been a poor pointspread team for awhile, going just 19-42-2 ATS in the team's last 63 games following an ATS win. GMU is just 1-5 ATS in the team's last six games overall and 1-6 ATS in its last seven home games. Make Davidson a 10* play.
|01-06-18||Duke -11 v. NC State||Top||85-96||Loss||-110||21 h 15 m||Show|
The set-up: The No. 2 Blue Devils (13-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) have played just twice since their Dec. 9 loss at Boston College. They've won each of those home games, first against Evansville and then 100-93 vs. No. 24 Florida State last Saturday. "That was an amazing game, because both teams played great,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after his team survived allowing 15 makes from three-point range by FSU and missing 11 of its own 25 free throws. “We couldn’t stop each other. And the will to win and will to score was evidence by both teams. For us to win that game, is sensational for our group of four freshmen.” Duke travels to play the 10-5 Wolfpack at PNC Arena, where N.C. State will be making its ACC home debut under first-year coach Kevin Keatts. The Wolfpack opened with two ACC road games for the first time in a decade, falling to Clemson and Notre Dame in lopsided results.
Duke: Marvin Bagley III continues his outstanding freshman season as the 6-11 forward is making 63.0 percent of his FG attempts with 11 double-doubles while averaging 21.9 points and 11.6 rebounds. Senior guard Grayson Allen scored 22 against Florida State and has connected on 41 of 94 attempts from three-point range overall (43.6%), averaging 17.4 points and dishing out 4.4 assists per contest. Freshman forward Wendell Carter Jr. (6-10) is shooting 61 percent from the floor overall and averaging 13.7 points (16.5 over the last four contests) along with 8.9 rebounds. Rounding out Coach K's "Fab 4 Freshmen" are Gary Trent Jr. (13.0 & 4.5) and Trevon Duval (12.0 & 6.6 APG). Duke is the nation's second-highest scoring team (94.5 PPG) and is shooting 51.3% as a team (9th).
N.C. State: The Wolfpack hardly looked ready for prime time in losing their first two ACC games. They averaged just 60.0 PPG in losing to Clemson and Notre Dame, while allowing 83.0 PPG. “I just try to tell my team to not keep their heads down,” senior forward Abdul-Malik Abu told the Raleigh News & Observer. “There are a lot more coming. There are a lot more teams. This is not the end of the world, but it’s not a good feeling at the same time.”Senior guard Allerik Freeman leads a normally productive offense (82.5 PPG ranks 43rd) while averaging 15.3 points and junior backcourt mate Torin Dorn is second on the team in scoring with 13.2 PPG plus a team-high 7.6 RPG. The 6-8 Lennard Freeman (11.6 & 5.3) plus 7-0 center Omer Yurtseven (11.4 & 8.7) are both in double digits, as is guard Beverly (10.2). PG Johnson chips in 8.7 PPG and a team-leading 6.6 APG.
The pick: Duke has been off since beating FSU last Saturday and the week off will help with four games in the next 10 days, including trips to Pittsburgh and Miami (Fla.. The Blue Devils' offense was hitting on all cylinders vs. FSU and "The Pack" will have Coach K’s full attention after the Wolfpack's 84-82 upset win at Cameron Indoor last season. N.C. State seems doomed to be a doormat in the 'loaded' ACC this season. Lay the points and make Duke a 10* play.
|01-05-18||NC-Wilmington v. Towson -11||Top||71-89||Win||100||11 h 22 m||Show|
The set-up: The NC-Wilmington Seahawks will travel to SECU Arena to take on the Towson Tigers this Friday night in Colonial Athletic Association action. The Seahawks improved to 4-10 (1-1 CAA) on the season after defeating Drexel,107-87 this past Tuesday. As for the Tigers, they opened the season with a conference loss at Old Dominion (how rare is that!), before running off 10 consecutive wins. However, Towson comes into this contest having lost four straight games to fall to 10-5. Tuesday's 75-72 defeat at the hands of Elon, also leaves the Tigers 0-2 in CAA play.
NC-Wilimington: The Seahawks had little trouble putting up points against the Drexel defense and had a double-digit lead throughout the second half after taking a 57-40 halftime lead. UNC-Wilmington shot 58.7% from the floor. However, that effort is the exception, not the rule, so far this season. The Seahawks have two excellent players in the 6-7 Cacok (18.1 & 13.4) and PG Talley (16.4 & 5.1 APG) but while the team can score (81.3 PPG), it's defense is a sieve. NC-Wilmington is allowing 85.0 PPG (343rd) on 47.8% shooting (318th).
Towson: The Tigers returned four starters from last year's team and their current skid is surprising. Guards Martin (18.7) and Morsell (12.1) are supported by six players all getting 15-plus MPG, while chipping in between 3.1 and 8.5 PPG. SF Keith (7.8 & 5.4) and the 6-7 Gorham (7.2 & 5.5) are the team's best frontcourt players. Towson (74.3 PPG) can't quite score with Wilmington but the Tigers play solid defense, allowing a modest 65.8 PPG (51st), while holding opponents to just 39.6% shooting from thge floor (34th).
The pick: The Seahawks won and covered their last game but prior to that, had b 0-9een ATS in lined games this season, including 0-4 SU & ATS in lined true road games. Towson's four-game skid has all come in road contests and the Tigers are a perfect 5-0 SU at home this season (5-1-1 ATS run at home, going back into last season). Make Towson a 10* play.
|01-04-18||USC v. California +7||Top||80-62||Loss||-115||23 h 41 m||Show|
The set-up: USC returned all five starters from last year's 26-win team and after a 3-0 start was ranked No. 10 in the AP poll. The Trojans were still No. 14 after suffering their first loss of the season (at home to A&M), dropping them to 4-1. However, two more losses followed and at 4-3, USC was out of the top-25. The Trojans are currently 10-5 (have wons six of eight since that three-game skid), including going 1-1 in Pac 12 play after opening with a home loss to Washington last Friday, but then beating Washington State on Sunday. Cal came into this season off seasons of 23 and 21 wins but also with a first-year heads coach in Wyking Jones, who would have just one starter coming back. Cal checks in 7-7 but most of its wins have come against some mediocre-to-bad teams, including a 77-74 victory over Stanford in the team's Pac 12 opener. The Bears had to crawl back from 17 points down against Stanford, a 6-8 team which has lost to Eastern Washington (6-9), Portland St. and Long Beach St. (6-10).
USC: The Trojans feature an excellent starting-five, led by the 6-11 Metu (17.8 & 7.6) and the 6-10 Boatwright (16.8 & 7.0). Rounding out the group are guards McLaughlin (12.9-4.0-8.0), Stewart (12.5) and Mathews (9.4). The team's sixth-man is the 6-11 Rakocevic (6.5 & 5.2). Metu is considered a potential NBA lottery pick but was ejected late in the first half against Washington State after he ran by Washington St. guard Carter Skaggs, who was shooting a three-pointer in front of the Trojans' bench, and punched him in the groin. USC coach Andy Enfield said Metu will sit out the first half against the Bears, surrender his captaincy and sent a letter of apology to Skaggs,
Cal: The Bears have a mix of veterans and freshman in both the backcourt and frontcourt. Junior guard Coleman (20.1) is the team's leading scorer and his backcourt partner is freshman McNeill (13.4). Up front, 6-11 senior Lee (12.6 & 7.8) is paired with 6-7 freshman Sueing (12.0 & 5.7). Cal sputtered out of the gate with a 3-6 start that included head-scratching losses to UC Riverside (74-66), Central Arkansas (96-69) and Division II Chaminade (96-72) but the Bears have been better since. Cal does own a nice win at Mountain West heavyweight San Diego State (63-62) and while Stanford is going nowhere in the Pac 12 this season, when a team can come back from 17 points down to win, it deserves some props.
The pick: USC won't have Metu and while Haas Pavilion may not be the most intimidating venue in the Pac 12 these days, Cal is still 37-8 straight up its previous 45 home games. Take the points and make Cal a 10* play!
|01-03-18||St. John's v. Creighton -12||Top||71-78||Loss||-105||12 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: It's Big East action tonight from CenturyLink Center in Omaha, as the St. John’s Red Storm visit the Creighton Bluejays. The Red Storm went 10-2 in non-conference play but have opened Big East action 0-2, losing to Providence and Seton Hall. St John's is 10-4 (0-2 Big East) as it takes the court against 11-3 Creighton, which has split its first two league games, losing to Seton Hall back on Dec. 28 but bouncing back to beat Providence in its most recent outing.
St. John's: This is Chris Mullins third season coaching at his alma mater and after seasons of six and 14 wins, he has to be happy about his team's 10 wins before Jan. 1. The Red Storm have five players scoring in double digits,, led by PG Ponds (20.1-6.2-4.8) and fellow guard LoVett (14.9). The problem is that Ponds is questionable with a knee injury and LoVett is out with an ankle injury (he's missed the last seven games). A pair of 6-7 forwards in Ahmed (11.7 & 4.7) and Clark (11.5 & 4.2) plus 6-5 guard Simon (10.6-7.9-4.8) will be asked to do more. Mullins will also hope that the 6-11 Tariq Owens (7.7 & 6.3) can repeat his season highs of 19 points and 14 boards (vs. Seton Hall), here. However, even at 100 percent, St. John's averages a modest 73.8 PPG (214th), although the defense has done well, allowing 65.9 PPG (52nd) on 39.0 percent shooting (29th).
Creighton: The Bluejays have been one of the nation’s most productive offensive teams, averaging 91.1 PPG (4th) on 51.4% shooting (8th). Guards Foster (19.0) and Thomas (14.8) lead the way with the team's best frontcourt player being the 6-9 Krampelj, who is chipping in 12.6 & 7.0. The Slovenian has averaged 18 points and nine rebounds in the first two Big East games. The Bluejays also have excellent depth, contributing to the team's offensive success.
The pick: We knpw LoVett will miss and Ponds may, so it seems highly unlikely the Red Storm have the firepower to 'hang' vs. the Bluejays, who have won the last four meetings between the two schools, scoring at least 80 in all four contests. Make Creighton a 10* play.
|01-02-18||Georgetown +4.5 v. DePaul||Top||90-81||Win||100||14 h 9 m||Show|
The set-up: It's Big East basketball tonight from Chicago at WinTrust Arena, as the Georgetown Hoyas take on the DePaul Blue Demons. Both schools check in at 0-2 in Conference play, so the victor will earn its first conference win. The Hoyas opened 8-0 under first time head coach Patrick Ewing before losing to former Big Est rival Syracuse. After reaching 10-1, Georgetown lost its Big East opener 91-89 at home to Butler and then lost 74-65 at Marquette. The challenge will be easier here vs. 7-7 DePaul, which is coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons in the return of head coach Dave Leitao (Blue Demons have gone 5-31 in Big Est play under Leitao the last two seasons).
Georgetown: The Hoyas are led by the 6-10 Govan (18.4 & 12.2), who has nine double-doubles in 13 games. Guards Derrickson (14.6 & 7.5) and Johnson (10.8 & 5.0) also average in double figures. Patrick Ewing's team has had trouble with ball control during its non-conference schedule but it has been downright atrocious in the Big East. The starting lineup racked up 19 giveaways, including five from point guard Jonathan Mulmore, as the Hoyas finished with more than 20 for the second straight game. The Hoyas have also shot less than 44 percent in their first two league games. An argument could be made that Georgetown’s lightweight schedule is starting to catch up with the Hoyas and their early strong start was no more than a product of weak opposition.
DePaul: Yes. DePaul is also 0-2 in Big East play but those losses came against Big East and national 'heavyweights' Villanova and Xavier. Max Strus led the team with 33 points on 10 of 18 shooting while Justin Roberts added 16 points to join Strus as the only Blue Demons to score in double digits in the 77-72 loss to Xavier, last time out. Strus (18.6 & 4.6) is the team's leading scored but Roberts is a freshman who is averaging just 4.9 PPG. Joining Strus in double digits are the 6-11 Maric (12.7 & 5.8), PG Cain (11.5-4.2-3.7) and the 6-7 McCallum (11.0 & 6.0).
The pick: DePaul’s two losses came to the best in the conference and could be a positive sign of turning the corner in the Big East. However, I'm not 'biting.' This team has been a league laughing stock for quite some time now (Leitao's return hasn't change anything) and prior to a win in the second meeting last season, DePaul had been on an 0-15 run against Georgetown in Big East games. Make the Hoyas a 10* play.
|01-01-18||Texas -3 v. Iowa State||Top||74-70||Win||100||11 h 26 m||Show|
The set-up: The Longhorns are coming off an awful 11-22 season, so the team's 9-3 start was a welcome sight. Texas easily handled Alabama 66-50 on Dec 22 in the Vulcan Classic at Birmingham, Al. but Kansas was a little too much for the Longhorns in their Big 12 opener, as they fell 92-86 at home to the Jayhawks on Friday. Texas (9-4 / 0-1 Big 12) will visit Hilton Coliseum on Monday to take on the 9-3 Iowa State Cyclones. Iowa State also lost its Big 12 opener, falling on Friday as well, 91-75 at home against Kansas State.
Texas: The 6-9 Osetkowski (14.8 & 7.8) is the team's leading scorer and guard Andrew Jones is second on the team with 14.1 PPG. Jones sat out four games with a broken wrist but returned against Kansas but was only able to play nine minutes. Jones' status means more will be expected of guards Roach (11.2) and Coleman (8.0 & 4.2 APG). Coleman sure stepped up vs. Kansas, scoring 17 points with five assists plus matched a season high with six boards. Freshman Mohamed Bamba is 6-11 and regarded as one of the top incoming freshmen in the country this season. He set career highs of 22 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks vs. Kansas. He enters averaging 11.8 & 10.2 as well as 4.5 blocks per game.
Iowa State The Cyclones had a nine-game winning streak going before falling to Kansas State in their last outing. Iowa State had to be disappointed by the home loss but freshman Lindell Wigginton (16.2 & 4.2) wasn’t intimidated in his first Big 12 game, scoring 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He's one of four starters in double digits, joined by fellow guards Jackson (15.0) and Weller-Baab (12.6-7.4-7.1) plus the 6-9 Lard (10.3 & 6.1), who comes off the bench.
The pick: Texas coach Shaka Smart got an unexpected surprise last June when the 6-11 Mohamed Bamba chose the Longhorns over expected destinations of Kentucky or Duke, as he's transformed Texas into an NCAA Tournament-caliber team. He, plus the 6-9 Osetkowski will make for tough match ups for Iowa State. The 6-8 Solomon Young (6.8 & 5.7) is the Cyclones' tallest starter and 6-9 Cameron Lard, the team's tallest reserve. Hilton Coliseum is a tough venue but Kansas State didn't have much trouble. Texas has lost fout times but all have all come seven points or less and all have come against quality opponents (Duke, Gonzaga, Michigan and Kansas). Make Texas a 10* play.
|12-31-17||Savannah State +39 v. Michigan State||Top||52-108||Loss||-105||14 h 17 m||Show|
The set-up: The No. 2 Michigan State Spartans will play their final non-conference game on New Year's Eve day, welcoming the Savannah State Tigers to teh Breslin Center..No. 1 Villanova lost for the first time this season yesterday at Butler, so Michigan State (BTW...No. 3 and unbeaten Arizona St. also lost Saturday) will almost certainly open the 2018 as the AP's new No. 1 team. The 13-1 Spartans come into this contest having won 12 straight and have reached triple digits in their last three wins. Meanwhile, the Tigers come in off five straight losses, falling to 3-11 on the season.
Savannah State: The Tigers really struggled to shoot the ball during a stretch of four road games over 10 days in mid-December, creating some frustration for head coach Harold Broadnax, Savannah State missed its first nine shots in a 31-point loss to Virginia last time out on Dec. 19, a sign of the fatigue the team was feeling. A pair of 6-5 guards, McClanahan (13.6) and Fenner (10.7) are the only two players averaging in double digits for a team averaging a respectable 79.6 PPG (80th) but on just on 37.8% shooting (347th). Defensively, the Tigers have been in over their heads playing "up in class," and check in allowing 96.8 PPG (351st) on 50.2% shooting (346th)
Michigan State; Tom Izzo (and previous MSU squads) have had good offensive teams before but this year's team is very likely the most-balanced stating-five a MSU team has been. Surely in the Izzo era, as all five starters are scoring in double figures plus izzo is able to go to his bench without seeing too much of a fall-off in point production. 6-7 swingman Bridges (16.8 & 6.8)( is one of the nation's best players and is joined in the starting lineup by guards Langford (14.3) and Winston (12.9 & 6.7 APG) plus big men like the 6-8 Ward (15.0 & 7.3) and the 6-11 Jackson (10.5 & 7.5) Bench players are guard McQuaid (7.2) plus forwards Schilling (3.5 & 3.9) and Tillman (3.4 & 23.8) both are solid interior players who can score in the paint. Michigan State is averaging 86.3 PPG (20th) on 52.3% shooting (2nd) plus as always, Izzo teams play defense.The Spartans are allowing 62.1 PPG (15th) on 33.4% shooting, which ranks first in the nation!
The pick: It's a 12 noon ET start and both teams would likely rather be elsewhere on this day. Is there any reason for Michigan State to "pour it on?" Sure, Izzo is a pro and demands his team play hard but the good news for the Tigers is that the team has finally had a break (last played Dec. 19th) and fresh legs will help the team's shooting and it's effort on defense. Take the HUGE points and make Savannah State an 8* play.
|12-30-17||Texas A&M v. Alabama||Top||57-79||Loss||-110||10 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up:Texas A&M is off a 16-15 season last year but will open SEC play Saturday in Alabama, off an impressive non-conference run of 11-1 which has teh Aggies ranked 5th in the latest AP poll. A&M's lone loss came back on Dec. 5 at Phoenix, when the Aggies feel 67-64 to Arizona. A&M won four straight since losing to the Wildcats and is coming off an 89-73 win over Buffalo on Dec. 21. The 8-4 Crimson Tide are looking to bounce back from their worst offensive performance of the season, 66-50 loss to Texas on Dec. 22, which marked their fourth loss in seven games. The good news for Alabama fans is, Alabama leads the all-time series 10-5, including a 5-1 mark at home against the Aggies and has won three of the past four meetings.
Texas A&M: The Aggies will be short-handed for this one, as the 6-9 DJ Hogg (14.5 points) serves the second contest of a three-game suspension for violation of school policy and guard Admon Gilder (12.7) is out with a knee injury. A&M is scoring 81.6 PPG (59th) but really shines on the defensive end of the court, holding opponents to 64.4 PPG (31st) on just 36.2% shooting (4th). The Aggies are also an excellent rebounding team thanks to 6-10 center Tyler Davis (13.9 & 8.4) and the 6-10 Robert Williams (7.3 & 10.1). Also, freshman swingman Savion Flagg (8.3 & 5.1 rebounds) has stepped up in Hogg and Gilder’s absence. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week after averaging 16.5 points and nine rebounds in two wins. Also, PG Duane Wilson (12.3 & 4.6 APG) has averaged 19.5 points and seven assists in two games last week.
Alabama:The Crimson Tide have gone 4-2 in contests decided by five points or fewer but that's "living on the edge," especially since the team's top-two scorers are freshman. Guards Collin Sexton (20.5 7 3.5 APG) and John Petty (12.9) lead the way, although Alabama has also gotten good production from 6-9 forward Donta Hall (11.1 & 7.5) and 6-5 swingman Dazon Ingram (10.9 & 6.7). Alabama scores less (76.9 PPG) than A&M and allows more (71.8 PPG).
The pick: I;m not sure the fact that Alabama leads the all-time series 10-5, including a 5-1 mark at home, means all that much.A&M is playing with great confidence and I'll ride them here in making the Aggies a 10* play.
|12-30-17||Tennessee +6 v. Arkansas||Top||93-95||Win||100||5 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: The Tennessee Volunteers and Arkansas Razorbacks open their SEC schedules with this afternoon tip from Bud Walton Arena. The Vols are coming off a 16-16 season and were picked 13th in the preseason SEC media poll. Howecver, Tennessee's 9-2 start has them ranked 19th in the latest AP poll. The Vols' SEC opener will be a tough one in Fayetteville, as the Razorbacks are 10-2, are the SEC's highest scoring team at 90.0 PPG (8th in the nation) and check in at 13th in the latest RPI rankings (the Vols are 8th).
Tennessee: The Vols look like a potential cSEC title contender, as their only losses have come against top-10 teams Villanova (85-76) and North Carolina (78-73). Tennessee's list of 'victims' includes nationally-ranked Purdue (78-75 in OT) plus three ACC schools, N.C. State (67-58), Georgia Tech (77-70) and Wake Forest (79-60). Forward Grant Williams is pacing the squad in scoring (15.4 points) and rebounding (6.6) while guard Jordan Bowden (12.0) and small forward Admiral Schofield (11.9 & 5.2) also are averaging double figures. Guards James Daniel (3.6 assists) and Jordan Bone (3.5) are setting the table for the offense, which has recorded assists on 66.9 percent of its made field goals, a rate which ranks only behind SMU (67.8) and Michigan State (67.3) nationally. The Vols can't match Arkansas on the offensive end of the court (Tennessee is averaging 77.5 PPG) but Tennessee is holding opponents to 65.8 PPG (51st) on 39.0% shooting (30th).
Arkansas: Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks are off a 26-win season that ended with a second round loss in the NCAAs. The team enters on a five-game winning streak and checks in at 7-0 SU & 6-1 ATS at home, where Arkansas has outscored opponents 95.0-to-69.4 PPG. Guard Jaylen Barford leads five double-figure scorers with 18.6 points and is shooting a team-best 46.4 percent from three-point range. Guards Daryl Macon (15.3 points), Anton Beard (12.1) and C.J. Jones (10.5) plus forward Daniel Gafford (11.7) also average double digits for the Razorbacks who rank 21st nationally in field-goal percentage (50.3).
The pick: The series is tied at 19 wins apiece but Arkansas has won five straight and six of the last eight, including four straight in Fayetteville. Does that mean the play is on the Razorbacks? Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said in a post-practice news conference Thursday regarding the Razorbacks, “Arkansas is a great transition team which can really explode on you.” The Razorbacks can score in bunches and are a multiple defensive team with a lot of depth. It should be a game that’s really an up-and-down game.” However, Barnes' team ranks ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency and matches up well. Make Tennessee an 8* play.
|12-29-17||Kansas -2.5 v. Texas||Top||92-86||Win||100||13 h 24 m||Show|
The set-up: The Kansas Jaywhawks opened the year as the AP's -ranked team in it preseason poll. Kansas completed its non-conference schedule 10-2 (ias currently ranked 11th), losing only to Washington and Arizona State in back-to-back games (note: ASU remains unbeaten) .The Jayhawks last played on Dec. 21, routing Stanford 75-54 in Palo Alto. They now open Big 12 play by traveling to Austin to take on the 9-3 Texas Longhorns. The The Longhorns are coming off an awful 11-22 season, so the team's 9-3 start is a welcome sight. Texas last played on Dec 22, beating Alabama 66-50 in the Vulcan Classic at Birmingham, Al.
Kansas:The Jayhawks own quite a starting-five, with all scoring in double digits. Vick (17.1) leads the way, joined in the backcourt by PG Graham (16.8 & 7.6 APG) and Newman (10.4 & 4.8). Up front, it's the 6-8 Mykhailiuk (16.3) and the 7-0 Azubuike (15.5 & 8.0). The Jayhawks average 20 assists per game, which ranks tied for third nationally, and Devonte' Graham (7.6 per game) has an assist-to-turnover ratio approaching 3-to-1. Kansas is averaging 87.5 PPG (13th) on 52.3% shooting (4th). That goes nicely with the team's excellent defensive play, as the Jayhawks are holding opponents to 65.7 PPG (50th) on 38.6% shooting (28th).
Texas: Freshman Mohamed Bamba is 6-11 and he registered 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in the win over Alabama. He's regarded as one of the top incoming freshmen in the country this season but has been somewhat of an enigma to this point. His per game stats (10.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.3 blocks) are solid but he has not made his teammates better (four assists in 310 minutes) and is shooting poorly from behind the three-point line (3-of-19) and the foul line (61 percent). Returning guards Jones (15.3) and Roach (10.9) are off too good starts, as is the 6-9 Osetkowski (14.6 & 7.8), although he is coming off perhaps his worst game of the season vs. Alabama, an eight-point clunker in which he shot 3-of-11 from the floor and had five turnovers.Texas can't match Kansas on the offensive end (72.2 PPG ranks 233rd and the team's 45.4% shooting ranks166th) but Texas can defend with the best of them. The Longhorns are holding opponents to 60.4 PPG (8th) on 37.4% shooting (10th).
The pick:Texas' three losses have all come seven points or less and all have come against quality opponents (Duke, Gonzaga, Michigan). The Longhorns won't be pushovers but Kansas has won 12 of its last 13 meetings with Texas and just has too much "O" for the Longhorns to keep it close enough. Make Kansas a 10* play.
|12-28-17||Valparaiso +1 v. Indiana State||Top||64-73||Loss||-110||18 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: The 9-4 Valparaiso Crusaders are off a 73-60 loss at UC-Riverside on Dec. 20 and will look to get back on the winning track Thursday night at the Hulman Center when they take on the 5-7 Indiana State Sycamores, who lost their second straight game 73-68 this past Friday at Elon. Valpo has won 28, 30 and 24 games the previous three seasons but first-year head coach Matt Lottich lost four starters off last year's team, including the irreplaceable Alec Peters. Indiana State is off an 11-20 season and had won just 15 games each in the previous two seasons.
Valparaiso: This year's team has been led by returning guard Tevonn Walker (16.4 & 5.8) plus Joe Burton, a 6-10 trdansfer from Oklahoma Sttae, who sat out last year. Burton is averaging 11.5 PPG and 3.4 RPG but is currently suspended. Walker has missed some games with mono but is expected back here and is joined in the backcourt by PG Evelyn (10.4 & 3.6 APG). Valpo hasn't scored like in recent years but the team is allowing a modest 65.8 PPG (56th).
Indiana State:The Sycamores are a perimeter-oriented team, with guards Jordan Barnes (17.1 & 4.3 APG), Brenton Scott (13.8 & 5.7) Qiydar Davis (10.9 & 5.4) checking in with double digtts, while Tyreke Key (9.2 & 3.8 rpg) just misses. However, this team is the very definition of average, scoring 74.9 PPG (185th) and allowing 74.7 PPG (229th).
The pick: The return of Walker is important for Valpo and this middle-of-the-pack MVC team won't put up much of a fight, even at home. Make the Crusaders a 10* play.
|12-27-17||Eastern Michigan v. Syracuse -12||Top||47-62||Win||100||11 h 12 m||Show|
The set-up: The Eastern Michigan Eagles play in the MAC and will visit the Carrier Dome on Wednesday to take on the Syracuse Orange of the ACC. EMU is 8-3 and this marks the team's second-to-last non-conference game before the Eagles open MAC play Jan. 2 at Ball State. For the 10-2 Orange, this marks the team's final 'tune up,' as ACC play will begin Dec. 31 at home vs. Virginia tech.
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles are coming off a 16-17 season (7-11 in MAC play) and have to be happy with their 8-3 start. However, the Eagles do come in off a loss, as the team's three-game winning streak was snapped Dec. 22 when they lost 86-81 at Oakland (had beaten Oakland 95-89 at home on Dec. 6). EMU has three quality scorers in the 6-9 Minnie (18.0 & 6.8) and the 6-10 Thompson (17.7 & 12.4), as well as PG Jackson (17.0 & 4.8 APG). The Eagles shot nearly 50 percent from the floor against Oakland but were doomed by 5-of-16 three-point shooting and the inability to get stops on the other end. The Eagles could use more help from their bench, which totaled four points on 2-of-10 shooting last time out, but on the bright side, Paul Jackson continues to elevate his game after transferring from Eastern Kentucky. The 6-2 junior recorded a season-high 25 against Oakland and has scored in double figures every game since the season opener.
Syracuse: The team's offense revolves around guards Battle (19.9) and Howard (15.5 & 6.1 APG) plus 6-8 freshman Brissett (15.6 & 9.8). However, those three shot a combined 12-of-47 against St. Bonaventure, so it's not hard to see how Syracuse lost. Even with that poor effort, the Orange took the game into OT on Friday., before losing 60-57. Syracuse only made 18 FGs in 45 minutes and misfired on 16 of its 19 attempts from three-point range. "It's hard to win when you shoot 30 percent from the floor and 15 percent from the three-point line, but this team fights as hard as they possibly can," Boeheim told reporters. Boeheim's right about that, St Bonny only reached 60 points in OT. On the season, Syracuse is holding opponents to just 64.0 PPG (30th) on 38.5% shooting (29th).
The pick: James Thompson IV is a quality big man for EMU but freshman Brissett is off to a great start and should match up just fine. Expect the Orange to bounce back off that home loss to St. Bonny's, with ACC play beginning on New Year's Eve. Make Syracuse a 10* play.
|12-23-17||Tennessee -1 v. Wake Forest||Top||79-60||Win||100||5 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: The 21st-ranked Tennessee Vols wrap up their non-conference schedule Saturday afternoon in Winston Salem against the 7-4 Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the ACC. The Volunteers have already played three ACC opponents this season, defeating North Carolina State and Georgia Tech, before losing to North Carolina last weekend. Wake Forest got off to a shaky start but the Demon Deacons have won six in a row while scoring at least 80 points in each of those contests, fighting back from a 1-4 start to enter this contest against the nationally ranked Vols at 7-4. Tennessee has won eight of 10 all-time meetings with Wake Forest, though the teams haven't faced off in a non-tournament setting since 1970.
Tennessee: Rick Barnes in in his third season at Knoxville and after seasons of 15 and 16 wins (31-35, overall), he seemingly has this year's team headed towards a 20-win season. Tennessee recovered from that loss to North Carolina by defeating Furman 66-61 on Wednesday, although it was hardly a confidence-boosting win, as the Volunteers were tied with the Paladins until the final minute. The Volunteers shot only 37.1 percent against Furman, while missing 15 of their 20 attempts from three-point range. Then we have the team's 15-of-24 (62.5%) which surely wasn't anything to brag about. The 6-7 Williams (15.8 & 7.0) is the team's leading scorer and has recorded double-digit points in eight straight outings. However, he has turned the ball over 14 times in the last five games, compared to seven turnovers in the first five games. Joining ihim in double digits are guards Schofield (11.7 & 5.1) and Bowden (11.5 & 3.6). Bowden had a team-high 21 points against Furman, while Schofield had 12 points and 13 rebounds, his first double-double of the season (just the second of his career). The Vols are average offensively (77.4 PPG ranks 122nd) but pretty good on the defensive end, allowing 66.4 PPG (69th) on 39.1% shooting (37th).
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons' six-game winning streak has their seasonal average up to 80.4 PPG (77th) Guards Crawford (16.4 & 4.9 APG) and Woods (15.8) are joined on the perimeter by three more guards, averaging between 7.7 and 9.5 PPG. The 7-1 Moore (11.1 & 7.9) gets some help up front from the 6-7 Thompson (4.6 & 4.9). Danny Manning surprisingly took Wake to the NCAAs last season (19-14 record), after winning 13 and 11 games in his first two seasons at the school. Replacing big man John Collins (19.2 & 9.8) has not been easy but team's six-game win streak is promising.
The pick: However, while this game will be played at Lawrence-Joel Coliseum (Wake's home court), school is out and the Demon Deacons won't have their usual rooting section. Wake Forest officials have made efforts to try to draw a big pre-holiday crowd. Faculty and staff will be admitted at no charge, while a promotion at an area mall involved $5 tickets. Yes, Wake Forest has shot above 50 percent in each outing during the team's six-game winning streak but as the head coach noted,"We're not a finished product," said Manning. The Demon Deacons are 1-4 in non-league games against ranked opponents and that doesn't bode well for this meeting with the Vols. Make Tennessee a 10* play.
|12-22-17||Montana v. Washington -5.5||Top||63-66||Loss||-105||16 h 39 m||Show|
The set-up: The Montana Grizzlies are coming off a 16-16 season. They were picked third in the Big Sky's coaches' and media polls but served noticed they'll be in the title hunt with an 83-78 overtime victory at Pitt on Nov. 13, teh school's first win over a Power Five conference school since knocking off Oregon State in 2010. Montana (7-4) opens league play Dec. 28th, so this trip to Seattle will be the team's last non-conference game. The Washington Huskies 'fell of a cliff' last year with just nine wins (22 losses) but Mike Hopkins, who spent 22 years coaching under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, has this year's team at 9-3 entering this contest. Sure, Fultz (23.2) was the NBA's first pick in the 2017 Draft but he's the only starter not back.
Montana: The Grizzlies 86-68 win over UC Irvine on Tuesday gives Montana three wins in its last four and a 7-4 overall mark.Three players average in double digits, guards Rorie (17.8-4.0-3.7) and Oguine (15.3 & 5.4) plus the 6-8 Akoh (11.1 & 6.4). Rorie was a second team All-Big Sky pick last season, Oguine just had a career-high 29 points in the win over UC-Irvine and Akoh is a transfer from Cal State Fullerton. Montana is averaging 73.7 PPG (211th), while allowing 69.5 PPG (125th).
Washington: Montana's defense will be tested by a Washington team averaging 81.8 PPG (56th) on 47.9% shooting (68th). The Huskies have looked good in their non-conference slate and have won three of four after dismantling the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 106-55 on Tuesday night with a monster 63-19 second half run. The Huskies are the only team in the NCAA to record 16 steals and 15 blocks in the same game this season, after doing it in the win over Bethune-Cookman. Freshman guard Jaylen Nowell leads the team in scoring (17.3) and has lessened the loss of Fultz. Joining the freshman in double digits are the 6-8 Dickerson (16.0 & 8.0) plus guards Crisp (13.2 and Thybulle (11.2). Crisp leads the team in assists (43) and also has made a team leading 26 three-pointers. Thybulle has 42 steals this season and ranks third in the NCAA in that category with an average of 3.5 per game
The pick: Again, let me remind all that he Huskies have already matched their win total for the entire 2016-17 season when they finished 9-22 and all but one of the team's wins this year have come at home where Washington has gone 8-1. Lay it and make Washington a 10* play.
|12-21-17||Iona v. Rhode Island -12||Top||74-80||Loss||-110||11 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: The Iona Gaels play out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and have done so with pretty good success over the years The Gaels finished T-3rd in the league last season but won the conference tourney to earn an NCAA bid (lost their first game). After a dreadful start, Iona has won five of its last six and will travel to Providence with a 6-5 record to face the Rhode Island Rams of the Atlantic-10. The Rams are off a 25-10 season in which they won the A-10 tourney and advanced to the NCAA;'s second round. Rhode Island is 6-3 so far this season.Iona: Tim Cluess has led the Gaels to 20 wins or more in each of his first seven seasons at Iona, getting them into the NCAAs four times. This year's team lost just one starter from last year's group and Cluess is using a seven-man rotation. PG McGill (13.0-4.0-5.4) leads a perimeter group, along with Much (11.4 & 4.2), Lewis (10.4) and Casimir (6.8). In the frontcourt, it's the 6-6 Crawford (12.2 & 3.0), the 6-8 Edoji (9.5 & 7.4) and the 6-7 Griffin (7.2 & 4.7). Will Iona be able to build off its recent hot streak? That's yet to be determined.Rhode Island. Preaseason All-Atlantic-10 guard E.C. Mathews (14.9 PPG last season), hurt his wrist earlier in the season and just got back on the court in the team's last game (he's averaging 10.7 PPG in three outings). Terrell (17.2) is leading the team in scoring and a deep guard group which now adds Matthews to Robinson (10.0 & 5.6), PG Dowtin (7.9 & 4.0 APG), Russell (9.0) and Garrett (8.6). The 6-8 Berry (8.8 & 4.00 could use more help form the 6-8 Langevine (4.8 & 4.2), who scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Rams' 68-62 recent victory over Charleston.
The pick: Iona is just 1-5 ATS in its last six games against A-10 opponents and Rhode Island is 5-0 SU at home, outscoring opponents 89.2-to-63.6 PPG. Lay it and make the Rams a 10* play.
|12-20-17||Albany NY v. Louisville -13.5||Top||68-70||Loss||-118||13 h 26 m||Show|
The set;up: Louisville was ranked in the AP's preseason poll but are currently just outside the top-25 in Monday's latest poll, although the Cardinals are 8-2, losing to only Purdue (currently 16th) and Seton Hall (23rd). The KFC Yum! Center in Louisville be the site of tonight's game with the Albany Great Danes, who are hoping for a 'signature" win to add to the team's resume. The Greta Danes come in an impressive 11-2 but this is clearly the team's toughest test of its non-conference schedule.
Albany: Head coach Will Brown is entering his 16th full season as the Great Danes' head coach and has led them to 20-win seasons or more in four of the last five years (heading towards another one this season!). He's also taken the scholo to five NCAA berths. The team won 21 games last year (no NCAA appearnace) and four starters have returned. Guards Cremo (17.8-4.2-3.3) and Nichols (15.7-4.2-3.5) plus 6-6 foreward Charles (14.9 & 5.5) are the nucleus of a team averaging 78.9 PPG (101st) on 48.2% shooting (62nd)
Louisville: All must be aware of the school's off-the-court issues that cost head coach Rick Pitino his job. All things considered, the Cards have played well, as losing to Purdue and Seton Hall is nothing to be ashamed of. Five of the team's top-six scorers are frontcourt players, led by the 6-7 Adel (16.0 & 3.7) and the 6-10 Spalding (10.1 & 9.5), who is having a breakout season. PG Snider (11.6-3.5-3.8) runs the show for a team averaging 80.1 PPG (88th). Pitino's teams always played tough defesne and this "carry-over" team under head coach David Padgett, is no different. Louisville is allowing just 65.1 PPG (49th) on 37.5% shooting (14th).
The pick: The Cardinals are proving that they still have enough talent to be a serious ACC contender, despite a change in coaching. Albany is no pushover and it should be noted that the Great Danes have out-rebounded all 13 of their opponents, so far. However, Louisville is a big step up in class and I'll make teh Cardinals a 10* play.
|12-19-17||Marshall v. Xavier -22||Top||77-81||Loss||-110||11 h 17 m||Show|
Marshall: The Thundering Herd are one of only 10 Division I schools averaging in excess of 90 points per game, checking in at 90.2 PPG (9th). However, Marshall doesn't much spread its scoring around, as Jon Elmore leads all of Conference USA in scoring at 24.3 PPG while fellow guard C.J. Burks adds 19.6 PPG and the 6-9 Ajdin Penava contributes 19.1 PPG to rank third and fourth, respectively (Penava also leads the team in rebounding at 9.8 per game and the conference in FG percentage at 65.2%). Marshall's group represents the highest scoring trio in the nation at 63 points per game and it needs to, as Marshall is allowing 83.9 PPG to rank 334th (of 351 Division I schools)!
Xavier: The Musketeers have just one true "big-time" scorer and that's Trevon Bluiett (21.4 PPG plus 5.1 RPG). J.P. Macura (10.7) is the only only double digit scorer but six other Xavier players chip in between 6.9 and 9.7 PPG. That balance has Xavier averaging just a few points less than Marshall, at 88.4 (15th). Let's also note that Xavier's 52.8 percent FG percentage ranks second in the nation. The huge difference between the two schools comes on the defensive end of the court, as Xavier is allowing just 69.5 PPG. That's more than three 'TDs' less than Marshall!
The pick: Xavier staged the largest comeback in Cintas Center history the last time out, capped by Trevon Bluiett's game-winner with seven seconds left. "We have to learn from it," head coach Chris Mack said. "Every game isn't going to be a 15-nothing run to start the game. We have to gut some out." Marshall leads the all-time series 13-11 but the schools have played only twice since 1958. Xavier has won the last two meetings, including the most recent one, 69-46 at Cintas Center on Dec. 30, 2004. Marshall can score but so can Xavier, plus while teh Thundering Herd can't slow down any team, the Musketeers can do just that, Lay it and make Xavier an 8* play.
|12-18-17||Houston Baptist v. Michigan State -33||Top||62-107||Win||100||19 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: The 10-1 Michigan State Spartans have just that lone 88-81 loss to Duke on their resume and should remain No. 2 in Monday' afternoon's new AP poll. The Spartans welcome Houston Baptist to East Lansing on Monday night to begin a five-game homestand. The Spartans will undoubtedly extend their winning streak to 10 in a row, with the margin of victory being only question mark. Houston Baptist comes in just 4-7 and will be at an even greater disadvantage with the ankle injury to the 6-11 Ibara (16.0 & 10.0).
Houston Baptist: The Huskies can score (83.5 PPG ranks 39th) plus have been one of the top rebounding teams in the country this season, ranking 14th in rebounds per game (42.1) and third in offensive boards (15.8). With Ibara out, the 6-10 Edward Hardt (3.2 & 2.0) is the only starter above 6-6. Head coach Ron Cottrell has his team competing on the glass every night because everyone concentrates on getting to the boards. Four different players average at least 5.1 rebounds, including point guard Braxton Bonds (9.0-5.1-5.4 RPG). 6-6 freshman forward David Carahe averages 15.2 & 6.7 plus freshman guard Ian DuBose 11.4 & 5.1. The problem is a defense allowing 82.4 PPG, which ranks 329th out of 351 Division I teams.
Michigan State: Trying to stop MSU's balanced starting-five seems like a 'bridge too far.' Swingman Bridges leads the way (15.1 & 6,4), teamed with an excellent guard duo of Langford (13.3) and PG Winston (13.3 & 6.4 APG). The 6-8 Ward (13.8 & 6.9) and the 6-11 Jackson (10.7 & 7.3) round out a starting-five which leads the way for an offense averaging 80.7 PPG. That's more than enough when MSU features a defense which allows a modest 62.4 PPG (20th), along with the nation's top defensive FG percentage (just 33.4%).
The pick: Sure, Houston Baptist averages 83.5 PPG but Michigan State has allowed just three opponents to record more than 60 points this season. MSU's next four opponents, Houston Baptist, Long Beach State, Cleveland State and Savannah State, own a combined 15-30 record. Boredom is the team's lone concern. However, with Tom Izzo at the helm, I'm not concerned about that. Lay it and make the Spartans a 10* play.
|12-17-17||UC-Santa Barbara v. USC -13.5||Top||87-98||Loss||-110||12 h 13 m||Show|
The set-up: The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos, struggled through an injury and academic issue-plagued 2016-17 season to finish just 6-22. However, they will take the court tonight against USC at the Galen Center.on a seven-game winning streak which has them sitting at 8-2. The USC Trojans are off a 26-win season and returned all five starters to begin the 2017-18 season ranked 10th in the AP's preseason poll. However, after opening 4-0, the Trojans dropped three consecutive games before an 82-59 victory over Santa Clara on Thursday "stopped the bleeding." USC leads the series 13-1 and won the last meeting, 96-72, at the Galen Center on Nov, 27, 2016.
UC-Santa Barbara: Sophomore guard Max Heidegger leads four players in double figures with a 23.4 average and has connected on 31-of-71 3-pointers (43.7 percent). Senior forward Leland King II, a 6-7 transfer from Nevada, is averaging a double-double (19.2 & 10.0) while shooting 46.7 percent from three-point range. Junior forward Jalen Canty (11.3 & 8.2) and junior guard Gabe Vincent (10.9 & 3.7 APG) complete the etam's double digit scorers.
USC: The Trojans have a pair of 'twin towers' in the 6-11 Matu (16.1 & 8.5) and the 6-10 Boatwright (15.4 & 8.2) plus a excellent guard trio in McLaughlin (13.8 & 6.8 APHG), Stewart (10.5) and Matthews (8.4).
The pick: USC played just seven games in the first 34 days of the season but now finds itself in a stretch where it will play six games over a 12-day period, a stretch that began with the win over Santa Clara. The Trojans could use a "feel good win" here and maybe the busy schedule will jump start this very talented team which so far, has underachieved. Note that USC didn't lose to any slouches, as the losses came against A&M (9-1), SMU (8-3) and Oklahoma (8-1). Lay the points and make USC a 10* play.
|12-16-17||Clemson v. Florida -4.5||Top||71-69||Loss||-122||9 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: No. 22 Florida faces a tough test in the second game of the Orange Bowl Classic, as the 6-3 Gators will take on 8-1 Clemson. Florida had dropped games against Duke and Florida State before suffering a surprising loss to Loyola Chicago but then knocked off Cincinnati 66-60 last Saturday in Newark, N.J, snapping a demoralizing three-game losing streak. "We just focused on ourselves, what we can do better, and especially our mental toughness,” Florida’s senior guard Egor Koulechov told reporters. “I thought we were really soft (during the losing streak). We took a step forward (last Saturday) with a win over a tough team.” Clemson is off to its best start since 2008-09, when the Tigers won their first 16 games, Clemson has won four games by 20 or more points and suffered their only loss of the season to Temple back on Nov. 17.
Clemson: Head coach Brad Brownell goes after his 300th career win with a team averaging 79.8 PPG (97th), featuring five players averaging in double figures. Senior 6-8 forward Donte Grantham tops the team at 16.0 PPG and adds 6.2 RPG. Fellow 6-9 big man Thomas leads in rebounding at 8.8 per game and adds 12.1 PPG. Three guards join them in double digits, Reed (13.8), Mitchell (12.8 & 5.0 APG) and DeVoe (10.9). Clemson always plays good defense and this year's team is allowing just 63.9 PPG (36th).
Florida: Senior guard Chris Chiozza stepped up to score the game’s final six points to finish with 15 against Cincinnati and is dishing out a team-best 6.1 assists per contest in the early going. “I wasn’t looking to take the game over,” Chiozza, who is averaging 11.8 PPG and has made 12-of-23 from three-point range overall, told reporters. “I was just trying to make good plays for my team and a couple fell into my hands.” Junior guard Jalen Hudson tops the team in scoring (19.1) and is hitting 52.7 percent from the floor, while Koulechov (16.1) is second. Both rebound well for guards, especially Koulechov, who leads the team at 6.2 RPG. Allen (11.8) makes it four double digit scorers, all guards. The two biggest contributors in the frontcourt are the 6-8 Stone (5.9 & 2.8) and the 6-9 Hayes (4.4 & 4.6). Florida can score (87.9 PPG ranks 19th) but it needs to with a defense allowing 76.9 PPG (275th!).
The pick: The Gators were ranked among the nation's best after finishing off November by beating No. 17 Gonzaga in double overtime and leading top-ranked Duke in the final minutes before losing by three points in the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Or. However, that loss to the Blue Devils sent the Gators into a tailspin that saw them start December by losing to Florida State by 17 points and 65-59 to Loyola Chicago , both at home. The win over the Bearcats has to be a confidence-builder and while Sunrise, Fl is not exactly a home game, it's close (just outside of Fort Lauderdale). In fact, Florida has won seven straight in the Orange Bowl Classic. Make that eight straight, as the Gators are an 8* play.
|12-16-17||Oklahoma State v. Florida State -5.5||Top||71-70||Loss||-115||7 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: It's the first game of Saturday's Orange Bowl Classic in Sunrise, Fla., as unranked Oklahoma State (7-2) takes on No. 19 Florida State, with the schools meeting for only the second time in their histories (1964 was the first!). Florida State is one of only six undefeated teams in the nation entering Friday, having climbed into the rankings at No. 19 after extending its season-opening start to 9-0 with a 72-53 victory over Tulane on Sunday. The Seminoles now take aim at tying the school record for the best start to a season (10-0 in 2003-04). Oklahoma State has had success of its own this season but its two losses came against ranked opponents. The Cowboys lost 72-55 to No. 10 Texas A&M in November and 78-66 to No. 3 Wichita State on Sunday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys fell to the Shockers despite career-high performances from Tavarius Shine (20 points) and Mitchell Solomon (17). Shine (11.0 & 4.2) is one of three guards averaging double digits, with Carroll (12.7 & 5.1) and Smith (10.2) being the other two. The 6-9 Solomon (8.2 & 6.2) and the 6-7 McGriff (8.2 & 5.6) are the team's best frontcourt players for a team in which the top-five scorers play on the perimeter. OSU averages a modest 78.8 PPG (113th) but remains competitive by relying on a tenacious defense that produces turnovers. The team has recorded at least 19 in each of its last three outings and the Cowboys are averaging 18.3 points off those turnovers per game. Oklahoma State allows its opponents 64.0 PPG (38th) on 40.2% shooting (65th).
Florida State: The Seminoles did not have a strong shooting effort against Tulane (44.8 percent shooting from the floor, including 34.4 percent in the first half) but Leonard Hamilton's young Seminoles are solid all around. FSU ranks 23rd with 87.1 PPG and 28th in FG percentage at 50.0%. The defense allows 67.0 PPG (just 81st) but the team's defensive FG percentage ranks 16th at 37.5%. The team's margin of victory checks in at 21.0 PPG. The lone returning starter is junior guard Terance Mann and he leads in scoring with a career-high 15.6 PPG and a shooting percentage of 64.5 percent. Senior forward Phil Cofer, who has been a "no-show" the last two years, leads the team in rebounds (5.8) and adds 12.3 PPG. Joining those two in double digits are guards Angola (12.7 & 3.6 APG) and C.J. Walker (11.2).
The set-up: The Seminoles have made it into the top-25 after a big week with victories over No. 22 Florida, Loyola (Md.) and Tulane, but the trick is remaining there. "We're making progress, but we're not a finished product," Hamilton told reporters. "We have 10 guys who are freshmen or sophomores. We're still growing and maturing." That said, FSU is perfect 7-0 ATS and as noted, OSU has lost to both previous ranked opponents, by 17 and 12 points. What I didn't mention earlier is that 1st-year OSU head coach Mike Boyton recently dismissed two contributing players, 6-5 junior wing Davon Dillard and highly-regarded 6-3 freshman Zack Dawson, which leaves the depth-shy Cowboys in even 'deeper' trouble. Lay it and make Florida State a 10* play.
|12-15-17||Denver v. Stanford -11||Top||62-75||Win||100||15 h 32 m||Show|
The setup: The Denver Pioneers won 16 games last season (lost 14) and have averaged a modest 15 wins per season the last four, since last winning 20-plus games. The 5-6 Pioneers will visit Maples Pavilion Friday night to take on Struggling Stanford, which comes in just 4-6. The Cardinal 'booted' Johnny Dawkins two yeas ago but after Jerod Hasse led Stanford to just a 14-17 record last season, the team's 4-6 start this season has many wondering if the Cardinal made the right move.
Denver: The Pioneers will be looking for a bounce-back effort after committing 18 turnovers and trailing by as many as 28 in Wednesday’s 83-63 loss to Northern Colorado. The Pioneers do return four starters from last season and the lone bright spot in Wednesday's loss was the play of junior guard Joe Rosga, who registered 14 points and seven rebounds, becoming the 35th member of the school’s 1,000-point club. The frontcourt is led by 6-10 senior center Daniel Amigo, who averages 16.0 PPG and 4.8 RPG. Denver averages 70.5 PPG (267th) and allows 71.5 PPG (170th).
Stanford: The Cardinal are back from a much-needed break for final exams, hoping a "re-boot' will be able to remedy the team's sluggish start. Stanford enters having lost five of its last six, hardly what was expected in non-conference play. Junior forward Reid Travis was a preseason All-American and leads the team in scoring (21.7) and rebounding (7.8). Dorian Pickens (12.6 PPG last year) and Marcus Sheffield (6.7 PPG) are both injured, in the team's last game (a 76-68 at Long Beach State on Dec. 3.), leaving Stanford with just even scholarship players. The shorthanded Cardinal hope to have Pickens and Sheffield back from their foot injuries in time for the Pac-12 opener against California on Dec. 30, but Haase wasn’t able to say when freshman Kezie Okpala might be cleared academically to return.
The pick: The last time out, Stanford lost to Long Beach State, for the first time in school history. A two-week break should have them highly motivated to "stop the bleeding" against a Denver team that is 0-3 in true road games, getting outscored 83.7-to-65.3 PPG. Make Stanford a 10* play.
|12-14-17||South Dakota v. Northern Arizona +11.5||Top||90-77||Loss||-105||14 h 48 m||Show|
The set-up: The South Dakota Coyotes are 9-3 and will take their act on the road Thursday night to J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome in Flagstaff, Arizona to face the struggling Northern Arizona Lumberjacks, who fell to 2-8 on the season after being defeated by the San Diego Toreros, 79-51, this past Saturday night. It;'s been a dramatic fall from grace for the Lumberjacks, who won 23 games back in the 2014-15 season (lost in the CIT championship game at Evansville), before winning just five and nine games, these last two season. The Coyotes were just 18-17 last season but had won 24 and 26 the previous two, so the school's fast start has them on pace for at least, another 20-win season.
South Dakota State: The Coyotes won their second straight game after edging the Eastern Washington Eagles, 75-73, this past Sunday. South Dakota State shot 54.9% from the floor and 81.0% (17-21) from the FT-Line in the win. The team typically shoots well, as the Coyotes enter making 49.5% from the floor on the season (ranks 35th). Leading the way for the Coyotes in the win was guard Matt Mooney. who had 19 points. Mooney (16.5-3.3-3.7) is the team's top scorer, followed by the 6-10 Tyler Hagedorn (13.1 & 5.1), guard Triston Simpson (8.8) and 6-6 forward Trey Burch-Manning (8.6 & 7.5). Defensively, South Dakota St. is holding opponents to an average of 67.2 PPG (86th) on on 40.4% shooting (70th).
Northern Arizona: The lumberjacks were terrible on offensive end in the loss against San Diego and couldn’t fight back after falling behind by a 47-18 margin with 16:46 left in regulation. Northern Arizona shot just 26.7% from the floor, including 20.0% (3-15) from beyond the arc. Northern Arizona is averaging only 64.1 PPG (334th) on 38.4% shooting (341st). Jojo Anderson (10.4 PPG) is the team's lone double digit scorer, although Chris Bowling (9.7) and Torry Johnson (9.2) just miss. Defensively, the Lumberjacks allow 80.3 PPG (311th) on 49.7% shooting (340th). Just a reminder, there ar 351 Division I schools!
The pick: It looks as if South Dakota Sate will be one of the better teams in the Summit League this season, while it's already been a long season for Northern Arizona (see above). However, this is a 'heavy' number for the Coyotes to lay on teh road and I'm calling for the home dog to 'bark loudly' Make Northern Arizona a 10* play.
|12-13-17||Villanova -8.5 v. Temple||Top||87-67||Win||100||11 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: Villanova jumped from No. 4 in the AP poll the previous week to the poll's new No. 1 this past Monday. No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Kansas lost (falling back) and the Wildcats leapfrogged then-No.3 Michigan State to grab the top spot. It marks the third consecutive year in which Villanova has held the No. 1 ranking for at least once during those respective seasons (the Wildcats were No. 1 for three weeks two years ago and for seven weeks LY). The Wildcats wrap up their Philadelphia series round-robin (Big 5) against a 6-2 Temple Owls team that has won three of its last four.
Villanova: The Wildcats moved up in the rankings but head coach Jay Wright knows that his team can improve, particularly after a sub-par performance its last time out. “It’s always an honor to be ranked No.1,” Wright said. “It’s great for the ‘Nova Nation and we appreciate the respect of the writers and coaches. We know it’s early, though, and we need to get a lot better.” Villanova trailed at halftime against La Salle on Sunday before rallying for a 77-68 victory. 'Nova has a sweet six-man rotation, led by guards Bridges (18.1 & 6.4), Brunson (17.2 & 4.8 APG), Booth (12.7) and DiVencenzo (11.8 & 4.5). Up front, 6-9 junior Paschall (9.0 & 4.8) and 6-9 freshman (9.0 & 7.5) are the main contributors. Villanova ranks 27th with 85.6% and 34th by allowing 63.3%.
Temple: The Owls can't come close to matching the Wildcats' depth, although the Owls have two quality scorers in guards Alston (17.3 & 4.1) and Rose (17.3 & 6.1). They also have a good big man in the 6-10 Enechionyia, who averages 12.6 & 6.0. Temple has played one of the toughest schedules in the country and it's reflected in their RPI. 'Nova's Wright acknowledged that when saying, "This is an outstanding team and it's Temple-Villanova at their place. We know how big a challenge this is." The Owls are averaging 74.6 PPG (196th) and allowing 68.8 PPG (111th).
The pick: Villanova’s re-emergence into nation’s elite status has not made Jay Wright forget about taking care of business at home in these Big 5 rivalries. In fact, 'Nova has won 21 straight over local Big Five foes. Sure, Temple is the last team to defeat the Wildcats in Big 5 action but that was a 76-61 victory back on Dec. 5, 2012. Temple is just 2-17 all-time against the top-ranked team in the country (which 'Nova currently is) and Jay Wright has saved some of his team's better recent efforts for Temple, which was ripped by 21 points last season and has lost by double digit margins the past six times, not coming closer than 15 points in any of those six. Make Villanova a 10* play.
|12-12-17||Mississippi State v. Cincinnati -11||Top||50-65||Win||100||19 h 47 m||Show|
The set-up: The Bearcats opened 7-0 but lost at crosstown rival Xavier on and then fell short 66-60 for their second straight loss against then-No. 5 Florida in the Never Forget Tribute Classic in Newark, N.J., on Saturday, However, Cincy did manage to remain in the AP poll, grabbing the 25th and final spot in Monday's poll. The Mississippi State Bulldogs ran their season-opening winning streak to eight games with a 95-62 rout of Division II North Georgia in their latest outing and despite being one of just seven Division I unbeatens, the Bulldogs remain unranked (Georgetown is the only other unbeaten to also not be ranked).
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs aren't ranked because the strength of its schedule to date leaves much to be desired. In fact, even with more than a few cupcakes on that schedule, the team is fortunate to be unbeaten, as they are committing an average of 15.3 turnovers per game, which is tied with Idaho State for 279th among 351 Division I schools. However, the team shoots well (49.6% ranks 34th in the nation) and defends well (61.9 PPG ranks 21st and its defensive FG percentage of 37.5 ranks 17th). Tyson Carter leads five players in double figures at 14.0 PPG, joined by a pair of Weatherspoon brothers, Quinndary (13.2-5.6-4.6) and Nick (10.9), plus the 6-10 Holman (11.0 & 7.2).
Cincinnati: The Bearcats were in the thick of it against Florida but committed a whopping 21 turnovers. "We've got good players turning the ball over, which is a big, big problem," Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said after the game. "It's hard to win when you turn the ball over, nearly impossible to win. If we had won this game somehow with the turnover line it would have been a modern miracle." Six players are part of the main rotation, averaging from 6.9 to 13.2 PPG. The 6-8 Clark leads the way (13.2 & 8.6) with PG Evans (13.1-3.6-3.5) right behind him. Cincy teams always play defense and this year's team is allowing just 61.8 PPG (20th) on 36.8% shooting (11th).
The pick: Mississippi St. is 8-0 but Cincy comes in as a double digit favorite. There IS a reason for that. The Bulldogs are off to their best start since the 2003-04 season but a closer look reveals that their strength of schedule ranks 349th out of 351 Division I teams. This visit to Cincinnati also marks their first true road game of the season so far and will be the team's only road game in its first 14 (some schedule-maker!). The Bearcats' only two losses have come to city rival Xavier (now ranked 10th) on Dec. 2 and on Saturday to then-No. 5 Florida. Cronin clearly wasn't happy with his team's effort in losses to nationally-ranked Xavier and Florida, suggesting that winning made his team "soft" and adding that "it makes you arrogant and it makes your players content." I believe "his kids" got the message. Miss. St. is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Make Cincy a 10* play.
|12-11-17||Drake v. Minnesota -19||Top||67-68||Loss||-110||19 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: Minnesota returned all five starters from a 24-win team last year and opened the new season 7-0. However, the "not-so" Golden Gophers have lost three of their last four games, including back-to-back double-digit losses at Nebraska and Arkansas. The team's current AP ranking may be No. 14 but that's only until Monday's new poll is released (bye-bye top-25!). The Drake Bulldogs visit Williams Arena tonight and have defeated Wake Forest earlier this season and more recently, snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday with a 19-point win over Omaha. Drake checks in 5-4 on the season but that's pretty good news for a team which hasn't had as many as 10 wins the last three seasons (9, 7, & 7).
Drake: Senior guard Reed Timmer scored 27 points to pace Drake in its win over Omaha. He enters averaging 22.1 PPG (4.1 RPG), while shooting 49.5% (56.1% on threes) and 91.9% from the line. Fellow guards McMurray (11.6) and Woodward (11.4) join him in double figures, as does the 6-8 McGlynn (11.0 & 6.0). However, Drake's defense leaves much to be desired, allowing 78.6 PPG (293rd) on 47.4% shooting (300th).
Minnesota: Head coach Richard Pitino is not in panic mode, at least not yet. "Certainly we have our deficiencies we have to fix, but the sky's not falling," Pitino told reporters after the Gophers allowed the Razorbacks to shoot 57.4 percent from the floor and 43.5 percent from beyond the arc. The 6-6 Jordan Murphy leads the team in scoring (19.9) and rebounding (12.5), posting a double-double in all 11 games. The 6-10 Lynch (11.0 & 8.1 plus 4.2 blocks per game) joins Murphy up front plus the Gophers have a sweet trio of guards in Mason (15.8-4.0-4.5), Coffey (14.2 & 4.6 and McBrayer (8.5). Coffey has scored at least 10 points in six straight games.
The pick: This is a huge number but Drake is 0-3 on the road, while allowing 88.5 PPG. This is a the wrong place and wrong time to visit Minnesota, reeling from back-to-back road losses. Minnesota averages a whopping 93.5 PPG at home and the play is to lay the points. Make Minnesota 10* selection.
|12-10-17||Tulane v. Florida State -13||Top||53-72||Win||100||5 h 30 m||Show|
Tulane" The Green Wave were every bit of a six-win team last season (they earned those 25 losses) but it's been quite a turnaround in the early going of this season. 6-6 guard Melvin Frazier has improved in just about every statistical category over last season and, with a line of 18.8-7.4-2.8, has helped to carry the Green Wave to seven wins and a chance at their first winning season since 2012-13. Fellow guard Reynolds is right behind him (16.9 & 5.4) plus the 6-9 Sehic (12.4 & 7.4) is the team's best frontcourt player. Two more guards, Cornish (10.4 & 4.0 APG) and Ona Embo (9.6) round out the major contributors. Tulane averages 80.2 PPG (86th) on 47.6% shooting (77th).
Florida State: The Seminoles won 26 games before losing the second round of the NCAAs last season. However, four starters are gone from that team, including guards Bacon (17.2), and Rathan-Mayes (10.6 & 4.8 APG) plus the "one & done" 6-10 Isaac (12.0 & 7.8). Mann was the lone returning starter and the 6-6 junior guard leads the team in scoring (16.0), while adding 5.8 RPG. Three more guards, CJ Walker (12.2), Angola (12.0) and MJ Walker (8.6) give FSU an excellent perimeter game. The surprise has been the 6-8 Phil Cofer. After a freshman season in which he averaged 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds, Cofer appeared on his way to becoming a mainstay for the Seminoles but that hasn't been the case until this season. He averaged fewer than 13 minutes and four points over the last two seasons but he's averaging 13.4 PPG and 5.5 RPG, joining the 6-9 Kabengele (9.0 & 5,1) in the frontcourt. That group helps FSU to an average of 89.0 PPG (15th) on 50.6% shooting (21st). The D on a Leonard Hamilton-coached team is always good and this year's team is allowing 68.8 PPG (103rd).
The pick: Florida State is one of eight unbeaten teams in Division I (number is falling fast, just ask Duke!) and will look to remain among that select company when it plays Tulane Sunday in Tampa, Fla. The Seminoles earned their seventh victory by 15 or more points Wednesday against Loyola Maryland and their 8-0 start is the best for Florida State since opening 10-0 in 2003-04. I'm laying the points here and making FSU a 10* play.
|12-09-17||Portland State v. Santa Clara -4||Top||87-84||Loss||-105||22 h 56 m||Show|
The set-up: The Portland State Vikings won their third straight game and improved to 7-2 on the season after defeating the Loyola Marymount Lions 94-85 this past Wednesday. The Vikings will travel to the Leavey Center on Saturday night to face the 3-5 Santa Clara Broncos. Santa Clara opened 1-5 but has won back-to-back homes games, 89-57 over Northern Arizona and 72-57 over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Portland State: The Vikings have a new head coach in Barret Perry and the team's 7-2 start is confidence-building, after the team has won 15, 13 and 15 games the last three seasons, respectively. Portland State was able to pull away from the Lions this past Wednesday, helped by Marymount committing an incredible 33 turnovers! Bryce Canda had a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead the way. This guard-oriented lineup features four double digits scorers on the perimeter. North is tops with 17.9 PPG, followed by Canda (17.7), who also leads in rebounding at 7.4 per. Mayhew (10.8) and Woods (10.2) round out the quartet, As a team, Portland averages 91.6 PPG, which ranks 6th in the nation.
Santa Clara: After routing Northern Arizona, the Broncos did much the same to Pine Bluff (see above). Leading the way was Matt Hauser (10.1) who had 21 points. He's joined by two other scorers in the backcourt, Feagin (18.2) and Caruso (11.00, who also leads the team in rebounding at 7.1 per. The 6-8 Vrankic (11.0 & 4.4) is the team's best frontcourt player.
The pick: Santa Clara averages more than 20 PPG less than Portland State at 74.3 per but note the Broncos have held back-to-back opponents to 57 points here at the Leavey Center. It's not as if Santa Clara can keep Portland State under 60 points (lowest point total was 69 vs Butler) but the Broncos should at least slow them down. It says something here that Santa Clara is favored over a team averaging almost 92 PPG and whose only losses this season have come against Butler and Duke at the Phil Knight Invitational Tournament. Lay it and make Santa Clara an 8* play.
|12-09-17||Minnesota v. Arkansas -3.5||Top||79-95||Win||100||19 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: The Minnesota Golden Gophers opened 7-0 but they have not been very 'golden' lately, entering this game 8-2 (ranked No. 14) but losers of two of their last three. The team's first loss was 86-81 to Miami at home in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Nov. 29 ('Canes are currently ranked 10th) and then this past Tuesday at Nebraska. Minnesota shot just 32.4 percent from the floor in that 78-68 loss to the Cornhuskers (Nebraska is 7-3). The Gophers travel to Fayetteville and Bud Walton Arena on Saturday evening to take on 6-2 Arkansas. The Razorbacks bounced back from a 26-point loss at Houston on Dec. 2 with a resounding 92-66 victory over Colorado State on Tuesday.
Minnesota: "They just played better than we did and when we needed to get stops, we couldn't," Minnesota head coach Richard Pitino told reporters after the Nebraska loss. "Offensively, obviously, we didn't have it going. If you don't have it going offensively, you've got to get stops and get out on the break. We did not do that. Credit to them."Minnesota has all five starters back from last year's 24-win team and is being led by 6-6 junior forward Jordan Murphy (19.9 & 12.8). Senior PG checks in at Nate Mason (15.7-4.0-4.4, after averaging 20.3 points over his last four games. Reggie Lynch is a 6-10 senior center and averages 11.6 & 8.6 plus leads the nation with 4.5 blocks per game. 6-8 forward Coffey (13.8 & 4.5) and SG McBrayer (8.8 & 3.4 APG) round out the starting-five.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks won 26 games last season, losing in the NCAAs second round. Three starters are gone from that team, including leading scorer Hannahs (14.4) and the 6-10 Kingsley (12.0 & 7.7). Arkansas has solid balance this year, although four of the team's five double digit scorers are all guards. Barford leads the way with 19.6 PPG (4.1 RPG & 3.4 APG), followed by Macon (14.6), Beard (11.9) and Jones (10.8). The 'outsider' is 6-11 freshman Gafford, who averages 12.0 & 5.8. The Razorbacks average 87.2 PPG (25th) with Barford (46.2 percent), Macon (43.9) and Jones (40.5) coming into this contest as one of two trios in the nation shooting over 40 percent from three-point range with at least 35 attempts.
The pick: The Golden Gophers average 87.3 PPG (23rd) but come in struggling on the offensive the last few games. That not good news when playing at Arkansas, which is famous for its defensive pressure. The Razorbacks forced 19 turnovers, raising its season average to 16.4 per in their win over Colorado State and held the Rams to 36.5 percent shooting. Murphy will face extra defensive attention from Arkansas’s deep, athletic forecourt plus center Reggie Lynch will be challenged by Arkansas’s prized, five-star 6-11 freshman Daniel Gafford, who has lived up to teh hype. The Razorbacks' first eight opponents were a combined 42-25 through Wednesday's games and Arkansas is 4-0 at home, outscoring opponents 92.8-to-62.5 PPG. Make Arkansas a 10* play.
|12-08-17||Oklahoma +1.5 v. USC||Top||85-83||Win||100||24 h 3 m||Show|
The set-up: The 6-1 Oklahoma Sooners will visit Los Angeles to take on the 4-2 USC Trojans on Friday night in the Basketball Hall of Fame's Hoophall L.A. Classic played at Staples Center. The Sooners have the better current record, although it's USC which comes in ranked at No. 25 in the latest AP poll. However, after opening 4-0, the Trojans have lost at home to then No. 16 Texas A&M (75-59) and followed with a 72-55 loss at SMU. USC is now looking to avoid a third straight loss against an Oklahoma team that has lost just once (92-83 to Arkansas in the PK80 Invitational) and is knocking on the top-25 'door' with a four-game win streak that includes a 90-80 neutral-floor win over 2017 Final Four participant Oregon in that same PK80 Invitational in Portland,.
Oklahoma: 6-2 freshman Trae Young scored a season-high 43 points to go along with a game-high seven assists and two steals in not only leads Oklahoma in scoring but his 28.7 PPG also leads the nation! Young, who also averages 8.7 APG, can't wait to play on the same court of former Oklahoma star Blake Griffin of the Clippers, not to mention the Lakers of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. "I've been able to play in the (Chicago) Bulls arena, the Brooklyn Nets arena, obviously Portland and now L.A.," Young said. "It's going to be fun. That's a legendary place to play. ... I can't wait for it." The Sooners ranks second in the nation at 94.4 PPG and shoot 50.5 percent as a team (24th). Junior guard Christian James (11.9 & 4.0) and 6-9 senior forward Khadeem Lattin (11.1 & 9.1) are also are averaging in double figures.
USC; Last year's team set a school-record with 26 victories and made a surprising run to NCAA's Sweet 16 and with all five starters returning, were considered a 'sleeper pick' to make it to the school's first Final Four since 1954. However, after that 4-0 start, USC has been humbled in back-to-back games (see above). The team's current five starters average between 9.0 and 16.0 PPG, led by the 'Twin Tower' duo of the 6-11 Metu (16.0 & 7.7) and the 6-10 Boatwright (15.7 & 7.7). PG McLaughlin also scores in double digits at 13.5 PPG, while leading the team with 5.8 APG.
The pick: USC's loss to A&M is not much of a concern (Aggies are currently ranked 7th) but the Trojans led 30-27 at halftime at SMU last Saturday, before getting outscored 45-25 in the second half by the Mustangs. It was deja vu all over again, as six days earlier Texas A&M used a late 19-3 run to pull away for a 16-point victory at the Galen Center. USC is already without G De'Antthony Melton, who is being withheld because of eligibility issues stemming from the FBI investigation of assistant coach Tony Bland plus will also be without PG Derryck Thornton, a Duke transfer who is expected to miss three-to-four weeks after dislocating his right shoulder Nov. 28. Back-to-back lopsided loss is a concern for Andy Enfield's team, whose offense is not functioning well with USC making just 12 of 44 three-point attempts (27.3 percent) in those contests. Even in the "friendly confines" of Staples Center (just up the 110 Freeway from USC's on-campus Galen Center), a see a third straight loss coming for the Trojans. Make Oklahoma a 10* play.
|12-07-17||Eastern Washington v. San Francisco -7||Top||71-81||Win||100||14 h 24 m||Show|
The set-up: The Eastern Washington Eagles dropped their second straight game 84-65 this past Sunday to the Seattle Redhawks, falling to 3-5 on the season. They will travel to War Memorial Gymnasium in San Francisco on Thursday to take on the San Francisco Dons, who snapped their two-game losing streak and improved to 4-3 on the season after defeating the Central Arkansas Bears 78-76 this past Monday night.
Eastern Washington: The Eagles allowed Seattle to shoot 50.9% from the floor, including 52.9% (9-17) from beyond the arc in Sunday's loss. Clearly, that kind of defense won't cut it for a team which is averaging only 70.1 PPG (273rd) on some very poor shooting (39.7% ranks 324th!). Eastern Washington's leading score is Bogdan Bliznyuk (14.1-4.5- 2.4), a 6-6 guard, plus a trio of guards add 6.9-to-9.0 PPG to the mix. The 6-7 Hunt (6.6 & 5.8) and the 7-0 Gruciunas (6.4 & 5.1) are the best big men.
San Francisco: The Dons held off a late Central Arkansas run to pick up the two-point victory in their last game. San Francisco shot just 38.1% from the floor but did out-rebound the Bears by a 43-30 margin in the victory. San Francisco doesn't score any better than Eastern Washington, averaging 71.4 PPG (246th) and shoots poorly as well, connecting on 39.1 percent (336th). Jordan Ratinho had 17 points in the win and leads the Dons on the season with 12.7 PPG (also 4.3 RPG). 6-5 SF Chase Foster adds 11.3 PPG and a team-high 6.0 RPG.
The pick: Eastern Washington has had a tough early schedule and it is taking a toll. The Eagles limp in just 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games and while San Francisco is "more in their class," the Dons are 6-0 ATS in their last six games vs. a team with a winning percentage below .400. Make San Francisco a 10* play.
|12-06-17||Loyola-Chicago v. Florida -15||Top||65-59||Loss||-110||23 h 32 m||Show|
The set-up: The Florida Gators opened 5-0, including a 111-105 win over Gonzaga. However, Florida then allowed Duke to come back from a 17-point deficit with 10 minutes left to beat the Gators 87-84 for the Motion Bracket championship at the Phil Knight Invitational tournament. Things went from bad-to-worse in Florida's next game, as the Gators were humbled 83-66 in a home loss to the unranked Seminoles on Monday. Mike White's team looks to bounce back tonight against the 8-1 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers, who are off to the school's best start since also winning eight of their first nine contests back in 1965-66.
Loyola-Chicago: The Ramblers are 13-2 in their last 15 games versus non-Missouri Valley Conference opponents but of course in No. 5 Florida, it's a bit of a 'horse of a different color.' The team opened the season with seven straight victories before splitting its last two, an 87-53 loss at Boise State and then Saturday's 24-point win over Illinois-Chicago. Senior forward Aundre Jackson spearheaded the attack, hitting 10-of-11 shots for a game-high 23 points, his second-highest total of the season and the second time he has topped 20 points in the last four games. Freshman Lucas Williamson chipped in with a career-high 14 points. Loyola-Chicago averages 79.1 PPG (110th) but shoots 52.2% from the floor, which ranks 8th! Four players are averaging in double figures led by senior forward Jackson (13.8 & 4.2) plus guards Townes (13.4 & 5.2), Custer (13.4 & 4.3 APG) and Ingram (12.3 & 6.9).
Florida: "They (Florida State) threw the first three or four punches and continued throwing most of them and connected on most of them until the final buzzer. Very disappointing effort," coach White told reporters afterward. "… I thought they played harder than us; I thought they were tougher than us for 40 minutes." Like Loyola, four players are averaging in double figures, led by junior guard Jalen Hudson (20.9 &4.4). Joining him are fellow guards Koulechov (16.7 & 6.6), Allen (13.7 & 3.4) and Chiozza (11.7-5.6-6.4). However, the Gators offense couldn't get anything going against Florida State, scoring 33.5 points fewer than its season average coming into the game (99.5). They wound up shooting a dismal 36.2 percent from the floor and hitting just 6-of-25 from three-point range (both their second-worst showings of the young season).
The pick: No reason to think the Gators won't bounce back here, as Mike White's team is 3-1 in Gainesville with a 29.7 point average margin of victory in the three wins. As for Loyola, the Ramblers will be going for their first victory over a team ranked in the top-five since 1984 and in fact, they have not beaten ANY ranked team in nearly nine years. The Gators hope to responded to consecutive losses to Duke and Florida State in early December games last year, ripping off seven straight victories. Same story here, at least for one night (note Loyola's 83-57 loss at Boise State). Make Florida a 10* play.
|12-05-17||Vermont v. Marquette -3||Top||81-91||Win||100||21 h 23 m||Show|
The set-up: The Vermont Catamounts lost their season-opener at Kentucky but only 73-69 as 12-point underdogs. They then won six straight before falling this past Saturday 81-77 at Bucknell. Vermont will visit BMO Harris Bradley Center on Tuesday evening when they face the host the Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette is 5-3, after seeing its three-game winnings streak snapped in 73-66 home loss to Georgia.
Vermont: The Catamounts are led by 6-6 forward Lamb (14.9 & 6.5), who is joined by three other double digit scorers. They are guards Bell-Haynes (12.2 & 5.0 APG) and Duncan (11.9) plus the 6-8 Henson (11.5 & 5.8). Vermont did not look good for most of that Bucknell game and except for a run in the final minutes, the final score would have been a little more lopsided. Vermont will need a much better effort here.
Marquette: Leading scorer Andrew Rowsey (22.6 & 4.2 APG) was held to 15 points in the loss to Georgia but his high-scoring backcourt partner Markus Howard (21.0) scored 29 points. Another guard, Hauser, averages 12.4 PPG and 6.0 RPG, but the scoring drops off from there, as no other player scores more than 6.4 PPG.
The pick: The Golden Eagles won the only prior meeting between the teams but that was some time ago, 89-58 back on Dec. 22, 1995. Marquette has struggled to pick up resume-building wins against ranked teams and major conference opponents early in the season, falling to Purdue, Wichita State and Georgia, The Golden Eagles will be tested by Vermont, a mid-major with past success but this is a game the home team need badly and I'll back them. Make Marquette a 10* play.
|12-04-17||Missouri State -1.5 v. North Dakota State||Top||71-58||Win||100||19 h 24 m||Show|
The set-up: The Missouri State Bears will travel to the Scheels Center in Fargo on a five-game winning streak and with an overall record of 7-2. Awaiting the Bears will be the North Dakota State Bison, who come off back-to-back losses leaving them at 43-4 to open the new season.The Bison are off a 19-win season, after four straights years of 20-plus wins, and return eight players. Missouri State has known success in the past (remember Steve Alford?) but last year's 17-win season came after winning just 11 and 13 games the previous two years. However, four starters returned this year and maybe this year's 7-2 start means the Bears are looking at getting back to 20 wins.
Missouri State: Seven players are averaging 21-plus minutes per game with the 6-9 Johnson leading the team in scoring (13.7) and rebounding (10.3). Guard Miller (10.2 & 4.1) is the only other double digit scorer but SF Scurry just misses (9.7), despite averaging only about 15 minutes of playing time. Defense has been the key for Missouri State, which is holding opponents to an average of 62.4 PPG (33rd) on 36.8% shooting (14th).
North Dakota State: The Bison were a little out of their league in losing 83-59 at Mississippi State this past Thursday. North Dakota State had no answers for the Bulldogs and Tyson Carter (35 points), as the Bison couldn’t fight back after falling behind by a 63-38 margin with 11:13 left in regulation. North Dakota State shot just 28.6% (10-35) from beyond the arc ant-d was out-rebounded by the Bulldogs by a 41-28 margin. Leading the way for the Bison was Paul Miller who had 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Miller tops a guard-oriented team in averaging 14.7 & 6.6, with three other guards following. They are Ward (11.6), Hunter (10.1) and Jacobson (9.1).
The pick: Missouri State is not quite Miss. State (7-0) but the Bears have looked awfully good in their five-game winning streak. North Dakota State has struggled on the offensive end this season (67.3 PPG ranks 306th) and that's not good news against an excellent Missouri State defense Make the Bears a 10* play.
|12-03-17||Dayton +9.5 v. Mississippi State||Top||59-61||Win||100||20 h 34 m||Show|
The set-up: The Dayton Flyers are coming off a 24-win season and lost four starters from last year's team. Dayton is hoping to find some consistency in the early part of its season but so far has alternated wins and losses through each of its first six games, falling 3-3 on the season after being defeated 73-60 at home by the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday. The Flyers will travel to Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville to take on the 6-0 Mississippi State Bulldogs Sunday night in college hoops action.
Dayton: The Flyers sure know about winning (26, 27, 25 and 24 wins the last four years) but Dayton not only lost four senior starters off last year's team, it also saw head coach Archie Miller leave to take the Indiana job. Miller's loss is mitigated somewhat by Anthony Grant taking over. He was an assistant under Billy Donovan at Florida and then at OKC in the NBA) plus led VCU and Alabama to NCAA tourney wins as a head coach. The lone returning starter is guard Darrell Davis, who has averaged 19.7 PPG. The 6-7 Cunningham, who missed most of LY with an injury, looks healthy while averaging 14.3 & 10.3 plus the 6-8 Williams (8.8 & 5.2) adds size to the frontcourt. Five others are seeing "PT," averaging from 5.0-to-7.2 PPG.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs stayed perfect on the season by defeating the North Dakota State Bison 83-59 this past Thursday. Leading the way for the Bulldogs was Tyson Carter who had 35 points, Carter is a guard who leads the team in scoringat 15.0 PPG, with three fellow guards chippng in 12.0--to-12.3 PPG. That includes PG Quinndary Weatherspoon, whose line reads 12.2-5.5-4.8. Up front, the 6-10 Holman (11.5 & 7.3) and the 6-11 Ado (8.4 & 7.0) add size and are the best producers. Quinndary's brother Nick, is averaging 12.0 PPG. The Weatherspoon brothers are the only players to start every game for the Bulldogs this season and they are one of 29 sets of brothers nationally who are teammates.
The pick: Dayton may be in for somewhat of a rebuilding year but don't sell this program or head coach Grant, short (see above for a reminder). Former UCLA head coach Ben Howland owns a veteran squad and as always, he preaches defense (62.3 PPG allowed ranks 26th). However, while Dayton saw its 16-game home win streak snapped in that 73-60 setback Auburn last Wednesday, the Flyers are 15-4 in their last 19 games versus the SEC, including victories at Alabama 77-72 and versus Vanderbilt 68-63 last season. Take the points and make Dayton a 10* play.
|12-02-17||Cincinnati v. Xavier -2||Top||76-89||Win||100||11 h 54 m||Show|
The set-up: No. 21 Xavier (6-1) will host No. 11 Cincinnati (6-0) before a raucous, standing-room only crowd at Cintas Center at :high noon!' The time start is appropriate, as over the past 90 years these two Queen City schools have exchanged memorable performances, thrilling finishes, and even a few fists. Since Xavier's program has gained national prominence, the rivalry has drawn wider appeal as well. Cincinnati has steamrolled the competition to date, coming into Friday with an average margin of victory of 30.6 PPG, second-highest in all of Division I. However, the level of competition Cincinnati has encountered can be generously described as "not elite." Meanwhile, Xavier has already faced a pair of top-25 teams, losing a 102-86 decision to Arizona State before breaking out to an early 21-8 lead and winning 76-63 over Baylor.
Xavier: The Musketeers are led by preseason All-Amercian Trevon Bluiett, who averages 19.7 & 6.1. PG Macura (14.6-5.1-3.3) is an excellent backcourt mate plus the 6-8 Gates (11.7 & 4.6) and the 6-9 Jones (9.1 & 6.9) are the team's two best big men. Five others chip in between 5.4 and 8.6 PPG. Bluiett will be looking to get back on track after being held to 21 total points against Arizona State and Baylor but was picked by Macura, who had 42 points in those two games. On the season, Macura is shooting a red-hot 59.3 percent from the floor. Xavier can score with Cincy (89.0 PPG ranks 21st) but can't defend nearly as well (69.0 PPG ranks 116th).
The pick: This is a bitter rivalry In 1994, Xavier head coach Pete Gillen and Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins refused to shake hands after an 82-76 Musketeers' victory in overtime, an incident they reportedly made amends for years later. In 1996, Xavier guard Lenny Brown's lane jumper at the buzzer lifted the Musketeers to a shocking 71-69 upset of No. 1-ranked Cincinnati in their gym. On December 10, 2011, in the closing moments of a 76-53 Xavier win at Cintas Center, an ugly bench-clearing brawl erupted, resulting in the game being played at a neutral site for two seasons. That vitriol has calmed in recent years, but there's certainly no love lost between the Bearcats and Musketeers. The schools are separated by less than three miles, and the teams and fan bases are united in their hatred of each other.
This is Cincy's first real test of the young season and it is also the Bearcats' first true road game. Cincy won last year's game at home (86-78) but Xavier has largely dominated the series over the past two decades, winning three of the past four meetings, seven of 10, and 14 of the previous 21. Xavier is shooting 55.0 percent from the floor as a team, with only Virginia Tech (56.1) shooting better. The Musketeers are 4-0 SU & ATS at home, outscoring opponents 93.5-to-61.8 PPG. Make Xavier an 8* play.
|12-01-17||Duquesne +7 v. Pittsburgh||Top||64-76||Loss||-110||12 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up:: Duquesne and Pittsburgh (both Pittsburgh-area schools) meet annually in non-conference play and this year's matchup will be contested at PPG Paints Arena, the home of the two-time defending Penguins. Duquesne enters 2-2 and Pittsburgh 3-4. The Panthers lead the series 52-32 but Duquesne won 64-55 last season, as 15 1/2-point underdogs.Dusquesne: The Dukes are off a 10-22 season but made a great off-season hire by bringing in Keith Dambrot as their head coach. He coached LBJ in high school and recently, led Akron to three NCAA berths and five more in the NIT in his 13 seasons at Akron. Duquesne opened 2-0 but lost its second straight game 78-71 to Cornell on Monday. The Dukes led at the half 35-32 but a 15-3 Cornell run gave the Big Red a 65-53 lead with just 6:02 left in regulation and the Dukes never recovered. Duquesne shot just 34.9 from the floor, while allowing Cornell to shoot 56.4%. Shooting poorly has been a problem so far for e thDukes, as they are connecting on just 37.9 percent on the season (ranks 340th!). Four guards lead the way, all scoring in double digits. Castro (20.8 & 3.8) is tops, followed by Williams (13.5), who leads in rebounding at 9.8 plus Smith (12.8 & 4.2) and Lewis (12.0).
Pittsburgh: Kevin Stallings begins his second season at Pitt, coming off a 16-17 season. All five starters are gone from that team and maybe that's a good thing. The Panthers come in off two straight wins and can climb back to .500 after a 1-4 start with a win. Senior forward Ryan Luther scored 15 points and led Pitt with eight rebounds plus added a career-high five assists in Tuesday's 71-63 victory over High Point. Luther (13.4 & 9.1) has cracked double figures in scoring in six of Pitt's first seven games. Luther is Pitt's lone big man of note, as JC transfer Jared Wilson-Frame, a 6-5 wing player, paces the team in scoring at 14.0 PPG. Guards Carr (10.0), Stevenson (9.90)and Milligan (8.7) have been the other notable contributors, so far.
|11-30-17||Texas Tech v. Seton Hall +1.5||Top||79-89||Win||100||22 h 53 m||Show|
The set-up: A pair of quality teams square off tonight in the Under Armour Reunion at Madison Square Garden. Seton Halll lost last week 75-74 to Rhode Island at Barclay Center, before rebounding with a 72-59 win over Vandy the next night. The Pirates were No. 20 in the AP but dropped out in Monday's latest poll. Meanwhile, 6-0 Texas Tech made its first appearance in the AP's top-25, checking in at No. 22
Seton Hall: "The Hall" is off a 21-win season, appearing in the Big Dance for a second straight year (won 25 games, two years ago). Four starters are back this season. Up front, it's the 6-6 Rodriguez (17.8 & 4.0) and the 6-10 Delagdo (14.0 & 9.3) plus guards Powell (14.0 & 3.2) and Carrington (10.2 & 4.3 APG) man the perimeter. 6-8 senior Ismael Sanogo doesn't score many points (3.2) but that doesn't mean he isn't important. Sanogo's oot his first start of the season in last week's win over Vanderbilt and responded with season highs of eight rebounds and four blocked shots. His defensive prowess was critical in the Pirates avoiding a second straight defeat ahead of their meeting with the undefeated Red Raiders in New York City. "Ish sets the tone on defense," Desi Rodriguez told the media. "It takes the weight off our shoulders. That's why we consider Ish to be the best defender in the country."
Texas Tech: Sanogo and the rest of the Pirates will have their hands full with a Texas Tech squad that has shot 50.4 percent as a team during its resurgence under coach Chris Beard. Tech starts starts five seniors and uses a 10-man rotation, with those players averaging between 5.3 and 15.0 PPG. .Keenan Evans (15.0 & 3.5 APG) leads the Red Raiders in scoring despite being held scoreless in the most recent win over Savannah State. Culver, a 6-5 freshman guard, is the only other player averaging in double digits (11.0). Great balance on offense has been 'swet' but defense has been ;king' for the team from Lubbock. Tech allows just 55,3 PPG (3rd) on 33.5% shooting (1st).
The pick: The Red Raiders have won their six games by an average margin of 28 points, including a 36-point victory over a ranked Northwestern team. Texas Tech has held three of its first six opponents to 50 points or fewer and the 49 points against then-No. 20 Northwestern were the fewest that Texas Tech allowed to a ranked team since a 67- 47 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma on Jan. 19, 2004. Also note that Texas Tech has started their five seniors during its six-game winning streak, joining Mercer are the only two schools to start five seniors in a game this season. No knock on Tech but Seton Hall is playing in the familiar surroundings of MSG and since Willard became head coach in 2010-11, the Pirates have posted 13 wins against ranked teams, including seven in their last 11 opportunities. Make Seton Hall a 10* play.
|11-29-17||Auburn v. Dayton +3.5||Top||73-60||Loss||-110||24 h 46 m||Show|
The set-up: Bruce Pearl hasn't had much success at Auburn (entered this season 44-54 in three years at the school) but all five starters are back from last year's 18-14 team. The Tigers come to Dayton looking to build off back-to-back wins that have the team sitting at 4-1 this season. Meanwhile, the Dayton Flyers, who are coming off a 24-win season, lost four starters from last year's team. Dayton is hoping to find some consistency in the early part of its season but so far has alternated wins and losses through each of its first 5 games (3-2).
Auburn: The Tigers crushed Winthrop in its last outing, with Mustapha Heron leading the team with 31 points on 11 of 17 shooting, while adding 10 rebounds for the double-double. Bryce Brown had 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting with six 3-pointers. Malik Dunbar added 13 points, DeSean Murray added 12 points and 8 rebounds plus Chuma Okeke added 11 points to give Auburn five players in double figures. PG Jared Harper had seven points and seven assists. Brown is the team’s leading scorer this season with 18.8 PPG and Murray is the etam's leading rebounder a 8.8 per. Heron adds 16.4 & 5.2, Murray 12.2 PPG and PG Harper averages 10.6 & 5.2 APG. Auburn is sure putting points on the board, averaging 93.4 PPG to rank 9th in the nation.
Dayton; The Flyers sure know about winning (26, 27, 25 and 24 wins the last four years) but Dayton not only lost four senior starters off last year's team, it also saw head coach Archie Miller leave to take the Indiana job. Miller's loss is mitigated somewhat by Anthony Grant taking over. He was an assistant under Billy Donovan at Florida and then at OKC in the NBA) plus led VCU and Alabama to NCAA tourney wins as a head coach. The lone returning starter is guard Darrell Davis, has come out averaging 20.0 PPG. The 6-7 Cunningham, who missed most of LY with an injury, looks healthy while averaging 16.0 & 10.2 plus the 6-8 Williams (8.8 & 5.2) adds size to a formidable frontcourt. Six others are seeing "PT," averaging from 3.6-to-7.4 PPG. Dayton scores nowhere near like Auburn but is a solid defensive team, allowing 69.8 PPG (137th).
The pick: Dayton has "stepped up" to the challenge when playing SEC teams, going 12-4 ATS in its last 16 games against the Power-5 conference. In fact, Dayton has won all four all-time meetings between the schools, most recently 73-63 in the 2012 Charleston Classic. Make Dayton a 10* play.
|11-28-17||Louisville +7.5 v. Purdue||Top||57-66||Loss||-110||13 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: No. 17 Louisville has opened 4-0 and will travel to West Lafayette for Tuesday's ACC/Big Ten Challenge to face the 5-2 Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena. The Cardinals really haven't been tested yet, opening the season with wins over George Mason, Omaha, Southern Illinois and St. Francis (Pa.). However, in Friday's win over St. Francis, when junior Ray Spalding left in the second half with an ankle injury, a 22-point lead was whittled to eight in the 84-72 triumph. Purdue rolled to victories in its first four games by a combined 157 points while averaging 102 points but lost 78-75 (OT) to Tennessee 78-75 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Boilermakers then got upset 77-73 by Western Kentucky in the next round. However, Purdue recovered nicely against Arizona, shooting 57 percent and draining 11-of-22 shots beyond the arc in the 89-64 victory.
Louisville: The Cardinals have had NCAA-related problems this fall, including the FBI investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball, a mess that cost veteran coach Rick Pitino his job, replaced by former Cardinal player David Padgett on an interim basis. The 6-10 Spalding (12.0 & 9.3) matched his career high with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and set a new personal best with 13 rebounds and five blocks in just 26 minutes against the Red Flash before getting hurt (he is questionable for Purdue). This will be Louisville's first road contest and interim coach David Padgett told reporters, “It's going to be an eye-opening experience for the young guys just because they've never done it before, “It’s going to be welcome to the jungle a little bit because there are not many places in college basketball that are tougher to play in than Purdue.” Senior guard Quentin Snider (8.3 & 4.0 APG) and 7-0 senior Anas Mahmoud (7.5 & 7.8) plus 6-7 junior Deng Adel (team-high 17.5 points plus 5.5 RPG ) will be counted on heavily, especially if Spaulding can't go.
Purdue: The win over then No.2 Arizona was Purdue's second-largest margin of victory against a ranked foe in school history. "It's good that they were resilient and they bounced back and they won a game," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "But I don't think it answers what happened in the other two games. The other two games, we didn't make shots. You have to be able to win versus good people when the ball doesn't go in." Also of note is that the Purdue beat an Arizona team which went 0-3 in the Bahamas, becoming the first team ranked No. 2 to fall out of the top-25 in one week's time since the the 1986-87 season (ironically, that team was Louisville!). The Boilermakers return four starters from their 2016 Big Ten championship team, making them as experienced as any team in the country. Sure, Caleb Swanigan (18.5 & 12.5) is a huge loss but 6-8 senior forward Vince Edwards (12.6 & 4.9 LY) is the only active player in the nation with at least 1,000 pints, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. Guards Edwards (18.0 & 4.4) and Mathias (16.1-4.7-4.7) lead in scoring from the perimeter with Edwards (14.0 & 9.0) and the 7-2 Haas (14.4 & 5.3) taking care of business inside. Then there is the 7-3 Matt Harms (6.3 & 4.1), who has blocked 21 shots in just 125 minutes this season.
The pick: Purdue leads the all-time series 11-6 but Louisville won last year’s matchup 71-64 at home, ending Purdue's seven-game winning streak in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Will Purdue start another winning streak here? I think not, as the Boilermakers have done quite a bit of traveling and this Louisville team is rested plus is playing with a chip on its shoulder from all the "off-the-court" issues. Make Louisville a 10* play.
|11-27-17||Yale -2.5 v. Delaware||Top||76-66||Win||100||21 h 35 m||Show|
The set-up: The Yale Bulldogs won a school-record 23 games in the 2015-16 season. It led to the school's first NCAA appearance in 54 years and culminated in the first NCAA win in the school's 121-year history! All things considered, an 18-11 record last year, which ended with a loss in the Ivy League championship game (the league's first-ever conference tourney), wasn't half-bad! Yale (3-4) will travel to Newark, De. to take on the 4-2 Delaware Blue Hens Monday night at the Bob Carpenter Center. Delaware is off a 13-20 season (had won seven and 10 games the previous two seasons) but has four starters back.
Yale: The Bulldogs lost Makai Mason (transferred to Baylor) but the 6-7 Oni (15.8-5.8-3.7) is a terrific all-around player. Balance abounds, with six others averaging between 8.0 and 10.4 PPG, topped by returning PG Copeland (10.4 & 3.4 APG).
Delaware: Guard Ryan Daly (15.8 & 5.30 is th team's leading scorer with three other guards scoring in double digits. The frontcourt is patrolled by the 6-9 Carter (12.8 & 9.0) and the 6-8 Woods (7.8 & 4.7).
The pick. the bottom line here is that Yale is the much better team and its record would be better if the Bulldogs hadn't opened the season with road games at Creighton and Wisconsin. Delaware's easy-season schedule has been quite easy with games against Wesley, North Carolina Wesleyan and Longwood (among three of the team's four wins) and even so, the team has still struggled to space the floor offensively, averaging only 73.5 PPG. Yale has better depth and has a history of winning on the road. Yale won last year's meeting 81-63 and while this game is at Delaware, I'll still make Yale a 10* play.
|11-26-17||Oklahoma v. Oregon +2||Top||90-80||Loss||-105||6 h 40 m||Show|
The set-up: The 3-1 Oklahoma Sooners and the 5-1 Oregon Ducks square off on Sunday in a fifth-place game as part of the PK80 tournament from Portland, Oregon. The Sooners rode Buddy Hields' scoring to a Final Four appearance two seasons ago but the Sooners "fell off the map" in the 2016-17 season, going 11-20 (had won 29 games the season before). Meanwhile, Oregon made it ll the way to the Final Four last season, before finishing 33-6. However, four starters are gone from that team, so the team's 5-1 start has been a mild surprise.
Oklahoma: Freshman Trae Young was still in high school when Buddy Hield propelled Oklahoma past Oregon and into the Final Four two years ago. Young exploded for 33 points against the Pilots during a win, becoming the first freshman in the Lon Kruger era (2011-present) to score 30 points. His performance marked the highest-scoring game by a Sooner freshman since Tommy Mason-Griffin tallied 38 points on Jan. 27, 2010. Young leads the way ins coring (24.5) and assists (9.0) plus 6-9 forward Khadeem Lattin (14.7 & 10.3) is the lone senior on the team. The Sooners are averaging 98.0 PPG (3rd-best) but are giving up too points, allowing 80.2 PPG (298th).
Oregon: The Ducks needed OT to earn an 89-79 win over DePaul, upping the Ducks to 5-1 this season. Guard Payton Pritchard, the lone returning starter, led the team with 29 points on 9 of 16 shooting. Elijah Brown (12.0) added 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting. 6-7 Freshman Troy Brown had 11 points along with nine rebounds and leads the team at 7.0 RPG (is scoring 11.0 per). Like Oklahoma, Oregon can light up the scoreboard (88.5 PPG) but unlike Oklahoma, Oregon is allowing 66.3 PPG.
The pick: I believe Oklahoma can put up points on most teams, but Oregon has enough offensive 'punch' to match the Sooners' point-for-point. Make Oregon a 10* play.
|11-25-17||Loyola Marymount v. Boise State -11||Top||48-68||Win||100||20 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: The Loyola Marymount Lions will travel to Boise, Idaho to take on the Boise State Broncos in a non-conference college basketball matchup on Saturday night. The Lions opened the season with a loss at UT-Arlington but a 91-87 win over Incarnate Word the last time out gives them three straight victories and a 3-1 record to open the season. In contrast, the Broncos opened 4-0 Broncos but will be looking to bounce back from their first loss of the campaign, a 75-64 loss to Iowa State back on Nov. 19th in South Carolina (Puerto Rico Tip-Off).
Loyola-Marymount: It's been awhile since Marymount has put a competitive team on the court and head coach Mike Dunlap opened his fourth season as the school's head coach with just a 37-55 record. Just two starters are back from last year's 15-15 team and Dunlap needs to replace seven of his top-eight scorers. The leading returning scorer from last year is the 6-6 Haney (9.4) and he's scoring 11.7 PPG. However, three newcomers are the key to this year's success (or lack thereof). JC transfer guards Batemon (19.0-5.0-3.8) and Allen (11.0) are already making an impact, as is 6-5 freshman Scott, who is averaging 16.2 PPG and a team-high 8.8 RPG. The Lions are averaging 84.8 PPG (54th) but will need to tighten a defense which allows 80.5 PPG on 47.5% shooting (both rank 29th!).
Boise State: Head coach Leon Rice has been at Boise for seven years and has won 20-plus games in all but his second season. His 2013 and 2015 teams made NCAA appearances. Two starters are gone from last year's 20-win team but the 6-7 guard Chandler Hutchison entered the season as arguably the MWC's best player. However, he's gotten off to a modest start (12.0-8.2-3.6) plus missed the Iowa St game (questionable here). The Broncos have shown excellent balance with fellow guards Hobbs (14.0-3.2-3.4) and Jessup (12.0 & 7.0) off to very good starts plus 6-9 graduate transfer (from Rice), Christian Sengfelder (13.4 & 4.6) has been an excellent addition.
The pick: If Hutchison can’t go again it's not great news but here at home, the Broncos can put plenty of points on the board against a Marymount defense allowing some "big numbers" against so-so competition so far. Lay the points and make Boise State an 8* play.
|11-24-17||Gardner-Webb v. Wright State -4||Top||47-67||Win||100||18 h 13 m||Show|
The set-up: The Wright State Raiders are the host team for the Wright State Tournament (who could have guessed?). Gardner-Webb will play Wright State in the nightcap of Friday's doubleheader and the Raiders will again play the second game on Saturday (against Jacksonville), win or lose tonight. Nutter Center is the site, which is naturally, the Raiders' home court. The Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs come in 2-3 and the Wright State Raiders check in at 1-3.
Garner-Webb: The Runnin' Bulldogs Gardner-Webb started out the year with three straight losses to Miami, Florida and UCF, but then beat Warren Wilson and Brevard College in their last two. Gardner-Webb plays in the Big South (is off a 19-14 season) and head coach Tim Craft is currently in his fifth season (76-63, including this year's start). The transfer of guard LaQuincy Rideau (14.2-5.7-5.2) was no small deal but David Efanayi has played well early on, averaging 18.4 PPG. The graduation of All-Big South forward Tyrell Nelson (12.9 & 7.0) was also a blow but the 6-6 DJ Laster has been terrific so far, averaging 16.8 & 10.0. However, Craft's team doesn't have much depth.
Wright State: 20-win seasons are not exactly news for Wright State fans and the Blue Raiders went 20-12 last season but didn't play in a postseason tourney, after losing in the Horizon quarterfinals. Three starters are gone from last year's team, with three freshman leading the way so far this season. 6-6 forward Winchester (13.0 & 5.3) is the leading scorer and the 6-9 Love (9.5 & 7.0) leads in rebounding. A third frosh, guard Mitchell, checks in with 10.7 & 6.7. Senior guard Benzinger (12.5) and junior guard Hughes (10.0) give the Raiders a solid core. PPG).
The pick: Wright St. head coach Scott Nagy is in just his second season and his team should have few problems getting to .500 (3-3) on the season, against this level of competition the next two nights. First things first. Lay the points Friday and make Wright St. a 10* play.
|11-23-17||Butler +2 v. Texas||Top||48-61||Loss||-110||19 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: The Butler Bulldogs won 25 games last year and made it to the Sweet 16. However, head coach Chris Holtmann (Stevens' replacement) jumped at the Ohio St. job when Matta was suddenly let go, with Milwaukee's LaVall Jordan stepping in. Butler has opened 3-1 with its lone loss coming 79-65 at Maryland, as the team travels to Portland for the Phil Knight Invitational and a meeting with 3-0 Texas.Shaka Smart is off an 'ugly' 11-22 season last year but his team has racked up thee victories by double figures with the defense yet to allow more then 60 points to open the current season.
Butler: Jordan will miss the versatile Chrabascz (11.4-4.6-3.7) from last year's team but a solid nucleus returns, led by the 6-7 Martin (15.0 & 8.3). Baldwin (13.8) is a sophomore guard building on his solid freshman season and the 6-8 Wideman (12.3 & 4.0) is an All-Big East talent. McDermott (12.0), GW transfer Jorgensen (9.8) and Thompson (7.0 & 4.3) round out the main contributors.
Texas: The Longhorns lost their top-two scorers from last season in Mack (14.8 & 4.8) and Allen (13.4 & 8.4) but guards Jones (13.0) and Roach (12.7) plus big men Bamba (14.0 & 9.0) and Ostekowski (11.3 & 9.) have looked very good early. Bamba is a 6-11 freshman center who few thought Smart could lure to Austin, while Ostekowski is a 6-9 junior.Mo Bamba missed the team's second win with a concussion but was back the last time out, chipping in 13 & 10. Texas has been winning with defense as it's held its opponents to 60 points or fewer in every game (58.7 PPG to rank 21st) on 32.8 percent shooting (5th-best).
The pick: The Longhorns needed a strong start after last year's disaster but look closer and you'll see wins over Northwestern State, New Hampshire and Lipscomb. That trio has nothing in common with a Butler team (remember, 25 wins and a Sweet 16 trip LY!) or program which has gone 39-11-2 ATS in its last 52 neutral-site games. Make Butler an 8* play.
|11-22-17||Troy State +4 v. East Tenn State||Top||73-65||Win||100||12 h 58 m||Show|
The set-up: It's an interesting matchup tonight in Johnson City, Tn, as Troy takes on East Tennessee St. Troy won the Sun Belt tourney last season and made the NCAAs, while East Tennessee St. won the Southern Conference and went 'dancing' as well. Troy enters 2-3 and East Tennessee St. at 2-2.
Troy: Head coach Phil Cunningham made quite a splash in his fourth season, as after winning just 11, 10 and 9 games, led the team to 22 wins and an NCAA berth in 2016-17. He returns four starters, including two of the Sun Belt's best players, the 6-6 Jordan Varnado (18.6 & 7.8) plus Wes Person Jr, a guard averaging 17.0 PPG. The team did lose some quality contributors but the one-two punch of Varnado and Person is a good one.
East Tennessee State: Steve Forbes led the Buccaneers to 'the promised land' in just his second season as the team's head coach but unlike Cunningham's Troy team, he lost four starers from last year's team. Four guards average between 7.0 and 12,5 PPG, led by Payne (12.5) and Bradford (11.8-5.8-3.8), who is the lone returning starter. The 7-0 Jurkin (10.0 & 6.7) gives East Tenn. St. the game's best big man.
The pick: East Tennessee St. is the home team but it's my belief that Troy is the better team and proves it here. Make Troy a 10* play.
|11-21-17||Alabama A&M +37.5 v. Minnesota||Top||57-100||Loss||-110||13 h 50 m||Show|
The set-up: The latest AP poll came out Tuesday and the 4-0 Minnesota Golden Gophers were ranked No. 14. The Golden Gophers passed a big road test last week at Providence and followed that up by knocking off two opponents at home. Tuesday night, the Gophers welcome Alabama A&M (0-3) to Williams Arena. The Bulldogs are a member of the SWAC and after going 2-27 last season, are expecting no more than a 'pay day' out of this contest.
Alabama A&M: Head coach Donnie Martin is in his first season at Huntsville and surely has nowhere to go but up, taking over a team which had just two wins last season (both in league play). The Bulldogs have averaged just 62.7 PPG (323rd) on 39.2 percent shooting (312th) in opening 0-3. Junior guard Arthur Johnson leads the team in scoring (14.7) and rebounding (6.3), while making 6-of-11 from three-point range. Sophomore guard De’Ederick Petty has chipped in 13.0 PPG and while.freshman guard Amari Goulbourne did not score in his first two collegiate games, he broke out with 17 points and four assists in 36 minutes against Alabama (that's the promise Ala A&M needs). Defensively, the team allows 84.0 PPG (305th) on 50.0 percent shooting (323rd).
Minnesota: When the Big Ten announced its 10-player preseason all-conference team, senior PG Nate Mason and sophomore swingman Amir Coffey represented Minnesota. However, heading into Tuesday's game against Alabama A&M, 6-6 forward Jordan Murphy might have a line on the conference's player of the year award based on his early performances. Murphy averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds last season but is averaging 24.8 & 12.8 this season. That's not to say Mason and Coffey are not contributing. Mason is averaging 14.0-6.2-4.5 and Coffey 14.0 & 4.2. Each of Minny's other two starters are also in double digits, the 6-10 Lynch (12.8 & 8.8 plus 22 blocks!) and guard McBrayer (11.0).
The pick: Pitino's 'ride' at Minnesota has been of the roller coaster variety. A 25-win season in his first year (won NIT!), 18 wins in his second but then just EIGHT in his third. Minnesota bounced back with 25 wins last year (lost in the 1st round of the Big Dance) and now owns a 4-0 start and a top-25 ranking early in this season. It's safe to say that regardless how the Gophers' season plays out, the 2017-18 season will have gone much better for Richard Pitino, than for his dad, Rick. Minnesota is averaging 94.2 PPG and allowing 74.0. Sure, Alabama A&M is here for the 'paycheck' and has just one starter listed over 6-7 but just look at the size of this pointspread. Make Alabama A&M an 8* play.
|11-20-17||Creighton v. UCLA +2.5||Top||100-89||Loss||-110||11 h 15 m||Show|
The set-up: LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested more than a week ago on suspicion of stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store while their team was in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. They did not accompany the team on the trip home but were released later. UCLA finally started to resemble the type of team it hoped to be this season, pulling away in the secsond half of Friday’s 96-68 victory over South Carolina State, after owning just a six-point halftime advantage. This coming after a pair of narrow victories over Ga. Tech and Central Arkansa The No. 23 Bruins play Creighton in Kansas City on Monday in the Hall of Fame Classic. The Blue Jays are off to a strong start and enter the week off an upset of No. 20 Northwestern on Wednesday, 92-88. Creighton is 3-0.
UCLA: Freshmen Jaylen Hands and Kris Wilkes fueled the second-half surge against South Carolina State. “It was really helpful to us to get that momentum,” Hands told the media after scoring a team-leading 22 points, combining with Wilkes to score 17 of the Bruins’ first 19 points after halftime. The 6-8 Wilkes (17.3 & 7.3) and 6-3 guard Hands (15.3-4.7-37) lead the team in scoring, while junior PG Holiday (14.3 & 5.3 APG) plus 7-0 senior Welsh (13.0 & 11.1) join them in double digits.have. Another freshman, the 6-9 Chris Smith, scored a season-high 15 points in just 21 minutes against South Carolina State.
Creighton: The Blue Jays won 25 games last season and eback in the "Big Dance" after a two-year absence. However, after a 17-1 start, Creighton went a modest 8-9 the rest of the way, including a first-round loss in the NCAAs. Three starters return and the junior guard Khyri Thomas scored a career-high 24 points to go with 11 rebounds as Creighton blew an early 15-point lead, but maintained its composure to pull off the road upset at Northwestern. “Our guys fought,” Thomas told reporters. “That’s what we preach. Just fight, be tough and be the better man.” Martin Krampelj, a 6-9 sophomore who averaged just 2.8 & 2.2 LY, added 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting. All-Big East first-team pick Marcus Foster leads the Blue Jays in scoring at 19.3 points per game, and is the first Creighton player since 1970 to score 23 or more points in the first two games of a season. Freshmen Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitch Ballock combined for 20 points against Northwestern.
The pick: These are two undefeated and high-scoring teams which will square off in the first semifinal game of the 2017 CBE Hall of Fame Classic Monday night at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Bruins are averaging 88.3 PPG, while the Blue Jays average 97.7 PPG. Kansas City is not exactly a neutral floor but it's also not CenturyLink Center in Creighton. The Bruins seemed to "come together" against SC State in the second half and now should be ready to take the next step, a pointspread uin after opening 0-3 ATS. Make UCLA a 10* play.
|11-19-17||Old Dominion v. Dayton +2.5||Top||75-67||Loss||-110||9 h 22 m||Show|
The Dayton Flyers and the Old Dominion Monarchs face off in final round tournament action at the Gildan Charleston Classic. Both teams lost their first game but ODU will look to finish the tournament on a high note after improving to 3-1 on the year with a 62-44 win over Indiana State and Dayton hopes to do the same, after defeating Ohio 79-65 in moving to 2-1. Dayton is off a 24-win season and lost four senior starters off that team plus head coach Archie Miller left to take the Indiana job. ODU is off a 19-12 season and in his fifth season at ODU, head coach Jeff Jones returns three starters.
Old Dominion: PG Caver (11.5 & 4.5 APG) led the team with 22 points on 5 of 12 shooting with three triples and a 9 for 11 mark from the foul line in addition to handing out a team-high six assists in the win over Indiana St.and 3 steals. The 6-10 Trey Porter (11.8 & 6.5) added 16 points (on 6 of 9 from the floor). Jones has a pair of Stith brothers as well, as guard B.J. leads the team in scoring at 12.2 PPG with his 6-7 older brother Brandan adding 7.2 & 5.8 PPG.
Dayton: Miller's loss is not all that huge as Anthony Grant takes over (was an assistant under Billy Donovan at Florida and then at OKC in the NBA) plus led VCU and Alabama to NCAA tourney wins as a head coach. The loos of four senior starters can't be dismissed but the lone returning starter, guard Darrell Davis, has come out averaging 20.3 PPG. The 6-7 Cunningham, who missed most of LY with an injury, looks healthy while averaging 15.7 & 9.3 plus the 6-8 Williams (10.0 & 6.3) adds size to a formidable frontcourt.
The Monarchs were a disappointment last season (19 wins and no postseason tourney), coming off seasons of 27 and 25 wins. However, I'm not sure this year's team will be much better. ODU ranked 331st in effective FG percentage last season and averaged just 64.5 PPG. In four games so far this season, ODU is averaging 63.2 PPG (322nd) on 40.0% shooting (293rd). Make Dayton a 10* play.
|11-18-17||Harvard -3.5 v. Manhattan||Top||69-73||Loss||-110||6 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: The Harvard Crimson opened with back-to-back home wins but fell 73-69 at Holy Cross when the team's late rally (down 10 in the first half) fell short. The Crimson will visit NYC Saturday afternoon to take on the Manhattan Jaspers, who opened their 2017-18 season by edging St. Francis (NY) 80-79 in overtime.
Harvard: The Crimson are off seasons of 14 and 18 wins (well down from previous Amaker teams) but return four starters, including PG Bryce Aiken. Aiken leads the team at 18.3 PPG (4.0 rebounds & 3.3 assists) plus the 6-7 Towns (16.3 & 6.7) and the 6-9 Lewis (10.0 & 5.3) are also contributing double digit scoring. Big guard Justin Bassey chips in 5.7-6.3-3.0. Holy Cross out-shot Harvard 50.0 to 42.3 percent but the Crimson kept the game close by winning the battle of the boards, 34-19. However, in the end, the Crimson just made too many mistakes, as they had 23 TOs!
Manhattan: The Jaspers are off a lousy 10-22 season but do return four starters, including 6-5 senior Rich Williams, who is back for a fifth season off last year's injury. He had 21 points and six rebounds in the team's opening-game win, joined by three other double-digit scorers. Fellow guard Zavier Turner had 16 points off the bench, although he played 35 minutes. Up front, the 6-8 Crawford had 11 & 5 and the 6-9 Waterman added 10 & 9.
The pick: Manhattan will be much more competitive this season with a healthy Williams but Harvard is the better team with a solid core of experienced players. Make Harvard a 10*
|11-17-17||Fordham v. Florida State -14.5||Top||43-67||Win||100||17 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: 1-0 Florida State and 1-1 Fordham get to travel to Montego Bay to face off in a 2017 Jamaica Classic matchup on Friday night. The Seminoles got their season off on the right foot with an 87-67 home win over George Washington on Tuesday, while Fordham rebounded from an opening 55-54 home loss to Miami-Ohio with an 81-68 victory over LIU, also at home..
Fordham: The Rams are coming off a 13-19 season and lost three starters. A bunch of players are back but most lack quality playing time. Third-year head coach Jeff Neubauer will be expecting big things from preseason All-Atlantic 10 third-teamer Joseph Chartouny, who set a school record last year with 94 steals and already has nine in two games, while averaging a team-high 14.5 points and 6.0 rebounds. Fellow guard Will Tavares, the school's only scholarship senior with Division I experience, is leading the team with 7.0 rebounds per game and is tied with the 6-7 Raut (a freshman) for scoring at 14.0 points per game. 6-10 junior Prokop Slanina recorded personal highs in the win over LIU with 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double (he's averaging 12.0 & 6.0).
Florida State: The Seminoles are off a 26-win season, earning the school's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2012. However, four starters are gone, including the team's top-three scorers. Guards Bacon (17.2 & 4.2) and Rathan-Mayes (10.6 & 4.8 APG) are among the missing, as is the "one & done" 6-10 Isaac (12.0 & 7.1), who was drafted sixth in the first round by Orlando. Junior guard Terance Mann lived up to preseason expectations in the team's season-opening win with team highs of 17 points and eight rebounds (six offensive). "The sky's the limit for him," head coach Hamilton said at the postgame press conference. "He has a knack for putting the ball in the basket. I thought he was extremely aggressive tonight. He had five blocks. He must have chased several more. I thought he went after rebounds. ... I think he's taken a lot of pride, and over the season he's going to get better and better." However, he was just one of five players in double digits, including starters Koumadje (14 & 7), who is a 7-4 junior center and Cofer (15 & 4), a 6-8 senior PF.
The pick: FSU lost plenty off LY's team but Mann is poised for a big year plus the duo of Koumadje (the tallest player in FSU history) and Cofer should fill in nicely for Isaac. Fordham does not have the overall talent nor depth to 'hang' with the Seminoles. Make FSU a 10* play.
|11-14-17||Purdue v. Marquette +4.5||Top||86-71||Loss||-110||13 h 3 m||Show|
The set-up: The 2-0 Purdue Boilermakers were ranked 19th in the AP's first regular season poll (released Monday) and will travel to Milwaukee on Tuesday night to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles, who defeated Mount St. Mary's 80-59 on Friday,to improve to 3-1 in season openers under Steve Wojciechowski. Marquette is off a 19-win season which included a loss in the NCAA's first round. As for Purdue, the Boilermakers are off a 26-win season which include winning the Big Ten regular season title and a trip the the NCAA's Sweet 16. Purdue faces its first real test of the season tonight, as it plays at Marquette in the Gavitt Tipoff Games series. It's the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Purdue: The Boilermakers return starters from their 2016 Big Ten championship team, making them as experienced as any team in the country. Sure, Caleb Swanigan (18.5 & 12.5) is a huge loss but 6-8 senior forward Vince Edwards (12.6 & 4.9 LY) is the only active player in the nation with at least 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists. The Boilermakers have scored a combined 216 points in defeating Southern Illinois-Edwardsville 105-74 in their opener and dismantling Chicago State 111-42 on Sunday. Chicago State's 21.5 percent shooting marked the lowest shooting percentage by a Purdue opponent in school history, while the Boilermakers scored 100 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time in 43 year. Guards Edwards (20.2) and Mathias (18.0 $ 4.5 APG) lead in scoring from the perimeter with Edwards (14.5 & 8.8) and the 7-2 Hass (12.0 & 6.5) taking care of business inside.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles defeated Mount St. Mary's 80-59 on Friday but led by as many as 37 points and had four players score in double figures. Andrew Rowsey is the the team's lone senior and the guard led with 23 points but he was on the bench for much of the second half, enabling Mount St. Mary's to chip away at the deficit. Fellow guards Cheatham (13 & 5) and Howard (11) joined Rowsey in double digits, as did the 6-10 Heldt.
The pick: Matt Painter enters his 12th season at Purdue and expectations are rightly high but after two 'cupcakes,' the going gets much tougher here at the Bradley Center. Take the points and make Marquette a 10* play.
|11-12-17||Massachusetts v. Harvard -10||Top||67-70||Loss||-110||7 h 56 m||Show|
Two Boston-area Massachusetts schools meet Sunday as UMass (situated in Amherst) of the A-10 will visit Cambridge to take on Harvard of the Ivy League. Both schools come in 1-0. Harvard defeated MIT 73-64 at home on Thursday ina sloppy win and UMass struggled to beat Division II UMass-Lowell 74-69 on the same night. UMass won last year's game 70-66 at home, although Harvard won the ATS 'battle,' as a 4 1/2-point underdog.
UMass: The Minutemen are coming off a 15-18 season and lost three starters from last year's club. Unique McLean, a 6-2 freshman, and Rashaan Holloway, a 6-11 junior, shared the team lead with 12 points apiece in the team's unimpressive opening win. Also making contributions were the 6-10 Hines (11 & 13), PG Pipkins (11-7-5) and another guard, Anderson (9-4-5). UMass gave a very unsteady performance in the team's opener, trailing by two at the half , before eventually winning by only five points. The Minutemen shot 47.1% plus held their opponents to 39.2% shooting, but they also committed 15 turnovers and shot just 3-of-15 from beyond the arc. The Minutemen needed an 11-2 run to make it 66-58 with 2:31 to play to finally take control.
Harvard; The Crimson are off seasons of 14 and 18 wins (well down from previous Amaker teams) but return four starters, including PG Bryce Aiken. Aiken had 12 points in the opener but the best efforts came from the 6-7 Towns (20 & 7) and the 6-9 Lewis (13 & 10). Big guard Justin Bassey added seven points to match his seven rebounds and a team-high four assists in the win.
The pick: Harvard struggled in its opener but this is a good team with experienced players. The Crimson are 10-3-1 ATS in their last 14 as a favorite and have gone 8-2 ATS in their last 10 home games. Make Harvard an 8*!
|11-10-17||Georgia Tech v. UCLA -7.5||Top||60-63||Loss||-110||26 h 36 m||Show|
The set-up: The Baoshan Sports Center in Shanghai, China is host to a game between the UCLA Bruins (No. 21 in teh AP's preseason poll) of the Pac-12 and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from the ACC. UCLA went 31-5 last season and Ga. Tech just 21-16, but the Yellow Jackets made it all the way to the NIT champiosnhip game last season, before losing. This contest was one of a handful of marquee matchups on CBB's opening night but off-the-court issues have dominated the storyline. Just who isn't aware that three UCLA players, freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, will not play following arrests in an alleged shoplifting incident Tuesday in Hangzhou. However, earlier that same day, CBS Sports published allegations a friend made against Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner, accusing Pastner of knowing about exchanges of impermissible benefits. Georgia Tech previously self-reported violations involving Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson to the NCAA, with the caveat being that Pastner was unaware until Oct. 2, and the violations totaled less than $1,300.
|11-10-17||South Alabama v. Texas Tech -24||Top||50-75||Win||100||23 h 7 m||Show|
The set-up: The South Alabama Jaguars will visit the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Tx. to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Jaguars were just 14-18 last season, after winning 14, 12 and 11 games, the previous three seasons. The goal for head coach Matthew Graves is to finish .500 or better for the first time since 2012-13 (before he arrived). The Red Raiders are off an 18-14 year in Chris Beard's first season at the school.
South Alabama: The Jags return just one starter from last year and that's the 6-7 Josh Ajayi, who averaged 10.6 PPG on 48.7% shooting, while adding 5.4 RPG. He expects to up that scoring average this year plus sophomore guard Herb McGee (3.6) has a chance to produce more after playing in 31 games last season and 6-6 sophomore forward Trhae Mitchell brings experience at the forward position. The X-factor for the Jaguars is Pittsburgh transfer Rozelle Nix, who played 20 games last season and brings a massive frame of 6’11”, 300 pounds.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders were young last season, leaving a lot of potential for this year. Guard Keenan Evans (15.4 PPG) and the 6-8 Zach Smith (12.1 & 7.2) are a solid returning duo. Justin Gray is a 6-6 forward who made 27 starts last season and has shot above 50 percent the last two years, Niem Stevenson shot 37.5 percent from three-point range last season and made seven starts in the team's last 10 games (averaged 8.6 PPG for the season).
The pick: Chris Beard, in his first and only season at UALR, led the Trojans to 30–5 seaso. He won the regular season and Sun Belt tournament titles and then knocked off fifth-seeded Purdue 85–83 in double overtime to advance to the Second Round, where the Trojans fell to Iowa State. The Red Raiders have no excuse not to seriously compete in the Big 12 and reach the Big Dance (for just the second time since the Bob Knight days), as they're one of the more experienced teams in the country. The Red Raiders have won 12 of their last 15 home games, while the Jaguars have lost 10 of their last 13 road games (note: Tech is 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games as a favorite of 13.0 or more). "Blowout Alert!" Make Texas Tech an 8* play.
|04-01-17||Oregon +5 v. North Carolina||Top||76-77||Win||100||81 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: North Carolina cruised through its first two games but needed a 12-0 run at the end of the game to get past Arkansas 72-65, before edging Kentucky 75-73 when Maye knocked down the game-winner with .3 seconds left on the clock. The 31-7 Tar Heels (the South's No. 1 seed) will square off against the 33--5 Oregon Ducks, the Midwest's No. 3 seed. The Ducks eked out a 69-68 win over Michigan in the Sweet 16, then shocked top-seeded Kansas in its 'backyard' (Kansas City) in the Elite 8, winning 74-60 as a 6 1/2-point underdog.
Oregon: The Ducks' Dillon Brooks (16.3) was the Pac-12's player-of-the-year but the unquestioned star of Oregon's Final 4 run has been guard Tyler Dorsey (14.5). He hit the game-winner in the round of 32 against Rhode Island and has averaged 24.5 PPG in four NCAA wins. In fact, going back to Oregon's three Pac-12 tourney games, he's topped 20 points in seven straight! The loss in the Pac 12 tourney of center Boucher (11.8 & 6.1) for the rest of the year was supposed to derail Oregon but that hasn't been the case, even though Brooks has been underwhelming, so far. The 6-9 Bell (10.9 & 8.6) has been terrific, averaging 12.5 PPG and 12.5 RPG along with 12 blocks after four games (he's pulled down double-digits in rebounds in six consecutive games).
North Carolina: The Tar Heels own a national-best rebounding margin of plus-13 per game and they are rebounding nearly 42 percent of their missed shots. Making that stat even more devastating is that North Carolina is a good shooting team, connecting on 47.2 percent (44th). When starting guard Williams was lost for the season in mid-Feb, Carolina began starting PG Berry (14.6-3.1-3.6) with the 6-6 Pinson (6.0-4.2-3.7), the 6-8 Jackson (18.2 & 4.7), the 6-10 Meeks (12.3 & 9.3) and the 6-9 Hicks (12.1 & 5.4). The 6-10 Bradley (7.3 & 5.1), the 6-8 Maye (5.8 & 4.0) and guard Britt (4.6) contribute off the bench. Roy Williams may have the most complete team left in the field, noting that Maye came off the bench to average 16.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in two games in the South regional in Memphis last weekend.
The pick: However, Berry has two balky ankles and as we saw last weekend, North Carolina was life-and-death with both Arkansas and Kentucky. Dorsey is 'on fire,' and Brooks is overdue for a breakout game. Bell was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year and this Oregon team thrives on its athleticism and effort. Take the points and make Oregon a 10* play.
|03-26-17||Kentucky +2.5 v. North Carolina||Top||73-75||Win||100||9 h 27 m||Show|
The set-up: It's the No. 1 seed in the South (North Carolina at 30-7) taking on the No. 2 seed (Kentucky at 32-5), the only region to have advanced all four top seeds to the Sweet 16 and now the lone region to see a 1 vs. 2 matchup to determine its Final 4 representative. This contest doesn't just feature a matchup of two of college basketball's two bluebloods (Kentucky is the NCAA leader in all-time victories with 2,239 and North Carolina is third with 2,203), it also gives us a rematch of perhaps the best game of the 2016-2017 regular season, one in which Kentucky bested North Carolina 103-100 back on Dec. 17 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Monk had 47 and Fox 24 for Kentucky in that game, while Jackson had 34 and Berry 23 for Nory Carolina. The Wildcats shot 54.1$ and the Tar Heels 53.0%
Kentucky: Fox was Kentucky's star against UCLA with a career-high 39 points on just 20 shots in Kentucky's 86-75 elimination of UCLA on Friday night, dominating his matchup with UCLA's Ball. Monk added 21 points against the Bruins, as Kentucky shot 49.2% (Wildcats average 85.2 PPG to rank 10th on the season). However, Kentucky's defense was also on display against UCLA, holding the Bruins 15 points below their season average and forcing 13 turnovers from a team that had only nine in its first two NCAA Tournament games. Freshman Monk (21.0) and Fox (16.8 & 4.6 APG) are joined on the perimeter by sophomore Briscoe (12.3-5.5-4.1) plus the Wildcats have two solid big men in the 6-10 Adebayo (13.0 & 8.0) and the 6-9 Willis (7.1 & 5.4).
North Carolina; The Tar Heels disposed of Butler 92-80 in Friday night's opener, leading by double digits for the final 24 minutes, led by Berry (26) and Jackson (24). Berry (14.7 & 3.6 APG) sure looks as if he's over an ankle injury that hampered him in the Tar Heels' previous game against Arkansas. As for 6-8 swingman Jackson (18.2 & 4.7), he added five rebounds and five assists. The 6-10 Meeks (12.5 & 9.1), the 6-9 Hicks (12.3 & 5.6) and 6-10 freshman Bradley (7.3 & 5.2) give North Carolina an imposing frontcourt. Like Kentucky, North Carolina is a potent offensive team, averaging 85.2 PPG (9th).
The pick: With the injury to guard Williams awhile back, North Carolina starts Berry with four frontcourt players, Jackson, Meeks, Hicks and the 6-6 Pinson (5.8 & 4.2). That's a group which measure 6-6, 6-8, 6-9 and 6-10, so the Wildcats will need to counter that with their superior guard play. That's what Kentucky did back in mid-Dec. at Las Vegas and it's deja vu all over again, here. Make Kentucky a 10* play.
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