UConn at Xavier (-3.5)
Xavier enters this home matchup on a three-game winning streak, beating Butler on the road after two home wins. UConn enters this matchup on a two-game slide and will again be without their best player and possibly another critical player in this matchup.
James Bouknight (elbow) won't play, missing his eighth straight game for UConn. His next chance to play will be on Tuesday at home versus Providence -- a noteworthy date to remember. UConn's Tyrese Martin rolled his ankle in Thursday's practice, so he is a GTD at Xavier. Martin averages 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, scoring 10 or more points in seven straight games for the Huskies.
If Martin is out, UConn could be in trouble scoring. Martin has the second-highest offensive rating on the team (114.7) and Bouknight third (110.0). Martin has the fourth-highest usage rate (19.9%) if we count Boutknight's team-leading 30.6% in six games. Martin is also one-of-three players to play 70% or more of the team's minutes, so his presence would be sorely missed.
Both teams have covered well this season, Xavier at 7-2 ATS in their last nine games and UConn 8-3 over the past 11. Xavier is 9-1 SU at home this season and UConn is 3-4 SU without Bouknight. The Huskies are 3-2 SU on the road this season, winning their first three road games in the Big East, two without Bouknight. These teams have only met once, in 2019, and Xavier won 75-74 in double OT. UConn's Bouknight scored a team-high 19 points off the bench in that matchup.
Xavier is seventh in the nation at 18.5 assists per game and holds a 63.8% assist to field goal percentage, the eighth-best in the country. Xavier also posts the 20th ranked defensive effective field goal percentage (45.3%) and ranks top 61 in offensive effective field goal percentage (54.6%), two-point percentage (43.7%) and three-point percentage (36.4%).
UConn shoots 47.4% from two (261st) as a team, which worries me without Martin. He shoots 48.7% from the two and 46.4% from deep. Xavier's two-point defense ranks 15th at 43.7% but does not defend the three-ball as well at 32.2% (112th). Without Martin, other huskies will have to step up from deep, unlike the 4-for-20 performance (20%) UConn posted in their last outing. Uconn went 6-for-19 (31.5%) against Seton Hall in this two-game losing streak. The Huskies shot worse than 37% from three in all five losses.
I will take Xavier to win by more than a three-ball as I expect the Musketeers to defend home court in what should be a competitive game if Martin plays. I would also look at the Under 136 as that could be tempting with two defenses that rank worse than 200th in defensive average possession length and UConn being a primarily slow team without Bouknight.
Game Pick: Xavier -3.5 (2u) - play this up to -4
St. Louis (-16.5) at Fordham
Watching and fading Fordham a few times this year, there should be no way that offense keeps up with St. Louis. In Fordham's home games, they have scored 47, 55, 46, 62 and 68 points in that order. The last two seem promising for betting the Over 127, but I do not trust this Fordham offense.
Those two home scores of 62 and 68 are the second and third highest point totals of the season for the Rams. The offense ranks 340th in both two-point (42.6%) and three-point percentage (27.4%). St. Louis has won their past two games since returning from a layoff after losing the first two. St. Louis beat St. Bonvanuture by 11 and Rhode Island by seven, both games at home.
St. Louis has only played two road games this season, losing both. The first 90-82 to Minnesota and the next 82-75 to La Salle. Fordham beat La Salle at home two games ago, scoring a season-high 76 points, but Scott Foster did not play. He scored 16 points in the first meeting, an 89-52 victory in favor of La Salle.
Fordham lost by six to a UMass team without Tre Mitchell before beating La Salle without Foster. Following that and in their last outing, Fordham lost to George Mason, 77-45. George Mason is 9-8 and was coming off two straight losses. They were also 2-3 SU in their last five home games.
The favorite is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings and St. Louis held both of their previous two opponents to 59 and 60 points. I have a hard time trusting Fordham to cross the 60-point mark against St. Louis and the Billikens can cross the 75-point mark. Fordham has allowed seven-of-12 opponents to surpass 68 points and five of 71 or more.
Back the Billikens to win and use this game as a tune-up to gain some road confidence. St. Louis is ranked sixth in the country with 18.6 assists per game too. If Fordham does play well and score, that will force St. Louis to score or into late fouling, playing into the Billikens Team Total.
Back St. Louis to score 72 points or more against Fordham. Playable up to 74.5.
Game Pick: St. Louis Team Total Over 72.5 (2u)
Duke (-3.5) at NC State
Duke has now lost three straight games and face yet another must-win, this time versus NC State on the road. The Wolfpack have lost three of the last four games and gone 2-7 SU in the last nine games overall.
The Blue Devils are struggling defensively and their woes are getting worse. Duke holds a 53.4% defensive effective field goal percentage (294th) and 38.9% defensive three-point percentage (329th).
NC State is not much better defensively, and at home, they are 1-3 SU in the last four home games. Duke has lost four straight on the road and is 1-4 on the season with the only win at Notre Dame, who they just lost to in South Bend by four the last outing. NC State beat North Carolina earlier in the season, so they are going for the infamous powerhouse sweep of the Blue Devils and Tar Heels in the same season.
NC State has won four of the last five games against Duke at home. Wolfpack's Head Coach Kevin Keatts is 2-0 SU at home versus Duke and that is where I lean in this matchup. Right now, Duke does not offer much value in being a road favorite after this three-game slide.
I believe the Wolfpack can win this game outright. Duke has allowed 184 points over the last two games and to be fair, they have scored 176 points. However, Duke s blown leads left and right as their previous three losses came by a combined 10 points to Miami, UNC and Notre Dame. NC State threw their last game, turning the ball over 20 times versus Syracuse, but had 15 or fewer in three consecutive games prior to that Cuse contest.
NC State at 8-8 on the season, fighting for their tourney dreams and winning the last two at home versus a Duke (7-8) sounds like a recipe for a competitive game. Duke is 1-8 ATS in their last nine as a road favorite and 0-4 in their previous road contests. NC State has struggled at home, going 3-3 SU in conference play, but they are 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games as a home underdog overall. Back the Wolfpack down to +3.
Game Pick: NC State +3.5 (1.5u)
Butler at Georgetown (-1)
The Butler Bulldogs have been a bit of a disappointment this season but still remain ranked 99th in Kenpom rankings despite being 7-10 overall on the season. Butler has won two straight at home versus DePaul (68-58) and St. John's (76-73 OT). Butler was down 16 before storming back to earn the win over St. John's in the last game (see what I did there?).
Those were two good games to get Butler going as they swept DePaul for the year and split with St. John's after losing to them by 12 on Jan. 12. However, Georgetown is 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall and 5-2 ATS in their previous seven home games.
The Hoyas have lost two straight, on the road at Villanova (84-74) and another at home against Creighton (63-48) -- the two top teams in the Big East. Georgetown has attempted at least 20 three-pointers in seven straight games and Butler allows opponents to hit 36.3% from deep (276th). Butler also holds the 273rd ranked defensive effective field goal percentage (52.8%).
Georgetown Head Coach Patrick Ewing is 3-4 SU against Butler. Butler holds a 5-2 advantage in games played in Washington, D.C. That includes five straight road wins for the Bulldogs.
Butler won the first matchup this season, 63-55. Butler is 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall and 5-0 ATS in their last five games versus a team with a losing SU record. This could be closer than the first game and while the models love Georgetown, I am interested in how the previous meeting ended at Butler.
Georgetown led 55-53 with 4:29 remaining and was held scoreless the remainder of the game, losing 63-55. The Hoyas missed 13 of their last 14 field goal attempts in that matchup. A 10-0 run in favor of Butler closed out the game rather impressively, but can they repeat and close for their sixth straight win at Georgetown?
As I said, I expect a competitive game and both of these teams are going D up at times and force scoring droughts. The Under is 6-1 in Butler's last seven road games and 9-3 in the previous 12 games overall. For Georgetown, the Under is 9-4 in their previous 13 home games and 5-1 in the last six games following a SU loss.
An impressive 15 of 17 Butler games have gone Under 137 points in regulation this season. Georgetown has gone Under 133 in the last two of three home games. Back a slow start and a few cold stretches to keep this one Under the total as both teams are struggling this season.
Game Pick: Under 133 (1u)
Five-Point College Basketball Teaser: (-108)
Nicholls State (-6) at Southeastern Louisiana
When playing a team ranked outside the 200th spot in Kenpom rankings, Nicholls State has gone 11-0 SU and won by seven or more in nine-of-11 games. When playing teams inside the top 200, they are 0-6 SU.
Drum roll, please...Southeastern Louisiana (SE) is ranked 330th, and the crowd goes crazy!
Better yet, these two squads met earlier this season with Nicholls State as the host, won 87-67. SE Louisiana was without Isiah Kirby in that matchup and he should play in this game, which affected my opinion on the spread. Kirby has scored double-digits in three of his last five games and two, 10 and 11 points in his three road games since injury.
SE Louisiana's defense has an average defensive length of possession of 16.2 seconds, the 21st worst. To make matters worse, their defensive two-point percentage is ranked 324th (55.5%). Nicholls State's strength is inside the three-point line with 51.9% (96th), fitting into SE Louisiana's weakness. Small wager on Nicholls State or throw them in your Moneyline parlays tonight as they seem good to go 12-0 SU against teams outside the top 200.
Boston College at Syracuse (-11)
Syracuse destroyed Boston College in the first meeting, 101-63 at BC. The Orange are coming off a 77-68 win over NC State, sweeping the Wolfpack with both wins coming in two of their last three games on the season.
Syracuse is 9-1 SU at home this season, the only loss a three-point matchup to Pitt. Boston College has lost three straight games and seven of the previous eight overall. Boston College's only win was over Miami and they were depleted as a roster, similar to Boston College now. Two of Boston College's last six losses have come by four or fewer, while eight of the 12 losses have come by five or more.
The favorite is 13-3 ATS in the last 16 meetings. Boston College is 1-4 ATS in their previous five games overall and 2-6 ATS in their last eight games following a SU loss. There is not much confidence to be had in this Boston College roster and for the time being, they are fade material.
My reasoning for not taking the -11 is how difficult it is to judge the spread after a 38-point win for the Cuse. An obvious decline is due here, and -11 is still a large spread for a team absolutely looking to even the score. Syracuse the much more talented team right now, and being at home gives them a favorable position.
I will tease down both games by five points, making Nicholls State a 1-point favorite instead of -6 and Syracuse a 6-point favorite instead of 11.
Game Pick: Nicholls State -1 and Syracuse -6 (1u)
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