Betting News and Notes - Jan 23

Re: Betting News and Notes - Jan 23

Road Traps

Gamblers have a massive 43-game college hoops card to navigate through Wednesday night. Let’s take a look at four possible road traps on the agenda.

**Villanova at Rutgers**


--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Villanova (13-3 straight up, 5-8 against the spread) as a 9½-point favorite with a total of 138½. The Wildcats are looking for their fifth consecutive win over the Scarlet Knights. ‘Nova is 3-1 ATS in the four previous encounters.

--Rutgers (8-11 SU, 4-11 ATS) has lost six in a row and eight of its last nine. The Scarlet Knights are off a 75-73 loss at Depaul, but they did hook up their backers in that spot as 11-point underdogs. RU’s 73-point output was the first time it had broken the 60-point mark in six games.

--Jay Wright’s team is 1-2 both SU and ATS in a pair of Big East road games, losing at Depaul and Cincinnati. ‘Nova won 81-71 Saturday at Syracuse as a 4 ½-point underdog. Scottie Reynolds was the catalyst in the come-from-behind victory, scoring a game-high 25 points.

--Rutgers has a 7-4 SU record and a 2-6 ATS mark at home. The Scarlet Knights are 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS as home underdogs.

--How horrible is Rutgers this season? The Scarlet Knights are sporting an RPI rating of 209.

--The ‘over’ has hit in four straight head-to-head meetings between RU and ‘Nova.

--The ‘under’ is 10-5 overall for RU, 5-1 in its last six games. The ‘under’ is 8-5 overall for ‘Nova, but the ‘over’ is 3-2 in their road assignments.

--ESPNU will have the telecast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

**Pittsburgh at St. John’s**

--Where have the days of Lou Carnesecca, Chris Mullin, Bill Wennington, Mark Jackson and Walter Berry gone? That’s the burning question in Queens, where St. John’s (7-9 SU, 5-7 ATS) plays host to the red-hot Panthers tonight.

--LVSC opened Pittsburgh (15-3 SU, 9-4 ATS) as a 5½-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 132. The Panthers saw their three-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 62-59 loss at Cincinnati as four-point favorites. Nevertheless, they are still 6-2 ATS in their last eight games.

--St. John’s is 5-3 SU at home, but the Red Storm has only covered the spread once in four lined games at home. They have lost three in a row and are 2-5 both SU and ATS in their last seven games.

--St. John’s lost to Niagara, Ohio, Miami and Tulane in non-conference play. Also, it is off to a 1-4 start in Big East action with its lone win coming over Cincinnati.

--Pitt has won the last three head-to-head meetings, but the Red Storm is 3-1 ATS in the last four encounters.

**Memphis at Tulsa**

--LVSC opened Memphis (17-0 SU, 9-6 ATS) as a 13½-point favorite. The Tigers are in a look-ahead spot here with a nationally-televised game against Gonzaga on deck Saturday.

--John Calipari’s team was terrible for our purposes back in November and the early part of December. However, the Tigers have been producing big-time profit in recent weeks, compiling a 7-0-1 spread record in their last eight games. They are off an 83-47 win over Southern Miss as 21-point home favorites. Chris Douglas-Roberts paced the winners with 19 points.

--Tulsa (9-6 SU, 5-5 ATS) has won seven of its last nine games, but the Golden Hurricane have dropped three in a row ATS. Both losses for Doug Wojcik’s squad during this stretch have come in overtime (vs. Tulane and at Central Florida).

--Tulsa bounced back from the OT defeats to beat SMU 72-71 on Saturday. However, the Golden Hurricane failed to cover the number as a seven-point home ‘chalk.’

--Tulsa has a 1-2 record both SU and ATS as an underdog this season. The Golden Hurricane lost 81-55 at Oklahoma in its only double-digit ‘dog situation (+16). This is the first spot as a home ‘dog.

--The ‘over’ is 7-3 overall for Tulsa.

--Memphis has seen the ‘over’ hit at a 9-8 clip, but the ‘under’ has cashed in its last three games.

--Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CSTV.

**North Carolina at Miami**


--North Carolina (18-1 SU, 12-4 ATS) comes to South Florida looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season, a shocking 82-80 loss to Maryland as a 18-point home favorite. All of a sudden, UNC has lost three of its last four games ATS after taking the cash in 11 consecutive contests.

--Miami (14-3 SU, 8-2 ATS) got out to a 12-0 start, only to drop its last two games and three of the last five. The Hurricanes are off a 79-77 loss at North Carolina State as 1½-point underdogs. Jack McClinton scored a team-high 26 points in the losing effort.

--LVSC opened the Tar Heels as nine-point favorites with a total of 155. As of late Tuesday night, most books had UNC at eight.

--Roy Williams’ team has a 3-1 spread record as a single-digit ‘chalk’ this year.

--UM has won nine of 10 home games, cashing tickets at a 2-0 clip. The lone loss was a 76-70 defeat to Winthrop in a non-lined affair.

--The ‘under’ cashed in Miami’s first six games of the season, but the ‘over’ is now on a 4-0 run.

--The ‘over’ has hit in four consecutive UNC games and is 11-5 overall.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--With Saturday’s overtime win over Kentucky, Florida has now won seven in a row against the Wildcats. The Gators are the first SEC school to ever beat UK seven straight times. In fact, Notre Dame is the only other school to hand the ‘Cats a seven-L slide.

--Kentucky’s RPI rating will certainly go up next week after beating the RPI’s No. 1 team, Tennessee. The ‘Cats have an RPI of 179 this week. Ouch!

--Drake has now won 16 in a row after winning 68-60 last night at Creighton. The Bulldogs took the cash as five-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a plus 180 return. Klayton Korver, the brother of former Creighton star Kyle Korver and current Creighton player Kaleb, led Drake with 14 points. Josh Young, the Missouri Valley Conference's leading scorer, returned from a sprained ankle after missing three games. Young played 25 minutes and scored eight points.

--I produced a 3-0 record in college hoops last night, cashing the 'under' for UK-UT, the 'over' for Clemson-Wake Forest and the Demon Deacons catching double digits in a five-point loss in overtime. I woulda/coulda/shoulda gone 2-0 Monday night, winning on the Syracuse-Georgetown 'under' (despite overtime) in the early game. However, I had Texas minus 2 1/2 in the late game and the Longhorns led by five in the final seconds, but that's when Oklahoma State hit a 3-pointer at the horn to hook up their backers with the backdoor cover. Click here for tonight's pick pack.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Jan 23

"SPECIAL TICKER" REPORT...

ARIZONA...6-6 sr. F Bret Brielmaier, a valuable reserve, has been frequently unavailable in recent weeks due to a lingering shoulder problem. ARKANSAS STATE...Jr. F Shawn Morgan (9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2 spg) was unable to play in the 89-80 home loss to Troy last Saturday after turning his ankle during the shootaround prior to the game. AUBURN...The Tigers have had as few as 7 scholarship players available in recent weeks and are especially shorthanded up front. 6-7 jr. F Josh Dollard, who had led the team in scoring & rebounding last year, was lost for the season prior to the start of the campaign. 6-7 jr. F Korvotney Barber (left; 13 ppg on 72% FGs & 7 rpg through first 9) broke his hand at the end of December and will be sidelined up to two months. And 7-1 frosh C Boubacar Sylla (ankle) hasn’t played since early in the season. Still, Jeff Lebo’s resilient crew managed to upset both LSU (at Baton Rouge) & Ole Miss last week, as soph PG Dewayne Reed (41 points, 8 of 13 from 3-point arc in those 2 games) is picking up scoring slack while 6-6 frosh F Lucas Hargrove (10 ppg & 5 rpg in last 4 through Jan. 21) emerges as a steady contributor. BALL STATE...Star jr. F Anthony Newell’s return to action is helping BSU get back on track after the squad opened the season with 11 straight losses. Newell, who missed more than a month with a foot fracture, has led the Cardinals to wins in 3 of their last 5 through Jan. 21, contributing 16 ppg & 8 rpg during that span. BOWLING GREEN...Sr. swingman Ryne Hamblet (13 ppg & 5.4 apg), the Falcons’ best playmaker, was ruled academically ineligible in mid-December. BGU has 135 turnovers and only 88 assists in the 8 games (through Jan. 22) since Hamblet was lost. BRADLEY...Star sr. PG Daniel Ruffin (14 ppg, 6.2 apg, 2 spg, 93% FTs) has missed the last 7 games (through Jan. 22) and is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia injury. The Braves, winners of 22 games in each of the previous 2 seasons, are 2-7 straight up & vs. the pointspread their last 9. BUFFALO...6-9, 260 jr. Vadim Fedotov (6 ppg & 4.6 rpg) was lost to a season-ending knee injury during 76-68 home loss to Akron Jan. 12. CS NORTHRIDGE...6-8 sr. F Calvin Chitwood (12 ppg on 52% FGs, 6 rpg, 1.7 bpg) sat out 66-62 win at UC Riverside Jan. 16 and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle. COLORADO STATE...7-0 sr. C Stuart Creason (12 ppg on 58% FGs, 6.4 rpg) hasn’t played in the last couple weeks and is out indefinitely.

DAYTON...6-8 frosh F Chris Wright (right), the Flyers’ 2nd-leading scorer & top rebounder, missed Jan. 12 overtime win at Saint Louis and Jan. 16 home loss to UMass with an ankle injury and isn’t expected back for at least another month. 6-6 jr. F Charles Little (8 ppg & 5 rpg) also won’t be available for several weeks due to a foot fracture he suffered vs. the Minutemen. DENVER...6-6 sr. F David Kummer, the Pioneers’ leading scorer & rebounder, is through for season after breaking his leg/ankle in 54-40 home win over Ark.-Little Rock Jan. 13. Soph G Tyler Bullock, UD’s best playmaker and leading returning scorer from last season, quit the squad during the first month of the this year’s campaign. DETROIT...The reeling Titans haven’t won a game since November, dropping 12 straight (2-8-1 vs. the pointspread) through Jan. 25. High-scoring sr. G Brandon Cotton (18 ppg in each of the previous 3 seasons!) unexpectedly quit the team just as the campaign was getting underway, then longtime head coach Perry Watson announced earlier this month that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence due to medical reasons. DRAKE...The streaking Bulldogs have won 15 straight games through Jan. 21 even though sharpshooting soph G Josh Young (team-high 16 ppg, 46% from beyond the 3-point arc) has missed the last 3 with a sprained ankle. DUKE...7-1 soph C Brian Zoubek (4 ppg & 4 rpg), the only Blue Devil taller than 6-8, is expected back in action soon after missing the last couple weeks with a foot injury. FRESNO STATE...The shorthanded Bulldogs had only 8 players available during road losses at San Jose & Hawaii last week. 6-5 soph swingman Bryan Harvey (11 ppg & 5 rpg), a Louisville transfer, and 6-11 sr. C Shawn Taylor (ankle) sat out both games, and Harvey is through for the season due to academic problems. High-scoring jr. G Dwight O’Neil broke his wrist early in campaign, and 6-8 sr. F Rekalin Sims, a Kentucky transfer, was kicked off the team before seeing any action. GEORGETOWN...Blue-chip frosh G Chris Wright, who’s been out since the end of December with a foot/ankle injury, is expected to return soon. Wright averaged 18 minutes, 6 points, 2.6 boards, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 steals in the Hoyas’ first 11 games. HAWAII...6-11 sr. C Stephen Verwers (6 ppg & 4 rpg) broke his leg at the end of December and won’t be back this season. IDAHO...The Vandals are hoping to soon regain the services of jr. G Trevor Morris (8 ppg), who’s been sidelined by a foot injury the last few weeks. ILLINOIS-CHICAGO...Forced to use a PG-by-committee approach since soph Spencer Stewart broke his hand near the end of December, the Flames have dropped 4 of their last 6 games (through Jan. 23). Scouts expect Stewart (7 ppg & 4.4 apg) to be back in the lineup soon, however. IOWA...Promising 6-7, 250 frosh F Jarryd Cole (7 ppg on 67% FGs, 5 rpg) was lost to a season-ending knee injury just before New Year’s. JAMES MADISON...The Dukes have cooled after a hot start, losing 4 of their last 5 both straight up & vs. the spread (through Jan. 22). 6-7 jr. F Kyle Swanston (knee; 9 ppg) has missed the last 3 games.

LONG BEACH STATE...Jr. G Artis Gant, one of the 49ers’ top playmakers, returned to action Jan. 19 at UC Riverside after missing more than a month with a knee injury. Gant had 7 points & 4 assists in 24 minutes off the bench during the 70-66 loss to the Highlanders. LOUISIANA TECH...6-7 sr. F Keith Smith (8 ppg & 5 rpg) did not play in 63-54 loss at New Mexico State last Saturday and has been dismissed from the Bulldog squad. LSU...Attrition has been a significant problem for the toothless Tigers, who have dropped 8 of their last 9 games (both straight up & vs. the spread) through Jan. 25. 6-7 jr. F Tasmin Mitchell (left; 15 ppg & 6 rpg last season), one of the best all-around players in the SEC, suffered a season-ending ankle injury during the first week of the campaign, sr. swingman Dameon Mason was recently declared academically ineligible, and 6-11 jr. C Chris Johnson (12 ppg on 62% FGs, 5 rpg, 2 bpg) has missed the last 5 games after fracturing his shooting hand during loss at Tulane the day after New Year’s. MARQUETTE...The once-soaring Eagles, who won 13 of their first 15 games, nosedived last week, absorbing double-digit road losses at Louisville (71-51) & UConn (89-73). Star jr. G Dominic James (sore wrist) contributed a total of just 12 points & 1 assist in those lopsided road losses. MARSHALL...All-conference jr. F Markel Humphrey (team-high 14 ppg, 5.6 rpg) is out indefinitely with a foot fracture, and sr. G Taurean Marshall was lost to a season-ending knee injury earlier this month. Nevertheless, demanding rookie head coach Donnie Jones, who was hired at Huntington after winning back-to-back NCAA titles on Billy Donovan’s Florida staff, was able to notch a 62-57 home win over UAB last Saturday, coaxed a 62-57 home win won back-to-back a couple of NCAA titles ( Florida assistant under Billy DonBilly Dono vs. UAB in 62-57 home win over UAB Jan. 19 and is out indefinitely due to a foot fracture. Sr. G. MARYLAND...Starting soph G Eric Hayes saw limited action off the bench (8 points in 13 minutes) during 82-80 upset over top-ranked North Carolina Jan. 19 after sitting out the previous 3 games with a sprained ankle. MIAMI-OHIO...6-5 jr. swingman Michael Bramos (16 ppg & 4 rpg) did not play in 64-57 home win over Buffalo last Sunday after aggravating a lingering ankle injury during the RedHawks’ 74-62 home loss to Kent State Jan. 17. MICHIGAN...The Wolverines are in major transition under new head coach John Beilein (right; formerly at Canisius, Richmond, & West Virginia), winning just 3 of their last 16 games (2-13 vs. the spread) through Jan. 21. A sore foot limited star frosh G Manny Harris (team-leading 16 ppg) to just 16 total points in the last 2 games, while sr. F Ron Coleman (6 ppg & 4 rpg) has been far less than 100% over the last couple weeks due to a sore ankle. Jr. G Jerret Smith, one of UM’s best 3-point shooters, was kicked off the team in early December, and frosh swingman K’Len Morris quit the squad soon after that. MISSOURI STATE...6-9 sr. C Drew Richards (8 ppg on 60% FGs, 4 rpg, 1.5 bpg) has missed the last couple weeks due to a bout with mononucleosis, but should be able to return to action soon. The Bears (just 58 ppg last 3 through Jan. 22) have been getting little production in the paint with Richards sidelined. NEW MEXICO STATE...Although touted juco G Paris Carter was declared academically ineligible the week before Christmas, versatile blue-chip 6-8 frosh F Herb Pope has finally been cleared to play. Pope saw his first action of the season last Saturday, scoring 5 points, grabbing 9 boards, dishing out 4 assists, and coughing up 6 turnovers in 23 minutes off the bench during 63-54 home win over Louisiana Tech. Also on the court vs. the Bulldogs after sitting out 6 games with his own academic problems was 6-9 sr. C Hatila Passos, who scored 10 points on 5 of 6 shooting and snagged 7 rebounds during 20 minutes off the bench. NORTHERN ILLINOIS...The Huskies have been hit hard by attrition during the first half of the campaign. Oft-injured sr. Ryan Paradise (team-leading 11 ppg) decided to give up basketball after an early-season broken nose that required surgery, and academic shortcomings sidelined soph G Cody Yelder (10 ppg on 52% FGs last year) at the end of November. 6-4 sr. swingman Zach Pancratz (9 ppg last season) was lost to a shoulder injury before the start of the campaign, and 6-7 sr. swingman Ben Rand (foot) has missed the last 3 games (through Jan. 21) and is sidelined indefinitely.

OKLAHOMA...Star 6-10 frosh F Blake Griffin (left), the Sooners’ leading scorer (15 ppg on 59% FGs) & rebounder (8.6 pg), did not play in 63-61 home win over Texas Tech Jan. 19 and will miss about a month after hurting his knee very early in 85-55 blowout loss at Kansas Jan. 14. OREGON STATE...With his downtrodden Beavers mired in an 8-game losing streak, head coach Jay John was fired earlier this week. Interim head coach Kevin Mouton announced the dismissal of underachieving 6-11 jr. C C.J. Giles, a celebrated Kansas transfer who was contributing only 6 ppg on 42% FGs and 5.6 rpg. PENN STATE...Star 6-5 sr. swingman Geary Claxton, a 4-year starter and the Lions’ leading scorer (18 ppg) & rebounder (8.4 pg), suffered a season-ending knee injury very early in 80-55 home loss to Wisconsin Jan. 15. PEPPERDINE...Second-year head coach Vance Walberg abruptly stepped down last week following 92-57 home drubbing at the hands of Gonzaga, and his son, sr. G Jason (9 ppg), quit the team in the wake of his father’s resignation. The Waves put up a strong fight last Saturday at St. Mary’s, falling by just 5 (as a 20½-point dog) in their first game under interim head coach Eric Bridgeland. PITTSBURGH...The Panthers will have to survive the brutal Big East wars with a depleted rotation, as steady veteran starters jr. PG Levance Fields (foot) & sr. swingman Mike Cook (knee) were lost to major injuries before New Year’s. PROVIDENCE...Star sr. PG Sharaud Curry (broken foot) has so far seen only very brief action during just one game back in December, although the Friars do expect Curry to return to the lineup before the end of the season. Dwain Williams is back in action after missing a couple weeks with an ankle injury, and the blossoming soph PG poured in 23 points (including 6 of 9 from 3-point arc) during PC’s 77-65 upset win at UConn Jan. 17.

RICE...When starting soph G Rodney Foster sat out a couple of recent games with a sore knee, the paper-thin Owls had only 6 scholarship players available. Foster has returned to action, but talented frosh G Jasen Williams (10 ppg) was declared academically ineligible about a month ago, jr. G Cory Pflieger (foot; 8 ppg) hasn’t played since November because of a foot injury, and soph G Chris Hagan (5 ppg last season) blew out his knee very early in the campaign. SAINT JOSEPH’S...Jr. PG Tasheed Carr (12 ppg, 6.6 apg, 5 rpg, 1.6 spg) has missed the last 2 games due to a sprained ankle and is questionable for Wednesday’s clash against UMass. SAINT LOUIS...6-7, 250 sr. F Barry Eberhardt (ankle; 8 ppg & 4.6 rpg), a touted juco transfer, played only 3 minutes during 54-53 OT home loss to Temple Jan. 20 after sitting out 68-61 home win over Rhode Island Jan. 17. SAN FRANCISCO...Heading into Saturday’s home game against St. Mary’s, “interim” Don head coach Eddie Sutton (right) needs just one more win to reach 800 victories in his storied career. The legendary Sutton, out of coaching since stepping down at Oklahoma State after an DUI arrest, surprisingly took over at USF in late December after the school announced that current mentor Jesse Evans was taking a leave of absence. SAN JOSE STATE...Redshirt frosh PG Justin Graham (team-leading 12 ppg) fractured his elbow during 65-64 loss at Hawaii Jan. 15 and is expected to miss about a month. SETON HALL...Jr. G Paul Gause (9 ppg, 3.2 spg), an ace defender, has missed the last 5 games (through Jan. 23) with a broken hand, but he should be back in action soon. SOUTH CAROLINA...Head coach Dave Odom announced last week that he will retire at the end of the season. SYRACUSE...Led by precocious frosh Donte Green (18 ppg & 8 rpg) & Jonny Flynn (15 ppg & 5 apg), the depth-shy Orange are one of the youngest teams in the Big East, with head coach Jim Boeheim relying on a core a core rotation of just 6 frosh & sophs. Early attrition stripped SU of key veterans—sharpshooting sr. G Andy Rautins blew out his knee during the off-season, sr. PG Josh Wright (24 mpg, 4 apg last year) was lost to academic problems in early December, then high-scoring jr. G Eric Devendorf (17 ppg) suffered a season-ending knee injury a couple weeks before Christmas.

TENNESSEE...Soph F Duke Crews (left; 8 ppg on 52% FGs, 5 rpg last season) has been cleared to play after sitting out more than a month with a heart condition. TOLEDO...The sputtering Rockets have lacked strong floor leadership so far this season, as longtime head coach Stan Joplin was caught with a dearth of experienced PGs on his roster when stalwart sr. Kashif Payne unexpectedly left the team after the first week of practice. Without Payne—last season’s MAC Defensive Player of the Year who dished out more than 4 apg in each of the previous 2 campaigns as Joplin’s starting PG—UT ranks last in the conference in assist/TO ratio, its stagnant attack producing just over 9 apg. UAB...The addition of dead-eye jr. swingman Robert Vaden (21 ppg, including 44% from 3-point arc!), an Indiana transfer who followed Blazer head coach & former Hoosier mentor Mike Davis to Birmingham, has helped the Blazers soften the blow of losing not only star sr. PG Paul Delaney, but also physical 6-9, 245 Mississippi State transfer Walter Sharpe. Delaney (16 ppg, 5 rpg, 5 apg last season) blew out his knee during the first week of the season, and Sharpe, who contributed 14 ppg & 7 rpg through the first 12 contests of the current campaign, was declared academically ineligible the week before Christmas. UC IRVINE...The Anteaters lost 3 expected contributors early on, as touted 6-6 juco transfer Adam Rodenberg left team before ever suiting up, and sr. G Chuma Awaji (8 ppg) & G Trey Harris, another juco transfer, were declared academically ineligible several weeks ago. VIRGINIA TECH...Bruising 6-7, 260 frosh F Jeff Allen (13 ppg on 51% FGs, 8 rpg, 2 spg) will sit out the Hokies’ next 2 games (Jan. 24 vs. Duke and Jan. 26 at BC) after being suspended for bumping a ref near the end of last Saturday’s 81-70 loss at Georgia Tech.

WEST VIRGINIA...6-8 jr. F Joe Alexander (right; 16 ppg, 6 rpg, 1.8 bpg), the Mountaineers’ top rebounder & 2nd-leading scorer, did not play in 69-52 win at South Florida Jan. 20 and is doubtful for Wednesday’s clash against in-state rival Marshall. at South Florida Jan. 20. WICHITA STATE...The Shockers have dropped 6 of their last 7 games both straight up & vs. the spread (through Jan. 22), their offense frequently sputtering with steady sr. PG Matt Braeuer (10 ppg, 4 rpg, 3.5 apg) sidelined by concussion problems since the end of December. And scouts say stalwart sr. F P.J. Couisnard (only 10 points in last 2 games) is far less than 100% due to a shoulder injury. WIS.-GREEN BAY...Starting frosh PG Rahmon Fletcher played only 12 mins. in 65-61 home loss to rival Wis.-Milwaukee Jan. 19 after spraining his foot a week earlier during 82-73 loss at Valparaiso. WIS.-MILWAUKEE...The Panthers have surprisingly pounced into strong contention in the Horizon League chase, winning 7 of their last 8 (through Jan. 23) after some major housecleaning by head coach Rob Jeter early on. Sr. G Avery Smith, UWM’s leading returning scorer, was booted off the squad before the start of the campaign. Then, F Torre Johnson, a touted juco transfer originally at Oklahoma State, was dismissed from the team after averaging 18 points & 8 boards in the first 10 games. Frosh Fs Tim Flowers (6 ppg) & Kevin Johnson and soph F Roman Gentry (5 ppg) are also no longer with the squad.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Jan 23

COLLEGE HOOPS...AND THE GOP?

We should have known there was going to be something different about this college basketball season from the start. Especially after the unheralded Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, hailing from Boiling Springs, North Carolina, went into Rupp Arena and stunned the Kentucky Wildcats on opening night. And that was just the beginning of what has become a wild ride in college hoops.

Maybe it’s a good thing Dick Vitale lost his voice early in the season. We can only imagine the damage Dickie V. would have done to his vocal chords trying to explain the proceedings of the past two months. And we’re only at the halfway mark of the campaign.

(By the way, get well soon, Dick.)

The wide-open race for the GOP presidential nomination has nothing on the current college hoop season. Indeed, we can’t remember a year in which there were so few clear-cut realities in college basketball. Although Memphis and Kansas still remained without a loss into mid-January, neither has an aura of invincibility about them, perhaps because neither has progressed beyond the Elite Eight in recent years with similar-looking squads. No team is wearing the sort of target Florida did a year ago, or North Carolina a few seasons before. And last weekend was another example of the free-for-all that has developed. Top-ranked North Carolina and 4th-ranked UCLA both went down at home vs. multi-loss Maryland and Southern Cal sides, respectively. Regional skirmishes such as those and others in major loops have an air of unpredictability about them that we can’t remember in the recent past.

But the excitement of the college hoop season is building, and we’re enjoying it immensely. So much so, in fact, that we’ll be devoting more space on the pages of the soon-to-be-upgraded TGS website to college basketball doings. Updated conference-by-conference Special Ticker reports, our popular and colorful college hoop Travelogue segments, plus a weekly “Bracketology” update on the not-so-distant NCAA Tournament, will be recurring features online now thru March.

In the meantime, let’s jump around the country, and take a quick glimpse at how the major conference races are shaping up now that league play is well underway. We’ll preview a few of the top leagues (ACC, Big East, and Big XII) here; for a more-comprehensive review, including other major conferences, check back later this week.

ACC...Last Saturday’s North Carolina loss to Maryland (left) has certainly removed the aura of invincibility from the Tar Heels. UNC is still the team to beat, and Tyler Hansbrough still a top candidate for national Player of the Year honors, but critics still wonder about the occasionally erratic perimeter shooting, as well as the recent loss of G Bobby Frasor to a knee injury, robbing the backcourt of some depth that would come in handy as the season progresses. Duke remains menacing as always, with ACC sources raving about the way Mike Krzyzewski is spreading the floor this season, having incorporated some of the offensive principles used by Mike D’Antoni with the Phoenix Suns. And frosh F Kyle Singler has been a revelation. But as the pre-conference loss to Pitt confirms, the Blue Devils do not have an overpowering presence in the paint, and rugged foes with strong inside games could give Duke problems. Clemson started quickly as it did a year ago; the challenge for HC Oliver Purnell is to keep the Tigers from fading in conference play as they did last season. But Clemson has depth, and an impressive presence inside with frontliners Trevor Booker and James Mays, although we can’t help but marvel at the stat line of G Cliff Hammonds, shooting 46% from the floor, 43% from tripleville...and only 34% from the charity stripe! Elsewhere, we like Florida State’s backcourt and Miami-Florida’s frontcourt, and wonder, despite that upset over UNC, if Maryland can shoot the ball well enough and can limit its plague of turnovers to make a serious run to a Big Dance bid. Virginia has proven capable but erratic, NC State is lacking quality play at the point, Boston College must overcome frequent defensive lapses, Wake Forest courageous but inexperienced, Georgia Tech looking for more consistency at the point from Matt Causey, and Virginia Tech is still trying to replace the backcourt sizzle Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell provided the past few seasons. Still, it appears as if almost anyone is capable of beating anyone else in the ACC this season.

Big East...There is no disgrace losing at Memphis and Pittsburgh, but those losses suggest that Georgetown might be hard-pressed to advance as far in March as it did when reaching the Final Four last season. Still physically imposing, and with one of the best big men in the country in 7-2 C Roy Hibbert (left), Big East onlookers suggest that “JT III” might miss the shot-making abilities of the graduated Jeff Green, who bailed out G’town on more than one occasion last season. Aforementioned Pitt is as physical as ever, and we agree with DePaul HC Jerry Wainwright, who reminded listeners on his weekly radio show that opponents “better bring their rib pads” when they play the Panthers. But we wonder if injuries to G Levance Fields and swingman Mike Cook might prevent a deep run in March. Marquette owns one of the nation’s most-dynamic backcourts with its perimeter trio of Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, and Wesley Matthews, but we wonder if there’s enough quality size and defensive acumen, which has been suspect on more than one occasion. Rick Pitino can never be overlooked, and seemed to have Louisville back on track after the return of frontliners Juan Palacios and David Padgett from injury, and Derek Caracter from suspension, but last weekend’s loss at Seton Hall again uncovered some vulnerabilities. Villanova has had to deal with injury concerns as well (C Casiem Drummond, now out with a stress fracture, was the best interior presence), but the Wildcats still have Scottie Reynolds and a dynamite backcourt. We’re starting to wonder about Notre Dame, which still has the look on a Big Dance entry but has been thrashed in its first two true road games. Living by the 3 might prove dangerous for the Irish on the Big East trail. Syracuse has also had more than its share of ups and downs, and it might continue with G Eric Devendorf now out with an ACL tear. But the depth of this year’s Big East is reflected in several pleasant surprise teams. West Virginia lacks size and depth, but can shoot the lights out, and has been a quick study in new coach Bob Huggins’ offense. Mick Cronin is authoring quite a turnaround in his second year as coach at Cincinnati, which is impressing onlookers with rugged defense and star soph G Deonta Vaughn. Syracuse, Villanova, and Pitt have all fallen at Cincy in recent weeks. And even DePaul has started to stir after a frustrating pre-league campaign. Senior G Draelon Burns is turning into one of the loop’s pleasant surprises, and watch a couple of Blue Demon frosh, 6-10 Mac Koshwal and 6-5 Dar Tucker (shown on an alley-oop dunk vs. Vandy Dec. 12, right), both making an immediate impact.

Big XII...Kansas has frustrated its followers the past few years in March, and HC Bill Self has yet to progress the Jayhawks past the Elite Eight run they made during his first year in charge back in 2003-04. But this sure appears to be KU’s best chance to reach the Final Four since Roy Williams did it in 2003, with plenty of depth (seven players scoring between 7 and 13 ppg), experience, and maybe the best defense in the country. Darrell Arthur and Brandon Rush (left) are both go-to scoring threats, but improvement from inside threats Darnell Jackson and Sausha Kaun provide more balance than recent Self KU editions. The league is a real jumble after the Jayhawks. Texas, which gets to host KU in mid-Feburary, has shown its stuff with wins over UCLA and Tennessee, and its backcourt combo of D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams is one of the nation’s best. Watch 6-7 frosh F Gary Johnson, recently cleared to play and contributing already, providing an extra frontcourt dimension that HC Rick Barnes needed. Depth beyond Augustin and Abrams at the G spots, however, remains a question. The residue of the defensive toughness Billy Gillispie installed within the Texas A&M program is still apparent under new HC Mark Turgeon. Holdovers Josh Carter, Joseph Jones, and Dominique Kirk are accomplished defenders all. But the Aggies are finding it hard to replace graduated PG Acie Law, as last weekend’s lopsided loss at Kansas State indicates. Meanwhile, HC Jeff Capel is beginning to fit the pieces together in his second season in charge at Oklahoma; the emergence of soph G Tony Crocker has been a big plus, complementing rugged inside work provided by much-improved 6-11 sr. Longar Longar and 6-10 frosh Blake Griffin (although the latter might be on the shelf for an extended period after a knee injury suffered last week; 6-7 brother Taylor Griffin stepped into the breach and scored 16 vs. Texas Tech in Blake's absence Jan. 19). Baylor rates in the pleasant surprise category, as the Bears appear to have officially recovered from the scandal that almost dismantled the program under Dave Bliss earlier this decade. HC Scott Drew has put the pieces together in quick order, with one of the league’s best backcourts. Although the Bears might have a little too much concentrated on the perimeter, as four of their top five scorers are Gs; without much help inside, how long can 6-9 Kevin Rogers hold his own in rugged league play? Aforementioned K-State has been a bit erratic, but last week’s win over A&M shows how dangerous the Wildcats can be when hitting on all cylinders. If HC Frank Martin can figure out how to best utilize super 6-9 frosh Michael Beasley (a likely NBA lottery pick in June) and 6-6 soph F Bill Walker at the same time, and get some production from the perimeter to stop foes from ganging up on Beasley and Martin in the paint, then K-State could yet become a load. We also wouldn’t write off Missouri, which has come close to some significant breakthroughs (such as last weekend’s close 6-point loss to Kansas), but is still looking for the marquee “hump” win HC Mike Anderson desires. But the Tigers have adapted to Anderson’s vaunted “pressure” system, and Vandy transfer F DeMarre Carroll has quickly emerged as a go-to threat. Iowa State will not be an easy touch, especially for foes visiting Ames, as respected HC Gregg McDermott builds for the future with impressive underclassmen such as 6-7 soph Wesley Johnson & 6-10 frosh Craig Brackins. And, of course, we can never write off Bob Knight and Texas Tech, especially with the Red Raiders boasting of the best frosh crop during The General’s tenure in Lubbock. Senior Martin Zeno and junior Alan Voskuil form one of the more underrated backcourt tandems in the league, but lack of depth and an intimidating presence on the frontline are negatives for Knight/div

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Jan 23

Wednesday’s Pregame Buzz

NBA

Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers


* The Wizards enter this game having won 5 of 6, and they are holding opponents to just 90 points per game this month after not holding an opponent under 85 all of last season. “Our concentration level is up on defense,” Wiz coach Eddie Jordan said. EDGE: WIZARDS
* The Cavaliers have won 4 straight and 8 of 9 this month, with LeBron James leading the way, averaging 32 points on 50 percent shooting in 2008. James is averaging 26 points in 14 games against the Wizards. EDGE: CAVS
* Washington has won 5 of the last 7 regular-season meetings with Cleveland but got swept in the playoffs by the Cavs in the 1st round last year. SLIGHT EDGE: WIZARDS
* Washington is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 games when playing on 1 day of rest.
* Cavs are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games against the Eastern Conference.
* The UNDER is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings in Cleveland.
       
Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers

* Pistons are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games against the Atlantic Division.
* 76ers are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games when playing on 1 days rest.
* The road team is 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings.

Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics

* Raptors are 3-7 ATS their last 10 road games.
* Celtics are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games when playing on 1 days rest.
* The favorite 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings.

Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Hornets

* Blazers are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games after allowing 100+ points.
* Hornets are 9-0 ATS in their last 9 games following a win of 10+ points.
* The home team is 6-0 ATS in the last 6 meetings.

Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls

* With Jermaine O’Neal hurting, Kareem Rush has taken over the scoring. Rush is averaging 16 points on 47 percent shooting while starting the last 6 games. He had 22 points in the first meeting, a 117-102 home victory over these Bulls back on December 12th. EDGE: PACERS
* The Pacers lead the Eastern Conference in scoring with 104 points per game, and the Bulls have lost all 17 games when their opponents score 100. BIG EDGE: PACERS
* The Bulls are coming off a disappointing performance in a 104-90 loss at Memphis, and have lost four out of their last six games while shooting just 37 percent from the field. “All five of our starters are simply not being consistent effort wise,” Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. EDGE: PACERS
* Bulls G Ben Gordon scored 25 points in that Memphis loss, and has been playing well of late. He is averaging 28 points off the bench in the last four games. Gordon is averaging 26 points in the last 4 meetings against Indiana with the Bulls winning 3 of 4. EDGE: BULLS
* Pacers are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 games against the Central Division.
* Bulls are 4-17 ATS in their last 21 games after allowing 100+ points.
* The favorite is 7-0 ATS in the last 7 meetings.

Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs

* Lakers are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games against the Western Conference.
* Spurs are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games following a win.
* The UNDER is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings in San Antonio.


CBB

Iowa State at #2 Kansas


* Iowa State is 5-0-1 ATS in its last 6 games against the Big 12.
* Kansas is 7-2 ATS in its last 9 home games against a losing road team.
* The OVER is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings in Kansas.

Georgia Tech at North Carolina State

* Georgia Tech is 2-7 ATS in its last 9 games against a winning team.
* North Carolina State is 3-13 ATS in its last 16 home games against a poor road team.
* The underdog is 6-0 ATS in the last 6 meetings.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Jan 23

Miami-Ohio's leading scorer F Michael Bramos (16 ppg; ankle) is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game.

West Virginia F Joe Alexander (16 ppg; groin) is listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game.

Marshall's leading scorer F Markel Humphrey (14 ppg; foot) is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game.

Grizzlies F Pau Gasol (19 ppg; neck) is questionable for Wednesday's game.

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Re: Betting News and Notes - Jan 23

Bulls forward Luol Deng sidelined again with left Achilles' tendinitis
January 23, 2008

CHICAGO (AP) -Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng was inactive Wednesday night against the Indiana Pacers because of his recurring left Achilles' tendinitis.

The condition has been bothering Deng, second on the team at 17.9 points per game, for nearly a month, and it caused him to miss three games before returning Jan. 13 at Atlanta.

The problem flared up again during the fourth quarter against Golden State on Friday, and he sat out the following night against Detroit. Deng played 26 minutes during Monday's 104-90 loss at Memphis but sat out the fourth quarter because of the pain and the lopsided score.

It's been a difficult season for him.

Although his statistics are similar to last year's, he has not approached the All-Star level many predicted for him. He turned down a contract extension before the season and missed three games with a bad back in November after playing in all 82 a year ago.

The Bulls were also without guard Chris Duhon, who is out indefinitely with a sprained left knee.

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USC's Mayo might have broken NCAA rule by accepting Lakers tickets
January 23, 2008

LOS ANGELES (AP) -Southern California freshman standout O.J. Mayo might have violated an NCAA rule by accepting free tickets to Monday night's NBA game between Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers from Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony.

Mayo told reporters Tuesday he had received the tickets, which were located behind courtside seats near mid-court at Staples Center and had a face value of $230 each.

``We don't know the specifics of the situation and won't be able to comment,'' NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson said Wednesday in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

USC sports information director Tim Tessalone declined comment on behalf of the university.

NCAA bylaw 16.11.2.2.3 states that student-athletes may not receive ``free or reduced-cost admission to professional athletics contests from professional sports organizations, unless such services also are available to the student body in general.''

The NCAA could consider Anthony a friend who gave Mayo the tickets rather than a representative of the Nuggets, perhaps making the matter legal by NCAA standards.

Mayo, averaging a team-leading 19.7 points and 4.6 rebounds, said Anthony made the offer of tickets at a party he hosted Sunday night.

``I was talking to him like, `Man, you're out pretty late. You've got a game tomorrow night against Kobe (Bryant),''' Mayo said. ``He said, `Nah, it will be all right.' And then he asked, `You want to come to the game?' And I was like, `Sure.'''

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