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NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 2/28

NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 2/28

NCAAB bettors' weekend TV guide
By MATT SEVERANCE

Two weeks until Selection Sunday, with some good games on Saturday but a tremendous lineup on CBS on Sunday, making it feel like a Sweet 16-type weekend with ranked teams facing each other in all three matchups.

Georgetown at Villanova (Saturday, noon, ESPN)

The Wildcats have eyes on a top-four finish in the Big East, which would give them a bye into the conference quarterfinals. They have won nine of 10 games overall but have dropped their past four against the Hoyas.

Georgetown started the season 12-3 but has lost nine of 11, including its last five games to ranked opponents. The Hoyas will finish the regular season with a losing conference record for the first time in five seasons under John Thompson III. GU leading scorer DaJuan Summers has totaled just 16 points in the past two games and has scored in single digits in five of the past eight.

Notre Dame at Connecticut (Saturday, 2 p.m., CBS)

Beating the No. 2 Huskies would be huge boost Notre Dame's Tournament resume. It has gone 3-1 since a seven-game losing streak.

The last time these teams met, Jan. 24, UConn ended Notre Dame's 45-game home winning streak with a 69-61 victory (the Huskies were 2-point favorites) led by Jeff Adrien's 12 points and career-high 19 rebounds. However, Adrien is coming off his worst game of the season, as called by coach Jim Calhoun. The senior had two points and four rebounds in the win over Marquette on Wednesday.

A win here will put Connecticut back at No. 1, and it's Senior Day in Storrs for the Huskies' final home game.

Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC)

No game will have a bigger line fluctuation than this one all weekend. All-American Blake Griffin’s status is still uncertain for the Sooners. It's no coincidence that OU has lost two games in a row without the big man.

Griffin did practice in a limited fashion this week (no contact at all), but the Big 12's leading scorer and rebounder is questionable against the Red Raiders. OU will be without junior forward Juan Pattillo, who was suspended for Saturday's game. He was averaging just more than 15 minutes a game but played 27 against the Jayhawks in Griffin's absence, scoring 15 points.

Griffin had career highs of 40 points and 23 rebounds in a 21-point Sooners home win over TTU two weeks ago. Oddsmakers had the Sooners as 16.5-point faves in that contest.

LSU at Kentucky (Saturday, 4 p.m., CBS)

The Tigers haven't lost since the conference opener, and they can claim the SEC regular-season title with one more win or one South Carolina loss.  LSU coach Trent Johnson said that guard Garrett Temple will get the main defensive responsibility of slowing Kentucky's Jodie Meeks, the SEC's leading scorer. LSU hasn't won at Kentucky since 1989.

“This will be the longest and most athletic team that we have faced,” Johnson said of the Wildcats.

This game actually features four of the SEC's top nine scorers in Meeks and teammate Patrick Patterson along with LSU's Marcus Thornton and Tasmin Mitchell.

Marquette at Louisville (Sunday, noon, CBS)

Marquette begins life without guard Dominic James. He led the team in assists, was fourth in scoring and was the Golden Eagles' best perimeter defender before breaking his foot last Wednesday.

Maurice Acker will get the majority of James' minutes in MU's guard-heavy offense. He played 33 minutes against Connecticut, scoring six points with four assists and no turnovers. The junior was averaging just under nine minutes per game before Wednesday.

Missouri at Kansas (Sunday, 2 p.m., CBS)

Missouri, which is 11 players deep in its rotation, has won seven in a row in Big 12 play for the first time since 1999-2000 and has tied a school record with 11 conference wins overall. The Tigers were 5-point home favorites when they faced KU on Feb. 9 and won 62-60 on a Zaire Taylor shot with 1.3 seconds remaining despite trailing by 14 at the half.

The two teams were a combined 4-for-29 from the 3-point line in that one, which ended a five-game Jayhawks winning streak in the series. Neither team has lost since.

Michigan State at Illinois (Sunday, 4 p.m., CBS)

The Spartans can all but wrap up the Big Ten regular-season title with a win. But MSU is banged up. Shooting guard Durrell Summers left Wednesday's win over Iowa early because of an ankle injury, point guard Kalin Lucas has a bad right thumb and forward Raymar Morgan continues to recover from an illness. The three combined for eight points against the Hawkeyes.

Coach Tom Izzo says he doesn't think Summers' injury is severe enough to keep him out of the Illinois game. Izzo told reporters Summers sat out the second half Wednesday as a precaution.

Michigan State beat Illinois 63-57 on Jan. 17 as an 8-point home favorite and has won five of the past six against the Illini

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 2/28

NCAAB Today

Notes on the best of today's games.

UConn (-1) ended Notre Dame's home win streak 69-61 Jan 24, holding Irish to 32% from floor; Huskies are 3-5 as Big East home fave, winning home games by 31-15-6-33-14-14 points (lost to Georgetown and Pitt). Notre Dame won four of last five games, but three of the four wins were at home- they're 1-4 as road dog, losing by 6-14-19-13-10-11 on road.

Butler (+2.5) won 50-48 in Cleveland Dec 4, in brickfest where Vikings shot 25.9%, Butler 31.5%. Cleveland State won eight of last nine games, is Horizon underdog for first time all season- they're 4-4 on road in their league games, losing by 9-15-2-4 pts. Butler is 5-3 as Horizon favorite at home, winning by 16-4-9-30-8-19-21 points, losing to Loyola.

Florida State (+9.5) won 65-61 at Clemson Feb 7, after trailing 30-22 at half; Seminoles are 4-2 at home in ACC, losing to Carolina, Duke- they are 7-2 vs spread as an ACC underdog. Clemson split its last six games, as their halfcourt defense has slipped; Tigers are 4-2 on ACC road. ACC home underdogs are 13-10 against the spread this season.

Virginia is 1-3 as an ACC home underdog, losing at home by 22-11-10-7, with wins over Clemson, Va Tech; Cavaliers are 0-8 in ACC when they score less than 75 points. Wake Forest lost its last four road games- the home team covered eight of their last nine games. In their last six games, Deacons scored an average of 86.3 ppg (home side won all six).

USC (-6) nipped Stanford 70-69 in the first meeting, making 53.7% from floor, but Trojans lost five of last six games, scoring 61 or less points in four of the six games. USC is 3-3 as Pac-10 road dog, losing away games by 4-5-16-7-12-3 points, with pair of OT losses. Cardinal lost five in a row, eight of last nine games; they're 4-1 as a Pac-10 home favorite.

Virginia Tech (+17) lost 69-44 at Duke Jan 4, shooting 36.7% from the floor; Hokies lost three of last four games, but are 4-3 in ACC games at home, losing by 4 to Clemson, 2 to Florida State- road team is 9-4 vs the spread in league games. Duke lost three of last four road games; they are 2-4 as ACC road favorite, winning away games by 8-14-11 points.

Dayton is 2-3 in last five games, as they missed their injured point guard but Flyers are 6-0 at home in A-14, winning home games by 1-12-1-11-13-6 points- they're 1-4 as A-14 home favorite. Temple had a five-game win streak snapped by LaSalle Thursday; Owls are 3-3 on A-14 road, with losses by 4-8-9 points. A-14 home favorites are 27-32 vs spread.

Kentucky is just 3-5 in last eight games, 2-4 as SEC home favorite, with home wins by 10-9-3-19 points, losing to So Carolina, Miss State. LSU won its last 12 SEC games (they have non-league loss to Xavier in there, so they've won nine in row overall); Tigers 5-1 on SEC road, winning the last two on road in double OT at Miss State, by 3 at Arkansas.

BYU (+3.5) lost 94-88 in OT at Utah Jan 24, as Utes were 31-40 on the foul line, Cougars 13-22; that was first of eight consecutive Utah wins- they're 0-2 as MWC road dog, losing away games by 9 in San Diego, 10 at UNLV. BYU won six of last seven games (7-0 vs spread); they're 3-3 as MWC home favorite, winning in Provo by 12-6-24-34-11 points.

Texas shot 57% from floor, 26-31 on foul line in 99-74 win vs Oklahoma State Feb 10 (-9), but Longhorns are just 3-3 on Big 12 road- seven of its last nine games were decided by six or less points, or in OT. Cowboys won, covered their last four games, all by 10+ points; they're 3-1 vs the spread as home favorite, winning home games by 11-1-19-10 points.

Mississippi State (+3) was just 10-35 from arc in 91-76 loss at Auburn two weeks ago; Bulldogs lost four of last five games, with two losses in double OT and another by five pts- they're 4-2 at home in SEC, winning home games by 9-7-9-5 pts. Auburn won five of last six games, losing at 12-1 LSU by 7- Tigers covered four of their last five road games.

Northridge (+4.5) lost 74-68 at Long Beach Jan 17, making 35.8% from floor, 12-24 at line; Matadors won last four home games by 19-12-13-5 points, but lost two of last three games with PG hurt (car wreck). 49ers' last seven league games were all decided by seven or less points- they're 4-1 as Big West road dog, losing only 73-70 in double OT at Riverside.

Arizona wae 41-51 on foul line in 106-97 win vs Washington Jan 29, as Wildcats took 40 FTs, just in second half; Wildcats lost last two games, are 2-4 as SEC road dog, losing away games by 14-16-23-1-16 points. Washington took over first place with OT win vs ASU Thursday- they are 3-4 as home favorite, winning home games by 1-5-11-19-19-3 pts.

Kansas State turned ball over 25 times in 73-51 loss at Nebraska Jan 17, as Huskers made 10-18 from arc; Wildcats won three of last four home games, winning by 16-15-12 points. Nebraska had brutal loss at buzzer in last game, vs A&M, their third loss in last four games- they're 2-2 as Big 12 road dog, losing away games by 12-11-23-17 points.

Creighton (+2) got waxed 86-64 at Illinois State Jan 3, as Redbirds made 11-22 from arc, scoring 51 second half points. ISU lost its last couple of games, but they've won three in row on MVC road- they're 2-1 as a dog in league play. Bluejays won last nine games (6-1-1 vs spread last eight) they're 3-5 as home favorite, winning by 12-1-11-24-14-5 points.

Troy (+12) made 16-30 from arc in 94-70 upset win at South Alabama Jan 15, win that started Trojans' current 11-1 run. Troy is 6-2 as a home favorite, winning at home by 7-7-11-4-8-6-5 pts. Jaguars won last four games, allowing just 63 ppg; they're 5-3 on Sun Belt, 2-1 as underdog on road, losing away games by 2-2-8 points. Sun Belt home faves: 27-44.

UCLA shot 54.9% from floor in 81-66 win vs Cal Jan 29; Bruins won five of last six games overall, but lost four of last five on road, winning at Stanford 76-71 Thursday- they're 2-5 as road favorite. Cal won five of last six games; they're 7-1 at home in Pac-10, losing only to Oregon State as 18-point favorite. Pac-10 home underdogs are 14-14 vs spread.

South Carolina was 32-49 on foul line in 86-76 home win vs Vanderbilt Jan 28 (-8) (Vandy was 21-31); Gamecocks won eight of last ten games, are 2-4 on SEC road, winning by 1 at Kentucky, 2 at Alabama. Vandy is 1-3 in last four games, losing at 2-11 Georgia last game, but they've won last three home games. SEC home sides are 39-32 against the spread.

Nevada (+9) lost 72-61 at Utah State Jan 29, getting outscored 24-8 on foul line in game Wolf Pack led 34-30 at half. Nevada is 4-4 in last eight games, getting upset at Fresno Thursday- they lost two of last three at home. Utah State lost last two road games, at Boise/St Mary's, after 6-0 start on road in WAC. WAC home teams are 22-31 against the spread.

Washington State (+11) upset Sun Devils 65-55 in Tempe Jan 29; they made 10-20 from arc, held ASU to 33% from floor. Coogs won last two games, but are just 3-5 at home in Pac-10 (favorites 2-6 vs spread). ASU lost in OT at Washington Thursday, snapping five-game winning streak; Sun Devils covered their last five road games (5-3 SU on road).

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Saturday's Pac-10 Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

**Southern Cal at Stanford**

-Las Vegas Sports Consultants installed Stanford as a one-point home ‘chalk’ over Southern Cal. Tipoff for this contest is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET.

-Southern Cal (16-11 straight up, 12-13 against the spread) dropped to 1-4 SU its last five games after falling to California in overtime Thursday as a 4 ½-point road underdog, 81-78. The Trojans are 2-1 ATS their past three outings.

-USC shot 49 percent (29-of-59) from the field, and 40 percent (4-of-10) from behind the arc. Guard Daniel Hackett paced the offense with 26 points, while forward Taj Gibson added 21 and 12 rebounds.

-The Trojans are 3-9 SU and 6-6 ATS on the road, dropping those affairs by an average score of 68-67.

-Stanford (15-11 SU, 13-9 ATS) is currently mired in a four-game SU losing skid (0-3-1 ATS) after Thursday’s loss to UCLA as a five-point home underdog, 76-71.

-The Cardinal shot 49 percent (24-of-49) from the field in the loss, and 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point land. Anthony Goods accounted for 18 points, while Landry Fields added 16 and 10 rebounds.

-Stanford sports a solid 12-4 SU and 8-4 ATS home record, winning those games by an average score of 75-65.

-USC is 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS the previous five meetings with Stanford after winning January 29 as a six-point home ‘chalk,’ 70-69. The Trojans had covered three games in a row in this series before that last meeting.

**Arizona at Washington**

-LVSC opened Washington as an 8 ½-point home favorite over Arizona, with the total listed at 151. FOX Sports Net will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.

-Arizona (18-10 SU, 15-12 ATS) has suffered back-to-back SU losses after enjoying a seven-game winning streak. The Wildcats were roughed up by Washington State Thursday as a 2 ½-point road underdog, 69-53.

-Arizona entered halftime with a three-point advantage, 29-26, before getting torched in the second half, 43-24. The Wildcats shot 41 percent (18-of-44) from the field, and 38 percent (6-of-16) from behind the arc. Point guard Nic Wise netted 19 points, while Jordan Hill had 15 and nine rebounds.

-Arizona is a dismal 4-8 SU and 4-7 ATS away from home, dropping those affairs by an average score of 69-66.

-Washington (21-7 SU, 16-9 ATS) now has a 1 ½-game lead atop the Pac-10 standings after outlasting Arizona State in overtime Thursday as a four-point home ‘chalk,’ 73-70.

-The Huskies won the rebounding battle, 41-33, while connecting at a 38-percent clip (23-of-60) from the field. Center Jon Brockman stepped up with 21 points and 11 rebounds in the victory, while Quincy Pondexter added 10 and 12.

-Washington is now 15-1 SU and 9-5 ATS at home, winning those matchups by an average score of 82-67.

-Arizona is 4-1 SU and ATS the previous five meetings with Washington after winning Jan. 29 as a one-point home underdog, 106-97.

**UCLA at California**

-LVSC lists UCLA as a 3 ½-point road ‘chalk’ over California, with the total set at 147. ESPN will start its coverage of this Pac-10 affair at 9:00 p.m. ET.

-UCLA (21-7 SU, 12-13 ATS) has alternated SU wins and losses its last four games after upending Stanford Thursday as a five-point road favorite, 76-71. The Bruins are 0-3-2 ATS their last five outings.

-UCLA shot a robust 52 percent (29-of-56) from the field, and 50 percent (8-of-16) from 3-point land. Josh Shipp had 24 points and seven rebounds in the victory, while Alfred Aboya added 16.

-The Bruins are a modest 6-5 SU and 4-6 ATS away from home, winning those matchups by an average score of 69-67.

-California (21-7 SU, 15-9 ATS) improved to 4-1 SU its last five games after beating USC in overtime Thursday as a 4 ½-point home ‘chalk,’ 81-78. The Golden Bears have failed to cover their past two outings.

-Cal connected at a 54 percent (26-of-48) from the field versus the Trojans, and 46 percent (5-of-11) from 3-point land. Patrick Christopher led all scorers with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting, while Jerome Randle added 15 and eight assists.

-UCLA is 5-1 SU and 3-3 ATS the previous six meetings with Cal after routing the Golden Bears Jan. 29 as a 10-point home favorite, 81-66.

**Arizona State at Washington State**

-LVSC opened Arizona State as a three-point road favorite over Washington State, with the total set at 114. This contest is slated to start at 5:00 p.m. ET.

-Arizona State (21-6 SU, 15-8 ATS) was riding a five-game SU winning streak before Thursday’s overtime setback to Washington as a four-point road underdog, 73-70. The Sun Devils have covered four of their past five games.

-Arizona State shot 42 percent (28-of-67) from the field, and 22 percent (5-of-23) from behind the arc. Jeff Pendergraph poured in 24 points while grabbing 13 rebounds in the loss, while James Harden added 19 and five.

-Washington State (15-13 SU, 10-16 ATS) has put together back-to-back SU and ATS victories after throttling Arizona Thursday as a 2 ½-point home favorite, 69-53.

-The Cougars outrebounded the Wildcats, 32-23, while shooting 47 percent (25-of-53) from the field and 41 percent (9-of-22) from 3-point land. Guard Taylor Rochestie led the team with 17 points and five assists, while Klay Thompson added 16.

-Wazzu sports a 9-7 SU and 5-9 ATS home record, winning those affairs by an average score of 60-51.

-The Cougars are 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS the last five games with Arizona State after winning Jan. 29 as an 11-point road underdog, 65-55.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 2/28

Movers and Shakers
By ASA

Arkansas-Little Rock: Arkansas-Little Rock head coach Steve Shields recently dismissed leading scorer Steven Moore from the team for actions in a February 19th loss to Western Kentucky. Moore averaged 13.6 points per game and was leading his team in assists prior to his dismissal. For a team that only averages 67 points per game, losing their most consistent scorer will hurt them heading into the conference tournament. In their first game since dismissing Moore, the Trojans defeated North Texas 58-54. In that game, Arkansas-LR shot just 37% field goals, including 12.5% from 3-point range with 16 turnovers and just eight assists (the only reason the Trojans won that game is that North Texas actually managed to put up poorer statistics).

Arkansas-LR wraps up their regular season against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday before starting the Sun Belt conference tournament. Not only was Moore their leading scorer, he was a Senior leader. Already in their last two games the oddsmakers have adjusted the Trojans lines by two full points so you may see that trend continue into the post-season tournaments.

Purdue Boilermakers: Robbie Hummel is back, getting significant playing time for Purdue, and there might be some line value with the Boilermakers as they wrap up their regular season in the upcoming week. Hummel’s return in the last four games marks significant improvements in the Boilermakers overall play. They shot 45.8% in a win at Iowa, 57.1% in a win over Michigan State, 48.1% in a win over Indiana, and 45.8% in a loss at Michigan.

Hummel is Purdue’s 3rd leading scorer and leading rebounder and he has gotten healthy just in time for Purdue to make some noise in the Big Ten. Keep an eye on the lines of the Boilermakers’ games as they wrap up the season with two home games coming up against Ohio State and Northwestern before ending at Michigan State. You might be able to find some line value with Purdue as Hummels’ return is worth more than the few points the oddsmakers adjust for.

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Blake Griffin cleared to play for Oklahoma
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -Oklahoma star Blake Griffin has been cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore has been out since sustaining the concussion during the first half of a loss at Texas on Saturday. He sat out as No. 3 Oklahoma lost 87-78 at home to No. 15 Kansas on Monday.

The Sooners visit Texas Tech on Saturday. Coach Jeff Capel says team physician Brock Schnebel cleared Griffin to play against the Red Raiders.

Griffin is averaging 22 points and 13.8 rebounds, second best in Division I. He also ranks second nationally with 22 double-doubles.

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Re: NCAAB News and Notes Saturday 2/28

CBB Streaks & Notes
sportspic.com

UCLA at California

Cal has lost 4 straight (1-3 ATS) to the Bruins, including an 81-66 decision at Pauley Pavilion last month and will head into Saturday's home finale 1-8 (3-6 ATS) the past nine meetings. Bears 16-1 (10-4 ATS) at Haas Pavilion this season and a cash stuffing 7-2 ATS in home finale's jump up and bite Bruins who've had a few clunkers on the road of late going 1-5-1 ATS the past seven on the highway


Georgetown at Villanova

Nova hasn't beaten Georgetown in four tries (1-3 ATS) but Wildcats bust Georgetown's bubble Saturday. Wildcats are 13-1 (6-4 ATS) at home. Georgetown awful in rebounding (36.3 RPG) are 6-15 ATS vs teams good at grabbing loose ones. Hoyas are a painful 5-10 (3-12 ATS) in league play

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Tips and Trends

#18 LSU at Kentucky


LSU: The Tigers are just one win away from capturing the SEC regular-season title outright thanks to a three-game lead over South Carolina. They are riding a nine-game winning streak and have already clinched the SEC West along with at least a share of the overall title. “I’m so happy for these guys, you have no idea,” LSU head coach Trent Johnson said. “I don’t believe in all that destiny stuff. This is a good basketball team. The thing I really appreciate about these guys is they speak from the heart and they have a sense of security.”

LSU is 9-0 SU in its last 9 games overall.
The OVER is 8-3 in LSU's last 11 games overall.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE:  71 (Side Play of the Day)

Kentucky (-4, O/U 141.5): The Wildcats are coming off arguably their worst game of the season on Wednesday, as they shot only 34.5 percent from the field and committed 20 turnovers in a 77-59 loss to South Carolina. The dynamic duo of Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson totaled 46 points, but it still wasn't enough against the Gamecocks. “We’ll be better on Saturday,” Kentucky head coach Billy Gillispie said. “The world is not ending.”

Kentucky is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games overall.
The UNDER is 6-1 in Kentucky's last 7 home games.

Key Injuries - G Kevin Galloway (personal) is OUT.

PROJECTED SCORE: 70


#24 Texas at Oklahoma State

Texas: The Longhorns will be seeking their third straight win and beat Oklahoma State for the seventh time in a row on Saturday. They beat former #1 Oklahoma a week ago at home and followed that up with an 87-81 win over Texas Tech on Wednesday. Texas leading scorer A.J. Abrams has scored 20 points or more in four of the last five games and will need another strong game here in what should be a tough battle. “Believe it or not, this team is used to close games and this time of year I think you’re going to be in close games,” said Longhorns head coach Rick Barnes.

Texas is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games overall.
The OVER is 4-1 in Texas' last 5 games overall.

Key Injuries - F Gary Johnson (ankle) is questionable.

PROJECTED SCORE: 71

Oklahoma State (-2, O/U 154.5): The Cowboys are making a late run at an NCAA tournament bid and can move one step closer with a win over Texas. They have won four straight games after beating Colorado 76-55 on the road, and this current winning streak started following a loss to Texas back on February 10th in the last meeting. “That was an emotional game for our team for a lot of different reasons and then we have Texas next,” said Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford.

Oklahoma State is 4-0 SU & ATS in its last 4 games overall.
The UNDER is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 73


#19 UCLA at California

UCLA (-2.5, O/U 148.5): The Bruins have won the Pac-10 each of the last three years but now find themselves in a three-way tie with Cal and Arizona State atop the standings heading down the final stretch of the regular season. UCLA won 76-71 at Stanford on Thursday and will be going for the Bay Area sweep in Berkeley. “The parity is so great in this league, I think we have to be at our optimum in order to succeed,” said Bruins head coach Ben Howland.

Road team is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings.
The OVER is 11-1 in UCLA's last 12 games as a favortie.

Key Injuries - F James Keefe (back) is doubtful.

PROJECTED SCORE: 78 (OVER - Total Play of the Day)

Cal: The Golden Bears have been nearly unbeatable at home this season with a stellar 16-1 mark, including wins over Top-25 opponents in Arizona State and Washington. They will be looking to beat UCLA for just the second time in 10 meetings and snap a four-game series losing streak. Cal is coming off an 81-78 overtime win against USC on Thursday after blowing a 10-point lead in the last seven minutes of regulation. “It’s kind of a new experience for these guys, being in a position where a game means that much, and we’ll work our way through that,” said Cal head coach Mike Montgomery.

Cal is 16-1 SU in its last 17 home games.
The OVER is 24-7 in Cal's last 31 games vs. Pac-10.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 75

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College Basketball Betting Preview: Marquette at Louisville
by Matt Severance

In the span of two hours, that Marquette bandwagon sure emptied quickly.

Considered a legitimate Final Four-caliber team with arguably the best backcourt in the country entering their game Wednesday night against Connecticut, the Golden Eagles took a double whammy, seeing their 17-game home winning streak ended by Connecticut and learning that senior guard Dominic James had broken his foot and would be done for the season.

That changes everything for this club.

There is now a very real chance that Marquette could end the season on a four-game losing streak, with Sunday's game at Louisville looking like a probable defeat and games with Pittsburgh and Syracuse still to go. It seems a lock that the Golden Eagles will drop below fifth-place Villanova in the Big East standings, which would be costly as the top-four finishers get a bye to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

James was fourth on the team in scoring and led Marquette in assists. Wednesday's game was the 128th of his collegiate career, a school record. He was the team's best perimeter defender and easily its heart and soul. He currently ranks first in Marquette history in in field goals attempted (1,534), second in assists (631), third in points (1,749), fourth in steals (238), sixth in field goals made (625), tied for seventh in free throws attempted (529) and 10th in three-pointers made (168).

MU, which is just 1-5 ATS in its past six, still has two excellent guards in Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews, but it was James who brought the ball up the court most times. And this team is driven by its guards - the frontcourt was dominated by Connecticut on Wednesday.

"We had a small margin of error all year and now that's completely gone," MU coach Buzz Williams said to reporters. "We have to play perfect."

Look for Maurice Acker to assume most of James' minutes. He had played more than 10 minutes just once in the past six games before Wednesday, when he played 33 minutes against Connecticut and finished with six points, four assists and no turnovers.

Louisville has no such issues. The Cardinals will have had nearly a week off since crushing Georgetown on Monday, shooting a season-high 66.7 percent (8-of-12) on three-pointers.

The Cards have won four games in a row (4-0 ATS) and trail first-place Connecticut by a half game in the league title race entering the weekend (the Huskies play Notre Dame on Saturday). Coach Rick Pitino believes his team could be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1983 even if it doesn't win the conference title.

"I think that there's going to be two Big East teams (as No. 1s), it's been that way the whole year," he said to reporters.

The Cardinals are 4-1 against ranked teams this year (4-1 ATS). If you tune in on CBS, you will see them in throwback uniforms against Marquette, sporting the style of the late 1960s. Louisville leads the all-time series with Marquette 37-24 and 20-11 in Louisville. UL won last year 71-57 in Milwaukee.

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