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Midwest Basketball Report

Midwest Basketball Report

Midwest Basketball Report

Each week we will take an inside look at the pulse of College Basketball around the Big Ten and other schools around the Midwest. We will highlight certain trends, hot streaks, cold streaks, and injury updates. A number of things caught our attention as professional handicappers this week. We’d like to share some of our insight…

Injury & Personnel Updates:

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Rodney Williams and Joe Coleman both played through injuries in the Gophers’ loss to Michigan last week, coach Tubby Smith said Monday. Williams and Coleman practiced Tuesday, but they’re still recovering from hip and ankle injuries, respectively. Coleman said after Tuesday’s practice that he reinjured his ankle against Michigan, and it “started to bother” him in the second half. Coleman and Williams combined to score 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting Thursday. They also combined to commit six turnovers. Williams and Coleman average a combined 23.0 points per game this season.

Missouri Tigers

Missouri’s leading scorer, Laurence Bowers, suffered a sprained ACL on January 8th against Alabama and hasn’t played since. The 6’8” forward is averaging 16.8 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. The Tigers are 2-2 straight up and 1-3 ATS without Bowers in the lineup. He missed Tuesday’s game against South Carolina and remains questionable for Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.

Butler Bulldogs

Leading scorer Rotnei Clarke has missed the last two games with a strained neck. He is not expected to play on Wednesday night against La Salle and is questionable for Saturday’s game against Temple. The Bulldogs are 2-0 SU & ATS without Clarke, with a huge home win over Gonzaga last Saturday. Still, Clarke is averaging 16.2 points per game and Butler could use his production.

Creighton Bluejays

Creighton center Gregory Echenique expects to play Wednesday against Drake despite a wrist injury that was causing him some discomfort. The 6-foot-9 senior injured his left wrist late in Saturday's 67-64 loss to Wichita State. Echenique is the team’s leader in rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage. He’s also the only other Bluejays player besides player of the year candidate Doug McDermott averaging double digit points.

Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky has missed two straight games since suffering an eye injury against Indiana last Tuesday. The 6’11” sophomore is averaging just 4.6 points per game, but his minutes were growing over the previous month and you can never have too many big men in Big Ten play. It is unknown when Kaminsky will be able to return.

Kentucky Wildcats

Willie Cauley-Stein missed his second consecutive game for Kentucky with a knee injury. The 7-foot freshman is averaging 7.6 points per game and 5.8 rebounds per game for the Wildcats. Kentucky was forced to use a short bench against South Carolina without Cauley-Stein, and five players played 30 minutes or more. Cauley-Stein remains questionable for Saturday’s home game against LSU.

Trending Up

Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawks are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 overall. They are 6-4 straight up in those 10 games, but each of those losses came against teams ranked in the top-25 – Michigan, Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State. They continue to get undervalued, as they are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as a double digit underdog.

Purdue Boilermakers

The Boilers have won and covered three consecutive games. The defense has been playing extremely well during the hot streak. They’ve allowed opponents to make just 29.7 percent field goals and 22.5 percent from beyond the three point arc over the last three games (opponents averaged 50 points per game).

Xavier Musketeers

Xavier has won four straight games and covered four straight games. The Musketeers are currently tied atop the conference with VCU. They are shooting 50 percent field goals over the last four games combined while holding opponents to just 58.8 points per game. Xavier is also 3-0 ATS in its last three games as an underdog.

Valparaiso Crusaders

Valpo has jumped to an early lead in the Horizon league standings with a 5-1 conference record (currently tied with Wright State). The Crusaders have won and covered four straight road games. Four of their next five games are against teams in the bottom-half of the Horizon league, so expect Valpo to be a heavy favorite in most of those games.

Trending Down

Kansas Jayhawks

Despite the 17-1 overall record, Kansas continues to be a bad bet. The Jayhawks are just 2-5 ATS the last seven games. The oddsmakers have a little too much faith in Kansas’ talent as the Jayhawks are just 1-3 ATS in their last four games as a double digit favorite. The good news for Kansas is that leading scorer Ben McLemore didn’t miss any time with a minor sprained ankle.

Louisville Cardinals

Louisville has dropped back-to-back conference games. The Cardinals had an extremely close home loss at home against Syracuse last Saturday, and they were extremely flat in the following game – a road trip loss to Villanova. After holding their first four Big East opponents to just 54 points per game, Louisville allowed Syracuse and Villanova to reach the 70 point mark (Louisville had allowed just three of the previous 17 opponents to reach 70 points this season).

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish have failed to cover four straight conference games and are 1-3 straight up over that span. Their only win over that span was a narrow home victory over Rutgers. They have yet to reach the meat of their conference schedule and that’s not a good omen for the rest of the season. More bad news: forward Scott Martin will miss at least the next three weeks with a nagging knee injury. Martin is averaging 7.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Cleveland State Vikings

The Vikings are 2-5 straight up & against the spread over its last seven games. They’ve dropped back-to-back games at UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay, each by double digits. They are 0-7 SU & ATS in their last seven road games this season, losing by an average of 21 points per game in those seven losses.

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