College Basketball Betting News and Notes
College Basketball Betting News and Notes
By Jim Feist
The SEC has a bunch of teams that play great defense and are loaded with talent, depth and athleticism. Kentucky won the national championship in 1998 and again last season. Florida knocked on the door in 2000, getting to the title game against Michigan State, before winning back to back titles in 2006-07. Here's a look at some of college basketballís best teams in the SEC that hope to knock on the door again.
Florida: The Gators have wrapped up their 15th straight 20-win season. Florida Coach Bill Donovan likes the up-tempo game and he has another strong group. With so many young teams in college hoops, the Gators have a veteran team. They have a talented Big Four of senior guards Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario running the break, and 6-10 senior Erik Murphy and 6-9 junior Patrick Young pounding the paint.
They lead the SEC in assists and field goal shooting, both from the field and from beyond the arc. The Gators smoked Wisconsin earlier in the year, but lost to Kansas State (67-61) and Arizona (65-64). All of Florida's first 10 SEC victories were by double digits, including a 69-52 triumph over Kentucky last week. The over is 21-6 in Florida's last 27 Saturday games and 8-0 over against teams with winning percentages below .400. The Gators play three of their final five games at home and are expected to do well in the SEC tourney.
Kentucky: The rebuilding Wildcats are the defending champs, but unlike Florida they are super young, as usual, led by 6-4 freshman Archie Goodwin and 6-7 freshman Alex Poythress. A third freshman, 6-10 Nerlens Noel, is leading the nation with an average of 4.4 blocks and the SEC with 9.5 rebounds, but suffered a season-ending knee injury in Kentucky's 69-52 loss at Florida last week. It was a huge blow.
Noel's injury means more playing time for 7-foot freshman Willie Cauley-Stein, who mainly served as Noel's backup. "I've been coaching for 22 years and this is the first injury we've had of this kind during the season, which makes it even more devastating," coach John Calipari said. The Wildcats are 3-11 ATS in the SEC and 9-21-1 ATS following a spread loss. If you like to play totals, keep in mind Kentucky is 16-4-1 under in its last 21 road games! They get a chance for revenge in the regular season finale, hosting Florida.
Alabama: The Tide is like their football counterpart, exceptional on defense, second in the SEC behind Florida in points allowed, just 57 per game. However, they are also the gang that canít shoot straight, one of the weaker offensive teams averaging just 62 ppg. After a bumpy December losing 5 of 6 they've been playing well, holding 8 straight opponents under 58 points (winning 6).
Junior guard Trevor Releford and sophomore guard Trevor Lacey run the backcourt, with 6-6 soph Rodney Cooper up front. They are not a big team, preferring to slow the pace down. They rank among the league leaders in blocks, steals and scoring defense. Alabama is on a 21-6 run under the total and needs every win it can get as it attempts to boost a tenuous NCAA Tournament resume.
Mississippi: Ole Miss is torching the nets, running and gunning averaging over 79 points per game, fifth in the nation. Junior guard Marshall Henderson (19.5 ppg) runs the offense and leads the SEC in scoring, plus there is fine low post play with 6-7 senior Murphy Holloway (14.5 ppg) and 6-9 senior Reginald Buckner. In conference play, sophomore point guard Jarvis Summers has averaged 11.1 points, four more than he did in the non-conference schedule.
But February has not been kind, getting blown out at Missouri (98-79) and losses to Kentucky at home (87-74) and at Florida (78-64). Are they ready for prime time with that suspect defense? The Rebels are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 home games and on a 5-0 run over the total this month.
Missouri: The newcomer to the SEC has been impressive, 21st in the nation in scoring, third in rebounds and tops in the SEC in free throw shooting (75%). The Tigers are the only team in Division I with six players averaging at least 10 points this season. Sparkplug junior guard Phil Pressey dishes out 7 assists per contest and has plenty of weapons to feed with 6-5 sophomore Jabari Brown (15 ppg) , 6-8 senior Laurence Bowers (14.7 ppg) and 6-9 senior Alex Oriakhi (10.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg) .
Missouri outrebounded 20 of its 24 opponents this season. But they have not been impressive on the road, and have road contests coming up at Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee. The Tigers are on a 1-4 ATS run on the road. Missouri has scored 45.6 percent of its points inside the paint this season. All that running means they are on a 21-5 run over the total, plus 15-4 over in SEC play.
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Capping College Basketball's Major Conference Races
March wouldn't be so mad if February wasn't so frenzied, with plenty of major conference titles still up for grabs.
There are four or fewer games left on the regular season slate for most programs, which means contending teams will be going all out in the final days of the schedule.
Some will rise to the occasion, giving college basketball bettors some added value to their spreads. Others, however, may crumble under the pressure. We look at how to cap some of the tightest major conference races in college hoops:
Contending: Miami (13-1), Duke (2 games back)
What to watch for: The Hurricanes have lost their ATS magic, failing to cover in four straight including an upset loss to Wake Forest. Miami does have three of its final four coming in Coral Gables, where it is 9-1 ATS on the year.
Duke is the lone road game on the Canes’ slate. The Blue Devils have three tough games remaining out of their final four – at Virginia, Miami, at UNC – and may get Ryan Kelly back for their final two, at home to Virginia Tech and at Chapel Hill.
Contending: Georgetown (11-3), Marquette (.5 game back), Louisville (1 game back), Syracuse (1.5 games back). Notre Dame (1.5 games back)
What to watch for: Georgetown controls its own destiny but may have peaked with a win over Syracuse this weekend. The Hoyas have a dangerous game at UConn Wednesday and a rematch with Cuse in the season finale. The Orange are a sinking ship after losing to Marquette, which hosts Notre Dame this weekend.
Both the Irish and Louisville need to win out the stretch and get some help from the Hoyas and the other schools ahead of them. While a conference title may not be up for grabs in their matchup on March 9, seeding in the Big East tournament will be.
Contending: Kansas (12-3), Kansas State (12-3), Oklahoma State 1.5 games back)
What to watch for: The final two weeks of Big 12 play will not only decide the conference champion but perhaps tag the winner with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA.
Kansas has won SU and ATS in its last five – thanks to the refs versus ISU – and should continue to cover in its final three games with Bill Self revving the engines before the conference tournament. The Wildcats could have their party spoiled by OSU in the season finale. The Cowboys are 8-4 ATS in Stillwater.
Contending: Indiana (12-2). Michigan State (1.5 games back), Wisconsin (2 games back), Michigan (2 games back)
What to watch for: The Hoosiers are hitting their stride at the right time, winning four in a row SU and ATS heading into their final four outings. Tom Crean won’t take his foot off the gas as IU rolls into a season finale at Michigan. The Spartans seem destined to fall, losing two in a row with games against Michigan and Wisconsin on tap.
The Badgers have been hot but the two most important games of the final stretch are away from Madison, where they are just 3-5-1 ATS on the year. The Wolverines could be the comeback kids in the Big Ten. Their two toughest games – MSU and Indiana – are at home but beware the letdown at Penn State and Purdue.
Contending: Oregon (11-4), Arizona (11-4), UCLA (.5 game back), California (1 game back)
What to watch for: Oregon has the edge over Arizona with a win against the Wildcats acting as an insurance policy. But nothing is certain for the Ducks, who play their final two games at Colorado and Utah. Arizona could present some betting value with its back against the wall. The Wildcats need to win out at USC, at UCLA and hosting Arizona State but have the talent and pedigree to pull it off.
The Bruins will put all their chips on the March 2 game versus Arizona, which could open them up to a look-ahead spot versus ASU this week and letdown spots in the final two games. Cal is the hottest team in the Pac-12, winning five in a row while going 3-1-1 ATS. The Golden Bears’ remaining games – Utah, Colorado, Stanford – all come at home with the conference race acting as fuel for Mike Montgomery’s squad.
Contending: Florida (12-2), Alabama (2 games back), Kentucky (2 games back)
What to watch for: The Gators have the SEC regular season crown in their back pocket, barring an epic collapse, but the motivation of a No. 1 NCAA seed should still push UF in the final two weeks. Florida does have two important games versus Alabama and Kentucky.
The Crimson Tide must win in Gainesville to even sniff the SEC crown, so expect an all-out effort on March 2. Following that, Bama is at Ole Miss, which stinks of letdown spot. The Wildcats have struggled on the road, boasting a 3-6 ATS mark, and have trips to Arkansas and Georgia, before a finale with Florida in Lexington.