Games to Watch
December 17, 2012
By David Schwab
As the men's college basketball season closes-out the final two weeks of non-conference play there will be a major shake-up of the AP's and Coaches top five after No. 1 Indiana and No. 5 Florida lost for the first time this past Saturday. That leaves Duke, Michigan, Syracuse and Arizona as a few of the major unbeaten teams in the nation. All the top college basketball teams continue to jockey for position heading into the New Year in preparation for conference play which will really begin to heat things up.
The following is a brief look at the top matchups for each day this week along with a few facts and figures to help handicap the games.
Monday, Dec. 17 - Detroit vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Detroit heads into the Gotham Classic at the Carrier Dome with a four-game winning streak after beating Akron 80-73 this past Saturday as a one-point favorite at home. The Titans are now 6-4 straight-up on the season but just 2-5 against the spread. The Titans are averaging 77.7 points a game but hitting just 42.1 percent of their shots from the field.
Syracuse remained perfect on the year with Saturday's 85-61 romp over Canisius as a 22 ½-point home favorite. The lopsided victory pushed its overall mark to 9-0 SU and a highly profitable 6-0 ATS. The Orange are shooting 47.5 percent from the floor and ranked third in the nation in both scoring (84.7 points) and rebounds per game (45.7).
Tuesday, Dec. 18 - Richmond vs. No. 9 Kansas
The Spiders are off to a strong 9-2 SU start but they are just 2-6 ATS. They ran their current winning streak to five games with a 76-57 rout of Stetson last Saturday in a game with no posted line. Richmond has had little problem putting the ball in the hoop this season with an average of 73.5 points a game but it has struggled under the boards with just 31.8 rebounds.
Kansas should continue to move up in the polls after pasting Belmont this past Saturday 89-60 as a 12-point home favorite. It was the Jayhawks seventh-straight win and they are now 8-1 SU and 4-5 ATS. The total has gone OVER in four of six games with a posted line. Ben McLemore, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford are all averaging better than 13 points while combining for 16.6 rebounds a game.
Wednesday, Dec. 19 - Cornell vs. No. 2 Duke
The Big Red out of the Ivy League kick-offs a busy week with a Monday matchup against Vanderbilt on the road before facing the Blue Devils on Wednesday in Durham. They are 4-5 SU on the year and 3-4 ATS. Cornell is averaging just 64.9 points a game while shooting just over 40 percent from the field.
Duke should move up to the top spot in the nation at 9-0 SU as a result of the Hoosiers loss on Saturday. The Blue Devils remained perfect on the year after beating Temple 90-67 on Dec. 8. They covered as 7 ½-point favorites to go 6-3 ATS. Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry have combined for 35.5 points a game to help pace Duke to an average of 80 points a game.
Thursday, Dec. 20 - Eastern Michigan vs. No. 3 Michigan
Eastern Michigan has lost two of its last three games to fall to 6-3 SU on the season. The latest setback was a 74-48 loss to Illinois-Chicago this past Saturday as a nine-point road underdog. The Eagles are now 3-3 ATS. They rank near the bottom of Division I in both scoring (57.2 points) and team shooting (38.7 percent).
Michigan is another team that should move up in the polls after running over West Virginia 81-66 on Saturday as a 10.5-point favorite. The Wolverines improved to 11-0 SU and 6-3 ATS. The total has gone OVER in six of the nine games with a posted line. With basketball pedigree such as Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glen Robinson III on the roster, Michigan is averaging 78.2 points a game while shooting an impressive 51.1 percent from the field.
Friday, Dec. 21 - Florida Atlantic vs. No. 1 Indiana
The Owls will host Stetson on Wednesday before going on the road to Indiana this Friday. Playing out of the Sun Belt, they are an even 5-5 SU (1-4 ATS) this season overall and 1-1 SU in conference play. Florida Atlantic has really struggled shooting the ball this season with a 38.8 shooting percentage that is ranked 314th in the nation.
Indiana will look to bounce back after Saturday's shocking 88-86 overtime loss to Butler as a 10.5-point favorite. It will play Mount St. Mary's at home on Wednesday before hosting the Owls on Friday night. The loss dropped the Hoosiers to 9-1 SU and 6-2 ATS. The total has gone OVER in three of their last four games. Cody Zeller continues to lead the team in both scoring (15.7 points) and rebounds (8.5) a game.
Saturday, Dec. 22 - No. 10 Illinois vs. No. 12 Missouri
Illinois moved to a perfect 12-0 SU with a 66-53 victory over Eastern Kentucky this past Sunday but could not cover as a 14 ½ -point home favorite. It is now 4-4 ATS and the total has gone OVER in four of six games with posted lines. The Fighting Illini are averaging 76.9 points behind Brandon Paul's 18.8 points a game.
Missouri will host South Carolina State this Monday before welcoming Illinois to the Scottrade Center on Saturday night. The Tigers improved to 8-1 SU and 3-4 ATS with a 68-38 romp over Tennessee State on Dec. 8 as 14 ½-point home favorites. They are averaging 75.1 points and ranked second in the nation in rebounds with 45.9 a game.