Games to Watch
January 1, 2013
By David Schwab
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The end of 2012 gives way to the New Year and the start of conference play in men's college basketball. This week's games will provide the first taste of the upcoming battle for not only a conference title but a place in the NCAA Tournament this March and a shot at bringing home a national title as well.
The following is a brief look at the top matchup for each day of this week along with a few facts and figures to help handicap the games.
Monday, Dec. 31
No. 13 Gonzaga vs. No. 22 Oklahoma State
Gonzaga is off to a blazing 12-1 start straight-up and is 6-5 against the spread. Last Monday it knocked-off Baylor 94-87 but could not cover as a 9 ½-point home favorite. The Bulldogs are now just 1-4 ATS in their last five games with a posted line. They are averaging 81.8 points a game and ranked second in the nation in field goal percentage at 52.1.
The Cowboys have just one SU loss in their first 11 games; an 81-71 setback on the road against Virginia Tech on Dec. 1 as two-point favorites. They are a profitable 7-2-1 ATS on the year and 7-1 ATS in their last eight games. The team, as a whole, is shooting 44.2 percent from the floor while averaging 72.1 points a game.
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Connecticut vs. Marquette
The Huskies kick-off play in the Big East with a solid 10-2 SU record in non-conference play. They have won their last four straight including a 61-53 victory over Washington last Tuesday as six-point home favorites. Connecticut is 3-5 ATS and the total has stayed UNDER in four of six games with a posted line. It ranks near the bottom of Division-I in rebounds with just 31.1 a game and its leading rebounder DeAndre Daniels remains questionable for this contest.
Marquette enters conference play with an overall record of 9-3 SU and 3-5 ATS. It is a perfect 7-0 SU at home this season and 1-3 ATS. The Golden Eagles have won three of the last four meetings against the Huskies both SU and ATS. The total in this series has gone OVER in six of the last eight meetings.
Wednesday, Jan. 2
Nebraska vs. No. 10 Ohio State
Nebraska has gone 3-3 SU in its last six games to finish the non-conference portion of its season at 9-4 SU and 5-6 ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in three of five games with a posted line. The Cornhuskers are averaging 61.7 points with Dylan Talley and Brandon Ubel each averaging over 13 points a game. As a team, Nebraska is shooting 43.8 percent from the field.
The Buckeyes dropped a 74-66 decision to then-No.9 Kansas on Dec. 22 as five-point home favorites. It was their second loss of the season against 10 wins. They enter Big Ten play at 6-4 ATS with the total going OVER in six of nine games with posted lines. Ohio State is averaging 78.3 points with Deshaun Thomas leading the way with a team-high 19.8 points a game.
Thursday, Jan. 3
Colorado vs. No. 3 Arizona
The Buffaloes wrapped-up the non-conference portion of their schedule with an 80-52 rout of Harford on Dec. 29 in a game with no posted line. They are now 10-2 SU overall and 7-3 ATS. The total has gone OVER in two of three games with lines. Colorado beat Arizona 53-51 the last time they met in the Pac-12 Tournament as a 3 ½-point underdog.
The Wildcats climb to a top-five spot in the rankings includes tight victories over Florida (65-64) and San Diego State (68-67). They enter play in the conference a perfect 12-0 SU and 7-3 ATS with the total staying UNDER in six of seven games. Arizona is shooting 47.6 percent from the floor while averaging 76.6 points a game.
Friday, Jan. 4
Cleveland State vs. Valparaiso
Cleveland State will wrap-up its non-conference schedule this Wednesday night against Kent State before beginning play in the Horizon Conference against the Crusaders. The Vikings have lost three of their last five games to fall to 8-5 SU. They are 0-3 ATS in their last three games with a posted line and 4-4 ATS overall. The team has struggled under the boards with just 30.9 rebounds a game.
Valparaiso opens its play in the Horizon this Wednesday against 9-3 Loyola in what should be a good early test. The Crusaders finished 10-4 SU in non-conference play including victories over Purdue and Murray State in their last two games. They are 6-5 ATS and the total has stayed UNDER in all three games with a posted line. Ryan Broekhoff is the team's leading scorer with 16.7 points a game.
Saturday, Jan. 5
Wake Forest vs. No. 1 Duke
The Demon Deacons will face Xavier this Wednesday night before opening play in the ACC. They are 6-5 on the year with SU losses to Nebraska, Richmond and Seton Hall in their last six games. Wake Forest has gone 3-1 ATS in its last four games and the total has gone OVER in both of its games with a posted line. It is averaging 70.8 points a game while shooting 46.2 percent from the floor.
Duke wraps-up the non-conference portion of its schedule this Wednesday night against Davidson. It ascended to the top of the rankings with a perfect 12-0 SU start that included quality wins over Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State. The Blue Devils are 7-5 ATS and the total has stayed UNDER in three of their last five games. Led by Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, Duke is averaging 81.2 points a game, which is the 11th-highest total in the nation.