Gamblers have only seven board games to choose from in college basketball on Monday night. Let’s take a look at both of ESPN’s Big Monday contests before touching on a few developments from over the weekend.
**Pittsburgh at Louisville**
--SportsBetting.com opened Louisville (16-4 straight up, 10-10 against the spread) as a 6 ½-point home favorite.
--Rick Pitino’s team has lost three straight games both SU and ATS. In the process, the Cardinals have gone from No. 1 in the nation to a five-way tie for fifth place in the Big East.
--U of L’s losing streak started two Saturdays ago with a 70-68 home loss to Syracuse as a seven-point favorite. Then on Tuesday, Villanova won a 73-64 decision over Louisville as an 11 ½-point home underdog. Another road defeat came on Saturday when the Cards lost 53-51 at Georgetown as 5 ½-point road ‘chalk.’
--Louisville has won nine of its 10 home games, compiling a 4-6 spread record. The Cardinals have been single-digit home favorite twice, failing to cover both times vs. the ‘Cuse and in an 80-77 win over Kentucky.
--U of L is led by junior guard Russ Smith, who averages 18.4 points per game. The Brooklyn native from Archbishop Malloy High School has scored 20 points or more nine times, including a season-high 31-point effort. However, we should note that Smith was held to 12 points in Saturday’s loss to the Hoyas and had just eight points against ‘Nova. Also, he has more turnovers (59) than assists (56). Smith has only eight assists in the last five games.
--Since losing three of its first four Big East games, Pittsburgh (17-4 SU, 6-8 ATS) has won four in a row, including Saturday’s 93-55 shellacking of DePaul as a 16-point home favorite. Trey Zeigler, the transfer from Central Michigan, scored a game-high 18 points in only 18 minutes of playing time off the bench. Lamar Patterson added 15 points and seven rebounds.
--Jamie Dixon’s team has been an underdog twice this year, winning 73-45 at Georgetown and losing 72-67 vs. Michigan as a three-point ‘dog at MSG in NYC on Nov. 21.
--Pitt is one of the nation’s most balanced teams with outstanding depth. Dixon plays 10 guys who each average at least 4.5 PPG and play at least 12 minutes per contest. Talib Zanna leads the Panthers in scoring with an 11.5 PPG average. Zanna makes 55.9 percent of his shots from the field. Tray Woodall, another Brooklyn product, is Pitt’s senior leader at point guard. Woodall averages 10.5 PPG and dishes out a team-high 5.8 assists per contest.
--Louisville (#13 RPI) has a 3-3 record against RPI Top 50 teams and has won seven of 11 games against RIP Top 100 foes.
--Pitt (#47 RPI) owns a 2-3 record against RIP Top 50 opponents and is 5-4 against RPI Top 100 foes.
--With the opening line at 6.5, we should note that the Panthers have lost by seven points or more just twice (74-67 vs. Marquette and 70-61 vs. Cincinnati). Their best wins came at Georgetown and vs. UConn.
--The ‘over’ is hitting at a 9-1 overall clip for Pitt, going 3-1 in its four true road games.
--The ‘over’ is 8-6 overall for Louisville, 3-1 in its home games with a total.
--ESPN will have the telecast at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
**Kansas at West Virginia**
--Most books opened Kansas (18-1 SU, 9-9 ATS) as a nine-point road ‘chalk’ with a total of 130.
--Bill Self’s team is atop the Big 12 standings as usual with a 6-0 record. KU leads Baylor by one game. Since losing 67-64 to Michigan St. at the Ga. Dome in Atlanta on Nov. 13, the Jayhawks have won 17 in a row, including Saturday’s 67-54 win over Oklahoma as 12 ½-point home favorites.
--Ben McLemore, the redshirt freshman from St. Louis, scored a team-high 18 points. McLemore hit 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc and knocked down all five of his free-throw attempts. Senior center Jeff Withey added 13 points, nine boards and four blocked shots.
--McLemore has emerged as KU go-to scorer, averaging a team-high 16.2 PPG. For a guard, he shoots with incredible efficiency. McLemore is making 51-percent of his shots from the field, 46 percent from 3-point land and 88 percent from the charity stripe. Withey, a first-team All-American candidate, is averaging 13.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
--Although it is way early to be talking about earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas is well on its way thanks to a plethora of quality wins. The Jayhawks have won seven of eight games against teams with an RPI of 39 or better. They are 10-1 against teams with an RPI of 69 or better. Their best wins came vs. Belmont, vs. Colorado, at Kansas St. and at Ohio St.
--West Va. (9-10 SU, 5-10-2 ATS) has only been a home underdog once this season, losing a 65-64 decision to Kansas St. as a one-point puppy.
--Bob Huggins’s squad has lost four of its last five games, including Saturday’s 80-66 loss at Oklahoma St. as a 9 ½-point underdog. Eron Harris, a freshman guard from Indianapolis, scored a team-high 17 points in the losing effort. Harris buried 5-of-8 shots from 3-point land. Junior center Aaric Murray, a transfer from LaSalle, had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
--WVU has won six of its eight home games but has limped to a 1-4-1 spread record in Morgantown.
--How challenged is WVU offensively? Nobody on the team is averaging in double figures.
--The ‘under’ is 9-8 overall for WVU, but the ‘over’ is 4-2 in its six home games with a total. Also, the ‘over’ has hit in three straight games for the Mountaineers.
--The ‘under’ is 8-7 overall for KU, 3-1 in its four true road games. The Jayhawks have seen the ‘under’ cash in five consecutive games.
--Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.