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The men’s college basketball season enters its stretch run to March Madness with the start of February. The top teams in the nation continue to jockey for position with conference titles and No. 1 tournament seeds still on the line. Given that every win from here on in takes a team one step closer to these goals, the action is guaranteed to be fast and furious.
 
The following is a brief preview of a top matchup on each day’s slate this week along with a few facts and figures to help handicap the game.
 
Monday, Feb. 4
 
No. 25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 9 Syracuse Orange
 
Notre Dame stayed within striking distance of the top spot in the Big East standings with a 79-71 overtime victory over DePaul this past Saturday as a six-point road favorite. It is now 18-4 straight-up on the year and 6-3 in conference play. The Fighting Irish have a 10-9 record against the spread and the total has stayed UNDER in six of their last eight games. They have been one of the top shooting teams in the nation all season long with a 49.3 field goal percentage while hitting 39.6 percent of its shots from three-point range. Jack Cooley leads the Irish with 15 points and 11.3 rebounds a game. Jerian Grant is averaging 12.6 points and Eric Atkins is the third player scoring in double figures with 11.8 a game.
 
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The Orange are sure to tumble in the rankings this week after falling to Pittsburgh 65-55 as 3.5-point road underdogs this past Saturday. They are now one game behind Marquette for the lead in the Big East at 6-2 and are 18-3 overall. Syracuse has failed to cover in five of its last six games and is now 10-7 ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in three of its last five games, The Orange are averaging 76 points a game while pulling down an impressive 41.1 rebounds. They are shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from beyond the arc. Brandon Triche is the team’s leading scorer with 14.9 points a game with CJ Fair a close second after averaging close to 14 points a game.
 
Tuesday, Feb. 5
 
No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 3 Michigan Wolverines
 
Ohio State extended its current winning streak to four games with a 63-56 victory over Nebraska this past Saturday, but it could not cover as a 12-point favorite on the road. The Buckeyes are now 17-4 SU overall and 11-7-1 ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in their last six games. Deshaun Thomas has been a force with 20 points and 6.2 rebounds a game and the team as a whole is averaging 71.8 points while shooting 45.9 percent from the field. Ohio State has done a great job on defense this season by holding its opponents to just 57.3 points a game.
 
Michigan’s stay at the top of the rankings will be a short one after dropping an 81-73 decision to Indiana as a 5 ½-point road underdog in this past Saturday’s Big Ten showdown. The loss leaves the Wolverines 20-2 SU (12-7-1 ATS) on the year and a game behind the Hoosiers in the conference standings at 7-2. The total went OVER the 145 ½-point line after staying UNDER in five of their previous six games. Michigan is ranked 16th in the nation in scoring with an average of 77.8 points a game while sporting the third-best shooting percentage in the country; hitting 50.5 percent from the field. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are each shooting better than 48 percent from the floor.
 
Wednesday, Feb. 6
 
No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks vs. TCU Horned Frogs
 
Kansas was in perfect position to assume the No.1 spot in the rankings but could not get past Oklahoma State this past Saturday in an 85-80 setback as a 9 ½-point home favorite. It was the Jayhawks second loss of the season against 19 wins and its first in the Big 12. They are 9-11 ATS and the total has stayed UNDER in seven of their last nine games. Kansas is averaging 74.2 points a game behind Ben McLemore (16.4 points) and Jeff Withey (13.0 points). They are also pulling down an average of 38.9 rebounds a game while shooting a respectable 47.8 percent from the field.
 
TCU is still searching for its first ever win in the Big 12 after a dismal 0-8 start in its first season in the conference. The Horned Frogs are 9-12 SU overall and a costly 5-11 ATS. A 60-43 drubbing at the hands of Texas this past Saturday as 11 ½-point road underdogs was the team’s eighth-straight loss dating back to the beginning of the year. TCU is ranked near the bottom of Division I in scoring with just 54.1 points a game and shooting 40.9 percent from the floor. Kyan Anderson leads the team with 11.2 points and 3.3 assists a game.
 
Thursday, Feb. 7
 
North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. No. 4 Duke Blue Devils
 
The Wolfpack will be going for the regular season sweep against Duke this Thursday night after posting an 84-76 victory as one-point home underdogs on Jan.12. Since that point, NC State is just 2-4 SU and 3-3 ATS. Overall, it is 16-6 SU (11-9 ATS) on the year and 5-4 in ACC play. The Wolfpack remain the fifth-best shooting team in the country; hitting better than 50 percent of their shots from the field while averaging 78.5 points a game. CJ Leslie has led the way with 15.7 points while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor.
 
Duke is two games behind Miami in the ACC standings at 6-2 and 19-2 SU (12-9 ATS) overall after routing Florida State 79-60 this past Saturday as a six-point favorite on the road. The Blue Devils return home where they are a perfect 11-0 SU and 5-6 ATS this season. The total stayed UNDER the 143 ½-point line against the Seminoles after going OVER in their previous five games. Duke is scoring an average of 78 points a game while shooting 47.3 percent from the field. Mason Plumlee leads a group of five players scoring in double figures with a team-high 17.6 points a game.
 
Friday, Feb. 8
 
Utah State Aggies vs. San Jose State Spartans 
 
Utah State improved to 16-5 on the year and 7-4 in the Western Athletic Conference with Saturday’s 68-46 romp over Seattle as a 1 ½-point underdog on the road. It is 7-11 ATS overall and 4-3 ATS on the road this season. The total has stayed UNDER in four of its last six games. The Aggies have four players scoring in double figures led by Preston Medin’s 16.3 points a game. Overall, they are averaging 69.4 points a game and shooting 47.5 percent from the field.
 
San Jose State is 3-8 in the WAC after losing its seventh-straight conference game. A 66-63 setback to Idaho as 10-point road underdogs their last time out dropped the Spartans to 9-13 SU and 9-10 ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in six of their last seven games. James Kinney has been the one bright spot for San Jose State this season with 20.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game. Overall, the team is averaging 64.4 points a game while shooting just 38.7 percent from the field.
 

  
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