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Thursday's Road Tests

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Editor's note: Brian Edwards is on a 6-1 run in college hoops with this pay-if-it-wins-only selection for tonight's BYU-Gonzaga game. Also, Brian owns a 65-47 record (58%, +1380) in the NBA this year with this pick pack for tonight.

**Duke at Virginia**

--As of early this morning, most books had Virginia (19-8 straight up, 16-7-1 against the spread) installed as a one-point favorite with a total of 129. 

--Duke (24-3 SU, 15-12 ATS) has won eight of its last nine games and appears to have an excellent shot at securing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Blue Devils have won back-to-back contests since losing a nail-biter at Maryland on Feb. 16, including Sunday’s 89-68 win over Boston College as 16-point home favorites. Freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon scored a game-high 27 points, burying 10-of-15 shots from the field.

--Duke is in second place in the ACC standings with an 11-3 league record. The Blue Devils are two games back of Miami, which has to travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium this weekend.

--Duke is still without senior power forward Ryan Kelly, who averages 13.4 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Kelly has been out with a foot injury since mid-January, but he could return as early as next weekend.

--Duke is No. 1 in the RPI Rankings, compiling an 8-2 record against RPI Top 50 opponents. The Blue Devils are 12-3 against RPI Top 100 foes.

--Virginia is tied with San Francisco for the best ATS ledger in America. The Cavaliers have been an especially lucrative team to support at home, where they have cashed tickets at an incredible 12-1-1 clip while winning outright in all 16 games.

--Following back-to-back road losses at North Carolina and at Miami, UVA destroyed Ga. Tech by an 82-54 count Sunday as a 10-point home ‘chalk.’ Akil Mitchell led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds.

--Virginia is fourth in the nation in scoring defense, giving up only 54.0 PPG.

--UVA is No. 69 in the RPI Rankings despite going 6-2 against RPI Top 100 opponents. The Cavs have a great road win at Wisconsin on their resume.

--The ‘over’ is on an 8-2 run for UVA in its last 10 games. The Cavs have seen the ‘over’ go 10-6 overall, 5-2 in their home games.

--The ‘over’ is 14-12 overall for Duke, 4-3 in its seven true road assignments.

--ESPN will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

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**Gonzaga at Brigham Young**

--As of early this morning, Gonzaga (27-2 SU, 15-11-1 ATS) was favored by 5.5 or 6 at most spots with a total of 147. The Cougars are available to win outright for a plus-220 return (risk $100 to win $220). 

--Gonzaga has won 10 in a row and hasn’t tasted defeat since getting beaten at the buzzer at Butler on Jan. 19. The Bulldogs have covered the number in three of their last four games, including an 81-50 home win Saturday over San Diego as 22.5-point home favorites. Kevin Pangos scored a game-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor. Pangos knocked down 3-of-5 from 3-point land.

--Gonzaga is 10th in the RPI Rankings with a 5-2 record against the RPI 50 and a 10-2 ledger against the RPI Top 100. The only other loss for the ‘Zags besides at Butler came at home against Illinois (RPI: 32) back on Dec. 8.

--Mark Few’s team doesn’t have many weaknesses. There’s senior forward Elias Harris, who averages 14.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 50.4 percent from the field. There’s also an All-American candidate in junior seven-footer Kelly Olynyk, who averages 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest while making 66 percent of his shots from the floor. The Bulldogs also have one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters in Kevin Pangos, who scores 12.0 PPG, has a 96/40 assists-to-turnovers ratio and knocks down 81.7 percent of his attempts from the free-throw line.

--BYU (20-9 SU, 13-15 ATS) is most likely looking at an NIT berth if it doesn’t win the WCC Tournament. Maybe, just maybe, the Cougars will be in the at-large conversation if they win out with the exception of the WCC Tournament finals. They undoubtedly have to win Thursday against Gonzaga, especially after missing out on a quality win at Saint Mary’s last Thursday. The Gaels captured a 64-57 win but failed to cover the number as 8.5-point home favorites. The Cougars had a great chance to win outright but when trailing by two at crunch time, Matt Carlino missed back-to-back free throws and then committed a terrible foul against Matthew Dellavedova 80 feet from the basket. Brandon Davies kept BYU in the game by tallying 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

--BYU is 60th in the RPI Rankings. The Cougars are 0-4 against the RPI Top 50, including a home loss at the buzzer to Saint Mary’s on a wild shot by Dellavedova. They are 2-7 against the RPI Top 100 with their best wins coming in a season sweep of Santa Clara.

--Dave Rose’s team has won 15 of its 17 home games and owns a 9-7 spread record. This is the Cougars’ first time being listed as home underdogs this season.

--BYU is led by the outstanding inside-outside combo of senior center Brandon Davies and sophomore guard Tyler Haws. Davies averages 18.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, while Haws averages a team-high 20.9 PPG.

--The ‘under’ is 12-8 overall for BYU, 6-4 in its 10 home games with a total.

--The ‘under’ is 11-1 in Gonzaga’s last 12 games. The ‘under’ is 16-8 overall for the Bulldogs, 7-3 in their 10 true road assignments.

--When these schools met Jan. 24 in Spokane, Gonzaga captured an 83-63 win as a 10-point home favorite. The 146 combined points slipped ‘under’ the 148-point total. Olynyk enjoyed a monster game against the Cougars, finishing with 26 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Harris was also spectacular, producing 25 points, 10 rebound and two blocked shots. The Bulldogs’ defense forced Haws into his worst performance of the year. Haws was held to a season-low one point as he missed all nine of his shots from the field. Davies was also held in check with only 14 points on 5-of-13 shooting.

--Tip-off is slated for 11:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--The home underdogs were barking in serious fashion Tuesday night. Minnesota beat Indiana outright as a 4.5-point home underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a plus-180 payout (risk $100 to win $180). Memphis faced a Xavier team that was without starting guard Dee Davis and still came up on the short end of a 64-62 decision as a 4.5-point road favorite. The Musketeers were also around +170, +180 on the money line. Tennessee beat a short-handed Florida squad as an eight-point home ‘dog, as money-line supporters scored a generous plus-320 return (paid $320 on $100 wagers).

--Florida is back at full strength starting today. Billy Donovan announced Wednesday that Will Yeguete (knee), Michael Frazier II (concussion) and Casey Prather (cut) have all been cleared for full-contact practice and will be ready for Saturday’s game against Alabama. The status of Prather was uncertain after he suffered a bad cut on his forehead against the Vols. If Prather had sustained a concussion, he probably would've missed an extended period of time because it would've been his third of the season.

--The ‘over’ easily hit in Iowa State’s second heartbreaking overtime loss of the season to Kansas on Monday. The Cyclones have now seen the ‘over cash at an NCAA-best 16-3 overall clip.

--The ‘under’ improved to 17-5 overall in Alabama games following its 61-43 home win over Auburn on Tuesday. The 102 combined points fell way ‘under’ the 120.5-point total. With the win and Florida’s loss at UT, the Crimson Tide and Kentucky both pulled to within one game of the Gators for the SEC lead. Nevertheless, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi still had Alabama among his ‘first four teams out’ of the NCAA field as of late Tuesday night.

--The ‘under’ is an NCAA-best 17-4 in Cincinnati games. 

Brian Edwards can be reached at briane@vegasinsider.com.

For daily sports gambling analysis, follow Brian Edwards on twitter at Vegasbedwards.

  
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