March 8, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The conference tournaments in college basketball have started up in the smaller leagues, as the bigger ones will tip off next week. The Saturday college card is filled with plenty of senior days, while several bubble squads will make their last push for a quality win. We'll start the matinee action with two old rivals possibly meeting for the final time in conference play.
Syracuse at Georgetown - 12:00 PM EST
With the Orange heading to the ACC next season, Syracuse and Georgetown hook up for the last time in a Big East regular season contest. The two teams could meet in the conference tournament next week at Madison Square Garden, but this is probably it as the Hoyas knocked off the Orange at the Carrier Dome on February 23 as 7 ½-point 'dogs, 57-46.
Both clubs didn't shoot well as Georgetown outscored Syracuse in the second half, 36-23, while each shot below 35% from the field. Otto Porter dominated for the Hoyas with 33 points, as not one other Georgetown player scored more than seven points in the win. The loss was the only one by Syracuse at the Carrier Dome this season, while Georgetown won their third of its last four visits to upstate New York.
Jim Boeheim's team has lost three of the past four games overall, as the Orange have failed to cover three times in this stretch. Syracuse has been listed as an underdog twice this season, losing at Pittsburgh and picking up an outright victory at Louisville. Georgetown's 11-game winning streak came to a halt in Wednesday's loss at Villanova, while the Hoyas own an 0-3 ATS mark the last three games.
Florida at Kentucky - 12:00 PM EST
The Gators have wrapped up the SEC regular season title, as Florida goes for the sweep of rival Kentucky. The defending champions are on the verge of potentially missing the tournament after losing consecutive road contests at Arkansas and Georgia to drop to 4-7 away from Rupp Arena. Kentucky can make a last-gasp effort at a tournament bid with a victory over Florida and a good showing at the SEC tournament, but the Wildcats were thumped the first time around in Gainesville.
On a night to forget, the 'Cats lost standout freshman Nerlens Noel to a torn ACL on February 12 in a 69-52 defeat at the O'Connell Center as 10-point road underdogs. The Gators snapped a five-game skid to Kentucky that dated back to February 2011, as five Florida players scored in double-figures, while shooting 49% from the field. Since that win by the Gators, Billy Donovan's squad has covered just two of the last six games, which includes a blowout of Vanderbilt on Wednesday.
The Wildcats aren't helping out backers by compiling a 3-7 ATS record the last 10 games overall, but John Calipari's team has won seven straight home conference contests. Kentucky is listed as a home underdog for the first time since January 22, 2008 in a 72-66 victory over Tennessee as 5 ½-point 'dogs. The 'Cats have drilled the 'over' in three straight home games, while scoring at least 85 points in the last two contests against Missouri and Mississippi State.
Kansas State at Oklahoma State - 1:30 PM EST
The Wildcats have an opportunity to grab at least a piece of the Big 12 regular season title with a victory in Stillwater. K-State enters Saturday's action tied atop the conference with rival Kansas at 14-3, while also seeking its seventh straight victory. Oklahoma State is heading to the NCAA Tournament at 22-7, but the Cowboys are playing with revenge after falling at Manhattan in early January.
Travis Ford's team lost the Big 12 opener at Bramlage Coliseum, 73-65 as 4 ½-point 'dogs, as Rodney McGruder paced K-State with a game-high 28 points. Since losing to top-ranked Gonzaga at home in late December, the Cowboys have won seven of eight games in Stillwater, while three of the last four have gone to overtime. In spite of its good fortune at home, Oklahoma State is just 0-4-1 ATS the previous five contests at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Kansas State has put together a 6-4 ATS record the last 10 games, but three of those non-covers came as double-digit favorites, including in Tuesday's home win over TCU. Bruce Weber's squad owns a 6-2 conference road record, but the 'Cats have lost in the away underdog role at Kansas and Iowa State. The Wildcats are riding a 6-2 'over' stretch, while scoring at least 71 points six times.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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