January 10, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Since Dec. 13, Brian Edwards is on a 26-15-1 run (63.4%, +10.53 units) in college hoops. He went 4-0 last night with winners on Indiana, Oklahoma and Boise State, including a +165 money-line play on the Broncos in their 70-64 win at Fresno State. Brian’s guaranteed plays have cashed at a 16-8 clip (66.7%, +7.41 Units) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Xavier at Villanova**
-- Villanova (14-1 straight up, 10-5 against the spread) is ranked No. 1 in the country in the Associated Press’s Top 25 and No. 6 in the RPI Rankings. The Wildcats have neutral-court victories over Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Gonzaga, Northern Iowa and Hofstra. They also won at Temple and at home vs. Marquette. ‘Nova’s only defeat came at Butler on Dec. 30 by a 101-93 count.
-- Jay Wright’s team is 2-1 in Big East play going into tonight’s home game vs. Xavier. As of early this morning, most books had Villanova listed as a nine-point favorite with a total of 164. The Musketeers were +375 on the money line (risk $100 to win $375).
-- Villanova is undefeated in five home games with a 2-3 spread record. The Wildcats failed to cover the number in this past Saturday’s 100-90 win over Marquette as 16-point home ‘chalk.’ The 190 combined points soared ‘over’ the 162-point total. Jalen Brunson scored a team-best 27 points and handed out eight assists, while Eric Paschall finished with 19 points by making all six of his free throws and all three of his 3-point launches. Mikal Bridges produced 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists compared to only one turnover. Donte DiVincenzo contributed had 14 points, six boards and four assists. The win over Marquette was the 400th of Wright’s head-coaching career that started on the Main Line back in 2001.
-- Brunson is averaging team-highs in scoring (19.4 points per game), assists (5.2 APG) and field-goal percentage (59.0%). The junior guard has buried 49.3 percent of his 3-pointers and has a 78/20 assists-to-turnovers ratio. Bridges is averaging 17.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.3 blocked shots per game. DiVencenzo, a sophomore from Wilmington, Delaware, is averaging 12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contest. Phil Booth (11.8 PPG) has a 44/15 assists-to-turnovers ratio and is hitting 42.6 percent of his treys. Omari Spellman, a 6’8” 255-pound redshirt freshman, is averaging 10.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game.
-- Villanova has a 3-1 spread record in four games as a single-digit favorite this season.
-- Villanova is ranked seventh in the nation in scoring (88.9 PPG), fifth in FG percentage (51.4%) and 13th in 3-point shooting (41.5%).
-- Eleven of Villanova’s 14 wins have come by double-digit margins and all 14 of its victories have come by at least eight points.
-- Villanova swept the season series from Xavier last season and it has beaten the Musketeers in eight of the past nine meetings both SU and ATS. The Wildcats smashed Xavier 79-54 as an eight-point home favorite last Jan 10. Brunson scored 11 points and dished out six assists without committing a turnover. Trevon Bluiett had 10 points, five boards and four assists in defeat, while J.P. Macura finished with 10 points and a pair of steals.
-- The ‘over’ is 5-3 in the last eight Xavier-Villanova games, but the ‘under’ cashed in both encounters last year.
-- Xavier (15-2 SU, 12-5 ATS) is 3-1 both SU and ATS in four road assignments. Chris Mack’s squad saw its 10-game winning streak snapped in Saturday’s 81-72 loss at Providence as a 5.5-point road favorite. Karem Kanter, the transfer from Green Bay, scored 24 points and swiped 12 rebounds in only 20 minutes of action for the Musketeers. Kanter made 10-of-15 field-goal attempts and had eight offensive boards. Trevon Bluiett and Tyrique Jones scored 12 points apiece against the Friars.
-- Xavier is No. 10 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the RPI Rankings. Mack’s club is 3-2 versus the Top 50 and 6-2 against the Top 100. The Musketeers have quality road wins at Marquette, at Wisconsin and at Northern Iowa. They have home wins over Cincinnati, Butler, Rider, Baylor and Colorado. Xavier’s other defeat came on a neutral court vs. Arizona St. on Nov. 24.
-- Xavier has been an underdog just once in its 80-70 win at Wisconsin as a 3.5-point ‘dog on Nov. 16. Bluiett, the senior shooting guard out of Indianapolis who averaged 18.5 PPG while starting in all 36 of his team’s games last season, is scoring a team-high 19.4 PPG clip. Bluiett has buried 41.7 percent of his 3-balls and is averaging 5.6 RPG. Macura (13.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG) has a 50/26 assists-to-turnover ratio and a team-high 27 steals in 16 games.
-- Xavier is 20th in the nation in scoring (85.6 PPG), 13th in FG percentage (50.5%) and eighth in FT percentage (78.3%).
-- With a win in this spot, Mack would tie Pete Gillen’s for the most wins in the Xavier program’s history with 202.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-6 overall for the Musketeers, 3-1 in their four road contests.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-4 overall for the Wildcats, 4-1 in their home games.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
**Georgia at Missouri**
-- Georgia (11-3 SU, 7-4 ATS) can move into a third-place tie with Kentucky if it can emerge from tonight’s road game at Missouri victorious. The Bulldogs take a 2-1 SEC record to Columbia, where tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
-- As of early this morning, most spots had Missouri installed as a four-point favorite with a total of 134. The Bulldogs were +160 on the money line (risk $100 to win $160).
-- UGA owns a 7-2 record both SU and ATS in its past nine games. Mark Fox’s club has covered the spread in five consecutive outings, including Saturday’s 65-46 win over Alabama as a two-point home ‘chalk.’ Senior power forward Yante Maten led the way with 26 points, 11 rebounds and three assists without a turnover. Rayshaun Hammonds finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while William ‘Turtle’ Jackson had five assists, four steals, three boards and only one turnover. However, Jackson missed all eight of his shot attempts that each came from 3-point range. Derek Ogbeide contributed eight points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
-- Maten, a two-time All-SEC selection, considered entering the NBA Draft before opting to return for his senior season. The decision appears to have been a good one with UGA likely on the way to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2015. UGA went to only two NCAA Tourneys in Fox’s first eight seasons, but this program is trending in the right direction. Plus, Fox is universally known as “doing things the right way” (not cheating), so the current federal probe into corruption in college basketball certainly helps a clean program like Fox’s. Hammonds was a four-star signee in the 2017 class and the Bulldogs have another four-star in power forward Amanze Ngumezi from out of Savannah inked for the 2018 class.
-- Maten is averaging team-highs in scoring (20.0 PPG), rebounding (9.4 RPG) and blocks (1.2 BPG). The former 3-star recruit who chose UGA over Michigan St. is hitting 48.9 percent of his FGs, 40.0 percent of his 3’s and 82.5 percent of his FTs. Jackson is the only other UGA player scoring in double figures (10.1 PPG), but the Bulldogs have five players averaging at least 7.4 PPG. Hammonds (7.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG) is burying 50.0 percent of his FGs, while Ogbeide is averaging 7.6 points and 5.9 RPG while hitting 63.5 percent of his FGAs.
-- Georgia is No. 36 in the RPI Rankings, going 4-1 versus the Top 50 and 5-2 against the Top 100. A 76-62 loss at UMASS (RPI #76) is dragging UGA’s RPI down. The Bulldogs have Top-50 home wins over Temple (84-66) and Alabama, in addition to a win at Marquette (73-66) and vs. Saint Mary’s (83-81) in California. They also have a 64-57 win at CS Fullerton (RPI #126). UGA’s two other defeats came at Kentucky (when it covered and led outright for most of the game at Rupp Arena) and vs. San Diego St. (in California).
-- Georgia is 2-2 both SU and ATS in four road assignments. UGA is ranked 39th in the nation in scoring defense, limiting opponents to 65.3 PPG, and 14th in FG percentage defense (38.2%). The Bulldogs are 34th in the country at defending the 3-point line (30.7%).
-- Missouri (11-4 SU, 7-7 ATS) is 7-1 SU and 3-4 ATS at home during Cuonzo Martin’s first season at the helm. The former All Big-Ten performer as a college player at Purdue came to Missouri after head-coaching stints at California, Tennessee and Missouri St. Martin is an original native of East Saint Louis.
-- Martin hired former Washington assistants Michael Porter Sr. to his staff at Missouri. This led to the signings of Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter, who re-classified into the 2017 class even though he was supposed to be a senior in high school this year. But Porter Jr., the nation’s No. 1 prep player in the 2017 class, played only two minutes this season before being shut down with a back injury. He had surgery to repair discs and it’s unlikely that he’ll return this year. His younger brother, Jontay, has made an impact, though. Jontay Porter (8.3 PPG) is averaging team-highs in rebounding (6.8 RPG), steals (1.0 SPG) and blocks (2.3 BPG).
-- Missouri had won six of its previous seven games going into Saturday’s SEC showdown vs. Florida. Martin’s squad led for most of the game and by as many 12, and it never trailed by more than three. But with the game knotted at 75-75 in the final seconds, UF’s Chris Chiozza stepped into the passing lane for a steal that led a run-out layup with 0.1 ticks left. The Gators captured the 77-75 road win in a pick ‘em affair. Jordan Barnett scored a game-high 28 points in defeat, draining 6-of-9 launches from long distance. He also had nine rebounds. Kassius Robertson was also in double figures with 12 points, while Jontay Porter finished with nine points, seven rebounds, two blocks, one steal and six assists without a turnover.
-- Barnett is averaging a team-high 15.9 PPG thanks to 49.4 percent shooting from the field, 43.3 percent shooting from downtown and 92.0 percent from the FT line. Robertson, a transfer from Canisius, is scoring at a 15.4 PPG clip. Robertson has drained 41.9 percent of his 3-balls. Kevin Puryear is averaging 9.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.
-- Missouri is No. 30 in the RPI Rankings, producing a 1-2 record against the Top 50 and a 4-3 mark versus the Top 100. The Tigers have road wins at UCF and at South Carolina, in addition to a home win vs. Iowa St. and a neutral-court scalp of St. John’s. They’ve lost on neutral floors to Illionis and West Virginia, in addition to falling at Utah.
-- Georgia has won six in a row over Missouri and is 5-1 ATS during this winning streak. The ‘under’ is 5-1 in the past six head-to-head meetings. The Tigers ended a five-game ATS slide against UGA when they took the cash as 12.5-point underdogs in last January’s 71-66 loss in Athens. Maten led the Bulldogs to victory after they trailed by six at intermission, scoring 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds. Juwan Parker added 11 points and six boards. Meanwhile, Terrence Phillips had a game-high 20 points in the losing effort. His five 3-pointers helped Missouri get the cash.
-- The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight Georgia games to improve to 6-5 overall. UGA has seen the ‘under’ connect in all four of its road contests.
-- Totals have been an overall wash (7-7) for the Tigers, who have seen the ‘over’ go 4-3 in their seven lined home outings. They’ve seen the ‘over’ cash in back-to-back games and three of their past four.
-- ESPN2 will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- FSU will put the nation’s third-longest home winning streak (28 behind Cincinnati’s 35 and SMU’s 34) on the line tonight as a six-point favorite vs. Louisville. The Seminoles are looking to bounce back from Sunday’s 80-74 loss at Miami as 2.5-point road underdogs. U of L has won 32 of 42 head-to-head meetings with FSU, which also competed with the Cardinals in the old Metro Conference before they joined the ACC.
-- SMU’s 34-game home winning streak will be at stake when it hosts Temple at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight on the CBS Sports Network. As of early this a.m., most spots had the Mustangs as 9.5-point favorites. They are 11-0 SU and 4-1 ATS at home this year. Meanwhile, the Owls are winless in five road games with a 1-4 spread record.
-- Texas star sophomore guard Andrew Jones is ‘out’ of Wednesday’s game against TCU. The reason for his anticipated absence is an undisclosed illness. Jones was averaging a team-best 15.3 PPG before a wrist injury kept him out of action for four games. Since his return, Jones has played sparingly in games against Kansas and Iowa St. When pressed on the specifics for Jones, head coach Shaka Smart declined to comment “out of respect for the family.” The Longhorns and Horned Frogs will collide tonight in Austin at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.
-- Indiana sophomore center De’Ron Davis is out indefinitely with a leg injury sustained last week. In IU’s first 15 games, Davis averaged 9.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.5 blocked shots per game. Davis was shooting at a team-best 61.5 percent clip from the field. I backed Archie Miller’s team in Tuesday’s 74-70 win over Penn State as a one-point home favorite.
-- Creighton remained undefeated at home with last night’s 85-74 win over Butler as a six-point favorite. Marcus Foster responded to a season-low nine-point effort this past weekend by scoring a game-high 23 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field. The transfer from Kansas St. dished out eight assists compared to just two turnovers. Martin Krampelj produced a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
-- Texas A&M lost 74-73 at Kentucky last night to fall to 0-4 in the SEC, but the Aggies took the cash as 4.5-point road underdogs at Rupp Arena. Admon Gilder (12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG & 3.5 APG) returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 13 and scored 14 points for A&M. The Aggies are the only SEC team remaining winless in league play.
-- With wins over Tennessee and Arkansas last week, Auburn defeated ranked teams in consecutive games for the first time since the Sonny Smith Era. To provide some context for the youngsters out there, Smith was Charles Barkley’s coach at AU. The Tigers improved to 15-1 overall and ended a 10-game losing streak to Ole Miss with last night’s 85-70 come-from-behind win over Ole Miss as 11-point home ‘chalk.’ Bruce Pearl’s team rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to win their 13th consecutive contests. AU hasn’t tasted defeat since an 88-74 loss to Temple on Nov. 17 in Charleston. DeSean Murray’s 16 points led six Auburn players in double figures against the Rebels. Murray also pulled down eight rebounds. Despite logging only 20 minutes of PT, Anfernee McLemore finished with 13 points, nine boards and three rejections.
-- Auburn wasn’t the only SEC team to win and cover after trailing by 10 at halftime last night. Tennessee overcame a 45-35 intermission deficit in Tuesday’s 92-84 win at Vanderbilt as a 1.5-point road favorite. The Commodores are now an unfathomably abysmal 1-12 ATS for the season.
-- As of early this morning, most books had New Mexico listed as a 1.5 or two-point home favorite vs. Wyoming. The Cowboys might be without guard Justin James, who is listed as ‘questionable’ for tonight’s game at The Pit due to a groin injury. James is averaging 16.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. UNM’s Sam Logwood is ‘questionable’ with a shoulder injury. Logwood averages 12.9 points and 4.9 RPG.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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