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Thursday's Tip Sheet
Editor's note: Since Dec. 13, Brian Edwards is on a 26-18-1 run (59.1%, +7.25 units) in college hoops. Brian’s guaranteed plays have cashed at a 16-9 clip (64.0%, +6.31 Units) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!

**Clemson at North Carolina State**

-- Clemson is one of the nation’s biggest surprises in this crucial campaign for Brad Brownell, who is in his eighth season at the school but hasn’t taken it to the NCAA Tournament since his first year in 2011. The Tigers were completely screwed by the Selection Committee that season. Clemson earned an at-large berth to the play-in game, but the first contest of the doubleheader in Dayton ended up going into overtime By the time Clemson disposed of UAB by a 70-52 count, it was past midnight. The Tigers had media obligations before heading to the airport for a flight to St. Petersburg, Fla., where they had more media obligations on Wednesday morning. In other words, there was little time for rest or preparation for the players and coaches, and then Clemson had to play the very first game of the Round of 64 on Thursday vs. fifth-seeded West Virginia at 12:15 p.m. Eastern. The Tigers led by double digits at halftime, only to fade due to fatigue and lose in the final 20 minutes.

-- Brownell’s hot seat has cooled considerably with his team’s 14-1 start. Clemson has won 10 consecutive games since taking its lone defeat vs. Temple (67-60) in the finals of the Charleston Classic. Since then, the Tigers are 6-2 ATS in eight lined outings, although we’ll note that they’ve failed to cover the number in back-to-back contests.

-- As of late Wednesday night, most books had Clemson (14-1 straight up, 8-4 against the spread) listed as a four-point favorite.

-- Clemson has won outright in both of its road assignments, going 1-1 ATS. The non-cover came in last Tuesday’s 74-70 win at Boston College as a 5.5-point road favorite. The only other true road assignments came in Columbus, where the Tigers knocked off Ohio State 79-65 as five-point road underdogs back on Nov. 29.

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-- Clemson is coming off Saturday’s 74-69 overtime win over Louisville as a 6.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The ‘over’ hit for a second straight game after the ‘under’ had prevailed in five previous games for the Tigers. Marcquise Reed played 44 of 45 minutes and had team-highs in scoring (24 pts.) and steals (five). Gabe DeVoe and Shelton Mitchell scored 13 points apiece, while Elijah Thomas finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, five blocked shots and three steals.

-- Clemson is ranked 19th in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 and sixth in the RPI Rankings. The Tigers have three RPI Top-50 wins and six Top-100 scalps. They own home victories over Louisville, South Carolina and North Carolina State, in addition to road wins at Ohio State and at Boston College. Furthermore, they went down to South Florida and rallied to nip the Gators by a 71-69 count in Sunrise, where the NHL’s Florida Panthers play.

-- All five Clemson players are scoring in double figures led by Reed, who is averaging 15.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Thomas (11.6 PPG) is averaging team-bests in rebounding (8.3 RPG), field-goal percentage (63.1%) and blocked shots (2.7 BPG). Donte Grantham is averaging 14.6 points, 7.3 RPG, while Mitchell (12.4 PPG) has a 63/30 assists-to-turnovers ratio.

-- Clemson is 2-3 ATS in five games as a single-digit favorite.

-- North Carolina State (11-5 SU, 4-5 ATS) is 10-1 SU and 3-1 ATS at home this season. Kevin Keatts’s squad picked up its first ACC win Saturday when it stunned Duke 96-85 as a 12.5-point underdog. The Blue Devils led by 11 midway through the first half, but they never moved ahead of the number. In fact, the Wolfpack rallied for a 43-41 halftime advantage. Six players scored in double figures with Torin Dorn and Omer Yurtseven leading the way with 16 points apiece. Yurtseven had nine rebounds and three blocked shots, while Allerik Freeman contributed 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. Braxton Beverly added 14 points, five assists and two steals. Beverly made all six of his free throws and both of his launches from 3-point land.

-- Before the win over Duke, N.C. State had lost its first two ACC games at Notre Dame (88-58) and at Clemson by 46 combined points. The Tigers won a 78-62 decision over the Wolfpack as 10-point home ‘chalk’ on Dec. 30. The 140 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 148.5-point total. All five Clemson starters scored in double figures led by Reed’s 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. DeVoe added 15 points, seven boards and a pair of blocked shots, while Mitchell finished with 14 points and four assists. Thomas produced 10 points, 10 boards and six blocked shots. In the losing effort, Beverly had a team-best 15 points thanks to 3-of-5 shooting from downtown.

-- N.C. State is No. 91 in the RPI, going 2-3 against the Top 50 and 100. The other quality win for the Wolfpack was over Arizona (90-84) at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.

-- Allerik Freeman paces N.C. State with a 15.2 PPG scoring average and is also pulling down 4.8 RPG. Dorn (13.4 PPG) is making 55.2 percent of his field-goal attempts.

-- The ‘under’ is 7-5 overall for Clemson, but the ‘over’ has hit in both of its road games. The Tigers are ranked 21st in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 63.5 PPG.

-- The ‘over’ is 6-3 overall for N.C. State, 4-0 in its home games.

-- Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

**Utah at UCLA**

-- As of Wednesday night, most books had UCLA (12-4 SU, 7-9 ATS) listed as a 6.5-point home favorite for Thursday’s Pac-12 showdown at Pauley Pavilion.

-- Steve Alford’s team is in a first-place tie in the Pac-12 standings with its 3-1 mark in league play. The Bruins swept the Washington schools in their visits to Tinseltown in late December, beating both teams handily while covering the number. Then they visited the Bay Area and initially a 107-99 decision at Stanford in overtime. However, UCLA responded by trouncing Cal 107-84 in Berkeley, easily taking the cash as a 7.5-point road favorite. Aaron Holiday led six double-figure scorers with 21 points and five assists, draining 3-of-5 launches from long distance. Thomas Welch added 19 points and 14 boards, burying 4-of-6 shots from 3-point land. Kris Wilkes contributed 16 points, four assists and three rebounds. The Bruins led by 21 at intermission and ended up making 17-of-30 from 3-point range (56.7%).

-- UCLA is No. 46 in the RPI Rankings, going 2-3 versus the Top 50 and 100. The Bruins have a huge win over Kentucky (RPI #7) in New Orleans and also thumped Washington (RPI #41) by a 74-53 score. They’ve lost at Michigan, at Stanford, vs. Creighton on a neutral floor and at home vs. Cincinnati.

-- UCLA has compiled an 8-1 SU record and a 4-5 ATS mark in nine home games. The Bruins are 2-3 versus the number in five games as single-digit ‘chalk.’

-- Holiday leads UCLA in scoring (19.4 PPG), assists (5.2 APG) and steals (1.7 SPG). Wilkes (13.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG) is the team’s second-leading scorer, while Welsh (12.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG) is averaging a double-double.

-- Utah (10-5 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) is 2-2 both SU and ATS in four road assignments. The Utes starting Pac-12 play with back-to-back road wins at Oregon (66-56 as 9.5-point underdogs) and at Oregon State (66-64 in a pick ‘em affair). However, they lost consecutive home games last week vs. Arizona (94-82) and vs. Arizona State (80-77).

-- In the loss to ASU on Sunday, Utah earned a push as a three-point home underdog. Justin Bibbins finished with 22 points, six assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals in the losing effort. Sedrick Barefield buried 5-of-10 treys in a 21-point effort, while David Collette added 16 points before fouling out having made all six of his FGAs. Tyler Rawson contributed 11 points, nine boards and five assists compared to merely one turnover.

-- Utah has posted a 2-3-1 ATS record with two outright wins in six underdog situations.

-- Utah has a balanced offensive attack with five players averaging in double figures. Collette paces the Utes with a 13.8 PPG average, while Bibbins (13.5 PPG) is hitting 45.0 percent of his 3’s and 84.3 percent of his FTs. Barefield (12.2 PPG) is making 90.2 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe.

-- When these schools last met at Pauley two seasons ago on Feb. 18 of 2016, Utah won a 75-73 decision as a 1.5-point road underdog. However, in last year’s encounter in Salt Lake City, UCLA knocked off the Utes 83-82 but failed to cover as a 2.5-point road ‘chalk.’ Welsh scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Holiday finished with 14 points, three steals and five assists without a turnover. Collette finished with 11 points and six boards in defeat.

-- The ‘under’ is 5-1-1 in the last seven games of the Utah-UCLA rivalry.

-- The ‘over’ is 10-6 overall for the Bruins, 5-4 in their home games. The ‘over’ is on a 7-2 run in their past nine outings.

-- The ‘under’ is 8-4-1 overall for the Utes, 3-1 in their road contests. They’ve watched the ‘under’ cash at a 5-1 rate in their past six games.

-- ESPN2 will provide the broadcast at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- We noted how Texas star guard and leading scorer Andrew Jones was going to miss Wednesday’s game against TCU due to an undisclosed illness. That medical situation was revealed on Wednesday via a press release from the Texas basketball program. Jones has been diagnosed with leukemia and has already begun treatments. He will obviously miss the rest of the season. Best wishes to him and his family.

-- Siena’s Nico Clareth is out for the rest of the season due to personal reasons. Clareth was averaging 15.1 points and 3.4 RPG for the Saints.

-- UTEP’s Keith Frazier (14.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG) has been upgraded to ‘probable’ for Thursday’s game against FAU.

-- Pepperdine’s Kameron Edwards (15.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG) is ‘questionable’ for Thursday’s game against BYU (concussion protocol). The Waves will be looking to end a seven-game losing streak and pick up their first road win in Provo. They’ve seen the ‘under’ go 6-2 in their last eight outings.

-- La. Tech guard DaQuan Bracey (back) is ‘questionable’ Thursday against Middle Tennessee. Bracey is averaging 15.3 points, 5.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game for the Bulldogs.

-- Holy Statement Game for Villanova with that clubbing of Xavier last night by an 89-65 score. Jay Wright’s team coasted to victory as a 9.5-point home favorite. Phil Booth drained five 3-balls and scored a career-high 21 points, while leading scorer Jalen Brunson added 17 and dished out five assists compared to only one turnover.

-- The nation’s second and third-longest active home winning streaks ended last night when Temple won at SMU and Louisville rallied from a 45-32 halftime deficit to win at FSU. The Owls won 66-64 as 10.5-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a sick +475 return (risk $100 to win $475). The Cardinals won in Tallahassee as six-point ‘dogs.

-- Check out the job Will Wade is doing in his first season since coming to LSU after replacing Shaka Smart for two years at VCU! Wade’s team was picked to finish last in the SEC by the media in the preseason, but it went into Bud Walton Arena last night and demolished Arkansas, 75-54. LSU led by 20 at intermission and never allowed the Razorback to get closer than 12 in the second half. The Tigers won outright as nine-point underdogs, hooking up money-line supporters with a +400 payout (risk $100 to win $400). With a lopsided victory at Arkansas, you would think freshman sensation Tremont Waters exploded for a huge scoring night. Note the case, though. In fact, Waters (16.8 PPG) matched his second-lowest scoring output of the season with only eight points, but the point guard did dish out eight assists and grab five rebounds. LSU is 2-1 in SEC play, 3-0 both SU and ATS on the road and now gets Alabama and Georgia at home in its next two games.

-- Western Kentucky, a three-point underdog at ODU tonight, will have Moustapha Diagne available for the first time. A four-star signee by Syracuse in the 2015 class, Diagne has finally been declared eligible by the NCAA after being forced to go the juco route before finally landing in Rich Stansbury’s program. The 6’9” forward will immediately provide interior depth for the Hilltoppers, who have won four games in a row and are 3-1 ATS in four road assignments.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

  
HEADLINES
· NC State looks to transfers for help
· Jones back with Texas after treatments
· Wilmington opening practice at UNC
· G Wilson dismissed from Hurricanes
· George Mason AD inks extension
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