January 16, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Since Dec. 13, Brian Edwards is on a 33-23-1 run (58.9%, +8.8 units) in college hoops. Brian’s guaranteed plays have cashed at a 19-10 clip (65.5%, +8.26 units) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Wisconsin at Purdue**
-- Wisconsin (9-9 straight up, 6-10 against the spread) hasn’t missed the NCAA Tournament since 1998, but Greg Gard’s team is in danger of so this season. Of course, a huge upset win in West Lafayette on Tuesday night would go a long way towards avoiding the first unhappy Selection Sunday in two decades.
-- As of Monday night, most betting shops had Purdue (17-2 SU, 12-6 ATS) listed as a massive 15.5-point favorite with a total of 134.5.
-- Wisconsin is 1-4 SU and 1-3-1 ATS in five road assignments this season. The Badgers are playing on the road for a third straight game after dropping their first two Big Ten road tilts at Rutgers (64-60) and at Nebraska (63-59). They’ve had a week to shake off this past Tuesday’s setback to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln as 1.5-point underdogs. Ethan Happ, the only returning starter from last year’s senior-laded squad that advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to Chris Chiozza and Florida at the buzzer, produced 19 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two assists before fouling out. Brad Davison, the 4-star true freshman point guard out of Maple Grove (Minn.) High School where he had 43 TD passes as a senior football player, finished with 15 points, five rebounds and five assists. Brevin Pritzl had 10 points and seven boards.
-- UW has posted a 1-2-1 spread record with one outright win (at Penn St.) in four previous games as an underdog. This is – obviously – the Badgers’ biggest spot as underdogs this year (and maybe a decade?).
-- Happ is averaging team-highs in scoring (16.8 points per game), rebounding (8.5 RPG), assists (3.4 APG) and field-goal percentage (56.8%). Davison is averaging 12.1 points, 2.3 assists, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game.
-- Wisconsin is No. 135 in the RPI Rankings, posting a 1-5 record against the Top 50 and a 2-8 mark versus the Top 100. The Badgers have home wins over Western Kentucky and Indiana.
-- Purdue hasn’t tasted defeat since dropping back-to-back games on Nov. 22 and 23 at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Matt Painter’s team dropped a 78-75 decision to Tennessee in overtime and lost 77-73 to Western Kentucky. Since then, however, the Boilermakers have won 13 consecutive games while going 9-4 ATS. They’ve won nine of those 13 games by margins of 12 points or more.
-- Purdue is off an 81-47 win at Minnesota on Saturday as an 8.5-point road ‘chalk.’ The winners dominated the glass by a 40-26 rebounding margin and had a 24/11 assists-to-turnovers ratio. Vince Edwards dropped 25 points on the Gophers thanks to 5-of-7 makes from 3-point land. Isaac Haas added 14 points and five rebounds in merely 18 minutes of playing time, while Carsen Edwards finished with 14 points and seven assists without a turnover. He drained 4-of-9 launches from long distance. Dakota Mathias contributed 12 points, six rebounds and four assists without a turnover.
-- Purdue owns a 6-4 spread record in 10 games as a double-digit favorite.
-- Purdue is undefeated in 11 home games with a 7-3 spread record.
-- Purdue is ranked second nationally at KenPom.com, third in the Associated Press’s Top 25 and 10th in the RPI Rankings. The Boilermakers are 6-2 versus the RPI Top 50 and 10-2 against the Top 100. They own road scalps at Marquette, at Maryland, at Michigan and at Minnesota, in addition to neutral-court victories over Arizona and Butler. They have home triumphs over the likes of Louisville, Northwestern, Nebraska and Lipscomb.
-- Four Purdue players are scoring in double figures. Carsen Edwards is averaging 16.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, while Haas is averaging 14.8 points and 5.4 RPG. Vince Edwards (14.4 PPG, 8.2 RPG) is burying 44.1 percent of his 3’s and 84.8 percent of his free throws. He also has a 52/36 assists-to-turnover ratio. Mathias (13.3 PPG) is averaging team-highs in assists (4.5 APG) and steals (1.4 SPG), while Matt Haarms (5.5 PPG, 4.1 RPG) is averaging a team-best 2.7 blocked shots per game.
-- Purdue is ranked 14th in the nation in scoring defense, limiting opponents to a 62.7 points-per-game average. The Boilermakers are fifth in the country in field-goal percentage defense (37.5%). They are 20th in the nation in scoring offense (85.0 PPG), 18th in FG percentage (50.0%) and seventh in 3-point accuracy (41.5%).
-- Purdue has won three in a row both SU and ATS over Wisconsin, including last year’s 66-55 win over the Badgers as a 2.5-point home ‘chalk.’ Haas was one of only two Boilermakers in double figures with 13 points and five rebounds, while Happ had 17 points, five rebounds, four assists, six steals and one block in the losing effort.
-- Totals have been an overall wash for the Boilermakers (9-9), who have seen the ‘under’ go 6-4 in their home games. The ‘under’ has cashed in four straight for Purdue regardless of the venue.
-- The ‘under’ is 8-7-2 overall for the Badgers, 4-0-1 in their road contests. They’ve seen the ‘under’ hit at a 3-0-1 clip in their four outings.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**Kentucky at South Carolina**
-- As of Monday night, most books had Kentucky (14-3 SU, 8-9 ATS) installed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 141.5.
-- John Calipari’s team is 2-1 both SU and ATS in three road assignments. Kentucky is on the road for the second straight game and the fourth in its last six outings.
-- Since losing at Tennessee two Saturdays ago (1/6), Calipari’s freshmen-laded team has produced back-to-back to victories. UK beat Texas A&M 74-73 at Rupp Arena this past Tuesday before capturing a 74-67 win at Vanderbilt. The Wildcats took the cash as two-point favorites against the Commodores, but they failed to cover the number versus the Aggies as 4.5-point home favorites. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the catalyst with 22 points, six assists and four rebounds. Kevin Knox added 17 points, while P.J. Washington contributed 10 points and eight boards.
-- Calipari played only seven players at Vandy due to the absences of point guard Quade Green (lower back) and Tai Wynyard (flu), who has missed three straight games compared to two for Green. Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo both played 39 minutes apiece at USC, while Washington logged 38 minutes.
-- Knox is averaging a team-high 14.2 PPG while also pulling down 5.6 rebounds per game. However, he has a terrible 29/44 assists-to-turnovers ratio. Diallo is averaging 13.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, while GIlgeous-Alexander (12.4 PPG, 4.4 APG & 2.1 SPG) has splashed the nets at a 47.6 percent clip from downtown. Green, who along with Wynyard is listed as ‘questionable,’ is scoring at a 10.7 PPG clip while buryi8ng 40.0 percent of his 3-balls.
-- Kentucky owns a 4-3 spread record in seven games as a single-digit favorite.
-- Kentucky is No. 9 in the RPI with a 2-3 record against Top-50 opponents and an 8-3 mark versus the Top 100. UK’s only Top-100 win on the road is a 74-71 victory at LSU on Jan. 3. The ‘Cats have home wins over the likes of Louisville, Texas A&M, Georgia, Va. Tech, Vermont, East Tennessee St and Utah Valley.
--South Carolina (11-6 SU, 7-8 ATS) has won six of its seven home games, going 3-3 ATS. Frank Martin’s club lost three starters from last year’s Final Four team, including Sindarius Thornwell, Duane Notice and P.J. Dozier.
-- South Carolina is No. 55 in the RPI, going 0-3 against the Top 50 and 2-5 versus the Top 100. In other words, this program in dire need of a ‘W’ over the ‘Cats on Tuesday. The Gamecocks have a win at Georgia and a home triumph over Wyoming.
-- Martin’s team picked up its best win of the season this past Saturday at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, where USC captured a 64-57 win at Georgia. The Gamecocks won outright as 4.5-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a payout in the +165 neighborhood. Chris Silva, one of Martin’s two returning starters, led the way with 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. Frank Booker, the grad transfer who previously played at Oklahoma and FAU, had 17 points and seven rebounds, while Hassani Gravett chipped in with 11 points.
-- Silva, the junior power forward, is averaging team-bests in scoring (14.2 PPG), rebounding (7.9 RPG), FG percentage (48.9%) and blocked shots (1.3 BPG). Booker (10.9 PPG) is the team’s second-leading scorer who’s shooting at a 41.5 percent clip from 3-point range. Maik Kotsar, the other returning starter with Silva, is averaging 8.4 points and 4.6 RPG.
-- South Carolina is 1-4 ATS in five underdog spots, but this is its first game as a home underdog.
-- Totals have been an overall wash (8-8) for UK, but the ‘under’ is 3-0 in its road games.
-- The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight South Carolina games and five of its past six to improve to 11-5 overall. USC’s home games have been a wash (3-3).
-- ESPN will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Clemson is at North Carolina tonight as a 7.5-point underdog. The Tigers haven’t won at UNC since 1929, going 0-58 in Chapel Hill. They won 72-63 against Miami this past Saturday to improve to 15-2. Brad Brownell’s team is almost certainly on its way to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. Clemson probably has its best chance to win at UNC tonight since its 1989-90 squad that featured Marion Cash (from the Bronx!) at PG, Elden Campbell at center and Dale Davis at power forward. That team was coached by current Coastal Carolina HC Cliff Ellis and lost on Tate George’s buzzer-beater in the Meadowlands at the East Region semifinals. George played for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies, who would suffer a similar fate two days later when Christian Laettner’s double-pump leaner at the buzzer sent the Blue Devils to Denver for the Final Four.
-- Notre Dame still won’t have star center Bonzie Colson back until late February, but the team’s second-best player and senior point guard will be back for tonight’s home game vs. Louisville. Matt Farrell has missed the last three games nursing a sprained ankle. Farrell, a point Pleasant Beach High School (N.J.) product, is averaging 15.9 points, 5.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the Fighting Irish were favored by three points with a total of 141.
-- I’ve been harping on gamblers playing Cincinnati ‘unders’ for 4-5 years now with great success, and that pattern has continued again this year. However, bettors are warned from this space – for now – to shy away from these plays. That’s because oddsmakers have issued the Bearcats’ their two lowest totals of the season in their past two outings. The result has predictably been back-to-back ‘overs.’ Before these last two tallies (127.5 & 126), the lowest total for UC this season had been 133.5 points. With Mick Cronin’s team at UCF tonight, the total is a season-low 121. The ‘under’ had been on a 9-2 tear before the books dipped UC’s totals into the 120s. (FULL CLARIFICATION: I’m not endorsing the ‘over’ tonight by any means!!)
-- Best ATS team with at least six lined games to date: East Tennessee State (11-2-1 ATS), Portland State (12-3), New Mexico State (4-1-2), South Alabama (11-3), Montana (12-4) and Auburn (11-4).
-- Worst ATS team in the nation: Vanderbilt! The Commodores are an atrocious 1-13 ATS. They are 4.5-point road underdogs tonight at The Hump in Starkville against Mississippi St. The Bulldogs won their first 12 home games before allowing a double-digit second-half lead to evaporate in Saturday’s 76-68 loss to Auburn as three-point home ‘dogs. The ‘under’ is on a 4-0 run for MSU to improve to 9-3 overall. Meanwhile, Vandy has watched the ‘under’ go 9-5 overall and 3-1 in its road assignments. Tonight’s total is 139.5.
-- Vandy senior guard/forward Matthew Fisher-Davis is ‘questionable’ at MSU due to a shoulder injury. Fisher-Davis is averaging 11.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
-- Minnesota's overtime win at Penn State last night allowed its money-line backers to cash an outstanding ticket in the +330 range. I had Providence and Marquette for easy winners yesterday, but I went 2-1 when PSU hit a last-second bucket to force overtime and sink my 'under' play.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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