January 18, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Since Dec. 13, Brian Edwards is on a 37-26-1 run (58.7%, +9.3 units) in college hoops. Brian’s guaranteed plays have cashed at a 21-10 clip (67.7%, +10.26 Units) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Saint Mary’s at Gonzaga**
-- As usual, first place in the WCC will be at stake Thursday night when Saint Mary’s visits Spokane to take on Gonzaga. Both schools are 6-0 in the conference play. As of late Wednesday night, most betting shops had Gonzaga (16-3 straight up, 9-6 against the spread) listed as a 7.5-point favorite after the number opened at 9.5. The total was at 152.5.
-- Mark Few’s team is unbeaten in 10 home games with a 5-2 spread record. The Bulldogs are 3-1 ATS in four games as single-digit favorites, 1-0 ATS in their only single-digit home ‘chalk’ spot.
-- Gonzaga has won six in a row while going 4-1-1 ATS since a 72-70 loss at San Diego State as a six-point favorite on Dec. 21. The Bulldogs are off a 75-65 win at San Francisco as 14-point road favorites. They inched ahead of the number only once with a 62-48 advantage with 9:53 remaining, but the Dons were the right side. Johnathan Williams led the ‘Zags with 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot. Josh Perkins and Silas Melson chipped in 16 and 14 points, respectively, while Rui Hachimura finished with 10 points, eight boards and three blocks.
-- Gonzaga is ranked 13th in the latest Associated Press Top 25, 57th in the RPI Rankings and sixth at KenPom.com. Few’s club has a 4-2 record against the RPI Top 50 and a 4-3 mark versus the Top 100. The Bulldogs have neutral-court wins over Ohio St. (86-59) and Texas (76-71). They also own blowout victories vs. Creighton (91-74) at home and at Washington (97-70). The ‘Zags’ L’s came vs. Florida (111-105 in double overtime in Portland), vs. Villanova and at San Diego St.
-- Williams leads Gonzaga in scoring (14.1 points per game) and rebounding (7.2 RPG) and has blocked 1.1 shots per outing. Perkins is averaging 13.6 points, 5.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. The senior guard is shooting at a career-high 45.0 percent clip from long distance. Five Bulldogs are averaging double figures including Zach Norvell (12.2 PPG), Killian Tillie (11.8 PPG), Hachimura (10.7 PPG) and Melson (10.6 PPG). Melson has 27 steals, a 49/23 assist-to-turnover ratio and is hitting 90.6 percent of his free throws. Tillie is averaging 6.0 RPG and is making 55.3 percent of his field-goal attempts.
-- Saint Mary’s (17-2 SU, 7-7 ATS) leads the nation in field-goal percentage, shooting at a 52.4 percent clip. Randy Bennett’s team is ranked 12th in the country in 3-point accuracy (41.3%) and 15th in free-throw shooting (77.7%). The Gaels are ranked 35th in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 65.4 points per game.
-- Saint Mary’s has won all six of its road games while going 5-1 ATS. The Gaels are playing their third road game in seven days after posting wins at Pepperdine (91-67) and at Santa Clara (81-57). They took the Waves behind the woodshed in Malibu this past Saturday, winning by 24 as 16-point road favorites. Jock Landale was the catalyst with 321 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Emmett Naar dished out 14 assists while Jordan Ford scored 20 points and dished out three assists without a turnover. Tanner Krebs knocked down all four of his 3-point attempts in a 16-point effort. Krebs also had seven rebounds, three assists and one steal.
-- Landale is averaging a double-double and paces Saint Mary’s in scoring (21.7 PPG), rebounding (10.3 RPG), FG percentage (65.3%) and blocks (0.8 BPG). Naar (11.2 PPG) is second in the nation in assists (9.4 APG) and sports a 178/54 assists-to-turnover ratio. He has a team-high 0.8 steals per game and is making 85.5 percent of his FTs. Calvin Hermanson is averaging 12.2 PPG and is splashing the nets at a 44.6 percent clip from 3-point range.
-- Saint Mary’s is an underdog for the first time this season. Bennett’s team is ranked No. 42 in the RPI Rankings. The Gaels have only faced one RPI Top-50 foe, losing an 83-81 decision to Georgia (RPI #41) in Fullerton, Calif. They’re 3-1 against the Top 100 with home wins over New Mexico State and Dayton, in addition to a win at BYU. Their other loss also came in Fullerton against Washington State.
-- Saint Mary’s is ranked 19th at KenPom.com. The Gaels have additional victories at California (74-63), at San Jose St. (79-61) and vs. Harvard (89-71) in Fullerton.
-- Saint Mary’s games were on a 5-0 ‘under’ run until the ‘over’ hit in its past two outings. The ‘under’ is 9-6 overall for the Gaels, 3-3 in their six road assignments.
-- The ‘over’ is 9-7 overall for the Gonzaga despite a 5-2 run for the ‘under’ in its last seven games. The ‘over’ is 5-2 for the Bulldogs at home.
-- The ‘under’ is 11-2 in the last 13 games of this rivalry, 18-4 in the last 22 games played at Gonzaga.
-- Gonzaga has won four in a row over Saint Mary’s both SU and ATS, with each victory coming by double-digit margins. The Bulldogs are 8-2 SU and 9-1 ATS in the past 10 encounters with the Gaels, who last won in this rivalry on Feb. 20 of 2016.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**UCLA at Oregon State**
-- UCLA (13-5 SU, 8-10 ATS) is in a third-place tie with USC in the Pac-12 standings, as the crosstown rivals are both 4-2 in league play. The Bruins are one game behind conference-leading Arizona and one-half game behind second-place Stanford.
-- As of early this morning, most books had UCLA installed as a two-point road favorite with a total of 148.
-- Steve Alford’s squad is 1-2 both SU and ATS in three road games. UCLA has won six of its last eight games, compiling a 5-3 spread record in the process. The Bruins dropped a 68-59 decision to Colorado this past Saturday as 11.5-point home favorites. Thomas Welsh made 9-of-10 FGAs and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds, but Aaron Holiday was held to 10 points and he had four assists compared to six turnovers. Holiday made just 4-o-13 shots from the field and 1-of-4 from 3-point range. Kris Wilkes had 10 points and nine rebounds, but he was 3-of-11 from the field and 1-of-6 from downtown.
-- Holiday leads UCLA in scoring (18.9 PPG), assists (5.2 APG) and steals (1.6 SPG), while Welsh (12.8 PPG) paces the Bruins in rebounding (10.7 RPG) and FG percentage (49.1%). Wilkes is averaging 13.7 points and 5.5 RPG, while Jaylen Hands (11.6 PPG) and Prince Ali (10.3 PPG) are also averaging in double figures.
-- UCLA is No. 49 in the RPI, going 2-3 versus the Top 50 and 3-5 against the Top 100. Alford’s team has home wins over Washington and Utah, and it beat Kentucky for a second straight year by an 83-75 score in New Orleans on Dec. 23.
-- Oregon State (10-7 SU, 7-10 ATS) has won eight of its 10 home games but has struggled to a 3-7 spread record. The Beavers are home underdogs for the second time, beating Oregon as 2.5-point home ‘dogs in their first such spot.
-- Oregon State is No. 153 in the RPI with an 0-2 record against Top-50 foes and a 2-5 ledger versus Top-100 opponents. The Beavers have home scalps of Colorado (76-57) and Oregon (76-64). They’ve lost a pair of games by two points apiece, falling 77-75 at Arizona St. and 66-64 vs. Utah in Corvallis.
-- Oregon State is looking to avoid a three-game losing streak. After beating the Ducks on Jan. 5, the Beavers lost at Arizona and at ASU this past week. However, they have covered the spread in three consecutive games and four of their last five. OSU took the cash as a 15-point underdog in a 62-53 loss at Arizona and easily got the money in Saturday’s 77-75 loss in Tempe as a 12-point ‘dog. Stephen Thompson Jr., the son of Syracuse’s sixth man when it advanced to the finals of the 1987 NCAA Tournament before getting knocked off by Bobby Knight’s third national title team at Indiana on Keith Smart’s last-second baseline jumper in New Orleans, scored a team-best 21 points for OSU. Thompson made 5-of-10 launches from beyond the arc and contributed three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Tres Tinkle added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists. Drew Eubanks and Ethan Thompson scored 11 points apiece. OSU allowed a 13-point lead at the under-12 television timeout to get away. The Beavers did a sensational defensive job on ASU star guard Tra Holder, who was held to four points on 1-of-9 shooting from the field. Holder (20.9 PPG) is the Pac-12’s leading scorer.
-- Tinkle, the head coach’s son who was averaging 20.2 points and 8.3 RPG before going down with a season-ending injury after playing only six games last year, is averaging team-bests in scoring (18.2 PPG), rebounding (7.4 RPG) and FT percentage (86.4%) and is tied for the team lead in assists (3.5 APG). Stephen Thompson Jr. (16.5 PPG, 3.5 APG) and Eubanks (13.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG) are also scoring in double figures.
-- The ‘over’ is 10-8 overall for the Bruins, 3-0 in their road contests.
-- The ‘under’ is 9-7-1 for OSU, 5-5 in their home games. The ‘under’ is 4-0-1 in the Beavers’ past five games.
-- Fox Sports 1 will provide the broadcast at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- TCU announced Wednesday that sophomore guard Jaylen Fisher is out indefinitely due to a knee injury. Fisher is scheduled to have knee surgery today after sustaining the injury at Tuesday’s practice. The starting point guard for the Horned Frogs is averaging 12.3 points and 5.4 assists per game. Nevertheless, TCU snapped a three-game losing streak with last night’s 96-73 win over Iowa St. Vladimir Brodzianksy led the way with 26 points.
-- SMU picked up its first road win of the year last night when it captured an 83-78 win at Wichita State. The Mustangs won outright as 9.5 underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a sweet +375 return (paid $375 on $100 wagers).
-- Alabama handed Auburn its first loss since Nov. 17 and ended the Tigers’ 14-game winning steak Wednesday night at Coleman Coliseum. Even without star guard Collin Sexton (abdominal injury), Avery Johnson’s team won a 76-71 decision as a four-point home underdog. Freshman guard John Petty stole the show by exploding for a game-high 27 points on 8-of-13 marksmanship from long distance. Dazon Ingram made 10-fo-13 FTs and finished with 16 points for the Crimson Tide.
-- KeVaughn Allen finally busted out of a miserable slump in Florida’s 88-73 win over Arkansas as a 6.5-point home favorite. The former star at North Little Rock, Ark., had been held to seven points or fewer in four straight games and had scored in double figures only three times in UF’s last 10 games. Allen erupted for 28 points on the Razorbacks, draining 6-of-7 shots from 3-point land and 8-of-12 from the field. Jalen Hudson finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot. Hudson buried 4-of-8 triples and the Gators went 13-of-25 (52.0%) from downtown. Egor Koulechov had 12 points and eight rebounds. Mike Anderson’s team fell to 2-4 in the SEC play and 0-4 both SU and ATS on the road.
-- Florida senior center John Egbunu practiced Monday for the first time this season. Egbunu tore his ACL in a Valentine’s Day win at Auburn last season. Mike White told the media Tuesday that the big man’s timetable to return remains late January. Egbunu’s muscle and size make him a force as an interior defender, and that’s exactly what the Gators need down the stretch. They’ll take a 5-1 SEC record into Rupp Arena to face Kentucky on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
-- UF is now No. 25 at KenPom.com and No. 40 in the RPI.
-- Middle Tennessee is a three-point road favorite tonight at Marshall. The Blue Raiders are undefeated in seven road games with a 4-2 spread record. Meanwhile, the Thundering Herd is 10-1 SU and 5-3 ATS at home. MTU has won five in a row over Marshall both SU and ATS with each victory coming by at least nine points. The ‘under’ has hit in five straight MTU games to improve to 11-3 overall.
-- Michigan has won nine of its last 10 games and is on an 11-4-1 ATS run in its past 15 outings. The Wolverines are favored by 3.5 tonight at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers, who are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games, are 10-1 SU and 7-2 ATS at home in Lincoln. Michigan has won all eight games between these schools since Nebraska joined the Big Ten. The Wolverines are 5-3 ATS in those victories, going 4-1 ATS in the past five encounters. The ‘over’ has hit in three straight Michigan-Nebraska games. Tip-off is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network.
-- Washington is a 7.5-point underdog tonight at Utah. The ‘under’ has cashed in four straight games for the Huskies. UW has won six of its past eight games, including road wins at USC (88-81) and Washington St. (70-65). The Utes are 7-2 SU and 4-2 ATS at home. The ‘under’ is 6-2 in their last eight contests.
-- Check out the rest of tonight’s TV games here.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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