January 20, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Since Dec. 13, Brian Edwards is on a 38-27-2 run (58.5%, +9.1 units) in college hoops. Brian’s guaranteed plays have cashed at a 22-10 clip (68.8%, +11.26 Units) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Florida at Kentucky**
-- Florida (13-5 straight up, 9-8 against the spread) is atop the SEC standings with its 5-1 record in league play. Mike White’s team is one-half game ahead of Auburn and one game in front of both Kentucky and Alabama with their 4-2 SEC ledgers.
-- Florida is 2-1 both SU and ATS in three road assignments. UF thumped Texas A&M (when it was without a couple of key players) 83-66 in College Station, beat Missouri 77-75 in Columbia on Chris Chiozza’s steal and run-out bucket with 0.1 seconds left and lost at Ole Miss last Saturday by a 78-72 count.
-- UF bounced back from the loss in Oxford to thump Arkansas 88-73 Wednesday night as a 6.5-point home favorite. The 161 combined points went ‘over’ the 154-point total. Junior guard KeVaughn Allen, a product of North Little Rock High School in Arkansas, had been mired in a brutal slump. UF’s leading scorer last season had been held to seven points or fewer in four straight games, but he erupted against the Razorbacks with a game-high 28 points. Allen drained 6-of-7 launches from 3-point range and 8-of-13 field-goal attempts. Jalen Hudson added 21 points and nine rebounds, hitting 4-of-8 treys, while Egor Koulechov contributed 12 points and eight rebounds. Chiozza dished out nine assists compared to merely one turnover, and the senior point guard also had seven points, three steals and two rebounds.
-- Florida is No. 34 in the RPI Rankings, going 4-3 against RPI Top-50 opponents and 7-5 versus the Top 100. The Gators have neutral-court wins over Cincinnati, Gonzaga and Stanford, in addition to home victories over Arkansas and Mississippi St.
-- Hudson, the transfer from Va. Tech who sat out the 2016-17 campaign, leads UF and is fifth in the SEC in scoring with a 16.5 points-per-game average. Hudson is eighth in the SEC in 3-point accuracy, knocking down 42.6 percent of his 3-balls. Koulechov is averaging 15.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. The grad transfer from Rice is making 41.5 percent of his 3’s and paces the SEC in free-throw shooting (94.1%). Chiozza (12.3 PPG) is second in the SEC in both assists (5.9 APG) and steals (2.1 SPG).
-- UF is 2-1 both SU and ATS as an underdog this season. The Gators beat Cincinnati at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn as two-point ‘dogs and bested Texas A&M as 2.5-point puppies. They allowed a double-digit lead to get away in the game’s final five minutes of an 87-84 loss to Duke as two-point ‘dogs in Portland on Nov. 26.
-- Florida reserve center Gorjok Gak is ‘questionable’ at UK due to a concussion sustained last Saturday at Ole Miss. Gak, who averages 2.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.5 BPG, sat out the win over Arkansas. John Egbunu remains ‘out’ although last year’s starting center is nearing his return and practiced with the team for the first time Monday. Egbunu tore his ACL in a Valentine’s Day win at Auburn last season.
-- Kentucky (14-4 SU, 8-10 ATS) is No. 12 in the RPI with its 3-3 record against the Top 50. The Wildcats are 8-4 versus the Top 100, winning at home over the likes of Louisville, Georgia, Texas A&M, Utah Valley, Vermont, East Tennessee State and Virginia Tech. The ‘Cats also have a road scalp at LSU.
-- As of Friday night, most books had UK installed as a three-point favorite with a total of 148.5.
-- John Calipari’s club is undefeated in 11 home games at Rupp Arena, but it has limped to a 4-7 spread record. The ‘Cats are 2-2 ATS in four games as single-digit home ‘chalk.’
-- Kentucky is in bounce-back mode following Tuesday’s 76-68 loss at South Carolina as a one-point road favorite. The ‘Cats led 37-34 at halftime and by 14 points at the under-12 television timeout. But Cal’s bunch had no answers for USC’s Chris Silva, who dominate4d the paint with 27 points and eight rebounds. UK’s Kevin Knox scored a team-best 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Nick Richards and P.J. Washington were also in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
-- UK guard Quade Green and forward Tai Wynyard are both listed as ‘questionable’ vs. UF. Green, who has missed three consecutive games with a back issue, is averaging 10.7 points, 3.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game. He’s hit 40.0 percent of his 3-pointers. Wynyard (1.0 PPG, 1.8 RPG) has missed three games in a row with a back injury as well. The sophomore forward only plays sparingly.
-- Knox is a Tampa Catholic High School product who paces the ‘Cats in scoring (14.6 PPG) and is tied for first place in rebounds (5.7 RPG). The 6’9” power forward, who is one of five McDonald’s All-Americans on Calipari’s roster, has proven to be the most consistent player in the vaunted freshman class.
-- UK freshman forward Jared Vanderbilt made his season debut in the loss at South Carolina. After missing the first 17 games with a foot injury, Vanderbilt logged 14 minutes of playing time and produced six points, five rebounds, three assists and one blocked shot. He made 2-of-5 field-goal attempts and 2-of-4 FTAs.
-- Florida has lost in nine of its last 10 games at Kentucky and has won only nine times in 60 trips to Rupp Arena. The Gators last won at UK in 2014 for the 17th of 30 straight wins before they lost to UConn in the national semifinals in Arlington, TX. UF rallied from a seven-point deficit with less than five minutes left to clip the ‘Cats by a 69-59 score as a 2.5-point road ‘dogs.
-- The best rivalry in SEC basketball has been renewed nine times since that UF win in Lexington on Feb. 15 of 2014. The ‘Cats are 6-3 both SU and ATS in those encounters.
-- Since 2006, UF has won three times at UK. All three of those teams (’06, ’07 & ’14) advanced to the Final Four and two won national titles in repeat fashion.
-- Florida throttled UK 88-66 in Gainesville last year on the night before my Falcons lost to the Patriots in Houston at Super Bowl LI. In the rematch at Rupp on Feb. 25, Kentucky’s Malik Monk erupted for 30 of his 33 points in the second half, as the ‘Cats recovered from an eight-point second-half deficit to win 76-66. Allen had a team-best 24 points for the Gators.
-- The ‘under’ is on a 5-1 run in the last six games of this rivalry. The ‘under’ is on a 16-5 run in Florida’s last 21 meetings against UK at Rupp.
-- The ‘over’ is 9-7 overall for UF, 4-2 in its past six games and 4-4 in its home contests.
-- The ‘over’ is 9-8 overall for UK, 6-4 in its home games.
-- ESPN will have the telecast at 8:15 p.m. Eastern. Dan Shulman and Jay Bilas will be on the call and Maria Taylor will serve as sideline reported. The World Wide Leader will broadcast its weekly ‘Game Day’ show from Rupp.
**Boise State at Nevada**
-- Nevada will play host to Boise State with first place on the line Saturday night in Reno. The Wolf Pack is 6-0 in Mountain West Conference play, while the Broncos are 6-1 in league games.
-- As of Friday night, most books had Nevada (17-3 SU, 11-7-1 ATS) listed as a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 147.
-- Nevada has won six in a row but is only 2-3-1 ATS during this span. The Wolf Pack somehow managed a miracle push in Wednesday’s 71-54 win at San Jose St. as a 17-point home favorite. Nevada didn’t take its first double-digit lead of the game until Caleb Martin made a layup with 3:58 remaining for a 58-48 advantage. The Wolf Pack made six of its last seven shots, including a deep 3 by Caleb Martin that was well contested to provide the final points with 15 ticks left. Caleb Martin finished with 24 points, four assists, three rebounds two blocked shots and one steal. Kendall Stephens added 19 points, four boards, three blocks and a pair of steals, while Josh Hall had 10 points and seven rebounds.
-- Eric Musselman’s team is unbeaten in nine home games with a 5-3 spread record. The Wolf Pack has been a single-digit home ‘chalk’ twice, beating Rhode Island 88-81 as a two-point home favorite before capturing an 81-68 win over Davidson as a 5.5-point favorite.
-- Cody Martin is listed as ‘doubtful’ vs. BSU due to an Achilles injury. The transfer from North Carolina State missed the win at San Jose St. and isn’t expected to be ready Saturday night. Martin (13.3 PPG) leads the Wolf Pack in blocked shots (1.6 BPG), steals (1.6 SPG) and FG percentage (53.3%), and he has a 73/37 assist-to-turnover ratio.
-- Nevada is ranked 13th in the country in 3-point accuracy (41.3%).
-- Musselman’s club started the season with eight straight spread covers, but it has been mired in a 3-7-1 ATS slump in its past 11 games.
-- Nevada is No. 18 in the RPI, posting a 1-2 record against the Top 50 and a 4-2 record versus the Top 100. The Wolf Pack have home wins over Rhode Island (88-81), Illinois State (98-68), UC Davis (88-73) and Wyoming (92-83).
-- Caleb Martin leads Nevada in scoring (19.2 PPG) and averages 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting at a 46.5 percent clip from long distance. Jordan Caroline is averaging 16.4 points and 9.0 RPG, and Stephens (12.8 PPG) is making 45.1 percent of his 3’s and 87.0 percent of his FTs.
-- Boise State (16-3 SU, 10-8 ATS) is 3-2 both SU and ATS in five road games. The Broncos are in their third-richest underdog spot of the season. They won outright at UNLV as 4.5-point ‘dogs and at Oregon as seven-point puppies. BSU’s richest ‘dog spot was +9 at SMU when I unsuccessfully backed Leon Rice’s team in an 86-63 loss.
-- Boise State is No. 32 in the RPI, but this is the first opponent it has faced in the RPI Top 50. The Broncos are sporting a 3-3 record against the Top 100, including wins at Oregon, vs. Illinois State on a neutral court (by 18 pts) and vs. Loyola-Chicago (87-53). They won by 34 against the Ramblers, who won at Florida eight days later.
-- BSU senior guard/forward Chandler Hutchison is averaging 19.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Sophomore guard Justinian Jessup is producing 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Jessup is burying 46.3 percent of his treys and 82.1 percent of his FTs. Alex Hobbs (10.8 PPG) is another sophomore who’s starting to turn his game up, scoring 14 points and handing out four assists in BSU’s 71-67 non-covering win over Utah St. The Broncos failed to cover Wednesday as 10-point home ‘chalk.’ Hobbs also had 20 points in the win at Fresno State and finished with 18 in a blowout home win over New Mexico.
-- Boise State is ranked eighth in the nation at defending the 3-point line, forcing foes to shoot at a miserable 29.1 percent from downtown.
-- The ‘over’ is on a 6-2-1 run in BSU’s past nine games. However, the ‘under’ is 9-8-1 overall for the Broncos, 2-2-1 in their road assignments.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-8 overall for Nevada, 5-3 in its home games. However, the ‘under’ is 5-2 in the Wolf Pack’s past seven outings.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 10:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- In addition to BSU at Nevada, there’s another tremendous mid-major showdown Saturday when Western Kentucky will host Middle Tennessee. As of late Friday, most spots had the Hilltoppers as 4.5-point favorites with a total of 142. Rich Stansbury’s team is 6-0 in C-USA play and leads the league by one game over both MTU and Old Dominion. WKU has won seven straight games while going 5-2 ATS. The ‘Tops are 8-2 SU and 5-3 ATS at home, while MTU is 7-1 SU and 4-3 ATS on the road. Kermit Davis’s club lost its first C-USA game Thursday at Marshall (73-63) as a four-point road ‘chalk.’ The ‘under’ has cashed in six consecutive games for the Blue Raiders to improve to 12-3 overall.
-- UConn’s Terry Larrier (head) is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s home game vs. Villanova. Larrier averages 15.3 points and 4.9 RPG. The Huskies were 16-point home underdogs late Friday.
-- After thumping Michigan 72-52 as a five-point home underdog Thursday night in Lincoln, Nebraska improved to 11-1 SU and 8-2 ATS at home this season. Tim Miles’s team has seen the ‘under’ cash at an 8-2 clip in its past 10 games. The only outright defeat at home came against Kansas in a 73-72 defeat. The Cornhuskers are off until Monday’s game at Ohio State. With Northwestern getting its first NCAA Tournament win in program history over Vanderbilt last year, Nebraska, currently No. 62 in the RPI, is now the only program from a power conference that’s never won an NCAA Tournament game.
-- Minnesota has seen the ‘under’ go 8-2 in its past 10 games. The Gophers, who face a quick turnaround after losing 77-66 at Maryland on Thursday, host Ohio St. at noon Eastern on the Big Ten Network. Richard Pitino’s team has limped to a 1-4 record both SU and ATS in its last five outings. The Buckeyes are 4-0 both SU and ATS on the road. I backed OSU for a winner in Wednesday’s 71-65 win at Northwestern as a three-point road ‘chalk.’ Amir Coffey, Minnesota’s third-leading scorer with a 14.1 PPG average, is ‘out’ with a shoulder injury, while Reggie Lynch (10.1 PPG) remains suspended.
-- San Diego State forward Malik Pope (groin) is ‘questionable’ Saturday at New Mexico. Pope is averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 RPG. The Aztecs were favored by 1.5 points late Friday.
-- Vanderbilt is turning into one of the best fade teams in years. The Commodores are 1-14 ATS this year and 0-8 versus the number at home inside of Memorial Gymnasium. They host LSU on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network. The Tigers are 3-0 both SU and ATS on the road. Vandy’s Matthew Fisher-Davis (11.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG) is ‘questionable’ with a shoulder injury. Fisher-Davis missed Tuesday’s 80-62 loss at Mississippi State. This game was a pick ‘em as of late Friday with a total of 147.5.
-- Alabama star freshman guard Collin Sexton is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s home game vs. Mississippi St. Sexton, who is averaging team-highs in scoring (19.2 PPG) and assists (3.4 APG), missed Wednesday’s 76-71 win over Auburn as a two-point home underdog. The Crimson Tide improved to 8-1 SU and 4-3 ATS at Coleman Coliseum, where the Bulldogs will be looking for their first road win after an 0-3 start both SU and ATS when playing away games. Avery Johnson’s squad has won three in a row both SU and ATS and is 5-1 ATS in its past six outings. The Tide has seen the ‘under’ connect in four straight and six of its last seven. Also, the ‘under’ is 7-1 for ‘Bama at home. Furthermore, the ‘under’ is 3-0 for MSU in its road assignments.
-- The ‘under’ improved to 6-0-1 in Wisconsin’s last seven games when it beat Illinois 75-50 as a five-point home favorite. The 125 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 133-point total. The ‘under’ is now 11-6 overall for Illinois, 5-2 in its seven road contests.
-- Davidson stayed undefeated at home and finally posted a quality win in Friday’s 83-73 victory over St. Bonaventure as a five-point favorite. Peyton Aldridge played all 40 minutes and produced 25 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one steal against the Bonnies, who have suddenly lost four of their past five games. Aldridge drained 7-of-11 FGs, 3-of-6 treys and 8-of-8 FTs. Jon Axel Gudmundsson added21 points, nine assists and four boards, while Kellan Grady finished with 16 points thanks to four triples. Matt Mobley had 25 points, four rebounds and four assists without a turnover in the losing effort.
-- Check out the rest of tonight’s TV games here.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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