January 23, 2018
By Brian Edwards
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**Providence at Villanova**
-- Villanova will seek its 19th victory Tuesday night when it hosts Providence as a 14.5-point home favorite in Philadelphia. The total was at 152 as of early this morning. The Wildcats raced out to a 39-18 halftime lead and smashed UConn 81-61 as 15.5-point road favorites. Jay Wright’s team dealt out woodshed treatment in front of 15,564 at XL Center in Hartford. Jalen Brunson scored 23 points and dished out four assists while burying 5-of-11 launches from 3-point land. Donte DiVincenzo finished with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting from downtown, while Omari Spellman added nine points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
-- Villanova (18-1 straight up, 13-6 against the spread) is undefeated in six home games with a 3-3 spread record. ‘Nova is 2-3 ATS in five games as double-digit home ‘chalk.’
-- Brunson is the catalyst for the nation’s top-ranked team. The junior guard is averaging team-bests in three-point accuracy (48.5%), field-goal percentage (57.7%), scoring (19.0 points per game) and assists (5.2 APG). Brunson has a 99/30 assist-to-turnover ratio. Mikal Bridges (17.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG) has a team-high 33 steals and is making 44.0 percent of his 3-balls. Bridges also has 24 blocked shots in 19 games. DiVincenzo (13.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG) is averaging 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. The junior guard has scored in double figures in 10 straight games, including a season-best 25-point effort in a 78-71 win at St. John’s on Jan. 13.
-- Villanova is No. 1 in both the Associated Press’s Top 25 rankings and at KenPom.com. The Wildcats are No. 2 in the RPI Rankings behind only Duke. They are 5-1 against the RPI Top 25, posting victories at Temple, vs. Xavier and Marquette at home and against Western Kentucky and Tennessee at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Wright’s club is 9-1 versus the Top 100, winning at St. John’s and at UConn, in addition to neutral courts triumphs over Hofstra and Gonzaga.
-- Villanova has won five in a row since taking its lone loss of the season at Butler by a 101-93 count on Dec. 30. The Wildcats return home after three consecutive road wins at St. John’s, at Georgetown and at UConn. They’ve taken the cash in three straight contests.
-- Providence (14-6 SU, 7-11 ATS) has won four in a row both SU and ATS, including Saturday’s 75-71 win over Creighton as a 1.5-point home ‘chalk.’ Alpha Diallo was the catalyst with 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Kyron Cartwright added 20 points and seven boards. Isaiah Jackson contributed 11 points and nine rebounds in 18 minutes of action off the bench, and Rodney Bullock finished with 10 points, six boards and a pair of blocks.
-- PU is No. 38 in the RPI, going 4-3 versus the Top 50 and 8-5 against the Top 100. Ed Cooley’s squad has home wins over the likes of Xavier, Butler, Belmont, Boston College and Rider. The Friars also won by 22 at St. John’s and beat Washington 77-70 on a neutral court.
-- Providence is 2-3 both SU and ATS in five road assignments. Cooley’s team is 2-2 both SU and ATS in four games as a road underdog. This is the Friars’ richest spot as underdogs this year and their first as double-digit ‘dogs.
-- Bullock paces PU in scoring (16.0 PPG), rebounding (6.8 RPG) and blocked shots (1.1 BPG). Diallo is averaging 11.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, while Cartwright (11.6 PPG) has handed out a team-high 6.4 assists per game and is draining 3-pointers at a 44.4 percent clip and FTs at an 82.1 percent rate. Jalen Lindsey (10.1 PPG) is also scoring in double figures and has hit 48.1 percent of his 3’s.
-- Villanova has won four in a row over PU and nine of the past 10 meetings. However, the Friars are 3-0 ATS and 5-1 versus the number in the last six encounters. Villanova won a 78-68 decision as a 16-point home favorite on Jan. 21 of last season. Bridges had 15 points and four assists without a turnover for the winners. Brunson added 13 points and six assists compared to only one turnover. Bullock finished with 17 points in the losing effort, while Lindsey had 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from long distance.
-- In the rematch on Feb. 1 at Dunkin’ Donuts Center, Brunson led ‘Nova to a non-covering 66-57 triumph over PU as a 9.5-point road ‘chalk.’ Brunson dropped a game-high 21 points on the Friars, who got an 18-point effort out of Diallo.
-- The ‘over’ is 7-3 in the past 10 meetings between these long-time Big East adversaries.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-8 overall for Villanova, 4-2 in its home games. However, the Wildcats have seen the ‘under’ emerge in each of their last four contests.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-7 overall for the Friars, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 3-2 in their road games and 3-1 in their past four outings.
-- Fox Sports 1 will provide the telecast at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
**Kansas at Oklahoma**
-- As of early this morning, most betting shops had Oklahoma (14-4 SU, 7-10 ATS) listed as a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 170.5.
-- Lon Kruger’s team is unbeaten in nine home games with a 4-4 spread record. OU returns home here following back-to-back defeats at Kansas State (87-69) and at Oklahoma State (83-81 in overtime). The Sooners lost both game as two-point road favorites. Trae Young scored 48 points in the losing effort in Stillwater, making 14-of-39 FGs and 8-of-20 launches from 3-point range. The true freshman from Norman converted all 12 of his FTAs. Young had five rebounds, eight assists, two steals and seven turnovers. Christian James finished with eight points, 11 rebounds, three steals and one block. The Sooners won the battle of the boards by a 52-40 margin. They battled back from deficits of 19 points in the first half and 12 points at intermission.
-- Young leads the nation in scoring (30.5 PPG), assists (9.7 APG) and steals (2.0 SPG), James (11.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG) is making 40.7 percent of his 3-pointers, while Brady Manek (11.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG) is splashing the nets at a 41.9 percent clip from downtown. Khadeem Lattin (7.4 PPG) paces the Sooners in rebounding (6.6 RPG), FG percentage (59.8%) and blocks (2.3 BPG). -- Oklahoma senior center Jamuni McNeace is ‘questionable’ with an ankle injury. McNeace averages 5.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game.
-- Oklahoma is No. 12 in the latest AP Top 25 and No. 10 in the RPI. Kruger’s squad has a 5-2 record against the RPI Top 50 and a 7-4 mark versus the Top 100. The Sooners have neutral-court scalps of USC and Oregon, in addition to road wins over Wichita State and TCU. They own home win over Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma State.
-- Kansas is undefeated in five road assignments with a 4-1 ATS mark.
-- Since losing at home to Texas Tech on Jan. 2, Kansas (16-3 SU, 10-8 ATS) has ripped off five consecutive wins. However, the Jayhawks have won those games by merely 18 combined points, going 2-3 ATS in the process. They beat Baylor 70-67 as 8.5-point home favorites this past Saturday. The Bears covered the number as 8.5-point underdogs. Malik Newman led the winners with a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds. Deonte’ Graham finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Udoka Azubuike added 14 points and seven boards.
-- Graham is leading KU in scoring (18.1 PPG), assists (7.3 APG) and steals (2.0 SPG). The senior guard is making 43.5 percent of his 3-pointers and has a 138/53 assist-to-turnover ratio. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (16.1 PPG) is knocking down 47.4 percent of his launches from downtown, while Azubuike (14.5 PPG, 7.7 RPG) leads the Jayhawks in rebounding, blocked shots (1.6 BPG) and FG percentage (77.3%).
-- Kansas is No. 5 in the AP’s latest Top 25 and No. 7 in the RPI. The Jayhawks are 5-3 against the RPI Top 50 and 12-3 versus the Top 100. They have road wins at Texas, at TCU, at West Virginia and at Nebraska, in addition to neutral-court victories over Kentucky, Syracuse and Stanford. KU has home wins over Toledo, South Dakota State, Iowa State, Kansas State and Baylor.
-- Kansas has won four in a row over OU and seven of the past eight head-to-head meetings, but Oklahoma has covered in back-to-back encounters and three of the last four. OU last beat KU in the 2015 regular-season finale when it won 75-73 as a 6.5-point favorite. Lattin had four points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 13 minutes of playing time off the bench. Graham went 3-of-14 from the field and had only eight points, four rebounds and three assists in 29 minutes of action.
-- When these schools last met at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 27 of last year, OU led by 10 midway through the second half before going ice cold and dropping a 73-63 decision. Nevertheless, the Sooners covered the spread as 14.5-point underdogs. Graham had 16 points for KU, while Lattin had 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks for OU.
-- The ‘over’ is 12-5 overall for OU, 6-2 in its home games. However, the ‘under’ is 4-1 in the team’s past five games.
-- The ‘under’ has cashed in three straight KU games to improve to 10-8 overall and 3-2 in its road games.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- ESPN’s Joe Lunardi released his updated edition of ‘Bracketology’ on Monday. He has nine ACC teams and 8 SEC schools as part of the 68-team field. A ninth SEC squad, Georgia, is a part of Lunardi’s First Four Out. The Bulldogs would’ve elevated into anybody’s bracket if they hadn’t allowed a 14-point halftime lead at Auburn to get away in Saturday’s non-covering loss as nine-point underdogs.
-- Mark Fox’s team will try to bounce back tonight at Stegeman Coliseum vs. Arkansas. UGA was listed as a two-point home favorite early this morning. The Razorbacks are 0-4 both SU and ATS on the road after getting spanked at Florida last week.
-- The rest of Lunardi’s First Four Out included Maryland, Kansas State and Washington. The Terrapins lost 71-68 Monday at Indiana as two-point road underdogs.
-- Nebraska gave Ohio State all it wanted Monday night in Columbus, but the Buckeyes captured a 64-59 win. The Cornhuskers easily covered the spread as 12-point underdogs, while the 123 combined points comfortably stayed ‘under’ the 138.5-point total. Chris Holtmann’s club improved to 9-0 in Big lead play with a one-half game edge over Purdue, which hosts Michigan on Thursday.
-- Kansas State won outright at Baylor 90-83 last night as a 5.5-point road underdog, hooking up money-line supporters with a +195 payout.
-- TCU thumped West Virginia 82-73 last night as a two-point underdog, but the 155 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 154-point total for a miraculous winner. Consider this: The Horned Frogs held a 63-43 advantage for only 106 combined points with 6:30 remaining.
-- Michigan State has snapped out of its 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS slump that included a lopsided loss at Ohio State, an overtime win over Rutgers as a 22-point home favorite and a double-digit home loss to arch-rival Michigan two Saturdays ago. Since then, however, Tom Izzo’s team blasted Indiana this past Friday in East Lansing before winning 87-74 as a 12-point road ‘chalk’ last night at Illinois.
-- Virginia Tech bounced back from Saturday’s home loss to FSU to beat North Carolina 80-69 last night as a 3.5-point home underdog. The Hokies hooked up money-line backers with a +150 return.
-- The total on Arkansas at Georgia is a tough handicap for the total. The ‘over’ has hit in back-to-back games for the Razorbacks, who are looking at their lowest total of the season (143 as of early this morning). The lowest previous total for Arkansas was 146.5 and it has only had a pair of totals in the 140s, with the ‘over’ cashing in both instances. On the flip side, the ‘under’ has cashed in seven straight for Georgia and is 6-1 in its seven games that have had totals in the 140s.
-- Mississippi State plays at Kentucky on ESPN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The Wildcats lost for the first time this season at Rupp Arena on Saturday night when Florida went into Lexington and won a 66-64 decision as a two-point road underdog. The Gators were outrebounded by 13, shot at abysmal shooting percentages of 33.3, 20.0 and 64.0 from the field, 3-point land and the FT line, respectively, yet still won a night when Eglor Koulechov was 0-for-8 from the field and KeVaugh Allen was 1-of-7 from downtown. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Wenyen Gabriel were UK’s only players in double figures with 10 points apiece. The ‘Cats fell to 4-8 ATS at home and are looking to avoid a third straight loss tonight. Like Arkansas, Mississippi State is 0-4 both SU and ATS on the road. UK was favored by eight early this morning.
-- The ‘under’ is on a 5-1 run for Mississippi State to improve to 10-4 overall. The total tonight at UK was 141 as of early this morning. The ‘over’ has cashed at an 8-1-1 clip in the last 10 meetings in the SEC rivalry.
-- Since losing three straight to MSU from 2007-09, Kentucky has won 10 in a row over the Bulldogs. However, Mississippi State is 3-0-1 ATS in the past four meetings and 6-2-1 ATS in the last nine encounters.
-- The ‘under’ has been a winner in five consecutive Alabama games and seven of its last eight. The ‘under’ had hit in seven in a row for Ole Miss until Saturday’s loss at Arkansas went ‘over’ the tally. The Rebels host the Crimson Tide tonight in Oxford. As of early this morning, Ole Miss was favored by 1.5 with a total of 151. Alabama star freshman guard Collin Sexton (19.2 PPG) is ‘questionable’ (abdominal) after missing back-to-back games, although the Tide has won both of those home outings vs. Auburn and Mississippi State. The Tide is 3-1 ATS on the road.
-- Check out the rest of tonight’s TV games here.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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