January 28, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards went 4-0 on Saturday and his winners beat the closing numbers by 59.5 combined points. Then on Sunday, he easily cashed his guaranteed play in Seton Hall’s run-away-and-hide victory at DePaul. Brian’s guaranteed plays have cashed at a 26-14 clip (65%, +11.11 Units) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
Let’s start in blueblood territory, where North Carolina and Duke both lost at home on the same day for the first time since 1973. If there was any doubt to Virginia’s legitimacy, it went up in flames Saturday when the Cavaliers went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and won a 65-63 decision over Duke as 3.5-point road underdogs.
Even though it was Duke’s highest total this season by 12.5 points, the 128 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 134-point total. The ‘under’ is 14-4 overall for UVA, 5-1 in its road assignments. The Cavs has seen the ‘under’ cash in five straight and eight of their past nine.
With Tony Bennett’s team nursing a two-point lead with less than one minute remaining, Ty Jerome got a steal. Moments later, Jerome buried a deep trey with 37.6 ticks left to give UVA a five-point cushion. After Duke’s Marvin Bagley answered with a triple, Kyle Guy was fouled with fouled with six seconds remaining.
Guy, who finished with a team-best 17 points, drained both free throws to put the game on ice. Virginia, which is now No. 1 in the RPI and No. 2 at KenPom.com, improve to 20-1 overall and 9-0 in ACC play. The Cavs are 2.5 games in front of second-place Louisville.
North Carolina State earned its fourth win over an RPI Top-15 opponent with its 95-91 overtime win at UNC as a 12.5-point underdog. Gamblers supporting the Wolfpack on the money line hit an outstanding +650 payout (paid $650 on $100 wagers).
Allerik Freeman paced the winners with 29 points, knocking down all seven of his attempts from 3-point land. Markell Johnson added 20 points, 11 assists and five rebounds, while Torin Dorn also scored 20 points. Omer Yurtseven contributed 16 points and 13 boards.
The SEC won the Big 12/SEC Challenge for the first time by a 6-4 margin. Kentucky rallied from a 17-point deficit to top West Virginia by an 83-76 count in Morgantown. John Calipari’s team won outright as a 10.5-point underdog and hooked up money-line backers with a +425 return.
Kevin Knox was the catalyst with a career-high 34 points. The freshman guard made 11-of-17 from the field, 5-of-8 from downtown and 7-of-8 at the FT line. The ‘Cats host Vanderbilt on Tuesday.
Speaking of Vandy, it beat TCU 81-78 as a three-point home underdog. Senior guard Riley LaChance scored 24 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists, while Jeff Roberson finished with 20 points.
Bryce Love’s team lost senior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis to a season-ending shoulder injury last week. Nevertheless, since starting the year with an atrocious 1-14 spread record, the Commodores have covered the number in three straight contests.
Chris Chiozza continued to build his case for SEC Player of the Year honors by leading Florida to an 81-60 win over Baylor as a seven-point home favorite. The senior point guard out of the Memphis area scored a team-high 20 points, including 13 straight in the late stages of the second half. Chiozza added six rebounds, two steals and six assists compared to just one turnover.
Fresh of its win at UF as a 10.5-point underdog this past Wednesday, South Carolina had a great shot at another resume-bolstering victory when it hosted Texas Tech. However, Keenan Evans would have none of that. Evans exploded for a game-high 31 points to lead the Red Raiders to a 70-63 triumph as three-point road favorites. Bets on the 133-point total resulted in a push.
Georgia started the second half with a 7-0 run at Kansas State to take a 30-26 lead and force Bruce Weber to use a timeout. UGA extended its lead to 49-44 on a pair of ‘Turtle’ Jackson FTs with 6:30 remaining. But the Bulldogs go through offensive lulls constantly and one of those emerged yet again the rest of the way.
KSU’s Barry Brown hit a FT to put the Wildcats up 50-49 with 3:13 left. Weber’s bunch finished the game on a 12-2 run to win 56-51. UGA went scoreless for nearly six minutes until Derek Ogbeide’s short jumper trimmed the deficit to 54-51 with 33 ticks remaining. The Bulldogs have now lost three in a row and five of their past six.
This development in Athens will have Mark Fox back on the hot seat. This team has lost so many heartbreakers in the last two seasons, including its last three games which include a double-overtime home loss to Arkansas and a setback at Auburn when UGA led by 14 at halftime.
Collin Sexton had missed two games with an abdominal injury recently, but Alabama won those contests nonetheless. Then when Sexton returned in a loss at Ole Miss this past week, the freshman guard went 2-of-13 from the field in only 20 minutes of action. With nearly 60 scouts an Coleman Coliseum to watch Sexton and Oklahoma’s Trae Young, the pressure was on.
Sexton stepped up with a stellar performance. Avery Johnson sent Sexton, Herb Jones and others at Young with constant in-your-face pressure for 40 minutes. Young was held to only five points in the first half and the nation’s leading scorer was limited to 17 for the game. It was the lowest scoring output for OU’s freshman sensation since the season opener.
Sexton scored 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field, while Jones added 14 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one blocked shot. This was the biggest win of Johnson’s three-year tenure and it came in front of a packed house at Coleman. The Crimson Tide is in great shape to earn its first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2012.
Tennessee dealt out woodshed treatment in Ames. The Volunteers held Iowa State to its lowest scoring output at home since 1959 in a 68-45 win as 2.5-point road favorites. Lamonte Turner and James Daniel III led the way with 20 and 16 points, respectively, as UT improve to 15-5 overall. The Vols are up to No. 10 at KenPom.com.
Just as it did Thursday night vs. Michigan in West Lafayette, Purdue took Indiana’s best shot Sunday afternoon and survived. Isaac Haas was the catalyst with 26 points, five rebounds and two assists without a turnover. The Boilermakers won a school-record 17th straight game despite trailing nearly the entire first half and parts of the second.
Indiana covered the spread as an 8.5-point home underdog in the 74-67 loss. I steered clear of this game until IU bolted out to an early lead. At that point, I hit Purdue in-game at -2.5 and -3.5 on multiple occasions midway through and late in the first half. Although there were anxious moments galore for those plays, they cashed when Matt Painter's club finished the game on a 12-5 run.
Michigan State and Villanova also had close calls on the road Sunday. Maryland led the Spartans 37-24 at intermission, but MSU started the second half with a 20-4 spurt in the first 5.5 minutes of the second half.
Sparty made 11-of-12 FTs in the final 52 seconds and won by a 74-68 score. Most books closed MSU as a six-point road favorite. When Maryland's Dion Wiley made a layup to make it 72-68 with four seconds left, it appeared bettors backing the Terrapins were going to cash tickets. But Jared Nickens opted to foul Miles Bridges with three ticks remaining and the star sophomore made both shots from the charity stripe.
Jay Wright's team held on for an 85-82 non-covering win at Marquette as a seven-point road 'chalk.' Jalen Brunson led the way with 31 points.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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