January 31, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards owns a 27-16 record (62.8%, +9.97 Units) on his guaranteed plays since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Creighton at Villanova**
-- Villanova (20-1 straight up, 14-7 against the spread) is ranked No. 1 in the latest Top 25 from the Associated Press and at KenPom.com. Jay Wright’s club is No. 2 in the RPI Rankings, producing a 7-1 record against the Top 50 and an 11-1 mark versus the Top 100. The Wildcats have home wins over Marquette, Xavier and Providence, in addition to neutral-court victories over Western Kentucky, Tennessee, Gonzaga and Hofstra. In addition, they’ve won at Temple, at Marquette, at St. John’s and at UConn.
-- Villanova has won seven in a row since tasting its lone defeat at Butler (101-93) on Dec. 30. Wright’s team is 4-3 ATS during this seven-game surge. The Wildcats are off Sunday’s 85-82 win at Marquette as seven-point road favorites. Jalen Brunson stole the show with 31 points and five rebounds, while backcourt mate Donte DiVincenzo contributed 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field. Mikal Bridges added 16 points, four boards, two steals and a pair of blocked shots.
-- Villanova is undefeated in seven home games with a 4-3 spread record. As of Tuesday night, most betting books had the Wildcats installed as 13-point home ‘chalk.’
-- Villanova is ranked fifth in the nation in scoring (87.8 points per game), ninth in field-goal percentage (50.9%) and eighth in 3-point accuracy (41.4%).
-- Brunson paces ‘Nova in scoring (19.4 PPG), assists (5.0 APG) and FG percentage (55.0%). The junior guard has a 104/31 assist-to-turnover ratio and is burying 47.2 percent of his launches from 3-point land. Bridges is averaging 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.2 blocked shots per game, while DiVincenzo (13.7 PPG) is draining 42.3 percent of his treys.
-- Villanova fourth-year junior guard fractured a bone in his right (shooting) hand last week and remains ‘out’ indefinitely. Booth was averaging 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game.
-- Creighton (17-5 SU, 12-9 ATS) is 3-4 both SU and ATS in seven road assignments.
-- Greg McDermott’s team has won back-to-back games, including a 68-63 win at St. John’s as a two-point road favorite and an 85-77 non-covering triumph over Georgetown as a 12-point home ‘chalk’ this past Saturday. Marcus Foster dropped 28 points on the Hoyas thanks to 5-of-8 shooting from downtown. The senior, who was a Big 12 All-Freshman Team selection at Kansas St before transferring several years ago, also had six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Khyri Thomas added 22 points, three boards and three steals, while Toby Hegner had 16 points on 3-of-6 shooting from long distance.
-- Creighton is No. 29 in the RPI with a 3-3 record against the Top 50 and an 8-5 mark versus the Top 100. The Bluejays have home scalps of Providence, Butler, Seton Hall, Nebraska and St. John’s. They’ve prevailed at Northwestern and at St. John’s, in addition to a neutral-court triumph over UCLA.
-- Creighton suffered a crushing blow two weeks ago when starting forward Martin Krampelj went down with a season-ending knee injury. Krampelj (11.9 PPG) was leading the Bluejays in rebounding (8.1 RPG), FG percentage (67.1%) and blocked shots (0.7 BPG).
-- Foster is averaging a team-best 19.9 PPG while knocking down 44.9 percent of his 3-pointers. Thomas is averaging 14.6 points and 4.1 RPG.
-- Villanova has won seven games in a row over Creighton while cashing tickets at a frenetic 6-1 ATS clip. The Wildcats have won the last six meetings by double-digit margins. The ‘under’ has cashed in each of the last four encounters.
-- The ‘over’ is 13-8 overall for the Wildcats, 5-2 in their home games. The ‘under’ had cashed in four straight for ‘Nova until it saw back-to-back ‘overs’ its last two times out.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-10 overall for the Bluejays, 4-3 in their road contests.
-- This game is an early tip at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
**Arizona State at Washington**
-- As of late Wednesday night, most books had Arizona St. listed as a 3.5-point road favorite.
-- Washington (15-6 SU, 9-9-1 ATS) is alone in third place in the Pac-12, 2.5 games back of conference-leading Arizona with its 8-1 mark in league play. The Huskies have produced an 11-2 SU record and a 4-7 ATS ledger in their home games.
-- This is the third time Mike Hopkins’s squad has been a home underdog. In the first instance, UW captured an 86-82 win over Belmont as a two-point home ‘dog in the season opener. Then on Dec. 10, the Huskies took a 97-70 pimpslap from Gonzaga as 10-point home ‘dogs.
-- Washington has won back-to-back games both SU and ATS, including Sunday’s 80-62 win over Washington State as a 7.5-point home favorite. Matisse Thybulle produced 18 points, four steals, three rebounds, one blocked shot and six assists compared to merely one turnover. Jaylen Nowell contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Noah Dickerson finished with 13 points and six boards. Dickerson was once a four-star signee by Florida in Billy Donovan’s last recruiting class that included KeVaughn Allen, Kevarrius Hayes and Keith Stone, but Dickerson was given the opportunity to transfer when Donovan departed.
-- Washington is No. 48 in the RPI, compiling a 2-2 record against the RPI Top 50 and a 4-6 mark versus the Top 100. The Huskies have road wins at Kansas, at USC, at Colorado and vs. Belmont.
-- Nowell is averaging 16.7 PPG while making 49.4 percent of his FGAs. Dickerson is scoring at a 14.2 PPG clip and pulling down 7.8 RPG. The junior power forward is burying 56.7 percent of his FGAs.
-- Arizona State (16-5 SU, 11-8-2 ATS) has struggled in conference action since its improbable fast start in non-conference play. Bobby Hurley’s bunch is 4-5 in Pac-12 games. The Sun Devils had been mired in a 0-6-2 ATS slide until finally covering the spread in a conference game with Saturday’s win over Colorado by an 80-66 count as 9.5-point home favorites. Tra Holder led the way with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Shannon Evans II added 19 points, three boards and three assists.
-- ASU owns a 3-3 SU record and a 1-3-2 ATS mark in six road assignments.
-- Arizona State is No. 42 in the RPI and No. 25 in the latest AP Top 25. Th Sun Devils are 3-2 versus the RPI Top 50 and 6-5 against the Top 100. They have wins at Kansas and at Utah, in addition to a home win over Colorado and neutral-court scalps of Xavier, Kansas St. and St. John’s.
-- Arizona State swept the season series both SU and ATS last year, including an 83-81 win at UR as a one-point road underdog on Feb. 16. Holder had 21 points and seven rebounds on 3-of-5 makes from 3-point land.
-- Holder is averaging 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game. The senior guard has drained 40.5 percent of his 3-balls and 84.7 percent of his free throws. Evans (16.7 PPG) has an 88/35 assist-to-turnover ratio.
-- The ‘over’ is 10-9-2 for ASU, 3-3 in its road assignments.
-- The ‘under’ is 12-7-1 overall for Washington after cashing in seven consecutive games. The Huskies have seen the ‘under’ go 7-4 in their home outings. Going back further, UW has seen the ‘under’ go 24-7 in its past 31 contests.
-- The Pac-12 Network will provide the telecast at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- For the all well-deserved conversation about Auburn and its current perch atop the SEC standings, college-basketball junkies are certainly aware of what Rick Barnes is accomplishing in his third season at his new gig. Barnes has Tennessee at 16-5 SU and 12-7 ATS after winning its fourth consecutive game last night. UT took it to a short-handed LSU squad by an 84-61 count as a nine-point home favorite in front of 13,425 fans at Thompson-Boling Arena. James Daniel III hit 5-of-7 from downtown in a team-best 17-point effort. Daniel also had four assists and a pair of steals, while Grant Williams finished with 16 points and six rebounds. The Volunteers, who have Ole Miss on deck Saturday in Knoxville, are ranked 13th in the RPI with a 9-5 record against Top-100 foes.
-- Mississippi State was 0-5 both SU and ATS on the road until winning 81-76 at South Carolina as a 4.5-point underdog last night. As usual, Quinndary Weatherspoon was the catalyst for Ben Howland’s team, producing 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. South Carolina’s Frank Booker scored a game-high 25 points, hitting 5-of-8 treys, in the losing effort.
-- Wofford used to be Davidson’s top rival in the Southern Conference and for those that were too locked into football at the time, this year’s Terriers beat Georgia Tech at home and went to Chapel Hill and pulled a 79-75 upset as 25-point underdogs on Dec. 20. They have one of the nation’s best-kept secrets in Fletcher Magee, who dropped 27 points on the Tar Heels. Magee is 22.4 PPG while splashing the nets at clips of 49.3 percent, 45.8 and 92.6 from the field, 3-point range and the FT line, respectively. Anyway, Magee leads Wofford into The Citadel tonight as a seven-point road favorite for a 6:00 p.m. Eastern tip. The Bulldogs have been underdogs in five straight games, posting a 4-1 spread record with a pair of outright wins, including Saturday’s 76-74 win at Mercer as 16.5-point puppies.
-- Nebraska is 12-1 ATS in its past 13 games and is a part of Lunardi’s Next Four Out at this point. Although a blowout home win over Michigan is its only RPI Top 50 scalp, Tim Miles’s squad has an excellent shot at the second NCAA Tournament berth of his tenure. Remember, with last year’s Northwestern win over Vandy (thanks to Matthew Fisher-Davis’s knucklehead foul) to advance to the Round of 32, Nebraska is now the only hoops program from a major conference that’s never won an NCAA Tourney game. The rest of the Cornhuskers’ schedule looks like this: at Minnesota (with eight days to prepare), vs. Rutgers, vs. Maryland, at Illinois, vs. Indiana and vs. Penn State. Nebraska might not be favored in each of those games but barring injuries, it looks like a safe bet that the Cornhuskers will go at least 4-2 in this stretch. If so, they would be 21-10 and looking at a nice seed for the NCAA Tourney. Last but certainly not least, Nebraska has more spread covers (17) than any team in the country.
-- For the second time in five years, Colorado State head coach Larry Eustachy is the subject of an internal university probe pertaining to his conduct toward his players in his program. When this last happened in 2013, the former AD recommended to the school President that remains in office that Eustachy be fired for cause. The President didn’t take that recommendation and fired the AD in 2014 instead. We’ll see how this one plays out, but there was a strong sentiment of support for Eustachy on Twitter last night by many former players from CSU and other schools where Eustachy used to coach like Southern Miss and Iowa State.
-- Louisiana Tech is a 3.5-point road favorite tonight at Florida Atlantic, but the Bulldogs have limped to a 1-6 SU record and a 2-5 ATS mark in their seven road assignments. The Owls are 5-4 SU and 2-3 ATS at home.
-- What’s going on with West Virginia? After taking woodshed treatment in the form of a 93-77 beatdown from Iowa State in Ames last night, Huggy Bear’s WVU squad has lost three in a row both SU and ATS and five of its past six outright. The Mountaineers return home Saturday to take on Kansas State in Morgantown.
-- Virginia played its first game without Nigel Johnson in last night's 74-64 win over Louisville as a 10-point home favorite. Johnson was issued a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Johnson is averaging 5.5 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.0 APG.
-- Last Calls! ASU at UW isn’t the only televised affair for late-night gamblers. Western Kentucky is a 10-point road ‘chalk’ at UTEP on the CBS Sports Network at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. The Hilltoppers, who are listed with Georgia, Missouri and Washington as part of Joe Lunardi’s First Four Out in his latest edition of ‘Bracketology’ at ESPN.com, are 4-2 both SU and ATS in their six road assignments. The Miners are 7-5 SU and 4-3 ATS at home. Also, Saint Mary’s is favored by 13.5 (as of early this morning) at home vs. San Francisco on ESPNU, while Oregon State was a 3.5-point underdog early this a.m. for tonight’s game at Stanford on FS1 at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.
-- Stanford has lost three straight games, but it had won five straight prior to that. The Cardinal had covered the number in seven consecutive games until failing to cover its last time out in an 89-73 loss at UCLA as a six-point underdog Saturday night. They are laying the short number, as previously noted, tonight against the Beavers, who are 0-4 SU and 2-2 ATS on the road for the season.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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