February 1, 2018
By Brian Edwards
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**Rhode Island at Virginia Commonwealth**
-- Rhode Island (18-3 straight up, 11-7-1 against the spread) is solo atop the Atlantic-10 standings with its 10-0 record in league play. Danny Hurley’s team is ranked No. 22 in the latest Top 25 poll from the Associated Press and ninth in the RPI Rankings. URI is 2-3 against the RPI Top 50 and 4-3 versus the Top 100. It has home wins over Providence and St. Bonaventure, in addition to a neutral-court scalp of Seton Hall and a road victory at Dayton.
-- Rhode Island owns a 3.5-game lead in the A-10 over VCU, Davison and Richmond, who are all 6-3 in conference action. URI has won 13 straight games and haven’t tasted defeat since a 68-64 loss at Alabama on Dec. 6. The other two defeats came at Nevada and vs. Virginia on a neutral floor.
-- Hurley’s club is 5-2 SU and 3-3-1 ATS in seven road assignments.
-- During its 13-game winning streak, Rhode Island has produced an 8-5 spread record. Hurley’s bunch has had close calls in back-to-back games. Stanford Robinson drained a buzzer-beating 3-pointers to lift his team to a 61-58 non-covering win over Duquesne as a 16.5-point home favorite last Saturday. Then on Tuesday at UMass, the Minutemen raced out to a 25-12 lead in the first half but would eventually come up on the wrong end of an 85-83 decision. Nevertheless, UMass took the money as a 9.5-point home underdog. Jared Terrell paced URI with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and two makes on three launches from long distance. Jeff Dowtin added 19 points and 10 rebounds, burying 3-of-4 attempts from 3-point land, while Andre Berry finished with 15 points and four rebounds.
-- Terrell is averaging a team-high 18.0 points per game, hitting 46.8 percent of his field-goal attempts, 42.3 percent of his treys and 86.5 percent of his free throws. E.C. Matthews, who is another senior guard like Terrell, is scoring at a 13.7 PPG clip. Berry and Robinson are both averaging 10.0 PPG, with Berry making 61.7 percent of his FGAs. Robinson leads URI in rebounding (5.6 RPG) and steals (2.4 SPG).
-- VCU (14-8 SU, 10-8 ATS) is 10-3 SU and 6-3 ATS at home this season. Mike Rhoades’s squad has won three in a row both SU and ATS, including Saturday’s 84-76 win at George Mason as a 5.5-point road favorite. Khris Lane led the way with 25 points and 12 rebounds on 11-of-13 shooting from the field. Justin Tillman added 18 points, 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots, while De’Riante Jenkins contributed 15 points, three assists and three boards.
-- VCU is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. Rhoades’s team is No. 98 in the RPI with a 0-5 record against the Top 50 and a 2-6 ledger versus the Top 100. VCU’s best wins are at home over Old Dominion and Bucknell. The rest of VCU’s schedule (beyond Friday night vs. URI) includes just two games against RPI Top-100 opponents (vs. #95 Dayton and vs. #51 St. Bonaventure).
-- Tillman leads VCU in scoring (18.2 PPG), rebounding (9.2 RPG) and blocked shots (0.7 BPG). Jenkins (13.1 PPG) is making 43.7 percent of his 3-pointers, while Jonathan Williams (10.2 PPG) has handed out a team-best 5.8 APG.
-- Rhode Island swept the season series last year both SU and ATS, winning 69-59 as a 3.5-point home favorite before capturing a 70-63 victory over VCU in the A-10 Tournament finals in Pittsburgh. Terrell and Matthews dropped 20 and 19 points on VCU, respectively, in the conference-tournament finale.
-- The ‘over’ is 11-8-1 overall for URI after cashing in six of its past eight games. It has seen the ‘over’ hit at a 6-1 pace in its road tilts.
-- The ‘over’ is 10-8 overall for VCU after cashing in each of its past three games, but the ‘under’ is 6-3 in its home outings.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
**Utah at Colorado**
-- Utah (13-8 SU, 10-7 ATS) is alone at sixth place in the Pac-12 standings with its 5-5 record in league play. Meanwhile, Colorado has a 4-6 conference record that leaves it in ninth place.
-- As of Thursday night, most books had this game as a pick ‘em.
-- Utah saw its three-game winning streak snapped in Saturday’s 74-73 loss at Arizona. Nevertheless, the Utes covered the number for their backers as 8.5-point road underdogs. In fact, they’re 3-0-1 ATS in their past four contests.
-- In the loss at the McKale Center in Tucson, Utah trailed UA by 10 at halftime but took its first and only lead at 68-67 with 3:42 remaining. Sedrick Barefield was the key for the Utes, scoring 26 points and handing out three assists. David Collette finished with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists, while Justin Bibbins had 10 points and four assists without a turnover. However, Bibbins went 1-of-9 from the field and 1-for-6 from 3-point range.
-- Utah is No. 45 in the RPI with its 3-5 record against the Top 50 and a 5-7 mark versus the Top 100. The Utes have quality home wins over Missouri and Washington, and they’ve won at Arizona St. and at Oregon, in addition to a neutral-court triumph over Ole Miss.
-- Bibbins leads Utah in scoring (13.9 PPG), assists (5.1 APG), 3-point accuracy (44.9%) and steals (1.1 SPG). The grad transfer from Long Beach St. has a stellar 107/39 assist-to-turnover ratio. Bibbins has 22 assists compared to only four turnovers during Utah’s current run of three consecutive covers.
-- Utah owns a 3-5 SU record and a 4-4 ATS mark in its road assignments.
-- Colorado (12-10 SU, 10-11-1 ATS) has been outstanding at home, compiling an 8-2 SU record to go with a 7-2-1 ATS mark. The Buffaloes will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak at home in Boulder on Friday night. They haven’t struggled nearly as bad lately for our purposes, going 5-3 ATS in their last eight contests.
-- Colorado dropped an 80-66 decision Saturday at Arizona St. as a 9.5-point road underdog. Dominique Collier scored a team-best 11 points in only 20 minutes of action from off the bench. Lucas Stewart and Namon Wright chipped in 10 points apiece, while George King finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and one blocked shot.
-- King paces Colorado in scoring (14.3 PPG), rebounding (8.2 RPG) and FG percentage (47.0%). McKinley Wright IV is averaging 14.3 points, 5.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
-- Colorado is ranked No. 64 in the RPI with a 2-5 record against the Top 50 and a 4-6 record versus the Top 100. The Buffaloes have quality home wins over Arizona and Arizona St., in addition to a win at UCLA.
-- Totals have been an overall wash for the Buffs (11-11-1), but the ‘over’ is 6-4 in their home games.
-- The ‘under’ is 10-8-2 overall for the Utes, 4-4 in their road games. However, they’ve seen the ‘over’ cash in three straight games and four of their past five.
-- Fox Sports 1 will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Yale star Makai Mason was believed to be ‘out’ for the season with a foot injury, but he popped up on the injury report as ‘questionable’ for Friday’s game vs. Princeton. The junior guard was downgraded to ‘doubtful’ later Thursday, but any notion that he could return soon is great news for the Bulldogs. Remember, Mason torched Baylor for a career-high 31 points to spark Yale to a 79-75 upset win in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. However, he hasn’t played for the Bulldogs since a Round of 32 loss to Duke in March of 2016. He missed the entire 2016-17 campaign after breaking his foot on Nov. 8 of ’16. Then this pas November, he sustained a stress fracture in his other foot. Mason led the Bulldogs in scoring (16.0 PPG) and assists (3.8 APG) two seasons ago.
-- After beating Maryland on Wednesday, Purdue has won a school-record 18 consecutive games. The Boilermakers will bring that winning streak to the RAC on Saturday afternoon to face Rutgers on the Big Ten Network at 4:00 p.m. Eastern.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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