February 14, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards owns a 33-18 record (64.7%, +13.71 Units) on his guaranteed plays since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Villanova at Providence**
-- When these teams met in Philadelphia on Jan. 23, Providence raced out to a 17-8 advantage in the game’s first 10 minutes. However, Villanova went on a 22-2 run to lead by nine at intermission. The Wildcats went on to collect an 89-69 victory to take the cash as enormous 15.5-point home favorites at Wells Fargo Center. Eric Paschall stuffed the box score with an impressive stat line, including 17 points, four steals, three blocked shots, two rebounds and five assists without a turnover. Omari Spellman added 16 points, six rebounds and a pair of rejections, while Jalen Brunson finished with 15 points and four assists compared to merely one turnover. PU’s Rodney Bullock had a team-best 16 points in the losing effort.
-- Villanova (23-2 straight up, 17-8 against the spread) has won five consecutive games in this rivalry, but the Friars are 5-2 ATS in the last seven encounters. The ‘over’ is 8-3 in the past 11 head-to-head meetings between these schools.
-- As of early this morning, most betting shops had Villanova installed as a nine-point favorite with a total of 153.5.
-- This time around, Paschall won’t be in uniform for Villanova. The junior forward is ‘out’ indefinitely with a concussion, while starting guard Phil Booth remains ‘out’ with a broken bone in his right shooting hand. Paschall is averaging 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals per game, while Booth is averaging 11.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 SPG.
-- Jay Wright’s team is ranked third in both the RPI Rankings and the latest Associated Press Top 25. Villanova has posted an 8-1 record against the RPI Top 50 and a 13-2 mark versus the Top 100. The Wildcats have neutral-court wins over Tennessee, Gonzaga and Western Kentucky, in addition to home wins over the likes of Xavier, Providence, Creighton, Seton Hall, Butler and Marquette. They have road scalps at Temple, at St. John’s, at UConn and at Marquette.
-- Villanova’s defeats have come at Butler (101-93 on 12/30/17) and at home vs. St. John’s (79-75 on 2/7/18). Wright’s team bounced back from the loss to the Johnnies with Saturday’s 86-75 win over Butler as a 9.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The Bulldogs led by three at halftime and never trailed by more than 11. Donte DiVincenzo exploded for 30 points and Brunson scored 27 to pace the winners. Spellman contributed 10 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks, while Mikal Bridges finished with 10- points, two steals, two rebounds, one block and five assists compared to only one turnover.
-- Brunson is building a strong case for National Player of the Year honors. The junior guard has drained 44.8 percent of his 3-pointers and is averaging team-highs in scoring (20.1 PPG), assists (4.7 APG) and field-goal percentage (54.5%). Spellman (10.9 PPG) leads the Wildcats in rebounding (7.7 RPG) and blocks (1.4 BPG), while Bridges is averaging 16.4 points. 5.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 SPG.
-- Providence (16-9 SU, 8-15 ATS) owns an 11-3 SU record and a 4-8 ATS mark at home this year. The Friars are 2-1 both SU and ATS in three games as home underdogs.
-- Ed Cooley’s team is mired in a 1-4 ATS slump. Of all the bubble teams scattered across the nation, none had a worse loss this past weekend that PU. The Friars got run out of their own gym in an 80-63 loss to DePaul as seven-point home favorites. The Blue Demons led by as many as 31 points in the second half. Providence had 16 turnovers compared to six assists and was an atrocious 2-of-19 from 3-point range (10.5%).
-- In Joe Lunardi’s latest edition of ‘Bracketology’ at ESPN.com, Providence was a part of the Last Four Byes. That means PU would be a 10-seed and just barely avoid playing in the First Four in Dayton.
-- Providence is No. 42 in the RPI with its 4-5 record against the Top 50 and a 9-6 mark versus the Top 100. The Friars have home wins over Xavier, Butler, Creighton, Belmont, Boston College and Rider, in addition to a neutral-court victory vs. Washington. They have road wins at St. John’s and at Marquette.
-- Bullock is averaging a team-high 14.6 points and 5.8 RPG, while Alpha Diallo is averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 RPG. Kyron Cartwright (10.9 PPG), the senior point guard, has a 144/65 assist-to-turnover ratio and is burying 40.6 percent of his treys. Jalen Lindsey (10.1 PPG) is making 45.9 percent of his 3-pointers.
-- The ‘over’ has hit in six straight games for ‘Nova to improve to 17-8 overall and 4-4 in their road assignments.
-- Despite a 6-3 run for the ‘under,’ Providence has seen the ‘over’ go 13-10 overall and 8-4 in its home outings.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**Kentucky at Auburn**
-- Auburn (22-3 SU, 17-6 ATS) is atop the SEC standings with a 10-2 record in league play. The Tigers are 1.5 games in front of second-place Tennessee, which held off South Carolina last night to improve to 9-4 in conference action.
-- Auburn bounced back from last Wednesday’s 81-80 loss to Texas A&M as a 6.5-point favorite to smash Georgia on Saturday by a 78-61 count as a three-point road ‘chalk.’ Jared Harper was the catalyst with 24 points, seven assists and two steals. He drained 4-of-7 launches from 3-point range. Musapha Heron added 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting from the field.
-- As of early this morning, most spots had Auburn listed as an 8.5-point favorite with a total of 158.
-- Bruce Pearl’s team is 12-1 SU and 8-3 ATS at home this year.
-- After leaving the Texas A&M game with a shoulder injury that kept him out of Saturday’s win at UGA, Auburn leading scorer Bryce Brown (16.6 PPG) has been upgraded to ‘probable’ tonight vs. UK.
-- Auburn is 10th in the latest AP Top 25 and sixth in the RPI. The Tigers are 4-3 against the Top 50 and 10-3 against the Top 100. They own road wins at Tennessee, at Missouri, at Mississippi St., at Georgia and at Murray State, in addition to a neutral-court victory over Middle Tennessee. AU has home wins over Arkansas, UConn, UGA and LSU.
-- Heron is averaging 16.3 points and 5.4 RPG, while Harper (13.3 PPG) has a 149/47 assist-to-turnover ratio and is hitting 41.3 percent of his 3-pointers.
-- Kentucky (17-8 SU, 10-15 ATS) is 18th in the RPI, which is a factoid that’s perplexed me for weeks! UK is 1-5 against the Top 25, 4-6 versus the Top 50 and 9-8 against the Top 100. John Calipari’s club really has just one win of note outside of Rupp Arena, rallying from a 17-point first-half deficit to win 83-76 at West Virginia. The next-best win for Cal’s bunch is a 74-71 triumph at LSU (#77 RPI before losing at ‘Bama last night). UK has home scalps of Texas A&M, Louisville, Vermont, East Tennessee State, Virginia Tech, UGA and Mississippi State.
-- Kentucky is 3-4 both SU and ATS in seven true road assignments. UK is 1-3 both SU and ATS in four games as a road underdog. This 8.5-point ‘dog spot at AU is the riches of the year for the ‘Cats.
-- Kentucky is hoping to avoid a four-game losing streak tonight at Auburn. The Wildcats could’ve easily lost four in a row already, but they rallied (better put, Vandy had an unfathomable meltdown!) to force overtime and beat Vanderbilt two weeks ago. Since then, they have lost at Missouri (69-60), vs. Tennessee (61-59) and at Texas A&M (85-74).
-- In Saturday night’s loss at A&M, UK failed to cover the spread as a six-point underdog. The ‘Cats led by four at halftime, but the Aggies outscored them 59-44 in the final 20 minutes. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 19 points, handed out eight assists, blocked two shots and had a pair of steals. Kevin Knox finished with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists compared to merely one turnover.
-- Knox is averaging team-highs in scoring (15.0 PPG) and rebounding (5.6 RPG). Gilgeous-Alexander (13.1 PPG) paces UK in assists (4.6 APG), FG percentage (49.0%) and steals (1.7 SPG).
-- The ‘over’ is 12-11 overall for AU, 7-4 in its home contests.
-- The ‘over’ is 13-11 overall for the ‘Cats, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 4-3 in their road contests.
-- ESPN will have the broadcast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- I went 2-1 last night with a gross Bad Beat on ‘under’ 124 in Rutgers’ 67-58 overtime win (125 combined points) over Northwestern as a 3.5-point home underdog. My winners were my guarantee on Nebraska in its 70-66 win over Maryland and Georgetown as a double-digit underdog in its 87-83 victory at Butler.
-- Tim Miles picked up quite the score with Miami transfer James Palmer Jr., who was sensational in last night’s win over the Terrapins. Palmer scored 26 points, grabbed four rebounds, handed out five assists and committed only one turnover. This Nebraska ATS run is downright nasty! The Cornhuskers are 16-1 ATS in their past 17 games. They’ll take a six-game winning streak into Sunday’s game at Illinois.
-- Patrick Ewing’s team improve to 8-1 ATS on the road. Georgetown cashed monster money-line tickets in the +600 range. Marcus Derrickson paced the Hoyas will 27 points and seven rebounds. The junior power forward made 11-of-13 FGAs, while Jessie Govan produced 17 points, 12 boards, four assists and three blocked shots.
-- Missouri ended Texas A&Ms four-game winning streak both SU and ATS by winning a 62-58 decision as a 2.5-point home favorite last night. The Tigers extended their own winning streak to five behind 16 points from Kassius Robertson, the grad transfer from Canisius who is averaging 16.6 PPG.
-- First place in the Mountain West Conference will be line the line tonight at Taco Bell Arena, where Boise State will host Nevada. As of early this morning, most books had the Broncos favored by two points. They’re unbeaten in 13 home games with a 7-5 spread record. BSU will be looking to avenge a 74-68 loss in Reno as a six-point underdog on Jan. 20. The ‘under’ is 8-2 in the last 10 head-to-head meetings between these MWC rivals. Tip-off is scheduled for 11:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPNU.
-- Florida will be looking to get even with Georgia tonight in Gainesville. UGA took it to UF in a 72-60 win as a 3.5-point home underdog on Jan. 30. Yante Maten led the Bulldogs with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Turtle Jackson finished with 16 points in a turnover-free performance. The ‘under’ is on an 11-2 run for the Dawgs, who have lost eight of their past 10 games to put Mark Fox’s job in serious jeopardy. Five of the eight Georgia L’s have come by double-digit margins. As of early this morning, Florida was favored by 10. If that line holds, it will be the first time UGA has been a double-digit underdog this year. The SEC Network will provide television coverage at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
-- St. John’s will take its three-game winning streak both SU and ATS into Chicago tonight to face DePaul. The Blue Demons are 5-8 both SU and ATS in 13 home games. Chris Mullin’s squad was a 2.5-point road favorite early this morning. The Red Storm has consecutive victories vs. Duke as a 10.5-point home underdog, at Villanova as a 16.5-point ‘dog and vs. Marquette as a two-point home ‘chalk.’ The ‘over’ has hit in three straight for St. John’s, too. The CBS Sports Network will have the broadcast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
-- Indiana is back in action tonight vs. Illinois at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network. The Hoosiers, who were 8.5-point home favorites this morning, are 11-3 ATS in their 14 games dating back to Dec. 21. The ‘under’ is on a remarkable 12-1-1 run in IU’s last 14 outings. The Illini is winless in eight road games with a 3-4-1 ATS ledger.
-- Mississippi State was a one-point underdog this morning for tonight’s game against Vandy at Memorial Gymnasium in Music City. The Bulldogs have ripped off five straight spread covers, but they’re only 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS on the road. Ben Howland’s team is 18-7 overall and is a part of Lunardi’s Next Four Out. MSU lost a controversial game in overtime at Missouri this past Saturday when a flop drew a nonsense charging call on Lamar Peters, who proceeded to knock down what would’ve been a go-ahead 3-pointer with about six ticks left. Bryce Drew’s club is 5-2 ATS in its past seven games. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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