February 20, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards owns a 35-21 record (62.5%, +12.55 Units) on his guaranteed plays since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**West Virginia at Baylor**
-- Baylor (17-10 straight up, 13-7 against the spread) has won five consecutive games and has covered the number in six straight outings. The Bears edged Texas Tech 59-57 as one-point underdogs Saturday in Waco. Terry Maston scored two of his game-high 24 points on the go-ahead jumper with 1:29 remaining. Maston missed six games earlier in the season, but he is coming on strong at the perfect time. The senior forward has scored at least 23 points in three of his team’s past five games. Manu Lecomte went 3-of-14 from the field and was held to 10 points without an assist. Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. finished with seven points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one assist against the Red Raiders, who saw their star Keenan Evans leave the game with a toe injury late in the first half.
-- The Westgate SuperBook opened Baylor as a 1.5-point favorite.
-- Scott Drew’s team owns a 13-3 SU record and a 6-3 ATS mark at home this year.
-- Lecomte paces Baylor in scoring (16.5 points per game) and assists (3.5 APG), and the senior guard has drained 39.3 percent of his 3-pointers and 87.3 percent of his free-throw attempts. Lual-Acuil (14.2 PPG) leads the Bears in rebounding (9.2 RPG) and blocked shots (1.8 BPG), while Maston is averaging 10.6 points and 5.7 RPG. Jake Lindsey (4.9 PPG) leads his team in steals (28) and has a 91/33 assist-to-turnover ratio.
-- Baylor is No. 46 in the RPI Rankings, going 2-5 versus the RPI Top 25, 3-7 against the Top 50 and 8-10 versus the Top 100. The Bears have home wins over Kansas, Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma State and Iowa State, in addition to a neutral-court triumph over Creighton. They have road wins at Oklahoma State and at Texas.
-- In Joe Lunardi’s latest edition of ‘Bracketology’ posted to ESPN.com early Monday, Baylor was a part of his Last Four In. Lunardi had the Bears slated to face St. Bonaventure in a First Four showdown in Dayton. The winner would take on sixth-seeded Kentucky in Nashville. As for West Virginia, it was slotted as a fifth-seed in San Diego (East Region, though) facing Louisiana for the right to advance and play the 4/13 Ohio State-East Tennessee State survivor.
-- When these teams met in Morgantown on Jan. 9, West Virginia (19-8 SU, 11-12 ATS) captured a 57-54 win but failed to cover the spread as a 10-point home ‘chalk.’ The 111 combined points resulted in a thunder ‘under’ (148 points) to improve to 3-1 in the past four head-to-head meetings between these Big 12 adversaries. Daxter Miles Jr. and Lamont West scored 12 points apiece for the winners, who were outrebounded 43-32 but forced Baylor into 21 turnovers. Sagaba Konate produced eight points, 12 rebounds, seven blocked shots and one steal. Lecomte scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds for Baylor, while Lual-Acuil finished with 11 points, 10 boards and five blocks.
-- Bob Huggins had every right to be furious in the aftermath of his team’s 77-69 loss Saturday at Kansas as a four-point underdog. West Virginia shot 14-of-26 from 3-point land (53.8%), but it somehow went to the free-throw line merely two times. On the flip side, Kansas went to the charity stripe 35 times. KU made 26 FTs compared to one for WVU. That’s insane and should never happen in a basketball game. Ever!
-- Miles scored 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point land at KU. Jevon Carter added 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds and a pair of steals, while Lamont West finished with 11 points.
-- West Virginia is No. 31 in the RPI with its 3-6 record against the Top 25, a 6-6 mark versus the Top 50 and an 11-8 ledger against the Top 100. The Mountaineers have home victories over the likes of Virginia, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, Texas and Kansas State, in addition to neutral-floor wins over Missouri and UCF (when Tacko Fall was healthy). They also have road scalps at OU, at Oklahoma State and at K-State.
-- WVU is 4-4 both SU and ATS in eight road assignments.
-- The ‘under’ is 12-7-1 overall for Baylor, 5-4 in its home contests.
-- The ‘under’ is 13-10 overall for WVU, 5-3 in its eight road assignments.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
**Kentucky at Arkansas**
-- Arkansas (19-8 SU, 14-13 ATS) extended its winning streak to four games both SU and ATS with Saturday’s 94-75 victory over Texas A&M as a three-point home favorite. Jaylen Barford was the catalyst with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists compared to only one turnover. Daryl Macon had 20 on 4-of-6 shooting from long distance, while Daniel Gafford contributed 18 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
-- As of early this morning, most spots had Arkansas installed as a four-point favorite.
-- Mike Anderson’s team has won 14 of its 15 home games at Bud Walton Arena, compiling a 9-6 spread record.
-- Barford is averaging team-bests in scoring (18.6 PPG) and steals (1.1 SPG). The senior guard is averaging 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 APG, in addition to draining 44.3 percent of his treys. Gafford (11.7 PPG) leads the Hogs in rebounding (6.1 RPG), FG percentage (62.3%) and blocks (2.0 BPG), while Daryl Macon (17.0 PPG) is making 43.4 percent of his 3’s and 87.8 percent of his FTAs. Macon has scored at least 20 points in eight his team’s last nine games. The senior guard has handed out 4.0 APG and made 1.1 SPG.
-- Arkansas is ranked 26th in the nation in scoring (82.8 PPG), 29th in FG percentage (48.4%) and 22nd in 3-point accuracy (39.9%).
-- Arkansas is No. 25 in the RPI with its 3-4 record against the Top 25, a 4-4 record versus the Top 50 and a 10-8 ledger when facing Top-100 opponents. Anderson’s bunch has home scalps over Tennessee, Missouri, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, Vandy, Fresno State and Bucknell. The Razorbacks have a neutral-court victory over Oklahoma, but that one isn’t aging very well. They have only one road win of note, beating UGA in double overtime at Stegeman Coliseum.
-- Kentucky (18-9 SU,11-16 ATS) ended its four-game winning streak by beating Alabama 81-71 Saturday at Rupp Arena. UK took the cash as a four-point home favorite behind P.J. Washington’s 16 points and five rebounds, while Kevin Knox had 13 points and five boards. Quade Green added 12 points and four assists without a turnover, and Jarred Vanderbilt finished with 11 points, nine boards and two rejections.
-- John Calipari’s team has struggled to a 3-5 record both SU and ATS in eight road assignments.
-- Kentucky is No. 18 in the RPI despite a 1-6 record against the RPI Top 25. UK is 4-7 versus the Top 50 and 13-9 against the Top 100. The ‘Cats own home wins over Louisville, Texas A&M, Va. Tech, Georgia, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Vermont and East Tennessee State. They have road victories at West Virginia, at LSU and at Vandy.
-- Knox leads Kentucky in scoring (15.1 PPG) and rebounding (5.5 RPG). Shad Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 12.7 points, 4.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, while Hamidou Diallo is averaging 11.1 points and 4.0 RPG.
-- Kentucky has won five straight games in this rivalry both SU and ATS, winning by margins of 14 points or more each time. The ‘under’ has cashed in the last four meetings.
-- Totals have been an overall wash (13-13) for the Razorbacks, with the ‘over’ going 8-6 in their home games. They’ve seen the ‘under’ hit at a 5-2 clip in their past seven outings.
-- The ‘over’ is 14-12 overall for the ‘Cats, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 5-3 in their eight road contests.
-- ESPN will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Nebraska saw its incredible 16-1 ATS run hit a speed bump Sunday at Illinois. Brad Underwood’s team halted a six-game winning streak for Tim Miles’s squad by rallying from a five-point second-half deficit to win a 72-66 decision. Illinois led by seven at intermission, but Nebraska went on a 16-4 roll to start the second half. The Illini covered as a one-point home favorite. With the loss, the Cornhuskers were left as a part of Lunardi’s First Four Out. They return to action tonight vs. Indiana at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network. The Hoosiers have ripped off four straight outright wins, five consecutive covers and are on a remarkable 11-2 ATS run. Also, they’ve watched the ‘under’ go 12-3-1 in their past 16 games. As of early this morning, most books had Nebraska favored by four points. The Cornhuskers are 14-1 SU and 11-2 ATS at home this season.
-- Devonte’ Graham erupted for 23 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals to lead Kansas to Monday’s 104-74 win over Oklahoma as a nine-point home favorite. KU avenged a January loss in Norman thanks in large part to Malik Newman, the Mississippi State transfer who produced 20 points, three rebounds, two steals and five assists without a turnover. OU’s Trae Young was limited to 11 points and nine assists with five turnovers. The soon-to-be lottery pick hit just 3-of-13 FGAs and 1-of-5 from downtown.
-- LSU will play host to Vanderbilt at 9:00 p.m. Eastern tonight on the SEC Network. The Commodores are winless in nine road games with a 3-6 ATS record. Bryce Drew’s club has won five home games in a row, but it still hasn’t been able to get over the hump outside of Nashville. Vandy was a 4.5-point underdog early this morning. LSU will be looking to avenge a 77-71 loss to the ‘Dores as a two-point road underdog on Jan. 20. The 148 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 144.5-point total. Riley LaChance dropped 26 points on the Tigers and had six rebounds and three assists without a turnover. LaChance had 21 points, five assists and four boards in Saturday’s 71-68 come-from-behind win over Florida. The senior guard has been in double figures in eight of Vandy’s past nine games, producing 19 points or more in five of those. LSU is 11-4 SU and 8-4 ATS at home.
-- Auburn’s dream season took a major blow in Saturday’s loss at South Carolina. Anfernee McLemore, the team’s rim protector who leads the SEC in blocked shots (2.7 BPG), was lost to a season-ending injury that’ll keep him out 4-6 months. McLemore was averaging 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. The Tigers return to action Wednesday at home vs. Alabama.
-- Minnesota backers took a brutal Bad Beat in last night’s 73-63 loss at Wisconsin in overtime. The Badgers miraculously covered the number as 7.5-point home ‘chalk.’ Richard Pitino’s team has lost nine in a row while going 1-8 ATS. The Gophers haven’t tasted a victory since an OT triumph at Penn State on Jan. 15.
-- Texas Tech star Keenan Evans is ‘questionable’ (toe) for Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma State. Evans is averaging 18.2 points, 3.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
-- Nevada incurred a big loss during its 77-72 win over Boise State at Taco Bell Arena on Valentine’s Day. Lindsey Drew, the junior guard out of Fairfax High School in Encino, went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. Drew was averaging 8.1 points, 4.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game.
-- After his Ole Miss team was blown out Saturday at Mississippi State, Andy Kennedy announced that he would start his resignation immediately. Kennedy, who won 20 games nine times during his 12-year tenure in Oxford, initially announced his resignation to be effective at the end of the season last Monday.
-- Mississippi State has covered the spread in seven consecutive games. As of early this morning, Ben Howland’s squad was listed as a 6.5-point underdog for tonight’s crucial game at Texas A&M. The Bulldogs have won at South Carolina, lost in OT at Missouri in controversial fashion and been beaten at the buzzer by Vandy it their past three road outings. The Aggies are 12-2 SU and 5-6 ATS at home. MSU might without Aric Holman, who was ‘questionable’ this morning after leaving Saturday’s 79-62 win over Ole Miss with a leg injury. Holman is averaging 11.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game.
-- Texas A&M’s Duane Wilson, the grad transfer from Marquette, is ‘out’ for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Wilson was averaging 9.0 points, 4.0 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game.
-- Already down Martin Krampelj to a season-ending injury, Creighton lost Jacob Epperson for the rest of the year during Saturday’s rare home loss to Marquette. Krampelj was the Bluejays third-leading scorer (11.9 PPG), top rebounder (8.1 RPG) and had a team-best 67.1 FG percentage. Epperson missed the first 2.5 months of the season before returning in the last six games. He was starting to hit his stride in the last two games, scoring with 29 points in only 26 minutes of playing time. As of early this a.m., Greg McDermott’s team was listed as a 4.5-point underdog tonight at Butler.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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