February 21, 2018
By Brian Edwards
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**North Carolina at Syracuse**
-- North Carolina (21-7 straight up, 16-10-1 against the spread) is heating up at the perfect time. Roy Williams’s squad has responded to a three-game losing streak by winning five in a row both SU and ATS, including Saturday’s 93-76 win at Louisville as a one-point road favorite. All five starters scored in double figures led by Joel Berry’s 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Luke Maye added 19 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three assists, while Theo Pinson produced 19 points, seven boards, five assists and a pair of steals.
-- As of early this morning, most books had UNC installed as a 3.5-point favorite for this ACC showdown at the Carrier Dome.
-- North Carolina is 5-4 SU and 4-4-1 ATS in nine true road assignments. UNC is 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS in six games as a road favorite.
-- North Carolina, Oklahoma and Florida were sharing the nation’s lead in wins (five) over RPI Top-25 teams going into Tuesday night. UNC went into last night fifth in the RPI with a 5-3 record versus the Top 25, a 7-4 mark against the Top 50 and a 14-6 ledger vs. the Top 100. The Tar Heels have home wins over Michigan, Clemson, Duke, Boston College, Notre Dame and Bucknell. They’ve won at Tennessee, at Louisville, at N.C. State, at Notre Dame, at Stanford and at Davidson, in addition to neutral-court triumphs over Arkansas and Ohio St.
-- Maye leads UNC in scoring (18.4 points per game), rebounding (10.5 RPG), blocked shots (1.2 BPG) and 3-point accuracy (46.7%). The junior forward dropped 33 points and 17 rebounds on N.C. State in Raleigh earlier this month. Berry is scoring at a 17.7 PPG clip while hitting 89.6 percent of his free-throw attempts. Cameron Johnson (13.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG) is the Tar Heels’ third-leading scorer ahead of Kenny Williams, who has a team-best 39 steals, is making 41.2 percent of his treys and averages 11.5 PPG. Pinson (9.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG) has 24 steals, 15 blocked shots and a team-high 126 assists.
-- In Joe Lunardi’s latest edition of ‘Bracketology’ on ESPN.com, UNC was slotted as a No. 3 seed in the West Region. The Tar Heels were scheduled to face Charleston in Nashville, with the winner getting the survivor of a 6/11 showdown between Kentucky and St. Bonaventure-Baylor (First Four in Dayton). Meanwhile, Syracuse the last very last team in the 68-team field, facing Texas in Dayton for the right to fly to Boise and take on fifth-seeded Rhode Island at Taco Bell Arena.
-- Syracuse (18-9 SU, 11-14 ATS) is No. 38 in the RPI with its 3-5 record against the Top 50 and 7-7 ledger vs. Top-100 opponents. The Orange’s best wins are at Miami, at Louisville and at home vs. Buffalo. They also have home victories over the likes of Toledo, Maryland, Va. Tech and Boston College.
-- Syracuse has a 13-4 SU record and a 6-9 ATS mark in 17 home games this season.
-- Syracuse has won six of its last nine games and is 3-1 both SU and ATS in its past four outings. The Orange won a 62-55 decision Saturday at Miami as a four-point road underdog. Frank Howard was the catalyst, playing all 40 minutes and producing 18 points and six assists compared to only one turnover. Oshae Brissett added 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Tyus Battle finished with 13 points, four boards, two assists and two steals.
-- Syracuse’s vaunted zone defense is working again this year. Jim Boeheim’s bunch is ranked 10th in the nation in scoring defense (63.4 PPG) and fifth in the FG percentage ‘D’ (39.0%).
-- Battle (19.9 PPG) paces the ‘Cuse in scoring, while Howard (15.2 PPG) leads the Orange in assists (5.1 APG) and steals (2.0 SPG).
-- North Carolina has won five straight games in this rivalry, going 3-1-1 ATS. The ‘over’ has hit in back-to-back meetings and four of the past five.
-- The ‘over’ is 16-11-1 overall for UNC, but the ‘under’ is 5-4 in its road contests. The ‘over’ has hit at a 7-3 clip in the Tar Heels’ past 10 outings (regardless of venue).
-- The ‘under’ is 14-11 overall for the ‘Cuse, 10-5 in its home games. However, the ‘over’ has cashed in three of the Orange’s last four contests.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**Florida at Tennessee**
-- As of early this morning, most books had Tennessee (19-7 SU, 14-10 ATS) listed as a five-point favorite with BetOnline.ag using 138 for a total.
-- Rick Barnes’s team is in second place alone with its 9-5 record in SEC play. UT trails conference-leader Auburn by two games, while Florida is in a third-place tie with Alabama at 8-6 in league action.
-- Florida (17-10 SU, 12-13-1 ATS) is coming off a pair of gut-wrenching defeats. First, UF allowed a six-point lead with 16 ticks left to get away in a 72-69 home loss to Georgia in overtime. Then on Saturday, the Gators lost for the eighth time this year in a game they led in the second half. This time, they went down 71-68 at Vanderbilt after leading by six at halftime, by as many as 11 in the second half and by six at the under-8 television timeout. But the Commodores closed the game on a 20-11 run sparked by seniors Jeff Roberson and Riley LaChance, who finished with 26 and 21 points, respectively. Keith Stone led UF with 20 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots, while Egor Koulechov had 14 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point land. Chris Chiozza had four and six assists without a turnover, but he was held to six points on 3-of-10 field-goal attempts.
-- Mike White’s club is mired in a 1-4-1 ATS slump. Florida has been an underdog only four times this year, producing a 3-1 record both SU and ATS. The only loss came when the Gators let a 10-point lead with 4:10 remaining get away in an 87-84 loss to Duke at the PK80 Classic in Portland during the Thanksgiving holidays.
-- UF is 4-3 both SU and ATS in seven road assignments.
-- Florida is No. 28 at KenPom.com and No. 59 in the RPI. UF is 5-2 vs. the Top 25, 7-5 against the Top 50 and 11-8 versus the Top 100. The Gators have picked up for of those five Top-25 wins away from Gainesville. They have wins at Texas A&M and at Kentucky, at Missouri, in addition to neutral-court scalps of Cincinnati, Gonzaga and Stanford. UF has home victories over Baylor, Arkansas, Mississippi State and LSU.
-- Jalen Hudson, a junior guard who sat out last year after transferring from Va. Tech, leads UF in scoring with a 14.9 PPG average. Koulechov, a grad transfer from Rice via Arizona St., is averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He’s draining 42.3 percent of his 3-pointers and 90.7 percent of his FTs. Chiozza is averaging 11.4 PPG while handing out 159 assists compared to 47 turnovers. ‘Cheese’ leads the SEC in assists (5.9 APG) and is second in steals (1.9 SPG).
-- Tennessee owns a 11-2 SU record and a 5-6 ATS mark at home this season.
-- UT is No. 15 in the RPI with its 4-5 record against the Top 25, a 4-6 mark versus the Top 50 and a 9-7 ledger against the Top 100. The Volunteers owns home wins over Kentucky, Texas A&M, LSU and South Carolina. They have road triumphs at Kentucky, at South Carolina and at Iowa St., in addition to neutral-court wins over Purdue and N.C. St.
-- Like UF, Tennessee is in bounce-back mode after losing 73-62 Saturday at Georgia as a 2.5-point road ‘chalk.’ Lamonte Turner hit four triples on eight attempts on his way to scoring a team-high 14 points in the losing effort. Jordan Bowden finished with 13 points, while Kyle Alexander had 10 points, 13 boards and two steals.
-- Grant Williams is UT’s leading scorer with a 15.7 PPG average. Williams has 36 blocked shots and averages 5.9 RPG. Admiral Schofield (12.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG) is burying 39.8 percent of his launches from 3-point land, while Turner (10.7 PPG) is making 38.6 percent of his 3’s and 90.3 percent of his FTAs.
-- UF has won five of the last six meetings with UT both SU and ATS, including last season’s 83-70 win as a 12.5-point home favorite. The ‘over’ hit for the third time in this rivalry. KeVaughn Allen led the Gators to victory with 23 points on 4-of-6 shooting from long distance. Schofield paced the Vols with 18 points and 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action before fouling out.
-- The ‘under’ is 13-11 overall for UT, 6-5 in its home games.
-- The ‘under’ is 13-12-1 overall for UF, 5-2 in its road assignments. The Gators have seen the ‘under’ go 5-1 in their last six games.
-- ESPN2 will have the broadcast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Louisville will visit Cameron Indoor Stadium tonight to face Duke in a 9:00 p.m. Eastern tip on ESPN. U of L is winless in six games against the RPI Top 25 and has only one victory over a Top-50 team. The Cardinals picked up that win at FSU (RPI #41) last month after trailing by double digits at halftime. As of early this morning, Duke was favored by 11.5 points. The Blue Devils are 12-1 SU and 7-4 ATS at home, while the Cards are 3-5 SU and 5-2-1 ATS on the road. Duke’s Marvin Bagley III (21.2 PPG, 11.4 RPG)) has missed three consecutive games and is ‘questionable’ vs. U of L due to a knee injury.
-- Georgia moved back into Lunardi’s Next Four Out after winning back-to-back games last week at Florida and vs. Tennessee. The Bulldogs will try to win a third straight Wednesday at South Carolina on the SEC Network at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. As of early this morning, the Gamecocks were favored by 2.5 points. The ‘under’ is 9-2 for UGA in its road assignments.
-- Penn State will host Michigan tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network. PSU has won six of its last eight games while compiling a 7-1 spread record. The only two defeats during this span have come at Michigan St. and at Purdue. The Nittany Lions lost by eight to the Spartans at Breslin Center and by three at Purdue in West Lafayette. They easily took the cash in both instances, closing as 14-point underdogs in East Lansing and 9.5-point ‘dogs this past Sunday night against the Boilermakers. PSU led Purdue by four at intermission and by as many as nine two different times in the second half.
-- Michigan has won six straight head-to-head meetings against Penn St. The Wolverines are 4-2 ATS, but both covers for the Nittany Lions have come in the last two encounters. The ‘over’ has been a winner 10 straight times in this rivalry.
-- Nebraska has won seven of its past eight games after knocking off Indiana 66-57 last night as a three-point home favorite. Even better, the Cornhuskers are 17-2 ATS in their last 19 outings. James Palmer Jr. led the way with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
-- Mississippi State was probably Tuesday’s biggest winner among the bubble teams in action. The Bulldogs hooked up money-line backers with +240 payouts in a 93-81 at Texas A&M as 6.5-point puppies. Abdul Ado scored 19 points, pulled down nine rebounds and rejected two shots, while Quinndary Weatherspoon finished with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Lamar Peters contributed 15 points, seven boards and seven assists. Ben Howland’s team improve to 20-8 SU and covered the spread for the eighth consecutive contest. MSU has won outright in six of those eight games, with the only defeats coming when it lost at Missouri in overtime on a controversial call and at Vandy on a buzzer-beating trey by LaChance.
-- I had Mississippi State, Nebraska, N.C. State and Butler for winners Tuesday, finishing 4-2 for the night. I lost the Ohio State-Rutgers 'under' by 1.5 points and Missouri -7.5 was a complete dud. Playing its first game without Andy Kennedy since 2006, Ole Miss won outright at Mizzou in overtime. The Rebels were +300 on the money line at most spots. Also, Kentucky won going away at Arkansas to hook up money-line supporters with a +190 return. UK's 87-72 win at Bud Walton Arena came a few days after the 'Cats ended a four-game losing with a home win over Alabama.
-- Georgetown returns to the court tonight after an extended break. Patrick Ewing’s squad is on a 5-0 ATS run and is off back-to-back wins vs. Seton Hall (83-80) and at Butler (87-83). The win over the Bulldogs came last Tuesday when the Hoyas were 11.5-point road underdogs. As of early this morning, Georgetown (15-10 SU, 13-9 ATS) was a six-point home ‘dog vs. Xavier. The Musketeers are 7-2 both SU and ATS in nine road assignments. When these Big East rivals met at Cintas Center on Feb. 3, Xavier won 96-91 in overtime as a 14-point home ‘chalk.’ Chris Mack’s team never led by more than five, while the Hoyas never had more than a four-point advantage in a hotly-contests battle. Trevon Bluiett scored a game-high 31 points for the winners. This game will tip at 6:30 p.m. Eastern.
-- St. John’s will put its four-game winning streak on the line tonight at Marquette. This Big East showdown will come off the board at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Chris Mullin’s squad beat the Golden Eagles 86-78 as a two-point home favorite on Feb. 10, as Shamorie Ponds scored a game-high 44 points. As of early this morning, Marquette was favored by 4.5 points.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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