February 28, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards is on a 10-5 run (66.7%, +4.57 Units) since Feb. 22. He owns a 39-24-1 record (61.9%, +13.4 Units) on his guaranteed plays since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Villanova at Seton Hall**
-- Villanova (25-4 straight up, 19-10 against the spread) is No. 4 in the latest Associated Press Top 25, No.2 in the RPI Rankings and No. 2 at KenPom.com. Jay Wright’s team is unbeaten in four games against RPI Top-25 opponents, 9-3 versus the Top 50 and 13-4 against the Top 100. The Wildcats own home wins over the likes of Xavier, Providence, Creighton, Seton Hall, Butler and Marquette. They also have road wins at Temple, at Xavier, at St. John’s and at Marquette, in addition to neutral-court scalps of Western Kentucky, Tennessee and Gonzaga.
-- As of early this morning, most betting shops had Villanova installed as a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 161.5.
-- Villanova has posted an 8-3 SU record and a 6-5 ATS mark in 11 true road assignments.
-- Villanova leads the nation in scoring, averaging 87.5 points per game. The Wildcats are sixth in the country in field-goal percentage (50.8%), 19th in 3-point accuracy (40.0%) and 36th in free-throw percentage (76.1%).
-- Wright’s team is led by junior guard Jalen Brunson, who paces ‘Nova in scoring (19.3 PPG), assists (4.9 APG) and FG percentage (53.1%). Omari Spellman (11.0 PPG) is averaging team-highs in rebounding (7.7 RPG) and blocked shots (1.5 BPG), while Mikal Bridges is averaging 17.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocked shots per game. The junior wing is burying 50.7 percent of his FG attempts, 41.9 percent of his 3’s and 83.3 percent of his FTs.
-- Villanova is just 3-3 both SU and ATS in its past six games, including Saturday’s 89-83 overtime loss at Creighton as a 6.5-point road favorite. Brunson had 22 points, five rebounds and five assists in the losing effort. Bridges finished with 18 points, while Spellman contributed 14 points, 10 boards and two blocked shots.
-- Villanova has won four straight over Seton Hall in this rivalry, including a 92-76 win as a 12.5-point home favorite on Feb. 4. The 168 combined points elevated ‘over’ the 155.5-point total. Spellman was the catalyst with 26 points, 11 rebounds and three rejections, while Brunson had 21 points and six assists compared to merely one turnover. Bridges added 17 points and Donte DiVincenzo tallied 13 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Desi Rodriguez had 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists with only one turnover in defeat. Angel Delgado added 18 points and nine boards.
-- Seton Hall (20-9 SU, 13-16 ATS) has produced a 13-2 SU record and a 6-9 ATS ledger at home. This is the first time Kevin Willard’s team has been a home underdog this year.
-- Seton Hall might be without Rodriguez tonight for a second straight game. Rodriguez injured his ankle in last week’s win at Providence, which was postponed due to a slippery floor and then finished at a different venue at noon Eastern the next day. The senior forward out of Abraham Lincoln High School in the Bronx missed Saturday’s overtime win at St. John’s and is listed as ‘questionable’ vs. ‘Nova. Rodriguez leads the Pirates in scoring (18.1 PPG) and FG percentage (50.4%).
-- Willard’s squad has won three games in a row since enduring a four-game losing slide. The Hall has covered in back-to-back outings after going through a 0-5 ATS slump. The Pirates beat the Johnnies 81-74 as two-point road underdogs in the extra session. Khadeen Carrington led the way against the Red Storm, producing 22 points, six rebounds and four assists. Myles Powell had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Angel Delgado finished with 14 points and 13 boards.
-- Seton Hall is No. 21 in the RPI, going 1-4 versus the Top 25, 6-5 against the RPI and 8-7 vs. the Top 100. The Pirates have home wins over Creighton, Providence and St. John’s, in addition to a neutral-court victory vs. Texas Tech. They own road scalps at Louisville, at Butler, at Providence and at St. John’s.
-- The ‘over’ has hit in seven consecutive Seton Hall games to improve to 18-10 overall and 8-6 in its home outings. If the total stays at 161.5, it will tie for the third-highest the Pirates have seen this year. They saw the ‘under’ emerge in games when the total was 161.5 and 162, but the highest tally (167) resulted in an ‘over.’
-- The ‘over’ is 9-1 in the Wildcats’ past 10 games to improve to 20-9 overall, 6-5 in their road contests.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
**Florida State at Clemson**
-- As of early this morning, most spots had Clemson (21-7 SU, 14-11 ATS) listed as a 4.5-point favorite.
-- Brad Brownell’s club is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, his first year on the job after replacing Oliver Purnell, who had bolted to take the DePaul job. His Clemson team ended a three-game losing streak in Saturday’s 75-67 win over Georgia Tech as a 10-point home ‘chalk.’ The Tigers failed to cover the number for the third straight game. The Yellow Jackets led by four at intermission, but they were undone by a game-high 25 points from Gabe DeVoe, who drained 4-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc. Elijah Thomas finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocks, while Marcquise Reed had 13 points and five assists.
-- Clemson is 18th at KenPom, 18th in the latest AP poll and ninth in the RPI. The Tigers are 2-3 versus the RPI Top 25, 7-6 against the Top 50 and 10-7 vs. the Top 100. They have home wins over North Carolina, Miami, Louisville, N.C. State, Louisiana, South Carolina and Notre Dame. Clemson has also emerged triumphant at Ohio State, at Boston College and at Florida (not at the O’Dome, though, in Sunrise where the NHL’s Florida Panthers play).
-- Clemson has posted a 5-4 SU record and a 4-5 ATS mark in its nine games since losing Donte Grantham to a season-ending knee injury. Grantham was averaging 14.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his team’s first 19 games.
-- Clemson has won 14 of 15 home games while posting a 9-3 spread record at Littlejohn Coliseum.
-- FSU (19-9 SU, 14-11 ATS) has won four in a row over Clemson, going 2-1-1 ATS. The ‘over’ is on a 5-1 run in this rivalry. When these teams met in Tallahassee on Valentine’s Day, the Seminoles were down by 12 at halftime and by as many as 15 in the second half, but they rallied to force overtime and eventually won an 81-79 decision. FSU’s Phil Cofer scored a team-best 17 points, while Trent Forrest finished with 16 points, four assists, one steal and one block. Forrest is a product of Chipley High School, the same program that produced Amp Lee, a former RB at FSU and in the NFL. The same school about 90 minutes West of Tallahassee also developed Michael Gilmore, a former Florida DB early in Steve Spurrier tenure who now lives than two miles from me in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.
-- In the loss at FSU, Reed scored a game-high 23 points for Clemson. DeVoe and David Skara scored 11 points apiece for the Tigers.
-- Florida State has failed to cover the number in five consecutive contests. Leonard Hamilton’s squad got absolutely run out of Raleigh from start to finish Sunday night, as N.C. St. rolled to an easy 92-72 win as a one-point home ‘chalk.’ Forrest scored a team-best 16 points, dished out seven assists, grabbed six rebounds and made three steals for the ‘Noles.
-- Terance Mann leads FSU in scoring (13.9 PPG), rebounding (5.7 RPG) and FG percentage (57.4%). Cofer is the team’s second-leading scorer (13.1 PPG), while Forrest (6.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.9 APG & 1.4 SPG) has a 105/46 assist-to-turnover ratio and 38 steals. Forrest has averaged 14.7 PPG in FSU’s last three times out. He’s scored in double figures only seven times in 27 games, but he’s done so four of the ‘Noles’ last six outings.
-- FSU is No. 47 in the RPI with its 2-2 record against the Top 25, a 6-5 ledger versus the Top 50 and a 7-8 mark against the Top 100. The Seminoles have home wins over UNC, the ‘Cuse, Miami and Clemson, in addition to victories at Florida, at Louisville and at Va. Tech.
-- The ‘over’ is 13-12 overall the Tigers, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 7-5 in their home games.
-- The ‘over’ is 15-11 overall for the Seminoles, 6-4 in their road outings.
-- ESPN will have the telecast at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- Miami senior guard Ja’Quan Newton drained a thrilling buzzer beater on a running 40-footer to lift his team to an epic 91-88 win at North Carolina last night. The UNC crowd went nuts when Joel Berry, the national-title winning point guard who was playing his final game at the Dean Dome, knocked down a tying trey to cap a furious comeback with 4.8 seconds remaining. The celebration in Chapel Hill was short-lived, however, as the deafening noise was silenced by Newton, who scored nine points at crunch time. He went 4-of-4 at the FT line on front ends in the final minute and kissed home a stepback runner off the glass that was well defended from 15 feet out. UM probably clinched an at-large bid with the upset as a 10-point underdog. Gamblers backing the Hurricanes to win outright cashed +425 tickets (paid $425 on $100 wagers).
-- Florida doesn’t lose at Coleman Coliseum these days. The Gators fell behind 6-0 at Alabama last night, but they erased that deficit and then some with the quickness. UF outscored the Crimson Tide 37-12 the rest of the first half for a 19-point intermission lead. They’d go on to win a seventh straight in Tuscaloosa thanks to Jalen Hudson, the transfer from Virginia Tech who scored 27 points on just 13 FGAs. Egor Koulechov added 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, while KeVaughn Allen finished with 13 points. Chris Chiozza scored only four points, but he had nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Alabama has lost four in a row both SU and ATS, going down by double-digit margins three times. Avery Johnson’s team closes the regular season Saturday at Texas A&M.
-- With the 125 combined points easily remaining ‘under’ the 138.5-point total in UF’s win, the ‘under improved to 8-1 in the Gators’ past nine games. The ‘under’ is now 19-10 overall for ‘Bama, 12-3 in its home contests.
-- UMass star guard Luwane Pipkins (concussion) was upgraded to ‘probable’ early this morning for tonight’s Atlantic-10 showdown at Richmond. Pipkins is the A-10’s leading scorer (21.5 PPG) and averages 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game for the Minutemen. Matt McCall’s team has lost five games in a row, but it has at least covered the spread in two of its past three outings. The ‘over’ has hit in nine games in a row for the Minutemen, who were a four-point road underdog to the Spiders early this morning.
-- As we noted Tuesday, Northwestern’s Vic Law (12.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG) was downgraded to ‘doubtful’ for Thursday’s Big Ten Tournament second-round game vs. Penn St. at MSG in NYC. On the bright side, though, the Wildcats’ Bryant McIntosh (12.0 PPG, 5.1 APG) was upgraded to ‘probable’ Wednesday morning despite dealing with a shoulder injury.
-- St. Bonaventure beat Davidson 117-113 last night in triple overtime, miraculously covering the spread as a 2.5-point home favorite thanks to a pair of FTs with 0.7 seconds remaining. The Wildcats were up three early in the third OT when star Peyton Aldridge, who had broken a school-record with 45 points, fouled out on a super-sketchy call as he simply appeared to be working for post position on the block without doing anything to elicit a whistle. The Bonnies extended their school-record winning streak to 11 games dating back to an 83-73 loss at Davidson on Jan. 19. Jaylen Adams led the winners with 34 points, five assists, four rebounds and two steals before fouling out after playing 49 minutes. Brown’s fellow senior backcourt mate, Matt Mobley, played all 55 minutes and scored 33 points. Courtney Stockard had 31 points to give the Bonnies’ a trio of players with more than 30 points, which was the first time that had happed in college basketball in 20 years. Davidson freshman Kellan Grady scored a career-high 39 points. This kid Grady is going to be a star for Bob McKillop’s program.
-- Tuesday’s Biggest Bubble Winners: St. Bonaventure, Missouri, Miami and Baylor.
-- Tuesday’s Biggest Bubble Losers: Boise State, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Alabama.
-- Vermont star Anthony Lamb returned to the court last night for the first time since Dec. 21. Lamb, who is averaging 16.0 points and 5.8 rebounds in 14 games this year, was limited to 11 minutes of playing time. The sophomore forward scored five points and had three rebounds, hitting a 3-pointer and both of his FT attempts.
-- Boston College is 4-1 ATS with three outright wins in five games as a home underdog. The Eagles were one-point home ‘dogs for tonight’s ACC tussle with Syracuse as of early this a.m.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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