March 8, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards has cashed his guaranteed plays at a 41-29-1 clip (58.5%, +10.14 Units!) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
**Butler vs. Seton Hall**
-- As of early this afternoon, most books had Butler (19-12 straight up, 15-15 against the spread) listed as a one-point favorite with a total of 147.
-- Seton Hall (21-10 SU, 15-16 ATS) finished the regular season in a three-way tie for third place, sharing identical 10-8 record with both Creighton and Providence. The Pirates have played extremely well down the stretch, posting a 4-1 record both SU and ATS with their only loss coming by one to Villanova in overtime.
-- Since spraining his ankle on a slippery floor at Providence on Feb. 21, Seton Hall’s leading scorer Desi Rodriguez (18.1 points per game) has missed three straight games. Rodriguez averages 5.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.0 steals per game, and he’s making 50.4 percent of his field-goal attempts and 38.0 percent of his 3-pointers. The senior forward is listed as ‘questionable’ tonight.
-- Seton Hall has two other players listed as ‘questionable’ tonight in Ismael Sanogo and Jordan Walker. Sanogo, a senior power forward, averages 5.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game. Walker (1.8 PPG) averages only 7.1 minutes of playing time per contest.
-- Kevin Willard’s squad beat Butler by a 77-70 count as a 2.5-point home ‘chalk’ this past Saturday. The 147 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 151-point total. Angel Delgado was the catalyst with 21 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-11 shooting from the field. Khadeen Carrington finished with 25 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists, knocking down all three of his launches from 3-point land. Myles Powell added 13 points, five assists and four boards. The Bulldogs wasted a sensational effort from Kelan Martin, who produced 35 points and six rebounds. Martin buried 6-of-12 attempts from downtown and all seven of his free throws. Tyler Wildeman added 10 points and six rebounds in the losing effort.
-- Powell is the Hall’s second-leading scorer (15.6 PPG) who is draining 38.4 percent of his treys. Carrington (14.8 PPG) has a team-best 34 steals and a 138/69 assist-to-turnover ratio. Delgado (13.4 PPG, 11.6 RPG) is a beast in the paint who’s averaging a double-double.
-- Butler went 9-9 in Big East play to finish in a sixth-place tie with Marquette. The Bulldogs limped to a 2-5 record both SU and ATS in their last seven regular-season games. Nevertheless, according to Joe Lunadi’s latest edition of ‘Bracketology’ at ESPN.com, they are safely in the 68-team field as an eight seed that would face St. Bonaventure.
-- Butler is No. 43 in the RPI Rankings with its 2-4 record against the RPI Top 25, a 5-9 mark vs. the Top 50 and a 9-11 ledger against the Top 100. The Bulldogs own home scalps over Utah, Villanova, Providence, Creighton, Marquette and St. John’s, in addition to a neutral-court triumph over Ohio State. They only have one notable road win at Marquette, but the wins over ‘Nova and the Buckeyes are critical. I agree with Lunardi that Butler is safe even it loses tonight.
-- Martin paces Butler in scoring (21.2 PPG) and rebounding (6.4 RPG). The Bulldogs’ second-leading scorer is Kamar Baldwin, who averages 15.0 points and 4.9 RPG.
-- Seton Hall has won three in a row over Butler both SU and ATS. In addition to the home win in both team’s regular-season finale, the Pirates captured a 90-87 win at Hinkle Fieldhouse as three-point road underdogs on Jan. 6. The 177 combined points catapulted ‘over’ the 151.5-point tally. Carrington dropped 29 points on the Bulldogs thanks to 7-of-11 makes from long distance. He also handed out six helpers. Delgado dominated the paint in 39 workmanlike minutes, producing 28 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, while Rodriguez contributed 19 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals. Martin scored a team-best 27 points before fouling out in the losing effort.
-- Before this recent three-game slide for Butler in this rivalry, the Bulldogs had covered the number in eight straight head-to-head meetings.
-- The ‘over’ is 17-13 overall for the Bulldogs, but they’ve watched the ‘under’ cash in back-to-back games and three of their last four.
-- The ‘over’ is 18-12 overall for the Pirates, cashing in seven of their last nine games.
-- This game will tip 30 minutes after the conclusion of Marquette-Villanova (9:30ish p.m. Eastern) at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Fox Sports 1 will have the telecast of both games.
**Baylor vs. West Virginia**
-- As of early this afternoon, most spots had West Virginia (22-9 SU, 13-14 ATS) listed as a 5.5-point favorite with a total of 140. The Bears were +200 on the money line (risk $100 to win $200).
-- Bob Huggins’s club finished in a second-place tie with Texas Tech in the Big 12 standings. Both teams went 11-7 in league play.
-- WVU saw its three-game winning streak snapped this past Saturday in an 87-79 overtime loss at Texas. The Mountaineers lost outright as five-point road ‘chalk’ despite the fact that the Longhorns were without Mo Bama, the freshman sensation and team’s rim protector. Lamont West scored a team-best 15 points in the losing effort, while Sagaba Konate had 14 points and eight rebounds. Jevon Carter finished with 12 points and six assists compared to just one turnover.
-- Carter leads WVU in scoring (17.0 PPG), assists (6.5 APG) and steals (2.9 SPG). He is an opposing point guard’s worst nightmare, bringing muscle, quickness and tenacity to his on-the-ball defense that wears opponents out over the course of 40 minutes. Konate (10.8 PPG) paces the Mountaineers in rebounding (7.8 RPG), FG percentage (52.2%) and blocked shots (3.4 BPG). Daxter Miles Jr. is averaging 12.1 PPG and has a solid 99/42 assist-to-turnover ratio.
-- West Virginia swept the season series with wins in Morgantown (57-54) and Waco (71-60). The Mountaineers failed to cover the spread as 9.5-point home favorites on Jan. 9. Miles and West shared team-best scoring honors with 12 points apiece, while Konate stuffed the box score with eight points, 12 rebounds, seven blocks and one steal. Carter finished with eight points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals. Manu Lecomte had 13 points, six rebounds and two assists, but he committed three turnovers and went just 3-of-11 from the field.
-- WVU won by 11 at Baylor on Feb. 20 in a pick ‘em affair. Like the first meeting, the ‘under’ emerged as a winner. Carter and Esa Ahmad led the Mountaineers with 15 points apiece. Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Bears. Lecompte made only 3-of-12 FGAs and was forced into four turnovers in a 12-point effort.
-- Baylor (18-13 SU, 14-10 ATS) finished the regular season in a four-way tie for sixth place. Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma shared 8-10 league records with the Bears.
-- Scott Drew’s team has played well down the stretch with six wins in its past nine games. The Bears, who are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 outings, are currently in Lunardi’s group of the Last Four Byes. This means it wouldn’t have to play in the First Four on Tuesday or Wednesday in Dayton. Meanwhile, ‘Joey Brackets’ has WVU as a No. 5 seed set to square off with Middle Tennessee.
-- Baylor is No. 55 in the RPI with a 2-6 record versus the RPI Top 25, a 6-10 mark against the Top 50 and an 8-12 record vs. the Top 100. The Bears have home wins over the likes of Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. They have road victories at Texas and at Oklahoma State, in addition to a neutral-court win over Creighton.
-- WVU is No. 31 in the RPI with its 3-6 record against the Top 25, a 7-7 ledger versus the Top 50 and a 13-8 mark against the Top 100. The Mountaineers have home scalps over the likes of Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, Baylor and Kansas State. They have neutral-court victories over Missouri and UCF (when Tacko Fall was healthy), in addition to road wins at OU, at Oklahoma State, at Baylor and at Kansas State.
-- Baylor is 5-2 ATS with four outright victories in its past seven games as an underdog. The Bears are 8-7 ATS with five outright wins in 15 games as underdogs this season.
-- Lecompte leads Baylor in scoring (15.7 PPG) and assists (3.6 APG).
-- The ‘under’ is 14-9 overall for the Bears.
-- The ‘under’ is 14-13 overall for WVU, but it has seen the ‘over’ hit in three consecutive games.
-- ESPN2 will have the telecast 30 minutes after Texas Tech and Texas are done at around 9:30 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
-- I had to check into the Heartbreak Hotel after going 2-4 yesterday. I had Washington +2.5 in its 69-66 overtime loss vs. Oregon State at the Pac-12 Tournament (Ouch!). I was on South Carolina, which led by nine with five minutes remaining as a 2.5-point ‘chalk’ vs. Ole Miss. The Gamecocks were up by seven when the Rebels’ Devontae Shuler hit a 3-ball with 39 seconds remaining. From there, Frank Martin’s team committed a turnover and then made only 2-of-4 attempts at the FT line. Nevertheless, USC was up by four with 13 seconds remaining. You know what comes next: Ole Miss’s Bruce Stevens buries a buzzer-beating triple to give the Rebels the improbable backdoor cover in an 85-84 loss. Georgia was an easy winner as a two-point favorite in its 78-62 victory over Vanderbilt, while I was fortunate to cash Notre Dame in its wild comeback win over Virginia Tech. FSU? Terrible pick by this guy, although I got some of that back by taking the Seminoles -6.5 in the second half when they were trailing by 19 at intermission of their 82-74 loss to Louisville. My fourth loss was on N.C. State, which made a valiant rally to get even with Boston College on multiple occasions, only to eventually drop a 91-87 decision.
-- Speaking of BC, it will look to avenge a 74-70 loss vs. Clemson as a 5.5-point home underdog back on Jan. 3 when these teams tangle in the second game of today’s afternoon session at the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn. The Eagles are 4-0-1 ATS in their past five games, and they’ve seen the ‘over’ cash in five consecutive contests. The ‘over’ is on a 13-3-1 run for BC in its last 17 games.
-- Just a guess here, but I’m going to say Kevin Stallings wasn’t overly disappointed to taste a pink slip from Pittsburgh this morning. He stepped into a mess and it didn’t work. Best for all parties to move forward.
-- After his arrest for a domestic incident last week, San Diego head coach Lamont Smith has resigned.
-- As of early this afternoon, Texas star center Mo Bamba was listed as ‘questionable’ for tonight’s Big 12 Tournament showdown vs. Texas Tech due to a lingering toe injury. Bamba (13.0 PPG, 10.6 RPG), a true freshman who is a likely lottery pick, averages a double-double and is second in the country in blocked shots with 3.8 per game.
-- Lunardi’s latest from this morning looks like this:
Last Four Byes: Providence, USC, Baylor and Texas.
Last Four In: Oklahoma, UCLA, Arizona State and Louisville.
First Four Out: Oklahoma State, Notre Dame, Alabama and Marquette.
Next Four Out: Syracuse, Penn State, Boise State and Nebraska.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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