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Friday - Session 4
1 · 2 · 3 · 4
Editor's note: Brian Edwards went 4-1 in college hoops Wednesday night by going 2-1 in the NIT and 2-0 in the First Four. His guaranteed plays have cashed at a 43-32 clip (57.3%, +8.99 Units!) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!

**Virginia vs. UMBC**

-- Virginia (31-2 straight up, 20-9-1 against the spread) is the Tournament’s No. 1 overall seed after winning both the ACC Tournament and the regular-season championship. However, UVA took some bad news before arriving in Charlotte, as ACC Sixth Man of the Year De’Andre Hunter was ruled ‘out’ of the Tournament due to a fractured wrist. Hunter was averaging 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. The redshirt freshman forward had made 48.8 percent of his field-goal attempts, 38.2 percent of his 3-pointers and 75.5 percent of his free-throw attempts.

-- UVA owns a 29-21 record in 50 NCAA Tournament games in program history. The Cavaliers are playing in their fifth straight Tournament and sixth overall during Tony Bennett’s nine-year tenure. Bennett, who has won a remarkable 72.0 percent of his games at the school (219-85) and three regular-season ACC titles, has his team as a No. 1 seed for the third time in the past five years. He took the Cavs to the Elite Eight two seasons ago, but they allowed a double-digit second-half lead to get away in a loss to Syracuse. Then last year after slipping past UNC-Wilmington 76-71 in the opening round, Florida dispatched of Virginia in a 65-39 blowout win.

-- As of Thursday afternoon, most betting shops had UVA listed as a 21.5-point favorite with a total of 121. The Cavs opened at -22.5 before the news of Hunter’s injury came out. UMBC had +2750 money-line odds at 5Dimes.eu (risk $100 to win $2,750). The winner advances to play the survivor of Creighton vs. Kansas State.

-- Virginia went 20-1 against ACC foes this year. Since allowing a big second-half advantage to get away in a 61-60 home loss to Va. Tech in overtime on Feb. 10, Bennett’s bunch has won eight games in a row, including scalps of Louisville, Clemson and UNC at the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn at Barclays Arena. The Cavs topped the Tar Heels by a 71-63 count as 3.5-point ‘chalk’ in this past Saturday night’s finals. Kyle Guy earned ACC Tourney MVP honors after producing 50 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and seven assists compared to just two turnovers in three games. The junior guard had 16 points, two rebounds, two steals and four assists without a turnover vs. UNC. Devon Hall added 15 points, five rebounds and four assists on 3-of-4 shooting from downtown against the Tar Heels. Ty Jerome contributed 12 points, six boards, one steal and six assists compared to only one turnover. The Cavs only turned the ball over four times.

-- UVA has posted a 5-4-1 spread record in 10 games as a double-digit ‘chalk.’

-- Guy is UVA’s leading scorer with a 14.1 points-per-game average. The sophomore guard has made 39.5 percent of his launches from 3-point land and 83.7 percent of his free-throw attempts. Jerome (10.5 PPG) paces the Cavs in assists (3.9 APG), steals (1.5 SPG) and FT percentage (90.2%), while Hall (12.0 PPG) is the club’s best 3-point shooter with 45.2 percent accuracy and has an outstanding 106/35 assist-to-turnover ratio.

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-- UMBC (24-10 SU, 3-1 ATS) is short for the Maryland Baltimore Country Retrievers, who have won five consecutive games and won the America East Tournament with an upset victory over regular-season champ Vermont. They got a game-winning 3-pointer from Jairus Lyles with less than a second remaining to down the Catamounts 65-62 as 9.5-point underdogs. Lyles, who transferred from VCU after his freshman campaign, finished with 27 points vs. Vermont on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc.

-- Lyles leads UMBC in scoring (20.2 PPG) and steals (2.1 SPG), and he’s buried 38.7 of his tries from 3-point range. The senior also averages 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. K.J. Maura (11.4 PPG) leads the Retrievers in assists (5.2 APG) and FG percentage (46.8%), while Arkel Lamar (10.5 PPG) paces them in rebounding (5.8 RPG), 3-point accuracy (43.2%) and blocked shots (0.5 BPG).

-- UMBC won 20 games this year for only the fourth time in school history. The Retrievers’ best wins are the one over Vermont and a 76-75 home triumph over Northern Kentucky, a team that made the NIT. They lost 66-45 at Maryland, 103-78 at Arizona and 78-67 at SMU.

-- Although the ‘over’ has hit in three straight games and five of their past seven, the ‘under’ still maintains a lucrative 20-10 overall record for the Cavs, who are tops in the nation in scoring defense (53.4 PPG). They’re ranked third in the country in field-goal percentage ‘D’ (37.5%) and fifth at defending the 3-point line (30.3%).

-- Totals have been an overall wash (2-2) in four lined games for the Retrievers.

-- Tip-off is expected to be at around 9:20 p.m. Eastern on TNT.

**Syracuse vs. TCU**

-- CBS will provide the broadcast of this 6/11 encounter that’s expected to come off the board at around 9:40 p.m. Eastern. The winner advances to meet the survivor of Xavier vs. Texas Southern in Detroit.

-- As of Thursday afternoon, most books had TCU (21-11 SU, 16-13-2 ATS) listed as a four-point favorite with a total of 136.5. The Orange was +160 on the money line (risk $100 to win $160).

-- Jamie Dixon’s team saw its four-game winning streak both SU and ATS snapped in a 79-75 loss at Texas Tech as a four-point underdog in both team’s regular-season finale. TCU then lost 66-64 to Kansas State in overtime as a 2.5-point ‘chalk’ at the Big 12 Tournament. Kenrich Williams had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort against the Wildcats. Alex Robinson added 16 points, six assists, four boards and three steals, but he coughed up seven turnovers. Vladimir Brodziansky finished with 13 points, seven boards, two assists and a pair of rejections.

-- In only his second season at his alma mater since taking the job after a long and successful tenure at Pittsburgh, Dixon has TCU back in the Tournament for the first time since losing 96-87 to FSU in 1998 when Billy Tubbs was still roaming the sidelines. It is just the eighth Tourney appearance for the program, which has a 5-7 record in 12 Tourney games.

-- TCU has compiled a 10-5 record both SU and ATS in 15 games as a single-digit favorite.

-- Brodzianksy leads TCU in scoring (15.1 PPG), FG percentage (57.6%) and blocks (1.6 BPG), while Williams (13.1 PPG) paces the Frogs in rebounding (9.3 RPG) and steals (1.8 SPG). Desmond Bane (12.8 PPG) has nailed 47.2 percent of his 3-pointers.

-- TCU will be without Jaylen Fisher, who went down with a torn meniscus in January and isn’t expected to return this year. Fisher played 17 games and was averaging 12.3 PPG, making 43.9 percent of his 3-balls and had a 91/34 assist-to-turnover ratio.

-- Syracuse (21-13 SU, 15-17 ATS) rallied from a seven-point deficit with seven minutes remaining to capture a 60-56 win over Arizona State in Tuesday’s First Four showdown in Dayton. Jim Boeheim’s squad won outright as a one-point underdog, outscoring the Sun Devils 30-28 in both halves. Oshae Brissett scored 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the ‘Cuse, while Tyus Battle finished with 15 points. Frank Howard added 12 points, three boards, three steals, two assists and one blocked shot.

-- Syracuse struggles to get buckets, ranking No. 314 nationally in scoring with a meager 67.3 PPG average. The Orange is ranked No. 312 in the country in FG percentage, making only 41.8 percent of its FGAs, and they’re No. 316 in 3-point accuracy (32.2%). On the flip side, Boeheim’s vaunted zone defense that always features lots of size and length gives opponents fits. The ‘Cuse is ranked 15th in the nation in scoring ‘D’ (64.3 PPG) and eighth in FG percentage defense (39.6%).

-- Syracuse has been an underdog 13 times this season, producing a 6-7 spread record with four outright victories.

-- Syracuse has won at least two Tournament games in five of its past seven invites going back to 2009. The Orange missed the Tournament last year after going to the Final Four in 2016. They’re seeking their second national title and seventh Final Four berth, winning it all in 2003 behind the freshman heroics of Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara.

-- Battle is the Orange’s leading scorer (19.7 PPG) and FT shooter (84.4%), while Howard (14.9 PPG) paces them in assists (4.9 APG) and steals (1.9 SPG). Brissett averages 14.9 points and 8.9 RPG.

-- The ‘under’ is 18-14 overall for the ‘Cuse, cashing in back-to-back games and three of its last four.

-- The ‘over’ is 21-10 overall for the Horned Frogs, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ cash in two of their past three games.

**Florida State vs. Missouri**

-- This is an 8/9 showdown in the West Region that’ll be contested in Nashville. The winner will advance to presumably face top-seeded Xavier on Sunday for the right to go to Staples Center in Los Angeles next weekend. Tip-off is expected to take place around 9:50 p.m. Eastern on TBS.

-- Missouri (20-12 SU, 16-15 ATS) is down to seven scholarship players, at least against the Seminoles, because second-leading scorer Jordan Barnett (13.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG) has been suspended for one game following his arrest early this past Saturday morning on DUI charges. Barnett did travel with the team and Cuonzo Martin has indicated that he might be available for the Round of 32 if the Tigers get there.

-- As of Thursday afternoon, most spots had Florida State (20-11 SU, 15-13 ATS) listed as a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 147.5.

-- Since winning three straight games in late January, Leonard Hamilton’s team has won consecutive contests just once and those came at home over Clemson (in overtime after trailing nearly the entire game) and vs. Pittsburgh, which went winless in the ACC and saw its head coach Kevin Stallings fired after only two seasons. FSU is mired in a 1-7 ATS slump in its past eight games, including an 82-74 loss to Louisville at the ACC Tournament last Wednesday. The ‘Noles lost outright as 2.5-point ‘chalk,’ coming up on short in their comeback bid after trailing by 19 at intermission and by as many as 26 early in the second half. They would trim the deficit to eight by the under-four TV timeout but wouldn’t get any closer. Trent Forrest sparked the rally with 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and one steal. P.J. Savoy drained 4-of-7 launches from downtown and finished with 14 points as well.

-- FSU has just three wins of note outside of Tallahassee, as it prevailed at Florida, at Va. Tech and at Louisville. We aren’t giving much credence to a trio of neutral-court scalps over the likes of Tulane, Fordham and Colorado State.

-- Terance Mann averages team-highs in scoring (13.2 PPG), rebounding (5.7 RPG) and FG percentage (56.1%) for FSU. Forrest, a product of Chipley High School in the panhandle of Florida, the same program that produced former football star and Rams’ RB Amp Lee, paces the ‘Noles in assists (4.0 APG) and steals (1.4 SPG). The sophomore guard has played the best ball of his collegiate career since Valentine’s Day, averaging 14.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.7 steals during a six-game span.

-- Missouri has lost four of its last six games both SU and ATS, including a 62-60 loss to Georgia at the SEC Tournament in St. Louis this past Thursday. The Tigers lost outright as 3.5-point favorites. Jontay Porter had 20 points and eight rebounds thanks to 4-of-6 marksmanship from 3-point range. His brother, Michael Porter Jr., the future lottery pick who hadn’t played since the season opener, came off the bench and logged 23 minutes. In his first action since back surgery in November, Porter produced 12 points, eight rebounds, one blocked shot and one assist without committing a turnover. Observers could clearly see the talent, but his legs and conditioning weren’t there as he shook off the rust. One would think he’ll be better off in those categories after another week of full-speed practices.

-- Kassius Robertson, a grad transfer from Canisius, has been the catalyst for Martin’s first team at Missouri after leaving Cal-Berkeley to take the gig. Robertson averages a team-best 16.2 PPG thanks to 42.5 percent shooting from long distance. Barnett, who we noted will be absent vs. FSU, makes 41.4 percent of his 3’s and 89.0 percent of his FTs. Jontay Porter averages 10.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.7 blocked shots per game.

-- Missouri owns a 5-4 spread record with three outright victories in nine games as an underdog.

-- Missouri is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. The Tigers haven’t won a Tournament game since beating Clemson 86-78 in 2010. They are still seeking their first Final Four appearance and are 22-26 in 48 Tournament games.

-- FSU has only one Final Four appearance (1972) in program history, going 16-15 in the Tournament. Hamilton took the ‘Noles to the Sweet 16 in 2011 before losing 72-71 to VCU in overtime. This is the program’s third Tourney showing since then, bowing out in the Round of 32 in both 2012 and last season when Xavier sent FSU packing after it had beaten Florida Gulf Coast.

-- The ‘over’ has hit in back-to-back games and five of FSU’s last seven to improve to 17-12 overall.

-- The ‘under’ is 12-5 in the Tigers’ last 17 games and 19-12 overall.

**Clemson vs. New Mexico State**

-- This game will tip 30 minutes after Auburn vs. College of Charleston concludes on TruTV. The winners of both games face each other Friday in San Diego. This is a 5/12 encounter, one that has many pundits thinking the Aggies are a trendy underdog pick.

-- As of Thursday afternoon, most betting shops had Clemson (23-9 SU, 17-12 ATS) installed as a 4.5-point favorite with a total of 133. The Aggies were +170 on the money (risk $100 to get paid $170).

-- Brownell has the Tigers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since he took the program over in 2011. Clemson beat UAB handily by a 70-52 count in the First Four that season, but the victory came after the initial First Four game for a 16th seed went to multiple overtimes. Therefore, by the time Brownell’s club had defeated the Blazers and finished its media obligations, it didn’t get to the airport until nearly 2:00 a.m. for a flight to St. Petersburg, Florida, where it arrived near sunrise. Clemson then had media obligations and practice with basically zero rest before facing West Virginia the next day in the first game at 12:15 p.m. Eastern. The Tigers jumped out to a 10-point halftime lead, only to falter as fatigue set in and the Mountaineers surged ahead and won an 86-78 decision.

-- Clemson is in the Tournament for only the 12th time in school history. The Tigers own a 9-11 record in 20 all-time Tourney games. The most heartbreaking? Obviously, we must go back to the Meadowlands in 1990 for an East Region semifinal with Jim Calhoun’s Connecticut squad. Cliff Ellis had a pair of big men who would enjoy long and prosperous NBA careers in Dale Davis and Elden Campbell, in addition to a point guard from the Bronx by the name of Marion Cash. Sean Tyson was going to the FT line for a one-and-one with 1.9 seconds remaining and Clemson leading by one. His FT missed and UConn rebounded and immediately called a timeout. This left the Huskies with 1.1 seconds remaining. Scottie Burrell, who pitched in minor-league baseball during the summers while in college, would throw a length-of-the-court pass to Tate George, who caught the ball on the far baseline and knocked down a buzzer-beating jumper. I’ll never forget the look of shock in Campbell’s eyes. Of course, UConn would have the favor returned less than 48 hours later when its one-point lead with less than three seconds remaining disappeared when Christian Laettner got a quick pass back after inbounding the ball on the sidelines and knocked down a contest double-pump leaner that beat the horn and sent Duke to the Final Four. Two years later, Laettner would bury a second Elite Eight buzzer beater at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia to sink Kentucky in what many call The Last Great Game.

-- Clemson lost perhaps its best player in senior forward Donte Grantham in late January. Grantham was enjoying a stellar campaign, averaging 14.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.9 blocked shots per game. He was shooting at a 56.0 percent clip from the field, 41.9 percent from downtown and 78.0 percent from the FT line.

-- Clemson has lost five of its past eight games while going 4-4 ATS. The Tigers beat Boston College 90-82 as a 5.5-point favorite last Thursday to advance to the ACC Tournament semifinals. However, they dropped a 64-58 decision Friday night to Virginia, although they registered a backdoor cover for their supporters as 7.5-point underdogs. Shelton Mitchell scored a team-best 18 points in the losing effort, while Elijah Thomas added 15 points and seven rebounds.

-- Marcquise Reed leads Clemson in scoring (15.8 PPG), assists (3.4 APG) and steals (1.7 SPG), but he saw his seven-game streak of scoring in double figures halted when he had only six points in the loss to UVA in Brooklyn. Gabe DeVoe (14.2 PPG) has buried 38.7 percent of his treys and pulls down 4.7 RPG. Thomas (10.8 PPG) paces the Tigers in rebounding (7.9 RPG), FG percentage (57.0%) and blocked shots (2.2 BPG).

-- Brad Brownell’s team is ranked 29th in the nation in scoring defense (65.8 PPG) and 35th in FG percentage ‘D’ (41.0%).

-- Clemson has been a single-digit ‘chalk’ 13 times, posting a 7-6 spread record with three outright losses.

-- New Mexico State (28-5 SU, 6-2-2 ATS) tied a school record for wins by defeating Grand Canyon in this past Saturday’s WAC Tournament finals. The Aggies are in the Big Dance for the fourth time in five seasons. They haven’t advanced to the Round of 32 since 1993, although we should note that San Diego State needed overtime to get by NMSU in 2014. NMSU went to the Final Four in 1970 when Lou Henson was the head coach, but it is only 10-25 in 35 all-time NCAA Tournament games.

-- NMSU won a 72-58 decision over Grand Canyon as a 4.5-point ‘chalk’ at The Orleans in Las Vegas. Zach Lofton was the catalyst with a game-high 21 points and five rebounds. A.J. Harris added 18 points, while Jemerrio Jones finished with 17 points and 18 boards. Jones, a 6’5” senior forward, garnered WAC Tourney MVP honors by averaging 11.0 points and 13.2 RPG during the Aggies’ three-game run.

-- NMSU knocked off a pair of Tournament teams in Davidson and Miami at the Diamond Head Classic, but it lost to USC in the finals on Christmas Day in Honolulu. Other notable non-conference games included a 92-74 loss at Saint Mary’s, a sweep of New Mexico in a home-and-home series and a neutral-court victory over Illinois.

-- New Mexico State has won six games in a row. The Aggies are 2-1 ATS with a pair of outright wins in three games as underdogs.

-- Lofton averages a team-high 19.7 points and grabs 5.1 RPG. He’s buried 38.2 percent of his 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Jones (11.0 PPG, 13.2 RPG) averages a double-double and averages team-bests in both assists (3.1 APG) and steals (1.1 SPG).

-- New Mexico State ranked 10th nationally in scoring defense, holding opponents to 63.8 PPG.

-- The ‘over’ is 15-14 overall for the Tigers after cashing in back-to-back games.

-- The ‘under’ is 7-3 overall for the Aggies.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

  
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