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Friday's Betting Notes

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**Maryland vs. Connecticut**

-- These schools will collide at Barclays Center in Brooklyn for a 6:30 p.m. Eastern tip on ESPN2. As of early Thursday night, most betting shops had UConn favored by 5 ½ or six points.

-- Most preseason publications have Maryland predicted to finish sixth or seventh in the ACC. The Terrapins are seeking their first NCAA Tournament bid since Mark Turgeon took over for Gary Williams. Turgeon’s first season ended with 17 wins and last year the Terps won 25 before losing in the NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden.

-- Maryland lost 7-1 center Alex Len to the NBA Draft following his sophomore campaign. Len averaged 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots per game. The Terps also lost Pe’Shon Howard, who transferred to Southern Cal. Howard dished out a team-high 3.6 assists per game.

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-- Turgeon’s troops will be led by Dez Wells, who scored a team-high 13.1 PPG after transferring to College Park from Xavier. Wells, who can play the 2 or the 3, averaged 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists per contests in 2012-2013. Junior guard Nick Faust is another wing player who averaged 9.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game as a sophomore. Seth Allen (7.8 PPG) was expected to be the starting point guard before suffering a fractured foot that’s going to keep him on the sidelines until January. Look for Wells to play a lot of PG in Allen’s absence.

-- Maryland has three key newcomers. Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz sat out last year but is ready to contribute. The stretch-4 with range averaged 7.7 points and 4.9 boards a game for the Wolverines in 2011-2012. Penn St. transfer Jonathan Graham is still awaiting word from the NCAA on whether or not he can play this season. Graham averaged 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Nittany Lions last year. Roddy Peters, a local D.C. product, is a combo guard who was ranked No. 48 by Rivals.com in his 2013 recruiting class.

-- UConn enters its second season since Jim Calhoun’s retirement looking to get back to the postseason. The Huskies are in the newly-formed AAC after going 20-10 overall and 10-8 in its last season in the Big East. They weren’t allowed to play in the postseason due to a one-year ban from the NCAA for recruiting violations.

-- UConn has one of the country’s premier backcourts with senior Shabazz Napier and junior Ryan Boatright. Napier averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game last season, while Boatright averaged 15.4 points and 4.4 assists per contest.

-- Kevin Ollie’s squad has an excellent third wheel in DeAndre Daniels, who averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Daniels also blocked a team-high 45 shots. He is looking to get help in the paint from incoming freshman Kentan Facey, who was New York state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.

-- UConn power forward Tyler Olander (4.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG) has been suspended indefinitely after being charged with DUI.

-- UConn will get backcourt depth from George Washington transfer Lasan Kromah, who averaged double figures in scoring in each of his three seasons with the Colonials. The Huskies have also added North Carolina St. transfer Rodney Purvis, but he must sit out the season and will only be able to contribute in practice.

**St. John’s vs. Wisconsin**

-- This Big East-Big Ten showdown will take place at the Sanford Sports Pentagon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network.

-- As of early Thursday night, most betting shops had Wisconsin favored by 4 ½-points

-- Wisconsin is ranked No. 20 in The AP Top 25 peseason poll. The Badgers were bounced from last season’s NCAA Tournament in their opener against Ole Miss.

-- Bo Ryan has led Wisconsin to the Big Dance in each of his 12 seasons as head coach. The Badgers, who have never finished worse than fourth in the Big Ten under Ryan, are a solid bet to be back in the NCAAs again this year thanks to the return of Traevon Jackson, Josh Gasser, Sam Dekker and Ben Brust. Gasser is returning from a torn ACL that caused him to miss the 2012-2013 campaign.

-- Brust is the team’s leading returning scorer (11.1 PPG) and rebounder (5.1 RPG) despite standing just 6-1. He does all the little things and is a vintage player in Ryan’s program, one that takes charges, devours loose balls and is always in the right place. Jackson and Gasser can both play PG and create for others. Dekker is a 6-7 forward that can step out and stroke it from 3-point range.

-- St. John’s is expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the new Big East that has 10 teams, including newcomers like Xavier, Butler and Creighton. The Red Storm was decimated by injuries and a key suspension in 2012-2013 when they won only 17 games. Steve Lavin’s squad was in the bubble conversation in early February before losing seven of its last eight games. D’Angelo Harrison (17.8 PPG) was suspended for the last six games but was reinstated over the summer.

-- The Red Storm returns most of its key pieces like sophomore JaKarr Sampson, who averaged 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last year. Sir’Dominic Pointer is back after leading the Johnnies in assists, steals and field-goal percentage.

-- St. John’s went to its first NCAA Tournament since 2002 in Lavin’s first season, losing in the first round to Gonzaga. But Lavin missed most of his second year as he battled prostate cancer and the Red Storm limped to a 13-19 record. Coming off a 17-win season, Lavin is determined to get St. John’s back in the NCAAs in his fourth year at the helm.

**Oregon vs. Georgetown**

-- This game will be played at Camp Humphreys in Seoul, South Korea, in front of United States troops. Both schools will wear camo-style uniforms in the second edition of the Armed Forces Classic. ESPN will have the telecast at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

-- As of early Thursday night, most spots had Georgetown as a four-point ‘chalk.’

-- Oregon advanced to the Sweet 16 last season before falling to eventual national champ Louisville. The Ducks finished the year with 28 wins and won the Pac-12 Tournament with a win over UCLA in the finals.

-- Oregon will be without starting guard Dominic Artis and reserve forward Ben Carter. Both sophomores have been suspended indefinitely for selling team gear (shoes in this case). Artis averaged 8.5 points, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game as a freshman. When he missed nine games with a foot injury, the Ducks weren’t the same team.

-- Dana Altman’s team will have its second leading scorer from last year in sophomore Damyean Dotson, who averaged 11.4 points and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. The Ducks lost a pair of solid post players in E.J. Singler and Tony Woods, but they add UNLV transfer Mike Moser after he struggled with injuries for the Rebels last season.

-- Speaking of transfers, Georgetown could be in business if former UCLA center Josh Smith can keep his weight down. Smith has outstanding post moves and reminds me a lot of Dametri Hill, who led the Florida Gators to their first Final Four appearance in 1994.

-- Georgetown will be without Greg Whittington (12.1 PPG) for the time being due to a torn ACL suffered in the spring. The Hoyas will also be trying to replace the void caused by the loss of Otto Porter, who was the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft.

-- Senior guard Markel Starks was the Hoyas second-leading scorer last season when he averaged 12.8 points and 3.0 assists per game.

-- Georgetown was the first victim of Florida Gulf Coast in last year’s NCAA Tournament, losing 78-68 as a 14-point favorite and a No. 3 seed.

  
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