Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:00 PM
Saturday's Tip Sheet
No Saturday NFL games this week? No problem! Gamblers have a plethora of options Saturday with a stacked college basketball card, including a pair of key matchups featuring a quartet of legit Final Four contenders. Let’s break down Kentucky at Auburn and Virginia at Duke, before sharing a bunch of national notes in Bonus Nuggets at the bottom…
Kentucky at Auburn
-- Auburn (13-3 straight up, 8-6-1 against the spread) is unbeaten in nine home games with a 5-3 spread record. Since dropping its SEC opener at Ole Miss, Bruce Pearl’s team has won back-to-back games both SU and ATS, including Wednesday’s 85-66 triumph at Texas A&M as a 6.5-point road ‘chalk.’
-- opened Auburn as a 4.5-point favorite late Friday afternoon. The total was sent out at 145 points but quickly adjusted to 146.5.
-- Auburn raced out to a 48-32 halftime lead and coasted to victory in College Station. The 151 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 147-point total on a bucket with 1:50 remaining. Senior guard Bryce Brown was the catalyst for the winners, producing 22 points on 5-of-11 shooting from 3-point range. Brown had three rebounds, two steals and three assists compared to just one turnover. Jared Harper drained 4-of-9 from long distance on his way to finishing with 17 points, six assists, three steals and three boards. Anfernee McLemore added 13 points and six rebounds in just 19 minutes of playing time. He buried 5-of-8 field-goal attempts and 3-of-4 launches from downtown. Austin Wiley was limited to 14 minutes of PT due to foul trouble, but he still had four points, 12 rebounds and one blocked shot.
-- Brown is averaging a team-best 16.2 points per game and is hitting 37.8 percent of his 3-pointers. Harper (15.1 PPG) has a 107/35 assist-to-turnover ratio, makes 40.2 percent of his treys and 83.9 percent of his free-throw attempts. Samir Doughty, a Philadelphia product who started his career at VCU before transferring to Auburn, leads the Tigers in 3-point accuracy (44.4%) and FT percentage (95.0%). Doughty is scoring at an 8.6 PPG clip and has 24 steals.
-- Wiley (10.8 PPG) paces the Tigers in rebounding (6.1 RPG), field-goal percentage (58.1%) and blocked shots (1.9 BPG), although we should note that McLemore (7.1 PPG) is also averaging 1.9 blocked shots per game and Chuma Okeke (9.9 PPG) is also pulling down 6.1 RPG. Okeke leads AU in steals with 1.9 per game.
-- Auburn is ranked No. 11 at KenPom.com and No. 18 in the NCAA’s new NET rankings. The Tigers are 5-3 against teams in K-Pom’s Top 100. Their best wins include home scalps of Murray St., Dayton and Washington, in addition to neutral-court victories over Xavier and Arizona.
-- Kentucky (13-3 SU, 7-9 ATS) is 2-1 both SU and ATS in three road assignments. UK has won three games in a row and six of its last seven while going 4-3 ATS.
-- John Calipari’s club is off a 69-49 win at Georgia as a 7.5-point road ‘chalk’ on Tuesday. Ashton Hagans, an original UGA commit before Mark Fox was fired, went back to his home state and torched the Bulldogs with 23 points, five rebounds, four steals and four assists compared to only one turnover. Tyler Herro added 12 points, seven boards, one steal and four assists compared to merely one turnover. P.J. Washington finished with 10 points and six rebounds. The Wildcats, who led 35-31 at intermission, outscored UGA 34-18 in the second half.
-- Keldon Johnson leads the Wildcats in scoring with his 14.7 PPG average. The freshman out of Oak Hill Academy averages 5.2 RPG and has buried 50.3 percent of his FGAs, 38.9 percent of his 3-balls and 74.4 percent of his FTAs. Herro is averaging 13.1 points and 4.3 RPG while making a team-high 87.9 percent of his FTs. Reid Travis, the grad transfer from Stanford, is averaging 12.8 points and 6.4 RPG, while P.J. Washington is averaging 11.8 points and 8.0 RPG. Hahaha (7.6 PPG) has a team-best 36 steals and a 55/33 assist-to-turnover ratio.
-- Kentucky and Ole Miss are both 3-1 in SEC play, trailing Tennessee (4-0), South Carolina (4-0) and LSU (3-0).
-- UK is No. 13 at K-Pom and No. 10 in the NET rankings. The Wildcats are 3-3 versus K-Pom Top 100 foes, defeating Vandy at home, UNC on a neutral court and Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center.
-- This is Kentucky’s second underdog spot of the season. The ‘Cats beat UNC 80-72 as 2.5-point ‘dogs. Their other L’s have come at Alabama (77-75) and vs. Duke on a neutral floor (118-84).
-- These SEC rivals have met just once in each of the past three seasons. Auburn has won two of those games (both that were at home) and is 3-0 ATS. On Jan. 16 of 2016, Auburn won a 75-70 decision as an 11.5-point home underdog. Then at Rupp Arena on Jan. 14 of 2017, UK drilled AU 92-72 but the Tigers covered as 24.5-point road underdogs. On Valentine’s Day of last season, Pearl’s team downed the Wildcats 76-66 as a 9.5-point home favorite. Harper and Brown led the way with 18 points apiece, while McLemore contributed 13 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, two blocked shots and one assist without a turnover.
-- The ‘over’ is 8-7 overall for the Tigers, 5-3 in their home contests. They’ve seen the ‘over’ cash in back-to-back outings.
-- The ‘under’ is 9-7 overall for the ‘Cats, 2-1 in their road games. They’ve seen the ‘under’ in consecutive contests and four of their past six.
-- The ‘under’ has cashed at a 10-0-1 clip in Kentucky’s past 11 games at Auburn. Also, the ‘under’ is 15-5-1 in the last 21 meetings in this rivalry (regardless of the venue).
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
Virginia at Duke
-- There was great news for Duke last Saturday when it rallied to nip Florida State on Cam Reddish’s buzzer-beating trey in Tallahassee. The win was somewhat bittersweet, however, because star freshman Zion Williamson was poked in the eye, leaving him unable to return and brining his status for Tuesday’s showdown vs. Syracuse in question. The good news Tuesday was that Williamson was cleared to face The ‘Cuse, but the bad news was Reddish had come down with some sort of virus that left him unable to go vs. the Orange. Then more bad news came in the first half when freshman guard Tre Jones sustained a shoulder injury. The initial postgame diagnosis was a sprained shoulder that would keep Jones, an elite perimeter defender, out indefinitely. By Thursday, however, all the news was positive with Reddish cleared to play Saturday vs. Virginia. Furthermore, and of more importance, it was revealed that Jones’s injury isn’t as serious as originally suspected. In fact, he wasn’t even ruled out to play against the Cavaliers, although that is unlikely.
-- Duke, a 17.5-point home favorite at most spots, raced out to a 12-0 lead over Syracuse in the first three minutes. However, the Orange didn’t blink and took the lead with more than five minutes left in the first half. The Blue Devils led 49-48 at intermission, but they went into the second half without Jones and Reddish. After Williamson made 1-of-2 FTs went a vintage crunch-time (phantom) call went Duke’s way to tie the game, neither team could score and overtime was needed. The Orange controlled the extra session and won 95-91 to cash gorgeous 12/1 money-line tickets at William Hill properties.
-- In the losing effort vs. the ‘Cuse, Williamson produced 35 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots. R.J. Barrett had 23 points, 16 boards and nine assists compared to just one turnover while playing all 45 minutes. Alex O’Connell drained 4-of-8 from downtown in a 16-point effort. He also had three rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals, while Marques Bolden finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five rejections.
-- Duke (14-2 SU, 10-6 ATS) is 8-1 SU and 6-3 ATS at home.
-- Duke is third in the nation with its 90.2 PPG average. The Blue Devils are 26th nationally in FG percentage (48.8%), but they make only 31.8 percent of their 3-pointers (No. 287 nationally out of 355 D-1 teams).
-- Barrett is averaging a team-best 23.4 PPG. The 6’7” freshman slasher averages 6.9 rebounds and 4.1 APG. Williamson (21.2 PPG) leads the Blue Devils in rebounding (9.4 RPG) and FG percentage (66.2%) and is second in blocked shots with 30. Reddish (13.3 PPG) has 29 steals and has made 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers. Jones (8.1 PPG) averages team-highs in assists (5.7 APG) and steals (2.1 SPG), while Bolden (5.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG) paces Duke in blocked shots (2.3 BPG).
-- Duke is No. 2 at K-Pom and No. 4 in the NET rankings. The Blue Devils are 7-2 versus K-Pom Top-100 opponents. The Blue Devils’ other loss came to Gonzaga in the finals of the Maui Classic. They have three wins over Top-15 foes (at K-Pom), including victories vs. UK, Auburn (78-72 in Hawaii) and vs. Texas Tech (69-58 in NYC).
-- Several globals opened Duke as a 3.5-point home favorite, only to quickly move that number to -1.5. An hour or so later, the Blue Devils were favored by three and the total was 141. This will be Duke’s lowest total of the year and Virginia’s highest.
-- Virginia (16-0 SU, 13-3 ATS) is one of two undefeated teams remaining in college basketball along with Michigan. Tony Bennett’s squad is a perfect 4-0 both SU and ATS in its road assignments.
-- UVA is ranked No. 1 in the country in scoring defense (51.7 PPG) and at defending the 3-point line (25.1%). The Cavs are fourth in FG percentage defense (37.0%). At the other end on offense, Virginia is ranked seventh in 3-point accuracy (40.9%) and eighth in FT percentage (77.7%).
-- Since failing to cover the spread in a 57-49 win over VCU as a 15-point home favorite on Dec. 9, Virginia has covered the number in seven straight games that it has won by margins of at least 13 points.
-- UVA is 4-0 in ACC action with road wins at Boston College (83-56) and at Clemson (63-43), in addition to home victories over FSU (65-52) and Va. Tech. The Cavs spanked the Hokies 81-59 as 7.5-point home ‘chalk’ Tuesday night in Charlottesville. They led 44-22 at halftime and coasted into the win column. De’Andre Hunter, who bettors should remember went down with a late season-ending injury and didn’t play in UVA’s unfathomable first-round loss to UMBC, led the way vs. V-Tech with 21 points and five rebounds on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Kyle Guy buried 3-of-5 from downtown in a 15-point effort, while Ty Jerome contributed 14 points, 12 assists, four rebounds and two steals.
-- UVA is ranked No. 1 at K-Pom and in the NET rankings. The Cavs have eight wins over K-Pom Top-100 opponents, including Top-20 scalps at Maryland, vs. Wisconsin (neutral) and Va. Tech.
-- Guy is averaging a team-best 15.2 PPG while shooting at a 46.7 percent clip from 3-point range and an 87.9 percent rate from the charity stripe. Hunter (14.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG) is hitting 44.4 percent of his 3-balls, 82.1 percent of his FTs and 52.3 percent of his FGAs. Jerome (13.2 PPG) averages team-bests in assists (4.9 APG) and steals (1.8 SPG) and has knocked down 41.2 percent from long distance.
-- The ‘under’ is 10-4-2 overall for the Blue Devils, 6-2-1 in their home games.
-- The ‘under’ is 9-7 overall for UVA, 2-2 in its four road contests.
-- ESPN will have the broadcast at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets
-- Tennessee will attempt to state its case for the nation’s No. 1 ranking when it hosts Alabama at 2:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2. The Volunteers, who are 15-1 SU and 9-5 ATS, are undefeated in 10 home games with a 4-4-1 spread record. They’ve won 11 games in a row since suffering their lone defeat to Kansas in overtime on a neutral floor. Ten of those 11 wins have come by double-digit margin with the lone exception being a neutral-court victory over Gonzaga by a 76-73 count. The ‘over’ has hit in three in a row for UT and six of its past eight. Meanwhile, Alabama has watched the ‘over’ go 12-3-1 overall. The first global numbers late Friday afternoon had UT favored by 14.5 points with a total of 154.
-- Florida fell to 1-3 in SEC play for the first time since 1996-97 when it dropped a last-second heartbreaker to Mississippi St. in Starkville on Tuesday night. The Gators are just 9-7 overall, but they were in one-possession games in the final two minutes of six of their seven defeats (hat tip to UF beat writer Chris Harry of The Harry Fodder blog). The exception was the 81-60 season-opening loss at FSU. UF takes on Georgia at noon Eastern in Saturday’s CBS game at Stegeman Coliseum. The early global number had the Gators as five-point road ‘chalk’ with a total of 133. UF is No. 23 at K-Pom, No. 42 in the NET rankings.
-- TCU junior guard Jaylen Fisher has played his last game for Jamie Dixon’s program. Fisher will finish the year academically but is no longer on the team. He’ll transfer elsewhere after the semester ends. Fisher was averaging 12.1 points and 2.7 APG.
-- San Diego guard Olin Carter III (16.5 PPG) is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s game against Saint Mary’s due to an abdominal injury.
-- Texas Southern center Trayvon Reed (13.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG & 1.7 BPG) is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s showdown against Grambling due to an injured leg.
-- Colorado State’s Anthony Masinton-Bonner is dealing with an Achilles injury that his status for Saturday’s MWC matchup with Utah St. in question. Masinton-Bonner averages 12.9 PPG.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.