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College basketball tipoff: What bettors need to know

Maryland Terrapins vs. Connecticut Huskies (-7, 144)
Site: Brooklyn, New York

The Terrapins are predicted to challenge for that middle tier in the ACC, though another year of maturity from swingman Dez Wells could get them closer to the top. Wells is expected to take on more ball-handling duties and averaged 13.1 points on 52.6 percent shooting as a sophomore last season, including a 30-point outburst in an ACC tournament win over Duke.

The Huskies managed 20 wins despite sitting out both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments last season and will run out a starting lineup with two seniors and two juniors to go along with sophomore Omar Calhoun. Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined to average 32.5 points and nine assists in one of the most productive backcourts in the country last season.

TRENDS:


* Under is 8-2 in Huskies last 10 vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Over is 6-2 in Terrapins last eight neutral site games.
* Terrapins are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games.

Davidson Wildcats at Duke Blue Devils (-17, 152)

The Wildcats are coming off consecutive 25-win campaigns and lost on a last-second shot to third-seeded Marquette in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Davidson, which will move to the Atlantic 10 in 2014, begins its final season in the Southern Conference with the league’s preseason player of the year in De’Mon Brooks (13.7 points, 6.2 rebounds).

Despite the loss of its top three scorers from a season ago, the expectations remain high for No. 4 Duke. The Blue Devils lost Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly to graduation – a trio that accounted for 54.8 percent of the team’s scoring – but highly-touted freshman Jabari Parker was the crown jewel of a recruiting class that is expected to help Duke win the ACC.

TRENDS:


* Under is 7-1 in the last eight meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Duke.
* Wildcats are 5-2 ATS in their last seven vs. Atlantic Coast.

St. John's Red Storm vs. Wisconsin Badgers (-3.5, 132)
Site: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Despite having five starters and 11 letterwinners returning, the fortunes of this year's St. John's squad could come down to a newcomer Rysheed Jordan. St. John's has a pair of solid scorers returning in D'Angelo Harrison (17.8) and JaKarr Sampson (14.9), as well as the nation's blocked shots leader in sophomore Chris Obekpa (4.03).

Wisconsin has long been a top defensive squad under coach Bo Ryan, who also preaches balance offensively. Senior guard Ben Brust was the team's leading scorer a year ago, averaging 11.1 points, and he'll be a key to the team's success again this year.

TRENDS:

* Red Storm are 2-5 ATS in their last seven non-conference games.
* Red Storm are 0-4 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
* Badgers are 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference games.

Oregon Ducks vs Georgetown Hoyas (-5, 131)
Site: Camp Humphreys Army Base, South Korea

With the loss of three frontcourt starters, Oregon coach Dana Altman will once again rely on transfers to carry the Ducks back into the NCAA tournament. Mike Moser is with his third program and is expected to start at forward, while Jason Calliste and Joseph Young will vie for a spot a shooting guard.

Josh Smith, a 6-10, 350-pound transfer from UCLA, should help to offset the loss of Otto Porter, who led the Hoyas in scoring, rebounding and steals. Greg Whittington was expected to take over Porter's role in the offense, but a torn ACL will leave him sidelined for the entire season.

TRENDS:


* Ducks are 5-0 ATS in their last five neutral site games.
* Ducks are 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference games.
* Hoyas are 18-8 ATS in their last 26 neutral site games.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs Oklahoma Sooners (-5, 132)
Site: Dallas, Texas

Alabama must depend on senior guard Trevor Releford to carry the load early after a rough offseason which saw three players from the rotation leave the program. Trevor Lacey, Moussa Gueye and Devonta Pollard have all left. Algie Key, who averaged 17.6 points in community college last season, joins the group and more will be expected from guard Retin Obasohan along with forward Nick Jacobs.

For the Sooners, Ryan Sprangler, Cameron Clark and Tyler Neal highlight a new frontcourt with leading scorer and rebounder Romero Osby gone. Buddy Hield joins fellow sophomores Je’lon Hornbeak and Isaiah Cousins in the backcourt and coach Lon Kruger will be hoping to increase the 16 points combined they produced last season.

TRENDS:

* Under is 4-1 in Sooners last five neutral site games.
* Under is 5-0 in Crimson Tide last five neutral site games.
* Crimson Tide are 1-5 ATS in their last six vs. Big 12.

Florida Gulf Coast Eagles at Nebraska Cornhuskers (OFF, OFF)

No longer an unknown after last season's improbable NCAA Tournament success, the Eagles come into the season with not only high expectations, but with a new head coach. Former Kansas assistant Joe Dooley takes over for Andy Enfield, who departed for Southern California after leading the Eagles to the Sweet 16 last season.

After a dismal season in head coach Tim Miles' first season, Nebraska will move into the new Pinnacle Arena, which has already sold out for every Cornhusker game this season. Starters Ray Gallegos, Shavon Shields and David Rivers return to a team that finished 10th in the Big Ten last season.

TRENDS:


* Under is 43-21-1 in Cornhuskers last 65 home games.
* Over is 4-1 in Eagles last five non-conference games.
* Eagles are 5-0 ATS in their last five non-conference games.

Colorado Buffaloes vs. Baylor Bears (-4.5, 145)
Site: Dallas, Texas

The Buffaloes will have a hard time replacing Andre Roberson (10.9 points, 11.2 rebounds), who left early for the NBA, but have a player expected to join Roberson in the world's top league next season. Spencer Dinwiddie (team-leading 15.3 points) is a 6-6 junior guard capable of dominating a game and considered making himself available for the most recent NBA draft before his father encouraged him to stay in school.

After reaching the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament twice in three seasons, Baylor settled for the NIT in 2013 and crushed Iowa 74-54 to win the tournament title. The Bears will be led by All-Big 12 preseason selections Isaiah Austin - a 7-1 sophomore center who averaged 13 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds - and senior forward Cory Jefferson (13.3 points, eight rebounds). Both players were considered potential first-round picks in the NBA draft if they opted to leave after last season.

TRENDS:

* Over is 9-4 in Bears last 13 neutral site games.
* Buffaloes are 12-5-1 ATS in their last 18 neutral site games.
* Over is 4-1 in Buffaloes last five vs. Big 12.

Boston College Eagles at Providence Friars (-2.5, 146)

The Eagles could have one of the nation's better backcourts with sophomore guards Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan, who opened eyes coast-to-coast by scoring a freshman-record 41 points in the ACC tournament. Hanlan averaged a team-high 15.4 points and shot nearly 40 percent from long range while Rahon scored 10.1 per game and handed out 123 assists.

The Friars return their top three scorers from a squad that closed the regular season with seven wins in nine games before advancing to the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. The one key loss was point guard Vincent Council, but the Friars have a replacement in sophomore Kris Dunn, one of the nation's top recruits two years ago.

TRENDS:

* Underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings.
* Eagles are 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings in Providence.
* Over is 5-1 in Eagles last six vs. Big East.

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