With college football done for another season, the focus shifts to an exciting college basketball campaign - and Saturday's early schedule should provide a hearty fix for NCAA hoops fans.
North Carolina Tar Heels at Syracuse Orange (-7.5)
Marcus Paige averages 17 points to lead the Tar Heels in scoring, but struggled in
the last two games while making 5-of-27 from the field – 3-of-19 from
behind the 3-point arc. But it has been more than off nights from Paige
that has caused the Tar Heels’ problems after they beat No. 4 Michigan
State, No. 8 Louisville and No. 16 Kentucky earlier in the season. The
talent is there with James Michael McAdoo (14.4) leading four more
players averaging in double figures scoring.
Opponents are shooting 41.2 percent against them, but the Orange limit
teams to 6.7 less shots per game while leading the ACC in turnover
margin (plus-6.07) and steals (9.5). C.J Fair averages 17.2 points and
Trevor Cooney is next at 13.9 while shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point
range. Tyler Ennis runs the show, scoring 11.7 per contest and standing first
in the league in steals (2.6) and third in assists (5.6) with only 18
* Tar Heels are 1-5 ATS in their last six games.
* Orange are 5-1 ATS in their last six home games.
* Under is 8-2 in North Carolina's last 10 road games.
* Under is 4-1-1 in Syracuse's last six games.
Iowa State Cyclones at Oklahoma Sooners (+3)
The Cyclones and Oklahoma leads the Big 12 in points per game at
87, but Iowa State allows just 67.5 per game, good for fifth in the
conference. Four players score in double figures, including forward
Melvin Ejim (17.8 per game), guard DeAndre Kane (16.1) and forward
Georges Niang (15.4). Kane, who transferred after averaging double
figures in all three seasons at Marshall, had the first 30-point
performance of the season for the Cyclones against Baylor.
The Sooners allowed Kansas to shoot 54.7 percent, including 8-of-16
from 3-point range, and sent them to the line 30 times. They currently
rank last in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing 79.1 points per
game and are ninth in field-goal percentage allowed at 43 percent, ahead
of only Texas Tech.
Oklahoma leads the series 111-81, including 61-23 at home.
* Cyclones are 22-6 ATS in their last 28 Saturday games.
* Sooners are 0-4 ATS in their last four home games.
* Under is 5-0 in Iowa State's last five road games.
* Over is 9-1 in Oklahoma's last 10 games vs. teams with winning records.
St. Bonaventure Bonnies at Massachusetts Minutemen (-8.5)
Production for the Bonnies has been backcourt-heavy this season, with
their top three scorers all guards in Matthew Wright (16.5), Charlon Kloof (12.5) and Andell Cumberbatch (11.3). Wright in
particular has been hot, averaging a shade under 20 points and shooting
9-for-19 from 3-point range in St. Bonaventure’s last three games. If
they can improve upon their 32.4 percent rate from long range, the
Bonnies could be more dangerous than expected in the Atlantic 10.
Point guard Chaz Williams is the unquestioned leader of the Minutemen,
but he had been focused more on distribution than scoring over a recent
five-game stretch where he scored 12 points or less each time out. That
changed with a game-high 22 against the Hawks, but Williams’ numbers are
still extremely well-balanced. The diminutive senior — he stands just
5-8 — leads the team with 15.9 points and is second nationally in
assists with 7.4.TRENDS
* Bonnies are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games vs. the Atlantic 10.
* Minutemen are 0-4 ATS in their last four games.
* Under is 5-1 in St. Bonaventure's last six games following an ATS win.
* Home team is 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings.
Villanova Wildcats at St. John's Red Storm (+4.5)
The Wildcats' proficiency at both ends of the floor has been a major
factor in their early-season success. Villanova ranks second in the Big
East in scoring average (81.3 points) and field goal percentage defense
(39.1) while leading the conference with 7.9 steals per game. JayVaughn
Pinkston is the focus of the Wildcats' offense, averaging 16.1 points,
while James Bell (14.4) and Darrun Hilliard (14.1) give Villanova three
players among the top 15 scorers in the conference.
The Red Storm are led offensively by D'Angelo Harrison, who averages
18.5 points per game - good for fourth in the conference. JaKarr Sampson
is the only other St. John's player averaging double figures, posting
12 points per game. Chris Obekpa leads the Red Storm and the Big East,
averaging 4.2 blocks, which trails only Arizona State's Jordan Bachynski
(4.8) nationally and lifts St. John's to its NCAA-leading nine blocks
per game as a team.
* Wildcats are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games.
* Red Storm are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games following a loss.
* Over is 5-0 in Villanova's last five games.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
Florida Gators at Arkansas Razorbacks (-1)
Point guard Scottie Wilbekin is questionable for the contest after he
injured his right ankle late in Wednesday’s victory. Wilbekin ranks
second in scoring (12.3) and leads the team in steals (2.2) and assists
(3.9) while expertly running the offense. Forward Casey Prather is
shooting a torrid 62.4 percent from the field while averaging a
team-high 17 points, and guard Michael Frazier II (11.6) and center
Patric Young (10.9) also average in double figures.
The Razorbacks had topped 100 points in two of their previous four
games before going cold against the Aggies. Leading scorer Michael
Qualls had an especially tough time, going 1-of-12 from the field while
scoring a season-low two points to drop his average to 12.9.
Second-leading scorer Bobby Portis (12.4) had just seven points on
3-of-10 shooting and third-leading scorer Alandise Harris (10.4) scored
eight as fourth-leading scorer Rashad Madden (10.3) was the only
Arkansas player to score in double digits with 12.
* Gators are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.
* Razorbacks are 7-0 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS loss.
* Under is 7-0 in Florida's last seven Saturday games.
* Under is 7-2 in the last nine meetings.
TCU Horned Frogs at Baylor Bears (-15.5)
Injuries have ravaged the Horned Frogs’ roster, which has forced
assistant coaches Brent Scott and Kwanza Johnson along with Trey Zeigler
and Chris Washburn (both ineligible to play due to NCAA transfer rules)
to practice against the starters. TCU forced 18 turnovers Tuesday
against Kansas State, but managed only eight points off those miscues
and was outrebounded 37-21. The Horned Frogs shot a season-worst 12.5
percent beyond the 3-point arc, ending a four-game stretch in which they
had connected at a 42-percent rate.
The Bears, who entered Tuesday ranked 293rd in the country in 3-point
attempts, matched season highs in makes (11) and attempts (25) against
Iowa State. In doing so, however, Baylor watched the undersized Cyclones
outscore them in the paint 47-26 and in transition 16-0. The 21-point
disparity in paint points was one more than it had allowed in the three
other games in which it was outscored in the paint combined while the
fast-break points were four more than it had surrendered over the
previous six contests.TRENDS
* Horned Frogs are 6-20 ATS in their last 26 games vs. the Big 12.
* Bears are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games following an SU loss.
* Over is 6-2-1 in TCU's last nine road games.
* Over is 7-3 in Baylor's last 10 games vs. Big 12 foes.