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Saturday's Top 25 NCAAB cheat sheet: Early games

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 turnovers overall.

TRENDS

* 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.

TRENDS


* 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.

TRENDS


* 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.

TRENDS

* 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.

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Posted by b2thab
11 months ago

That was a dumb question on my part.
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Posted by b2thab
11 months ago

why arkansas?
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Posted by hvacdawg
11 months ago

play arkansas
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Posted by hvacdawg
11 months ago

"play arkansas"