Study group: Saturday's Top 25 NCAAB betting notes

Jan 11, 2013 |
Study group: Saturday's Top 25 NCAAB betting notes
Indiana takes on Minnesota Saturday - just one of many exciting conference battles.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
Indiana takes on Minnesota Saturday - just one of many exciting conference battles.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
Saturday's college basketball board is packed with marquee conference matchups. Get the inside scoop on all the Top 25 showdowns:

Georgetown Hoyas at St. John's Red Storm (+1.5, 121)

Georgetown returned to the court after a two-week absence - and has looked rusty while dropping its last two contests. The 22nd-ranked Hoyas will look for a better showing on Saturday when they visit Madison Square Garden to face St. John's. Otto Porter Jr. was held to just nine points as Georgetown was on the receiving end of a lopsided 73-45 setback to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Ironically, the last time the Hoyas were beaten so soundly came at the hands of the then-Redmen of St. John's, who posted a 107-67 rout on Dec. 7, 1971. The current Red Storm dropped a 58-56 decision to Rutgers on Wednesday.

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Indiana Hoosiers (-8, 143)

In what is shaping up to be the deepest conference in college basketball, No. 5 Indiana and No. 10 Minnesota are among the Big Ten’s six ranked teams. On Saturday, two of the four teams that remain undefeated in Big Ten play with battle it out in Bloomington as the Golden Gophers meet the Hoosiers. Since an overtime loss to Butler on Dec. 15, Indiana has won five straight – including four by at least 23 points – and enters a favorable part of its schedule with four of its next five games at home after winning road games against Iowa and Penn State. The challenge gets much more difficult against Minnesota, which is in the midst of an 11-game winning streak after thumping No. 13 Illinois 84-67 on the road Wednesday.

Villanova Wildcats at Syracuse Orange (-17, 139)

Syracuse left a lot to be desired in its last game, but emerged victorious nonetheless. After shooting a moribund 3-for-21 from 3-point range, the seventh-ranked Orange will look for a better showing on Saturday afternoon when they host Big East rival Villanova. C.J. Fair collected 23 points and 11 rebounds and Michael Carter-Williams added 17 points as Syracuse recorded its fifth straight victory with a 72-66 triumph over Providence on Wednesday. The Wildcats posted their seventh win in a row with a 61-53 triumph over South Florida on Wednesday.

Duke Blue Devils at North Carolina State Wolfpack (+5.5, 150)

Unbeaten Duke has gone well over a month since it found itself seriously tested. That could change Saturday when it travels shorthanded down the road to take on No. 21 North Carolina State. The top-ranked Blue Devils, who just lost sharpshooting senior Ryan Kelly to a right foot injury, have won eight straight games by at least 13 points, and lately they've locked down on defense in impressive fashion. Duke held Clemson to just 10 first-half points in a 68-40 home win Tuesday, recording its sixth 15-0 start under head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Quinn Cook led the way with 27 points. Although many of their games have been tighter, the Wolfpack are streaking as well. They've won nine in a row after an 83-70 triumph over Georgia Tech on Wednesday. It marked the 10th time in 15 games that N.C. State, which still leads the nation with 53 percent shooting from the floor, has scored at least 80 points.

Kansas State Wildcats at West Virginia Mountaineers (-1, 122)

Kansas State seeks its sixth straight win when it visits former head coach Bob Huggins and West Virginia on Saturday in a Big 12 battle. The 23rd-ranked Wildcats soared through the back end of their non-conference slate with four straight victories, including one over then-No.9 Florida, before opening league play by knocking off then-No. 21 Oklahoma State. It was the Rodney McGruder show as the senior scored a season-high 28 points to pace Kansas State, which will be making its first trip to Morgantown since 1949. Huggins, who coached the Wildcats to their first postseason berth in eight years in 2006-07, guided the Mountaineers to their first Big 12 victory with a 57-53 overtime triumph at Texas on Wednesday. West Virginia erased a 10-point deficit in the final three-plus minutes of regulation and limited the Longhorns to just one basket in overtime.

Butler Bulldogs at Dayton Flyers (Pick, 133)

After winning its Atlantic 10 debut against Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday, No. 17 Butler visits Dayton in search of its 11th straight victory. The Bulldogs are off to their best start since 2008-09, when they won 19 of their first 20 games. Dayton is facing its second straight ranked opponent after falling 74-62 to No. 24 VCU on Wednesday. The Flyers have lost three of their last five games, but they’re 7-2 at home this season. Butler was somehow picked to finish sixth in the A-10 preseason poll, have held three of its last four opponents under 60 points. The Bulldogs also lead the conference in rebounding margin at plus-8.3.

UConn Huskies at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-8.5, 138)

With all five starters returning, No. 16 Notre Dame was expected to make some noise in the Big East this season. On Saturday, the Fighting Irish look to extend their home-court dominance and give the school its longest winning streak in the Mike Brey era when they host Connecticut. Notre Dame notched its 12th straight win on Monday with an efficient 66-60 victory at No. 20 Cincinnati, matching the run made by the 2006-07 team. While the Irish have some work to do before matching the school’s longest same-season winning streak of 18 – set during the 1953-54 campaign – they will face a much different challenge than the defensive-minded Bearcats when they square off against a surging Huskies squad that is coming off a 99-78 home win over DePaul – their fifth victory in their last six contests.

Illinois Fighting Illini at Wisconsin Badgers
(-6, 128)

Wisconsin will try to add to its season-high five-game win streak and continue its unbeaten start to Big Ten Conference play when it hosts No. 13 Illinois on Saturday afternoon. The Badgers have started conference play with wins over Penn State and Nebraska, and they're after their first 3-0 start in the league since 2008-09. It's the first of back-to-back matchups with highly-ranked opponents for Wisconsin, which travels to No. 5 Indiana on Tuesday. The Fighting Illini have dropped three of five since their 12-0 start under first-year coach John Groce, but two of the three defeats have come against ranked teams and a blowout of then-No. 8 Ohio State was interspersed. The Badgers have won the past three meetings, including a season sweep a year ago, and 10 of the past 14. 

USF Bulls at Louisville Cardinals (-20, 122)

Fourth-ranked Louisville is enjoying its best start to a season in nine years and will attempt to notch its 10th straight win on Saturday when they host South Florida. Despite the absence of starting forward Chane Behanan and poor offensive games from Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, the Cardinals moved to 14-1 for the third time in the Rick Pitino era with a 73-58 victory at Seton Hall thanks in part to center Gorgui Dieng’s 16 points and 14 rebounds – both season highs. With wins in 11 of its last 12 meetings against South Florida, Louisville appears to be in good shape to win for the ninth time in as many home games against the Bulls, who have struggled to score in dropping both of their conference games at home.

Kansas Jayhawks at Texas Tech Red Raiders (+17, 144)

Kansas takes a 12-game win streak on the road to Texas Tech on Saturday. The sixth-ranked Jayhawks needed Ben McLemore's 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds left to force overtime in Wednesday's Big 12 Conference-opening win against Iowa State. McLemore and teammate Jeff Withey were both named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 on Thursday. The Red Raiders had a season-low production in a 82-48 loss to Baylor on Tuesday.

VCU Rams at St. Bonaventure Bonnies
(+8, 144)

Virginia Commonwealth joined the list of ranked programs earlier this week for the first time this season and goes after its 11th consecutive victory when it visits St. Bonaventure in Atlantic 10 play on Saturday. The No. 24 Rams haven’t lost since Nov. 24 against Missouri and have won nine of their last 10 games by double digits, including a 74-62 victory over Dayton in their first-ever A-10 game on Wednesday. “We do know that it puts a bigger target on our back and we have to be at the top of our game every time out if we expect to win,” coach Shaka Smart said of being ranked. VCU played well against the Flyers by forcing 26 turnovers. St. Bonaventure has lost four consecutive games and suffered a 78-59 loss to George Washington on Wednesday. The Bonnies are 5-1 at home, the loss being a 19-point drubbing at the hands of Iona.

Florida Gators at LSU Tigers
(+10, 136)

After a blowout win in its Southeastern Conference opener, No. 9 Florida makes its first conference road trip of the season when it faces Georgia on Saturday afternoon. The Gators have won three straight since a loss to Kansas State in Kansas City, including a 77-44 laugher at home against Georgia to open conference play Wednesday. The Tigers are a pedestrian 3-3 since their 6-0 start, and they opened league play with a 68-63 loss at Auburn on Wednesday - but LSU is a perfect 8-0 at home. Florida has won the past three meetings by an average of 11 points, including a 68-61 victory in its last trip to Baton Rouge.

Wyoming Cowboys at Nevada Wolf Pack
(+2.5, 125)

Off to its best start in program history, No. 25 Wyoming had precious little time to celebrate its new status as a ranked team before suffering a gut-wrenching defeat in its last game. The Cowboys will try to bounce back on Saturday when they travel to Nevada to meet the Wolf Pack for the first time in over 13 years. Ranked for the first time since the 1987-88 season, Wyoming entered Wednesday as one of the last four unbeaten teams in Division I until Boise State sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the Cowboys to their first loss of the season. Nevada began its inaugural season in the Mountain West on a sour note on Wednesday, suffering a 78-65 setback at Air Force.

Cincinnati Bearcats at Rutgers Scarlet Knights
(+4, 131)

Rutgers has won two of its first three league games for the first time since 2005-06 after a big victory over St. John’s at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. The Scarlet Knights look to build off that with three of the next four at home, starting with a visit from No. 20 Cincinnati on Saturday night. Rutgers is 7-1 at home this season and has beaten four of the last six ranked teams to visit the Rutgers Athletic Center. The Scarlet Knights have played well on the offensive end much of the season and Cincinnati will present a challenge with a defense that allows 36.5 percent shooting from the field, second in the Big East. The Bearcats are struggling a bit with three losses in their last four games, but two were by a point. Cincinnati has five of the next seven games away from home, where it is 5-0.

Missouri Tigers at Mississippi Rebels (-4, 157)

Missouri plays its first game without star forward Laurence Bowers when the No. 12 Tigers visit Ole Miss in SEC play Saturday. Bowers, who was leading the Tigers in scoring (16.8) and second in rebounding (6.9), sprained the MCL in his right knee in Tuesday’s 84-68 victory over Alabama. Bowers will miss at least two games and be re-evaluated at the end of next week. Ole Miss is coming off its first road victory over Tennessee in 22 years 92-74 on Wednesday.

Colorado State Rams at San Diego State Aztecs
(-7, 133)

San Diego State is viewed nationally as the top team in a stacked Mountain West Conference and Colorado State is among the schools poised to knock the No. 15 Aztecs off the throne. The Rams bring a seven-game winning streak into Saturday’s contest at San Diego State and have had a full week to prepare while the Aztecs opened conference play with a 65-62 win at Fresno State on Wednesday and then took a six-hour bus trip back to San Diego. “Now is the time to tee it up with the big fellas and take it a game at a time,” first-year Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. “We’ve put ourselves in position RPI-wise and record-wise. The whole thing is to try and win a championship and get into the NCAA tournament.” San Diego State is off to the second-best start in school history behind the 2010-11 squad that opened 20-0. The Aztecs are 7-0 at home.

Arizona Wildcats at Oregon State Beavers (+8.5, 149)

Arizona and Oregon State will be trying to bounce back from disappointing losses when they meet Saturday night in a Pac-12 game in Corvallis, Ore. The No. 3 Wildcats hope to avoid a Northwest sweep after getting just six points from their bench Thursday night in a 70-66 loss at Oregon, dropping them from the ranks of the unbeaten. The Beavers lost one of their top players to suspension prior to their game Thursday night against visiting Arizona State and their lack of depth showed in the 72-62 loss to the Sun Devils. Eric Moreland, a 6-10 sophomore center, was fifth on the team in scoring (10.8) and second in the Pac-12 in rebounding (11.1), but was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Heading into the Arizona State game, the next highest scorer behind Moreland is 6-9 freshman forward Olaf Schaftenaar (3.1), who scored eight against the Sun Devils.

Air Force Falcons at UNLV Runnin' Rebels
(-16, 143)

No. 19 UNLV looks to get back on the winning track when it hosts Air Force in a Mountain West Conference game at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Runnin’ Rebels dropped their conference opener 65-60 on Wednesday night at New Mexico. UNLV got just 12 points from freshman star Anthony Bennett who battled foul problems in the tight affair. Air Force posted a rare MWC opening win when it defeated Nevada 78-65. The Falcons got 30 a career-high points from Mike Fitzgerald who made four of Air Force’s 10 3-pointers in the game. Air Force trailed by three at the half but then built a 20-point second-half lead as Fitzgerald scored 23 points after the break. The Falcons improved to 9-24 all-time in conference openers.

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