Study group: Saturday's Top 25 NCAAB betting notes

Dec 28, 2012 |
Study group: Saturday's Top 25 NCAAB betting notes
Russ Smith and the Cardinals take on state rivals Kentucky.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
Russ Smith and the Cardinals take on state rivals Kentucky.
Photo By - USA Today Sports
Saturday has a full board of betting choices for college basketball fans. Check out our quick-hitting notes on all the Top 25 action:

Western Michigan Broncos at North Carolina State Wolfpack (-19, 144)

Coach Mark Gottfried has No. 25 North Carolina State clicking and his team will try to extend its win streak to six games – matching the longest in his tenure – when the Wolfpack host Western Michigan on Saturday. NC State began the season as the highest-ranked team in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but losses to Oklahoma State in Puerto Rico and a road setback against No.2 Michigan threatened its top-25 status. The Wolfpack have since run off five straight wins, including victories over Connecticut and Stanford, scoring at least 80 points in each of the last four. They will attempt to move to 7-0 at home this season against the Broncos, who have dropped three of their last five despite a 87-66 victory over Mount St. Mary’s last Saturday.

Santa Clara Broncos at Duke Blue Devils (-20, 147)

It has been a month since top-ranked Duke faced a serious challenge. Santa Clara hopes to end that trend Saturday when it puts a six-game win streak on the line against the unbeaten Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. After a pair of five-point wins over powerhouses Louisville and Ohio State at the end of November, Duke has won four December games by an average of 31 points. The closest of those contests came the last time out, a 76-54 win over Elon on Dec. 20. That was the Blue Devils' 100th consecutive non-conference win at home. It also left them 11-0 for the ninth time under coach Mike Krzyzewski. The Broncos are coming off a 69-45 win over Wagner in the title game of the Cable Car Classic last Saturday.

UNLV Runnin' Rebels at North Carolina Tar Heels (-4.5, 160)

No. 17 UNLV, which has won nine straight games since losing at home to Oregon, 83-79, on Nov. 23, makes its first trip to the Dean Smith Center to face North Carolina, which has won four of its last five games. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series 3-1 but the Runnin' Rebels won the last meeting last year at the Orleans Arena in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational, 90-80. That was UNLV's first win over the nation's top-ranked team in 22 years and the first time a Mountain West school ever defeated a team ranked No. 1 in both polls. The previous four meetings between these teams were played on neutral courts, including North Carolina's 84-83 win over the Rebels in the 1977 Final Four in Atlanta.

Auburn Tigers at Illinois Fighting Illini
(-12, 131)

No. 15 Illinois tries to rebound from its first loss when it plays Auburn at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday. First-year coach John Groce’s Fighting Illini fell 82-73 to Missouri in the “Braggin’ Rights” game in St. Louis last Saturday despite Brandon Paul’s 23 points. Illinois still leads the nation in 3-pointers per game (9.8) and shoots 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. The Tigers are coming off a 74-67 home loss to Winthrop last Saturday that snapped a three-game win streak. Auburn hit 3-of-23 from deep in the loss.

Kentucky Wildcats at Louisville Cardinals
(-8, 135)

No. 23 Kentucky looks to make it five straight wins over archrival and No. 3 Louisville when the Wildcats visit the Cardinals on Saturday. The in-state foes met in last season’s Final Four, Kentucky winning 69-61 en route to the national championship. Louisville appears to be the stronger squad this season. The Cardinals have won six straight by an average of 25.5 points, their only loss this season coming by five points to top-ranked Duke. Kentucky, which has posted four straight blowout wins after consecutive losses to Notre Dame and Baylor, leads the all-time series with Louisville 30-14.

Air Force Falcons at Florida Gators
(-19, 131)

After falling short in its last two trips outside the Sunshine State, one can understand why Florida is relishing some home cookin'. Although its last loss was technically a "neutral site" game, the 11th-ranked Gators will look to remain undefeated at home when they host Air Force on Saturday as part of the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Classic. Florida suffered a 67-61 setback to Kansas State last Saturday after shooting a dismal 5-for-19 from 3-point range - including a combined 2-for-12 effort from guards Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin. The Gators will look for a better showing when they face the Falcons, who posted their second straight victory with a 61-53 triumph over UC Riverside last Saturday.

Chicago State Cougars at Ohio State Buckeyes (-37, 141)

Ohio State will try to rebound from its second loss this season when the No. 10 Buckeyes host Chicago State on Saturday afternoon. Ohio State lost to No. 6 Kansas last weekend, 74-66, shooting 31 percent from the floor. The Buckeyes will likely continue to lean on 6-7 junior forward Deshaun Thomas, the Big Ten scoring leader at 20 points. He’s been the model of consistency, scoring at least 14 in every game, making a least two 3-pointers in all but one and shooting 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. The Cougars don’t have a go-to player on offense. Just one averages double figures in scoring and none have scored more than 20 points in a game this season. Jeremy Robinson leads Chicago State at 10.4 points, followed by Clarke Rosenberg (9.6), Matt Ross (9.4) and Quinton Pippen (9.1). Three others average between 7.2 and 7.9 points.

Central Michigan Chippewas at Michigan Wolverines (-29, 137)

After a nine-day break, second-ranked Michigan will return to action Saturday night against visiting Central Michigan in hopes of extending the second-best start in school history. At 12-0, the Wolverines are off to their best start since a school-record 16-0 beginning to the 1985-86 season, which also marked the last time the Wolverines went undefeated in non-conference play - something they can achieve with a win over the Chippewas. Central Michigan split a pair of games in the Sun Bowl Invitational last week in El Paso, falling to Nebraska (89-75) and beating Arkansas-Pine Bluff (62-45). The Wolverines have won 20 of 23 all-time meetings, though they later vacated one victory because of NCAA sanctions. Central Michigan won the most recent contest, 78-67 in Ann Arbor on Dec. 15, 2007.

Alcorn State Braves at Syracuse Orange (N/A)

A number of streaks – both impressive and embarrassing – figure to get extended on Saturday when No. 7 Syracuse hosts Alcorn State as part of the Gotham Classic. The Orange suffered their first loss of the season last Saturday against Temple at Madison Square Garden due in large part to poor foul shooting. However, Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome for this contest, where it has won a school-record 31 straight overall and 41 in a row over non-conference opponents. Those two streaks – the former of which is the longest active streak in the country – should increase against the Braves, who have dropped 81 consecutive non-conference road games. Alcorn State, which has dropped eight straight by an average of 16.6 points, suffered its latest humiliating road loss in an 87-74 setback at Canisius on Thursday.

Butler Bulldogs at Vanderbilt Commodores
(+4.5, 124)

No. 21 Butler, which followed its upset of then-No. 1 Indiana with a solid win over Evansville, goes for its seventh straight victory when it visits Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Bulldogs handled the Purple Aces 75-67 last Saturday behind 20 points each from senior center Andrew Smith and senior guard Rotnei Clarke. The rebuilding Commodores are coming off a 56-52 neutral-site loss to Middle Tennessee State in which they were outrebounded 34-25. Vandy ranks 305th nationally in scoring (60.3).

American U. Eagles at Kansas Jayhawks (N/A)

No. 6 Kansas returns to action for the first time since an impressive 74-66 road victory at then-No. 7 Ohio State on Dec. 22. The Jayhawks have won 28 straight games in Allen Fieldhouse, the second-longest winning streak in the nation behind Syracuse's 29 in a row. Kansas and American are playing for just the second time in men's basketball with the other matchup coming during the Jayhawks' 1988 NCAA National Championship season. The Jayhawks cruised to a 90-69 victory in that one at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks have shot 50 percent or better from the field in each of their last five games and lead the Big 12 in field goal percentage (49.3).

Evansville Purple Aces at Creighton Bluejays
(-15, 143)

Creighton opens its quest for its first Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title since 2008-09 when it hosts Evansville on Saturday. The Bluejays were the overwhelming favorites to capture the crown in the league's preseason poll, but now the team has to prove it on the court. Creighton comes into the game on a five-game winning streak, including a 17-point home win over Tulsa on Dec. 19 in its last game. The Purple Aces dropped their last game, but it was an eight-point defeat at Butler in which Evansville played well. The play in the early going of this one could be a little ragged, with both teams excited to start conference play and having gone at least seven days between contests.

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