Saturday's Top 25 NCAAB cheat sheet: Early games

Jan 31, 2014 |
Saturday's Top 25 NCAAB cheat sheet: Early games
The Shockers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
The Shockers are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports
Here's a quick look at the marquee early games on Saturday's NCAA basketball schedule:

Click here for our late game cheat sheet.

Ohio State Buckeyes at Wisconsin Badgers (-5)

The Buckeyes held an 11-point lead in the second half against Penn State but were doomed by missed free throws and poor defense down the stretch to drop a stunner at home and fall to 1-5 since beginning the season with 15 straight victories. Ohio State shot 28 percent from the floor in the second half Wednesday and is averaging 61.8 points over its last four contests - nearly 11 points below its season average.

The Badgers built their reputation under coach Bo Ryan on defense but have allowed an average of 71.2 points in the last five games and surrendered 43 in the second half of Wednesday’s loss to Northwestern. The offense is not holding up its end, either, and leading scorer Sam Dekker is 2-of-16 from 3-point range over the last four games. Wisconsin ranks third in the Big Ten conference in 3-point shooting at 37.3 percent.


* Buckeyes are 0-5 ATS in their last five games.
* Badgers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following an ATS win.
* Over is 6-2 in Wisconsin's last eight games.
* Favorite is 8-1 ATS in the last nine meetings.

Kentucky Wildcats at Missouri Tigers (+1.5)

The Wildcats are coming off an 87-82 loss at LSU in which star freshman forward Julius Randle was limited to a season-low six points on 3-of-11 shooting. Kentucky allows an average of 66.6 points but has surrendered 85.3 points in its last three losses - all on the road. Wildcats G James Young has shot 50 percent or better from the field in three straight games after failing to make half his shots in any of the previous nine contests.

The Tigers sit a game behind the Wildcats in the SEC standings and are looking at their toughest stretch of the conference slate with a trip to No. 4 Florida coming up after the Kentucky contest. Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross and Jordan Clarkson combined for 59 points in the win over Arkansas on Tuesday and did a strong job of spreading out the shots between the three. Brown leads the SEC in scoring at an average of 19.8 points


* Wildcats are 9-19-1 ATS in their last 29 games vs. the SEC.
* Tigers are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
* Under is 7-1 in Missouri's last eight home games.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Kentucky's last four Saturday games.

Memphis Tigers at SMU Mustangs (-2)

The Tigers' four senior guards all have made major contributions during the team's four-game winning streak. Joe Jackson led Memphis with 17 points against Central Florida while Michael Dixon Jr. is 13-of-21 from the floor - 7-of-11 from beyond the arc - over the last four games. Geron Johnson (9.5 points, 5.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals during the winning streak) continues to be the "glue guy" for Memphis.

Coach Larry Brown knows basically what he is going to get from his team offensively, as the Mustangs average 71.9 points and have scored between 70-75 points in five of their last six games. Kennedy has scored in double figures in 12 straight games and has grabbed at least seven rebounds in each of those contests. Reserve forward Ben Moore has been a major factor as a freshman, shooting 72.4 percent on the season.


* Tigers are 6-0 ATS in their last six road games.
* Mustangs are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games.
* Under is 7-1 in Memphis' last eight games following an ATS win.
* Home team is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings.

Baylor Bears at Oklahoma State Cowboys (-11)

The Bears entered conference action as one of the top shooting teams in the nation at 50.4 percent (while holding opponents to 38.8 percent), but those figures have shifted to 40.5 and 47.4, respectively, during their forgettable seven-game conference run. Baylor lost the turnover battle 17-6 against West Virginia and has created more than 10 takeaways only twice in league play.

Since the loss of forward Michael Cobbins to an Achilles’ injury seven games ago, the Cowboys have averaged a conference-high 22.8 fouls, mostly as a result of players sliding into unfamiliar roles. Three players (Le'Bryan Nash, Kamari Murphy and Stevie Clark) fouled out against Oklahoma, with Nash and Clark doing so in a combined 28 minutes.


* Bears are 6-17 ATS in their last 23 Saturday games.
* Cowboys are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games following a loss.
* Over is 7-2 in Oklahoma State's last nine games.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.

George Mason Patriots at Saint Louis Billikens (-15)

The Patriots have struggled badly in their first year in the A-10 after having unparalleled success in the Colonial Athletic Association. Guards Byron Allen (14.2 points per game) and Sherrod Wright (14) lead a veteran backcourt that also features Patrick Holloway, who ranks fifth in the A-10 in 3-point shooting (41.9). Redshirt freshman forward Jalen Jenkins is averaging 7.1 points and 6.5 rebounds.

The Billikens do it with defense, leading the A-10 in scoring defense (58 points per game), field goal percentage defense (38.2) and 3-point percentage defense (27.6). Senior forward Dwayne Evans (15) leads the team in scoring and rebounding (6.3) while Jett also is averaging in double figures (12.6) and leads the team in assists (4.8) and steals (1.5).


* Patriots are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games.
* Billikens are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games vs. teams with losing records.
* Over is 15-5 in George Mason's last 20 road games.
* Under is 10-4 in Saint Louis' last 14 home games.

Evansville Purple Aces at Wichita State Shockers (-20)

Evansville sophomore guard D.J. Balentine, who has made 31-of-33 free throws over the last two games, leads the conference with a 23-point scoring average and has taken more than twice as many shots as any other player on the team. He has scored at least 20 points 15 times and also leads the team in assists (4.2) and 3-pointers made (51).

Wichita State's subpar showing against Chicago-based Loyola included 6-of-26 shooting in the second half that erased the joy over a well-played opening 20 minutes. Forward Cleanthony Early scored 23 points to raise his season average to 16.1 and is joined in double digits by guard Ron Baker (13.4) and VanVleet (12.8). The Shockers allow 59 points per game and have held 10 opponents under 60.


* Purple Aces are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games.
* Shockers are 5-0 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss.
* Under is 5-2 in Evansville's last seven games following a defeat.
* Underdog is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings.

Michigan State Spartans at Georgetown Hoyas (+7.5)

Without Adreian Payne and fellow big man Branden Dawson, who is out for several more games with a broken hand, the Spartans have given increased minutes to forward Matt Costello and the results have been positive. Costello posted career highs in both points (11) and rebounds (12) in the win at Iowa while recording two more blocked shots to bump his average to 1.6 per game -- eighth in the Big Ten entering Thursday.

A dismal slide for the Hoyas continued with a 65-60 loss at home to No. 9 Villanova on Monday, which saw Georgetown lose another player to suspension in the form of center Moses Ayegba, who was banned one game for an NCAA violation. Senior guard Markel Starks has done his best to shoulder the load, averaging 23 points over the last three games while ranking third in minutes played during Big East games (38.9).


* Spartans are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games.
* Hoyas are 0-4 ATS in their last four games following an ATS win.
* Under is 4-0 in Michigan State's last four games vs. Big East foes.
* Over is 4-1 in Georgetown's last five neutral-site games.

Texas A&M Aggies at Florida Gators (-18)

The Aggies come in on a four-game losing skid punctuated by an 80-52 laugher at the hands of South Carolina on Wednesday night. Texas A&M was a disaster offensively in that one, shooting just 35.6 percent from the field while hitting on 4-of-16 3-point attempts and 16-of-29 free-throw opportunities. Junior guard Jamal Jones (11.7) is the only player averaging in double figures, but shoots just 37.4 percent from the field.

The Gators bounced back nicely from back-to-back narrow victories over Auburn and Alabama, trouncing Tennessee 67-41 and following that up with a double-digit victory at Mississippi State. Casey Prather's 16 points paced the win over the Bulldogs, as Florida prevailed despite shooting 6-of-20 from beyond the arc and 8-of-19 from the line. Prather (16.7 ppg) leads a balanced attack for the Gators, who have won 12 straight.


* Aggies are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 Saturday games.
* Gators are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games following an ATS loss.
* Under is 7-0 in Texas A&M's last seven games following a loss of more than 20 points.
* Under is 21-7-1 in Florida's last 29 games.

Villanova Wildcats at Temple Owls (+11)

Since losing to Creighton by 28 points, Villanova has snuck past the Golden Eagles in overtime before holding off the Hoyas on Monday. The Wildcats are one of the nation's most balanced teams, with four players averaging between 10.2 and 15.1 points, five players chipping in between 4.0 and 5.9 rebounds and eight players averaging at least one assist.

Owls coach Fran Dunphy recently chatted about the importance of unselfish play with point guard Will Cummings, who responded with 21 points and eight assists against Rutgers. One of Cummings' top options on the kick-outs is swingman Dalton Pepper (18 points per game), who has made nearly half of the Owls' 3-pointers this season.


* Wildcats are 7-1 ATS in their last eight non-conference games.
* Owls are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games vs. Big East opponents.
* Over is 18-7-1 in Temple's last 26 Saturday games.
* Villanova is 0-4 ATS in the last four meetings.

Kansas Jayhawks at Texas Longhorns (+4)

Jayhawks star Andrew Wiggins is 18-of-29 shooting over the past two outings and finally displaying the ability to take over games. He struggled with the adjustment early in the season but is now settling in to average a team-best 16.5 points as one of four double-digit scorers. Center Joel Embiid has been the team’s top player most of the season and averages 11.4 points, a team-best 7.6 rebounds and has 54 blocks.

The Longhorns have thrived behind a balanced attack in which four players average in double digits after they were expected to experience a second straight down campaign. Forward Jonathan Holmes averages a team-best 12.9 points, following by guard Javan Felix (12.2), guard Isaiah Taylor (11.7) and center Cameron Ridley (11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 48 blocks).


* Jayhawks are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven games.
* Longhorns are 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 Saturday games.
* Over is 4-0 in Kansas' last four games vs. the Big 12.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.

Oklahoma Sooners at Iowa State Cyclones (-8.5)

The Sooners are the only team in the country to use the same starting lineup in every game and have all five of those players scoring at least 10 points per game. Ryan Spangler is averaging 13.2 points and 13.5 rebounds over his last six games, beginning with his 16-point, 15-rebound effort in the first meeting against Iowa State. Oklahoma has scored at least 80 points in 14 games.

Two common themes have emerged in the Cyclones’ four losses: below-average 3-point shooting and rebounding margin. Iowa State has converted 37.2 percent beyond the arc in its victories and enjoyed a plus-3.1 advantage on the glass in its wins, but has shot 28.4 percent from long range and been outrebounded by 7.8 boards in its setbacks. Melvin Ejim leads the conference with 27 career double-doubles.


* Sooners are 5-0 ATS in their last five Saturday games.
* Cyclones are 21-9 ATS in their last 30 home games.
* Over is 8-0 in Iowa State's last eight home games vs. teams with winning road records.
* Over is 9-2 in the last 11 meetings.

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