With the NFL season over and done, college basketball slides into the Sunday spotlight with five games involving Top 25 programs. We've got betting notes for all of Sunday's biggest contests:
Indiana Hoosiers at Ohio State Buckeyes (-1, 138)
Indiana became the latest top-ranked team to taste defeat the week after they ascended to the No.1 spot. Although an extended stay is highly unlikely, the top-ranked Hoosiers can make their case to remain in that spot with a win Sunday at No. 10 Ohio State. Over the last four weeks, Louisville, Duke, Kansas and Indiana have taken one-week turns as the top-ranked team in the coaches’ poll, only to be dismissed the following week.
Four of the top five teams in the most recent poll suffered at least one loss in the past week while No. 4 Duke isn’t even leading its own conference, placing voters in a bind. The Hoosiers likely lost their grip of the top spot with Thursday’s surprising loss at Illinois, but might be able to make up for it against the Buckeyes, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday in an overtime loss at Michigan.
St. John's Red Storm at Syracuse Orange (-14.5, 135.5)
Two of the top 10 winningest programs in Division I history renew acquaintances on Sunday when St. John’s attempts to end the country’s longest-active home winning streak when it faces No. 9 Syracuse. The Orange are tied with Marquette atop the Big East standings and have won 36 straight at home, with their last such loss coming Feb. 9, 2011, against Georgetown. But Syracuse is vulnerable at the moment with top outside threat James Southerland and bruising forward DaJuan Coleman both out.
Syracuse – fifth on the D-I wins list – rebounded from its first two conference losses with Monday’s 63-47 victory over Notre Dame. However, the vaunted Orange offense that averaged 82 points in non-conference action is averaging only 65.9 during Big East play. St. John’s – seventh all-time in wins – picked up its sixth victory in seven games with Wednesday’s triumph over Connecticut.
Duke Blue Devils at Boston College Eagles (+12.5, 143.5)
Duke will try to continue its winning ways when it travels to Boston College for an ACC game Sunday evening. The No. 4 Blue Devils have won four straight after dropping two of three following the injury to third-leading scorer Ryan Kelly. Duke beat North Carolina State on Thursday night, the same team that toppled the Blue Devils on Jan. 12, the first game Kelly missed with a right foot injury.
Kelly is expected to miss his eighth consecutive game with the injury, leaving fellow seniors Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry to pick up the slack. Plumlee did exactly that against North Carolina State, scoring 30 points in the 98-85 victory, while Curry finished with 26 points for his third straight game with 21 or more. Boston College will try to counter with a starting lineup that features two freshmen and three sophomores. The first two players off the bench are also sophomores.
Illinois Fighting Illini and Minnesota Golden Gophers (-9, 138)
Illinois, which snapped a three-game losing streak with a dramatic 74-72 home upset of No. 1 Indiana on Thursday, will try to build on that momentum at sputtering No. 18 Minnesota, which has dropped five of its last seven games, including a 61-50 setback at Michigan State on Wednesday. It's the second meeting of the season between the Big Ten rivals. The Golden Gophers won the first encounter, 84-67, at Illinois on Jan. 9, handing the Illini their first home loss of the season in the process.
Illinois has gone just 2-5 since the first matchup with the Gophers but Thursday's upset of the Hoosiers could just be the tonic to spark a turnaround for a team that looked like it would be a legitimate Big Ten challenger after whipping Butler, 78-61, to win the EA Sports Maui Invitational in November. In fact, after Thursday's victory over the Hoosiers, which came by way of a Tyler Griffey buzzer-beating layup on an inbounds pass with nine-tenths of a second remaining, the Illini now own four victories over teams currently rated in the top-15: No. 1 Indiana, No. 6 Gonzaga, No. 10 Ohio State and No. 14 Butler.
California Golden Bears at Arizona Wildcats (-13.5, 132)
Arizona looks to extend its winning streak to five on Sunday when the 7th-ranked Wildcats host California, which has lost 22 of the last 27 meetings in the series. Arizona, which took over sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 without even playing a game on Thursday, has four home games and four road games left in the regular season. California is mired in a five-way tie for fifth place, three games behind Arizona.
The Bears lost 66-62 to Arizona State on Thursday and failed to build on home wins last week over Oregon State and Oregon. Junior guard Allen Crabbe still leads the Pac-12 scoring at 19.3 points per game, but he’s shooting 25 percent (6-for-24) from 3-point range over the last three games. The Bears will need a complete effort from their defense after struggling early against Arizona State. The Wildcats are second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 74.7 points per game.